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Comic Book / Marvel Versus DC

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Marvel Versus DC (or DC Versus Marvel) was a 1996 four-issue miniseries crossover event, written by Ron Marz and Peter David, and illustrated by Dan Jurgens and Claudio Castellini, that pitted characters from DC Comics against those from Marvel Comics.

You want more than that? Okay, here goes: both the DCU and the Marvel Universe exist within a pair of timeless cosmic entities, called "Brothers", who were created together but separated from each other after their first battle, which culminated with the destruction and recreation of the universe they inhabited. Because of this, they spent eons unconscious, and unaware of each other's existence, but a series of crossovers caused them to slowly gain awareness of each other again. Then and there, they each decided only one of them should encompass the whole of reality; but knowing that going head-to-head would just destroy everything again without a conclusion, they decided to set up a contest: each of the Brothers would choose eleven heroes, or "Champions", to represent them in a series of battles, and once the final score is tallied, the losing universe would cease to exist. Of these eleven fights, six served as warm-ups (winner in bold):

The "main event" of the crossover, so to speak, were the five fights involving some of the top characters of both publishers at the time, whose outcomes were to be decided by the readers. With them deliberately starting after all other fights left the contest at a stalemate, the fate of two universes was literally in the readers' hands. The results were as follows:

With the final score 6-5 to Marvel, the DC Universe would be wiped out, but the Spectre and the Living Tribunal opted for a different solution: forcing the Brothers to fuse together, creating the Amalgam Universe. They were forced to step in like this because, in the cosmic order of things, both universes were supposed to be kept inextricably separate, and the crossovers started to change this.

This is where Access comes in: once a drifter named Axel Asher, he soon learned he carried within himself a shard of the Brothers' essence, and received his powers from his predecessor, a hobo who tended to an oversized cardboard box in an alley in New York City, which in fact hid a gateway between the universes, and became ground zero for the crossover when the gate became too powerful to contain. As a last-ditch attempt, Access was forced to share his power with Batman and Captain America, whose duel had just taken place nearby, so when the universes were combined, Access made sure to take these shards back from both heroes' amalgamated forms to empower the Spectre and the Living Tribunal, helping them keep both universes' integrity while splitting Amalgam back into DC and Marvel. Unfortunately, this only made the Brothers go "screw this" and straight-up fight each other. Knowing this would be the irrevocable end, Batman and Cap convince Access to let them try and stop the Brothers - which they do once they see their respective heroes, and see each of their universe has their own worth. So they stop trying to destroy each other, go their separate ways and all is well, right?

Well... Not quite. The series got a sequel in 1997, titled DC/Marvel: All Access (also penned by Marz, but this time illustrated by Jackson Guice and Josef Rubinstein, the latter of which worked in the original series as an inker), in which characters are crossing universes randomly and, as this must mean something is trying to force the universes back together, Access must step in again to keep things right in the Multiverse. But the root of the problem might be closer than he thinks... Likely in a certain building in Bleecker Street...

Finally, later in that same year, Unlimited Access (written by Karl Kesel and drawn by Pat Olliffe) closed the Marvel Versus DC trilogy. While still trying to get the hang of his powers, Access accidentally learns he can travel not only through space, but also time, at the same time an unknown force is bringing villains associated with Darkseid to take over the Marvel Universe. Access tumbles through different timelines trying to get a hang of his powers and to get enough heroes to fight off the threat of Apokolips, even if they have to be as far apart in time as the original X-Men and the Young Justice.

Because of the scope, this was one of the highest-profile crossovers between Marvel and DC, and also one of the last few until JLA/Avengers, which is, so far, the companies' last official collaboration.

Tropes found in Marvel Versus DC and its sequels include:

