Comic Book / Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man

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Spider-Man: After all, it isn't every day two living legends go around making history. Am I right, or am I right?

We knew we couldn't keep our top heroes apart much longer. Readers everywhere were demanding a team-up of the best of the old and the best of the new. SUPERMAN, the first, most powerful, most famous caped crusader of them all — and SPIDER-MAN, the newest, most realistic, most popular wall-crawler on the scene today — both together, in one titanic, unforgettable adventure!

Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man: The Battle of the Century is a comic book jointly published by Marvel Comics and DC Comics in 1976, written by Gerry Conway with art by Ross Andru. It is the second crossover between DC Comics and Marvel Comics following their collaboration on MGM's Marvelous Wizard of Oz, and the first modern superhero cross-company crossover.

Superman and Spider-Man must stop a world domination / destruction plot hatched in tandem by their respective arch-enemies, Lex Luthor and Doctor Octopus.

The issue is non-canonical, as it assumes that the heroes and their respective cities of residence, Metropolis and New York City, exist in the same universe, with no explanation given as to why they had never before met or been mentioned in each other's individual stories.

In 1981, DC and Marvel published another crossover featuring both characters teaming up, called simply “Superman and Spider-Man”, written by Jim Shooter and illustrated by John Buscema, but it is unrelated to the present story, but tossed The Incredible Hulk and Wonder Woman into the mix.


Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man: The Battle of the Century provides examples of:

