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Comic Book / Batman & Captain America

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Batman & Captain America is a 1996 Elseworlds one-shot crossover written and illustrated by John Byrne, with coloring by Patricia Mulvihill. Batman and Captain America team up to stop Red Skull and The Joker.


  • The '40s: The story takes place during the height of World War II, with Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes reassigned from the battlefield to keep an eye on Bruce Wayne, whose connection to the Gotham Project makes him a potential security risk.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Red Skull and The Joker. Until the Joker realizes Red Skull was a Nazi and betrayed him.
  • The Cameo: Easy Company appears early in the comic, fighting alongside Captain America.
  • Canon Welding: The ending reveals that this story takes place in the same universe as Superman & Batman: Generations. Dick Grayson, having taken over as Batman, finds Cap in ice instead of the Avengers.
  • Combat Pragmatism: Bucky rolls his eyes at the Batmobile, saying it would be shredded like tissue paper on the battlefield. Batman agrees, and tells him it's specially built for urban settings — such as being able to drive at night with the headlights off.
  • Curse Cut Short: The Joker snarks about the Red Skull stating that Captain America is a source of frustration for him.
    Joker: And why would that be? Has there been some past occasion when you've had that big, shiny shield shoved up your...
    Red Skull: That will be enough of that, Joker!
  • Elseworld:
    • Takes place in a separate universe of the main DC and Marvel Universe, mostly putting Batman in World War II when Comic-Book Time means that the war was irrelevant to Batman stories for decades by the point it was made. It's also part of the same universe as Superman & Batman: Generations.
    • Instead of The Manhattan Project, it's called "The Gotham Project".
  • Era-Specific Personality: Since this takes place in the The '40s, characterisation matches the comics of the time. Batman and Captain America are both optimistic and well-adjusted, and the Joker is a straightforward crime lord with a clown motif rather than a crazed serial killer. Also since this takes place in The Golden Age of Comic Books during World War II, this Joker is also a patriotic American, unlike A Death in the Family when his The '80s variant tries to be an ambassador with Iran thanks to Ayatollah Khomeini (and for a greater scheme his Golden Age Anti-Nazi counterpart would not be pleased about).
  • "Eureka!" Moment: During their fight, Bruce Wayne is surprised a low-level private like Steve Rogers can match him move for move while Rogers is amazed the idle rich playboy can lift anything stronger than a martini glass. It suddenly hits Bruce who the military would send to "guard" him and he backs off, calling Steve "Captain." Briefly confused, Steve immediately laughs that the fighting skills and the Wayne fortune would go a long way to making Batman as they team up.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Joker (in his "Golden Age" version) may be a criminal lunatic, but he's an American criminal lunatic. Learning that Red Skull is an actual Nazi and not just acting like one as part of a gimmick causes him to flip his lid, and he immediately turns against him. Provides the trope image.
  • Eviler than Thou: Red Skull regards the Joker as a second-class villain, at best.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Of all people, the Joker helps save the day by fighting the Skull on top of the bomb inside the plane's cargo hold.
    Skull: You are nothing but a criminal clown while I was trained to be Germany's finest warrior!
    Joker: Yeah? Well, I always buy American myself!
  • Gilligan Cut: Bucky thinks Robin is jealous of his "exciting" partner... with the next panel having Bucky bored out of his skull as Cap is conferring with superiors in an office.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: While both Batman and Captain America are idealistic, they don't underestimate their respective villains.
  • Historical In-Joke: "The Gotham Project" is a reference to The Manhattan Project.
  • Homage: Byrne wanted to make the crossover an homage to the idealistic Golden Age Of Comic Books.
  • Joker Immunity: Discussed. Neither Batman nor Captain America think the Joker or the Skull perished — and this is after they blew up in a nuclear explosion — because it's the Joker and Red Skull, and they always finds a way to get out unscathed.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Notably averted with Batman and Captain America - when they first meet, they immediately recognize each other, know they're both heroes, and go beat up the Joker's henchmen together. Bruce Wayne and Private Steve Rogers on the other hand...
  • Meaningful Background Event: When Joker and Red Skull try to kill each other, the Red Skull's henchmen are shooting the Joker's in the back of the head, which is why the Joker has no support after they recover from their coughing fit.
  • Mutual Disadvantage: After the Joker turns on Red Skull, the two villains try to use their own weaponized toxins on each other to no effect. Since both Joker and Red Skull are immune to their own toxins and both Joker Venom and Red Skull's "dust of death" are remarkably similar, both characters are also immune to each other's toxins.
  • My Dad Can Beat Up Your Dad: Robin and Bucky have this kind of attitude going on. They get over it after swapping heroes for a while.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In the epilogue, Captain America is unfrozen in 1964, the same year he was revived in the real world. He wakes up screaming for Bucky, who was killed. (This is before the Winter Soldier, so it's assumed he was Killed Off for Real.)
    • JLA/Avengers would have Bats and Cap testing each other in hand-to-hand before quickly realizing fighting would be pointless.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Bruce Wayne is shown casually joking with one of the Wayne Foundation's employees.
  • No-Sell: The Joker and Red Skull try to kill each other with their respective poisons: Joker squirts Skull with his Joker gas while the Skull sprays Dust of Death in the Joker's face. Both of them have a bad coughing fit, but are otherwise unaffected. They surmise their poisons are too similar, and the Red Skull resorts to knocking the Joker out with a Tap on the Head.
  • Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: At one point, Steve overhears Bruce telling Dick he needs to "shed Private Rogers and keep his 'appointment' with the Joker", coming to the conclusion that his superiors' suspicions were correct and Bruce and Joker are working together. Of course, if he'd heard the entire conversation, he'd have known Bruce was talking about giving him the slip so he could "chase down the leads as they come up".
  • Real Person Cameo: Robert Oppenheimer appears in his role as one of the scientists behind the atomic bomb, and as the leader of the Manhattan Project, renamed the "Gotham Project" here.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: The Red Skull admits after having The Joker knocked out with a Tap on the Head he had no intention of honoring his alliance with him, and intended to have him arrested in Germany and paraded around as an example of American decadence and perversity.
  • Say My Name: Freshly de-iced Cap wakes up from his cryo-induced coma screaming, "BUCKY!"
  • Socialite: This is how Bruce Wayne bores the living heck out of Steve Rogers, dragging him all over town to parties.
  • The Stations of the Canon: Captain America still ends up frozen. Bucky still gets killed (though an Killed Offscreen).
  • Tell Me How You Fight:
    • Both Bruce Wayne and Steve Rogers end up having to fight one another, and are amazed by each other's abilities. This eventually leads them to realize each other's superhero identities, and call a truce.
    • Meanwhile, Batman and Cap swap sidekicks as well. Batman shows Bucky how he and the Batmobile are adapted to urban crimefighting, while Cap teaches Robin some military moves.
  • Villain Team-Up: Seriously subverted. At first, the Joker goes along with his mysterious employer because of the money. But when he learns he's been working for a literal dye-in-the-wool Nazi, the Joker refuses to have anything to do with the Skull.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: The Joker felt this way when Red Skull told him he makes a great Nazi.