  • Alternate Universe: The Brothers represent the DC and Marvel universes, though it's also implied that they more accurately represent each multiverse and just chose to use heroes from the main comic Earths.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Zig-Zagged, as on the one hand the Brothers are the embodiments of the DC and Marvel multiverses and therefore every cosmic being is part of them. On the other hand the Living Tribunal and the Spectre were able to merge the two together.
  • Always Someone Better: Quicksilver's problem when fighting the Flash. Ties into his Heel Realization below.
  • Badass Normal: They did rather well in the contest: of the non-powered combatants, only Catwoman lost, and she was fighting another Badass Normal (more or less) in Elektra. Robin beat Jubilee (who is a mutant) and Batman (rather more impressively) beat Captain America.
  • Battle Discretion Shot: The brawl between Wolverine and Lobo is concluded behind the bar of Lobo's favorite drinking hole. After a delay, Wolverine emerges, casually smoking a cigar. The writers also drew an alternate ending with Lobo reaching for the cigar instead, just in case.
  • Bridal Carry: Storm carries an unconscious Wonder Woman this way after beating her.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Aquaman wins his battle with Namor by dropping an orca on him from behind.
    Aquaman: That's your problem, Namor. You're too noble to cheat.
    • Averted with Wonder Woman, who finds herself able to lift Mjolnir just as Storm appears for their fight. Wonder Woman decides it would be unfair to fight with that extra power boost and ditches the hammer.note 
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Kyle Rayner and Silver Surfer had a team-up shortly before this series, and they acknowledge this. Also, Joker remembers Spider-Man from Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds (which was published the year before this event), but notes he changed his uniform, without knowing it's actually another Spider-Man.
    • A few months later, Superman seeks out Access in his crossover with the Fantastic Four.
  • Continuity Snarl:
    • The Spider-Man that appears in the series is Ben Reilly rather than Peter Parker, as the Clone Saga was still running in all the Spider-Books at the time (he even wears the modified Spidey costume that would later belong to Spider-Girl). However, when out of costume Ben has his normal appearance of looking like Peter rather than the look he'd adopted with his hair dyed blonde and cut short. And while he does introduce himself to Clark Kent as Ben Reilly, he also asks to be referred to as Peter Parker.
    • The Joker recognizes Spider-Man (there had been a recent crossover between Spider-Man and Batman), but no one else seems to recognize or even be aware of the other universe's characters, even if they had met in earlier crossovers (Superman and the Hulk, for example). Of course later comics would explain that the characters do forget crossovers once they end outside of vague feelings of familiarity, so it's possible that the Joker's special case of insanity allowed him to remember.
  • Depending on the Artist: There were a few inconsistencies between Dan Jurgens' and Claudio Castellini's art, who shared every single issue of it:
    • Mjolnir's handle: Jurgens drew it tied to a leather strap; Castellini drew it tied to a chain.
    • Elektra's headgear is a kerchief to Jurgens, and just a red strip around her forehead, not covering hair in Castellini's art.
    • Lobo's hair: wavy to Jurgens, straight to Castellini.
    • Still on Lobo: Jurgens' rendition of him has him wearing a sleeveless t-shirt under his vest and an Iron Cross necklace, while Castellini drew him bare-chested save for the vest.
  • Duct Tape for Everything: Morty's first solution to contain the dimensional leak is tape the heck out of his box. It doesn't work, but the box holds together for a good while.
    Morty: First law of the universe: can never have too much duct tape!
  • Enemy Within: The true mastermind of All Access, Doctor Strangefate, was hiding within Doctor Strange's subconscious all along, using his powers to evade psychic detection until the time was right to re-merge the universes.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Superman makes his entrance by putting the Juggernaut on his ass with one punch. Unstoppable force, indeed.note 
  • Expy Coexistence: Thanos and Darkseid meet each other and instantly get at each other's throats, culminating in a fight in issue #4 that brings both universes' heroes to stop them - all this as the Brothers are about to go to war with each other.
  • Fusion Dance: The amalgams created in All Access and Unlimited Access are brought about by this method, rather than their universes straight-up merging. In the main series, Wonder Woman holds Mjolnir, turning into a Greek/Norse demigoddess (if not outright goddess.)
  • Future Me Scares Me: Access has this twice in Unlimited Access: first when he discovers that Morty is a future version of himself, and later when he finds out Darkseid's mysterious associate is another version of himself who accepted to join him.
  • Heel Realization: Quicksilver has an opportunity to win his battle against the Flash when the Fastest Man Alive inhales some gas fumes during a rescue. He starts to beat the Flash down but suddenly realizes that he's only winning because he's taking advantage of someone who stopped to help a trucker who got trapped with his son when his tanker crashed. The hesitation this creates gives the Flash his moment to recover and defeat Quicksilver instead.
  • Hoist Hero over Head: Bane was about to break Captain America's back, but was hit from behind by Cap's shield.
  • Honor Before Reason: Wonder Woman tosses away Mjolnir for her battle with Storm, feeling a win with the hammer's power enhancement would be dishonorable. Never mind that her entire universe's existence was at stake.
  • Hulk Smash: Lampshaded and invoked by the actual Hulk (who, at the time, was in his Merged Hulk personality) when making firewood. Betty Ross laughs and tells him not to scare her like that.
  • Humans Are Special: What ultimately causes the Brothers to back down is seeing the lengths that Batman and Cap are willing to go to make them stop fighting. They see the entire history that led them to that point and decide it's not worth it to let it all go to waste with either of them dying.
  • Knocking the Knockoff: Darkseid meets Thanos and calls him "a pale imitation".