  • Absurd Cutting Power: Lex Luthor imbued a normal blade with red sunlight, turning it into a weapon able to cut Superman’s invulnerable body.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Subverted. Luthor crafted a sword that gives off red sunlight. It was not particularly sharp or sturdy, but it can cut Superman because of the red sun radiance.
  • Affectionate Nickname: After their inevitable misunderstanding-induced fight, Spidey calls Supes "Super-guy" or, well, “Supes”.
    • Superman eventually refers to Spider-Man as "Spidey", a long-standing nickname for the web-slinger in and out of the comics themselves.
  • All There in the Manual: The Official Crisis on Infinite Earths Crossover Index (March 1986) and The Official Crisis on Infinite Earths Index (July 1986) would formally call the reality where the DC and Marvel characters coexisted Crossover Earth. Later Marvel would assign the reality the name "Earth-7642".
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: After the first prologue the scene changes, showing what Spider-Man was up to while Superman ended his battle against Lex. The third prologue shows what the villains are doing after being arrested and jailed.
  • And Then What?: Superman and Spider-Man are battling their arch-nemeses on a satellite when one announces the intention to really destroy the world, instead of blackmail it with the threat of destroying it. Spidey asks the other Super Villain, "Where are you going to spend your money then?" Not only does he mentally hit the brick wall, he fights to save the world in a major (if temporary) Heel–Face Turn for Doctor Octopus.
  • Animal Mecha: The Flying Octopus, Doc Ock's aircraft looks like a... flying octopus.
  • Anti-True Sight: Lex's giant mecha had a lead shield to protect itself from Superman's X-Ray Vision.
  • Apocalypse How: Luthor intended to create a gigantic storm which would destroy the planet.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Doc Ock is amazed at seeing Lex. Lex's reaction is "Oh, it's you."note 
  • Badass Boast: When Lex first confronts Superman:
    Lex: I think not, old "friend". The only one of us who is leaving is you — and you're going to the grave!
  • Batman Gambit: When Superman shoves Lex's robot into the ground, the robot's head detaches from the body and blasts off. Superman flies after it and discovers that it is a decoy. Meanwhile, Lex gets away laughing loudly.
  • Being Watched: Luthor and Octopus know they are being watched 24/7 while staying in their cells.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Peter flies off the handle when he becomes fed up with Jonah and tells his boss exactly what he thinks of him. Later Spider-Man goes berserker when MJ vanishes, and he takes on Superman.
    • And he annoys Clark to the point that Superman momentarily forgets to pull his punches and nearly kills Spidey.
  • Blackmail: Luthor's alleged goal was blackmailing the US Government: unless they paid him ten billion dollars within a hour he'd allow the storm center created by his satellite to spread and build until it swamped the whole world. Subverted because he didn't intend to collect the money. He wanted to destroy the world.
    Superman: Luthor... What's the purpose of all this...?
    Lex: You mean — You haven't guessed? The purpose is blackmail, old enemy.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Luthor kidnapped a Masai warrior and brainwashed him into guarding his secret lair's hidden door.
  • Breath Weapon: Supes uses his hurricane breath to blow Spidey away from a booby-trapped computer.
  • Bucket Booby-Trap: Steve Lombard tries to pull this gag on Clark Kent. However, Clark uses his Super Breath to prevent the bucket from falling. When Steve checks out the gag, he gets drenched.
  • The Cameo: When Clark joins his friends before flying New York, we see Perry White, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Morgan Edge, Steve Lombardo and a blond woman that looks like Kara.
  • The Cape: Trope Maker finds one of the Trope Codifiers.
  • Captain Obvious: Lex sometimes falls into due to his hamminess.
    Lex: And, Superman... My greatest enemy... is you!
  • Cat Fight: Lois and MJ nearly get into one when MJ wrongly thinks that Lois is flirting with her boyfriend. Lois even tells her to hide her claws.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In page 25, a tiny spider-tracer drops from Spidey's costume. Several pages later, Spidey reveals that it was not an accident.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: MJ is jealous when she sees Peter and Lois chatting.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: Superman fighting Spider-Man. Again: Superman fighting Spider-Man.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Luthor keeps an escape kit under an artificial layer of false epidermis covering his forearm.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • As usual, when Superman cuts loose, it ends in this for his opponent.
    • Spider Man and Doctor Octopus take turns doing this to each other.
  • Damsel in Distress: The villains kidnap Lois and MJ and admit openly that they are bait to lure the heroes into their trap. Both women are understandably pissed off about it.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Spider-Man provides a good helping of sarcasm, as usual.
      Crook: Yerrrk! It's Spider-Man!
      Spider-Man: Not bad, fella. Most crooks get too choked up when they see me, and can't quite say their line. But you — well, fella, I'm proud of you! You came through like a pro!
    • Morgan Edge's has a very, very dry sense of humor.
      Morgan: Do you always talk in cliches, or is today something special?
  • Death from Above: After taking over the Comlab satellite, Lex sent a high-intensity laser probe into the Earth's atmosphere, scrambling the weather, threatening with completely unbalancing the entire Earth's ecology, and almost creating a hurricane which would engulf the planet.
  • Death Trap:
    • Luthor's submarine mecha's cockpit was armed with a network of lasers strong enough to kill Superman.
    • Lex and Otto's warehouse. When Peter sneaked in the place, he found himself in a dark corridor. Then the door shut behind him suddenly. Then he found out about the machine guns in the floorboards, the electrified walls and the red-hot ceiling, and his spider-sense warned him about wire screen designed to slice him apart.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: After Superman wins their mandatory first meeting/fight, both heroes quickly become friends.
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    • Peter during his quarrel with Clark:
    Spider-Man: He hasn't seen angry till he's seen me angry.
    • The villain introduction page starts with "and leave us not forget our villainous villains".
  • Dramatic Irony: Doctor Octopus accurately diagnoses that Luthor is insane... without realizing he is definitely not a paragon of sanity.
  • Dynamic Entry: Several crooks are robbing the New York Metropolitan Museum. All of sudden Spider-Man lands among them, kicks a mook, and knocks other three crooks down.
  • Enemy Mine: Doctor Octopus allies with the heroes when he realizes that Luthor wants to destroy the world, not just threaten it.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Lex and Otto are permanently trying to outdo each other in this department:
    Doctor Octopus: Curse you, wall-crawler! Am I never to be free? Will you hound me forever? Will there never be an end?
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Doctor Octopus is disturbed by Luthor's plan to destroy the planet regardless of what happened.
  • Experienced Protagonist: When Superman turns up, Spider-Man says he has heard of Supes all his life. Since in the Pre-Crisis era Clark started out his career when he was a teenager and he is over ten years older than Peter, who is a college student...
  • Eye Beams:
    • Superman uses his heat vision to end his first battle against Lex quickly: he melts a bulkhead wall of Lex's submarine. So Luthor has only two options left: stop fighting and allow Superman capture him, or drown.
    • Lex Luthor's Superman decoy is equipped with eye beams that teleport their target.
    • Spidey calls Superman's heat vision “your eyeball rays”.
  • Fight Off the Kryptonite: Superman has to fight off Lex's red sunlight-powered weapons which weaken him.
  • Flaming Sword: Variant. Luthor created a sword which gave off red sunlight.
  • For the Evulz: Averted. Superman accuses Lex from devastating half a city for the sake of a simple theft. Lex replies his crimes are always methodical and with purpose.
  • Freudian Slip: After capturing both villains, Spider-Man mentions MJ is his girl. Since Superman had previously met Peter and MJ, Spider-Man practically blurted out his Secret Identity. Either he trusted Superman with his secret, or he slipped.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: Lex's underwater base was armed with high-intensity lasers designed by Lex to be powerful enough to cut through Superman’s skin.
  • Get Out: Jonah yells these lines at Peter after Peter accidentally made him look bad:
    Jameson: Get out of my office, Parker! Out of my building! Get out! GET OUT! GET OUT!
  • Giant Foot of Stomping: Subverted when Lex's Humongous Mecha stomps on Superman, and Supes thinks the robot is trying to crush him until it walks away and Superman realizes its stomp wasn't meant as an attack.
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: Peter's finger stabs Jameson's chest when he tells his boss off.
  • Green and Mean: Both Lex Luthor and Doc Ock wear green.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: At one point, Otto manages to grab Superman and smash him into Spider-Man.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Jameson's temper is very, very, very volatile.
  • Hand Blast: Luthor's armored gloves are equipped with laser beams. They wear light from the same spectrum as a red sun to weaken Superman.
  • Hand Wave: Since when Superman and Spider-Man co-habit the same universe? Honestly, WHO CARES?
    Gerry Conway: "Purists may complain that we never explained how Superman and Spider-Man ended up in the same 'universe'...; to our minds, how they got there was beside the point."
    • Nonetheless, later stories would explain or imply that the comic takes place in a world that's neither the mainline Marvel nor DC universe, where the events of both worlds are canon and where the majority of their crossovers take place.
  • Has a Type: Pretty amusingly, Lois assures a jealous MJ that Peter is not her type. She explains that Peter is too young and immature for her taste.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: As soon as Peter manages to escape from Jameson's wrath he and MJ go out for a walk.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: At the beginning, Supes thinks Spidey is connected with the phony Superman because of Jameson's smear.
  • Hot Blade: Luthor forges a sword imbued with superheated red sunlight that can hurt Superman.
  • Humongous Mecha: Superman has to fight a skyscraper-sized Lex's robot at the beginning of the story.
  • Is the Answer to This Question "Yes"?: Superman asks "Can you hold the fort alone?" and Spider-Man replies "Does Warner Brothers make movies?".
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Amusingly, Jameson and Edge are willing to admit their employees' merits when said employees are not around.
    Morgan Edge: Kent is my best reporter — or would be, if he were around when I need him!
    JJJ: Reminds me of a photographer I know — Peter Parker — good, but — er — unreliable!
  • Jet Pack: Lex Luthor owns a green jetpack and rocket boots.