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When Darkseid meets Thanos, he refers to the latter as a "pale imitation of [himself]". In fact, Thanos' creator Jim Starlin admitted that Thanos was based on Darkseid. Fittingly enough, in the amalgamated universe, both characters were merged into Thanoseid.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Unlike other instances of the trope, the heroes are well aware that there's an outside force compelling them to fight, and lament the fact that there's nothing they can do about it. All Access plays this straighter with the showdown between the JLA and the X-Men, which only starts because Bishop has a gun trained on Batman, who couldn't bother to wait for a diplomatic resolution.
  • The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life: Being Access complicates very much Axel's relationship with Ming.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Near the end of the original Marvel vs. DC miniseries, the Hulk refers to Superman fighting the Mole Man and his underlings in the Batcave as "Superman vs. the Mole Men". This could very well be a reference to Superman and the Mole Men, a 1951 film starring the Man of Steel that featured underground humanoids, which is the first feature-length film based on a DC superhero. In addition, the scene has Superman putting himself in the path of a gigantic ray gun fired by the Mole Men, a reference to the movie's climactic scene.
    • Elektra defeats Catwoman by dropping her into a barge full of sand, much in the same way Batman dropped her into the back of the kitty litter truck in Batman Returns.
    • The bloody sky is a reference to Crisis on Infinite Earths.
    • Thor comments that Captain Marvel has an alter-ego too, but at least Marvel's isn't cripplednote . Billy then replies Thor has to meet Freddy Freeman (Captain Marvel, Jr, whose alter-ego also has a crippled leg).
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Unlimited Access added time travel and fusion of people from different universes to Access' power set.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: Enforced by the Brothers; opponents only need to be restrained to count as defeated, like the three-count pin in a wrestling match (the narration helpfully makes the comparison).
    Namor: And pardon me if I finish this farce. For you are helpless, and I am hardly immobi... (notices the Shadow of Impending Doom upon him) ...lized?
    (Orca SPLAT!)
    Aquaman: Now you're immobilized.
    • Worth noting is that this was not put in place out of morality, the Brothers couldn't give a damn if their champions die, it's just they were too impatient to wait for the various Physical Gods to actually finish each other off to say nothing of how many of them likely would have refused to breach Thou Shalt Not Kill even under such dire circumstances.
  • Only the Chosen May Wield: Wonder Woman is deemed worthy of Mjolnir. Thor is even at a loss when she nonchalantly hands it to him during the fight against Thanos and Darkseid.
  • Popularity Power: With the main fights being decided by popular vote, this was a given. The fights that involved the X-Men, specifically, were very controversial - especially Wolverine vs. Lobo, which many point out the Main Man should have won since his Healing Factor is more potent than Wolverine'snote , so he could keep fighting for longer (this was handwaved by Word of God explaining that Lobo was paid to take a dive). Similarly, Storm beating Wonder Woman by zapping her with lightning a few times is considered ridiculous these days (considering that not only Wonder Woman's bracelets are capable of deflecting lightning, they can summon lightning if she beats them together), but in the mid-90's, the X-Men were at the height of popularity. Meanwhile, the writers also expected Captain America to beat Batman, but reversed the way it was supposed to be resolved (Bats would be knocked out by Cap's shield).
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Superman, just before knocking out The Hulk.
  • Red Sky, Take Warning: What happens when the Brothers take matters into their own hands, itself a Shout-Out to Crisis on Infinite Earths.
    Wonder Woman: Is... is what I think is happening... happening?
    Thor: Aye. The sky is... bleeding.
  • Shamu Fu: Aquaman ends his fight with Namor by using his powers to force a whale to jump on top of Namor.
  • Skewed Priorities: Even though the outcome of the contest will cause one universe to die out, people still take their time placing bets on who will win each fights. Lampshaded by Lois Lane.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Superman gets in two fights and emerges victorious against two Marvel characters who are strongÖ..and thatís it, The Juggernaut and The Hulk. Meanwhile, he has a LOT of powers at his disposal, and one of the characters he fights (Juggernaut) is not used to dealing with people on his physical level. Also, note that Superman is essentially DC Comics franchise character (alongside Batman), while Hulk is simply one of Marvelís more popular characters. While they drew an alternate ending of Hulk winning, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion Superman would win.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: Sort of, Access already had a girlfriend in the Marvel universe but during All Access starts a romantic relationship with a character from the DC universe. Given that he's destined to spend the rest of his life jumping between each universe as otherwise crossovers will occur, it's easy to understand why he would feel the need to have a connection with someone in the DC universe.
  • Talk to the Fist: Superman comments that he and The Hulk were teleported to the Grand Canyon where no bystanders would be hurt — Hulk interrupts him by punching him and saying, "Let's just get down to it."
  • Transformation Is a Free Action: Averted in the battle between Thor and Captain Marvel. When Thor realizes that Captain Marvel's transformation is triggered by magic lightning, the Thunder God uses his hammer to intercept it.
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: What the entire contest amounted to, both for the readers and for the Brothers themselves. Also applies to the JLA and the X-Men duking it out in All Access.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Access' DC girlfriend from All Access doesn't appear or get mentioned in Unlimited Access.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Robin defeats Jubilee just by distracting her and tying her up. At first she's embarrassed to lose without even getting hit, but she thinks it's cute that he brings up this trope.
  • Your Universe or Mine?: Robin and Jubilee, moreso on her part (because Robin already had a girlfriendnote ). She even cajoles Access into taking her to the DCU to see Tim again in All Access.
    • Access himself fell into this: he already had a girlfriend in Marvel!Earth, and when he saved a lady from Venom in Metropolis, she also fell for him. So now he has one girlfriend in each 'verse.

Alternative Title(s): DC Versus Marvel