  • Kill Sat: Comlab, an orbiting communications laboratory. Lex took over it and turned it into a weapon.
  • Kryptonite Factor: Lex uses beam weapons powered with red sunlight to destroy Superman.
  • Latex Perfection: The phony Superman who caused Lois and MJ's disappearance in reality was Lex Luthor wearing a Superman mask. How did he manage to look as muscle-bound as Superman?
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Doctor Octopus nearly kills Spider-Man at the beginning of their fight because Spidey wasn't taking him seriously. Peter realizes his mistake and decides it's time to get serious.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Lex and Otto trick Superman and Spider-Man into fighting each other. It's accidental, but their actions led to both heroes fighting, and they actively tried to alter the outcome of the fight.
  • Mean Boss:
    • Morgan Edge is a demanding grump.
    • J. Jonah Jameson is the hilariously abusive version.
  • Metronomic Man Mashing: Superman does this to Doctor Octopus when he grabs his metallic tentacles.
  • Mission Control: NASA's personal who oversaw Comlab's launch. Lex specificlly called them "Mission Control".
    Lex: It allows me to manipulate the signals reaching Comlab — substituting my commands for the electronic orders of mission control!
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: First thing it's seen from Dock Ock is his metallic, prehensile limbs.
  • Mundane Utility:
    • Superman used his photographic memory to reassemble a computer at Super Speed.
    • Spider-Man made a sling using his webbing.
  • Nightmare Retardant: Invoked In-Universe. Otto thinks his Flying Octopus looks menacing. Peter thinks it looks dumb. And goofy. But mostly dumb.
  • No Endor Holocaust: Superman fought a Humongous Mecha in Metropolis's West Side. In order to avoid the trope, a newscaster stated that most of the demolished buildings were empty.
  • Not Hyperbole: Prologue 1 is described as "Another exciting episode in the Earth-shaking adventures of Superman". Next to "Earth-shaking", there's an asterisk that leads to the following message from Carmine and Stan: "And if you think that's just hyperbole, then, fella — hang on!"
  • Outside-the-Box Tactic: Superman beats Lex Luthor by being unpredictable: they were fighting inside a submarine, Superman was blinded and Lex kept blasting him and weakening him. So Superman's heat vision burned down a wall, flooding the submarine and forcing Lex to surrender.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Both heroes accidentally tear apart several buildings’ roofs as they fight.
  • Power Creep, Power Seep: At the beginning, the trope appears to be played straight when Lex Luthor secretly bathes Spidey in red sunlight which weakens Superman, evening the playing field between the two for a bit. But then the energy wears off,forcing Spidey to admit defeat as Supermn is simply too durable for him to hurt.
  • Powers Do the Fighting: When it is clear that whatever was boosting Spider-Man has stopped, Superman stands still as Spidey punches him and hurts himself.
  • Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner:
    • Peter to Clark before hitting him:
      Spider-Man: You bet there's been a mistake... and, buster, YOU MADE IT!
    • Clark to Peter before punching him across a building:
      Superman: I'm going to teach you a lesson, Spider-Man — One you'll never forget! Go ahead. Take your best shot. Finished? Good. Now it's my turn!
  • Primary-Color Champion: Superman and Spider-Man wear blue and red.
  • Punched Across the Room:
    • Lex's robot punched Superman across the street. Superman crashed into a building which crumbled down upon impact.
    • In their first fight Spidey gets in the first couple of blows, which are unusually effective due to some interference from the villains. Superman, who doesn't know why Spidey hit him in the first place, responds as he would for an equally strong opponent, only to realize, just before his fist is about to land, that the punch will kill the wall-crawler. He pulls it, but the wind-blast caused by his moving fist is enough to blow Spidey several hundred yards away, including right through a skyscraper (in and out via windows, and the inside is an open-plan office, fortunately).
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: Lex Luthor secretly energizes Spidey for the inevitable first meeting fight. After a few good licks, the energy wears off, and Spidey hurts his hands.
  • Put Their Heads Together: Spidey does this to two Doc Ock's henchmen.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Spider-Man taunts Superman until Superman blows up. Fortunately for Spidey, Supes managed to calm himself.
    Superman: That does it. Even a Superman can only be pushed so far.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Jameson yells at Peter that he is a horrible employee, and Peter replies that Jameson is a terrible boss.
    Jameson: Do you know why I never gave you a vacation?
    Peter: No, Sir.
    Jameson: Because you're NOT hard-working — NOT diligent — AND there are TIMES, Peter old boy — when I'm not even sure you're a photographer!
    Peter: Oh, yeash? Oh, yeah! I've had it with you, Jameson! One minute you're Mr. Glad-Hand, the working boy's friend — the next, you put the knife in! Well, maybe that's okay for the rest of your staff — but it isn't for me! NOT ANYMORE! I'm through being stepped on! You want me, Jameson — find me!
  • Revenge Before Reason: Lex's real goal is destroying the planet "which held [his] genius in contempt"... even though he cannot survive in a devastated world. The man has got issues.
  • Sanity Slippage: During the climax, Superman thinks his ex-friend Lex was always about to lose it... and he's finally lost it.
    Superman: Luthor's slipping — the pressure is beginning to get to him! He's always walked a fine line between genius and insanity — and this time, I think he's taken the fatal fall!
  • Secondary Color Nemesis: Both villains love wearing green.
  • Secret Identity Change Trick: Peter and MJ are taking a stroll on the way to the theater when Peter notices Doc Ock's blimp flying overhead. He mumbles "'Scuse me, MJ — feeling sick — gotta get some water —!" before dashing off.
  • Secret Keeper: It is implied — although no outright stated — Clark and Peter figured each other's Secret Identities:
    Clark: [shaking hands] It seems we covered the same event, Parker — though I don't recall seeing you there.
    Peter: I stick to the shadows, Kent... apparently just like you.
  • Sheathe Your Sword: Once Superman realized that he likely would have killed Spidey if he had hit him, he just let Spidey punch him until Spidey realized it was pointless and gave up.
  • Ship Tease: As usual in a Gerry Conway story, there's Peter/MJ and Lois/Clark teasing. At the end, both couples have dinner together.
  • Spanner in the Works: Luthor accidentally abducted MJ when he kidnapped Lois, an act that got Spider-Man involved in stopping him. If Peter had not been there to stop Lex and Otto, Clark would have to choose between stopping the tsunami and let Lex escape.
  • Spider Tank: Lex's underwater secret lab is a giant mecha supported by spider legs.
  • Storming the Castle: Superman and Spider-Man assault Lex's space base at the climax.
  • Super Senses:
    • Superman uses his X-Ray Vision to track down the residual energies of the fake Superman.
    • Peter uses his Spider-sense the whole time.
  • Super Strength:
    • Superman is strong enough to drive a Humongous Mecha into the ground. When he was about to hit Spidey, he managed to pull his punch, but the wind-blast struck Peter "with the strength of a compact hurricane".
    • Spidey may not be on Superman's level, but he is stil superhumanly powerful and it shows.
  • Super Toughness:
    • Lex's robot slams Superman into a building. The blow is strong enough to bring down a chunk of the wall, but Clark barely feels it.
    • Peter's hide is not so tough, but he takes several metallic tentacles to the face, and he doesn't even get knocked out.
  • Supervillain Lair: Lex Luthor has the submarine mobile base, the abandoned warehouse, the underground lair, the satellite space base (Injustice Gang's old HQ which he appropriated after their defeat)...
  • Take My Hand: Peter grabs Lois's hand when she is falling off a catwalk.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Spider-Man thinks "This must be your lucky day!" when he runs into several crooks. Then he runs into Doctor Octopus, nearly gets killed, several cops try to arrest him, and he runs out of web-fluid. He decides "Hero, your lucky day — This is not!"
    • Several guards seeing Luthor to his cell assure that he will not walk free this time... and they got him good. Good grief...
    • Spider-Man is aware that he should have kept his mouth shut when he made a remark about trite death traps:
      Peter: Huh? The old "suddenly shutting door" trick, eh? I was hoping for something more imagina— Whoops! Machine guns in the floorboards — something tells me I should have kept my mouth shut!
  • There Was a Door: When Spider-Man and Superman break into Lex and Otto's lair, Spidey sneaks in the place, but Supes directly bursts through the main door.
  • Tsundere: Clark triggers Lois' harsh side by pretending to be a wimpy, meek coward. She admits to herself that she doesn't hate Clark. He merely drives her mad.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Spider-Man underestimates Superman at the beginning of their fight, thinking he is a pushover.
  • Underwater Base: Good old Lex Luthor has a mobile undersea lab.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Doctor Octopus to Lex Luthor. Lex tricked Doc Ock into helping him destroy Superman. He pretended it was a partnership, but Ock was kind of Lex's hired muscle.
  • Villain Team-Up: Lex Luthor and Doctor Octopus team up to destroy Superman and Spider-Man.
    Lex: We each have our own nemesis, my friend. You, your Web-slinger — I, my Man of Steel. Still, tomorrow, perhaps...!
    Doc Ock: "Tomorrow"? Tomorrow, we'll be right here, Luthor — watched by those blasted all-seeing eyes!
    Luthor: Perhaps. Perhaps not. Still — if we were free tomorrow, would you care to join forces? To make a small trade?
    Doc Ock: Hah! "My enemy for yours"? Why not, Luthor?
  • Villain Teleportation: Lex's Superman's disguise was equipped with teleporting eye beams.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Doctor Octopus is way less dangerous when his glasses are broken.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Superman invokes the trope when he first confronts Lex.
    Superman: We were friends once, Luthor... long ago. For a time, I hoped we could be friends again – Maybe we will be, someday – but in the meantime, we are enemies, because you chose lawlessness, and I chose law!
  • World-Wrecking Wave: Lex's weaponized satellite created a massive tsunami which threatened with flooding the whole US East Coast.
    Lex: The Atlantic Coast will still be smashed beneath a two hundred mile tidal wave!
  • X-Ray Vision: Superman uses it to scan Luthor's machines and to anticipate Steve Lombardo's pranks.
  • You're Insane!: When Doctor Octopus finally finds out about Luthor's real goal he blurts out: "Dear Lord — He's mad!"
  • You Watch Too Much X: Upon exploring one of the Lex Luthor's secret lairs, Peter concludes that Lex has seen too many James Bond movies.
    Spider-Man: Your pal Luthor goes in for gizmos in a BIG WAY, Supes! You ask me, he's seen too many James Bond movies.

"And so, as our heroes fade into the sunset, we bid them a fond farewell — secure in the knowledge that peace reigns on Earth, and that justice is triumphant — for tonight, anyway."

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