"Hey! You got your DC in my Marvel!"
"No, you got your Marvel in my DC!"
"Hey! Wait a minute... "
In 1996, Marvel Comics and DC Comics co-created a Limited Series called, oddly enough, Marvel Versus DC, in which the Superheroes of the two powerhouse Comic Book companies met, fought, and came out friends— then had their memories of the whole affair erased. Except for a very few, who remembered.
It seems that The Multiverse of each company's main continuity was in fact the creation of two Sufficiently Advanced Aliens known as "The Brothers". For eons, they were ignorant of each other until the first Intercontinuity Crossover brought them to each others' attention. Each wanting to be the singular Anthropomorphic Personification of the Multiverse, they decided that in true Superhero fashion, the matter could only be settled with a Fight Scene. Or rather, a series of one-on-one battles between the most similar heroes. Some of these fights were between characters who would later be Amalgamated, such as Spider-Man and Superboy. Some were matched by ability; the Badass Normal Batman versus the Badass Normal Captain America, for example. The loser's universe would be destroyed, so both sides had plenty of motivation to kill each other. At the same time, a young man named Axel Asher, A.K.A. Access, discovered that he was a shard of the original joined reality. This was apparently a mantle that was passed down from generations (he acquired the abilities from a homeless man who died soon after). Access could only stand by and watch as the two universes did battle. Marvel was ahead six to five, when suddenly...
The Powers That Be named the Living Tribunal and The Spectre try to take the pressure off by merging both universes into an Amalgam where the iconic main characters of each world merge into single beings with aspects of each— Wolverine and Batman become Dark Claw, Superman and Captain America become Super Soldier (he really was one, too). Some were merged because they were similar in powers or purpose, others because their names sounded alike (resulting in some awful punny names) and still others for the heck of it (see the list below). Each had a "remembered" history that splits the difference between the merged characters— there was a Golden Age Super Soldier who joined the All-Star Winners Squadron, a Wild West team of mutant "malforms" called Generation Hex, etc.
The Brothers quickly pulled themselves apart, thus separating the Marvel Universe and DC Universe once again. Angered, they decided to forego the contest and simply battle each other. This would've surely resulted in the destruction of both universes.
Access managed to bring Cap and Bats to the interdimensional battlefield between the Brothers, and showed the big boys a first-hand look at the beings whose realities they were planning to eliminate— and they liked what they saw. Impressed by the iron wills of these two mere mortals, and seeing that they weren't so different, the Brothers called off their grudge match, the Reset Button was pressed, the limited series ended, and all was good... for a while.
Turns out Access can't stay in one universe too long, or his powers go haywire and begin transposing inhabitants from one universe to another. And in the sequel All Access, it turned out the Amalgam Sorcerer Doctor Strangefate had hidden himself in Doctor Strange's mind, and burst out to try to re-create his universe by merging the Big Two. So once again, cue fight music as the JLA and X-Men throw down, only to be saved by the original Doctor Strange creating an independent Amalgam Universe without affecting the original two (though based on the first one). This Amalgamverse was safely tucked away inside Access and again all is well. Except for a few whacky Time Travel adventures in the Unlimited Access miniseries, but those had no plot effects and were apparently just for fun.
Several sets of Amalgam comics set in the merged universe have been published jointly by both companies. The titles include Bruce Wayne: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Iron Lantern, Bullets & Bracelets, Justice League Avengers, and many others.
In the Marvel Multiverse, it was originally listed as Earth-692 before being retconned to Earth-9602. Meanwhile DC has established that it exists on Earth-496.
- Amazon (1996).
- Assassins (1996).
- Bruce Wayne Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (1996).
- Bullets and Bracelets (1996).
- Doctor Strangefate (1996).
- JLX (1996).
- Legends of the Dark Claw (1996).
- Magneto and the Magnetic Men (1996).
- Speed Demon (1996).
- Spider-Boy (1996).
- Super Soldier (1996).
- X-Patrol (1996).
- Bat-Thing (1997).
- Challengers of the Fantastic (1997).
- Dark Claw Adventures (1997).
- The Exciting X-Patrol (1997).
- Generation Hex (1997).
- Iron Lantern (1997).
- JLX Unleashed (1997).
- Lobo the Duck (1997).
- Magnetic Men Featuring Magneto (1997).
- Spider-Boy Team-Up (1997).
- Super Soldier: Man of War (1997).
- Thorion of the New Asgods (1997).
Tropes demonstrated by the Amalgam Universe:
- Action Politician: Ben Grimm is a U.S. Senator in this continuity, as well as members of the Challengers of the Fantastic.
- Adaptation Amalgamation: Basically characters and backstories from Marvel Comics and DC Comics are combinated into a new shared universe.
- Adaptational Heroism: Doctor Octopus, in the Spider-Boy titles.
- Thunderbolt Ross is depicted far more sympathetically, as he adopts Spider-Boy and plays a role similar to Uncle Ben.
- While neither of his component characters are outright villains (usually), Niles Cable is more unambiguously good. He doesn't seem to have either the Sociopathic Hero traits of Niles Caulder nor be a Well-Intentioned Extremist Anti-Hero like Cable started out as.
- Adaptational Villainy: Kyle Rayner's counterpart in Iron Lantern, due to being amalgamed with the Face Heel Turned Guardsman.
- Cable and Manhunter are both heroes in their respective universes, but become the villainous mercenary Wired.
- Deathlok (a cyborg who, in every iteration, wishes to break free of his killing machine programming) and Jason Todd (the then-thought-dead Robin, whose Red Hood Anti-Villain days wouldn't be for another nine years) are merged into a ruthless cyborg HYDRA agent.
- Mr. Freeze lacks the redeeming qualities he has in the comics, due to being merged with Nazi scientist Wolfgang von Strucker.
- All-American Face: Super-Soldier.
- All There in the Manual: See Letters to the Editor. This includes also the Crisis Crossover mentioned below.
- All Women Are Lustful: White Witch.
- Alternate Universe: Challengers of the Fantastic shows Prof Richards discovering Universe-2, a Composite Character of DC's Earth-2 and Marvel's The New Universe. The Lobo the Duck comic is also implied to take place in a separate reality while Dark Claw Adventures is supposed to be canon to an animated show about the character.
- Animated Adaptation: Dark Claw Adventures was drawn in the style of The Batman Adventures and billed as being based on the animated version of the character.
- As You Know: Played with. Most of the comics go into a flashback in the first half to explain the origins of their titular characters, but in-universe it is treated as the comics existing for years.
- Attention Whore: Deconstructed with Spider-Boy, for whom with great power comes great showbiz: this stems from the turning point of his life, when his "Uncle Gen" (General Thunderbolt Ross) was murdered in front of him and the killer ran away without harming Pete because he thought he was Just a Kid. Thus, essentially Spider-Boy is drawing enemy fire to himself so that no one else will get caught in it on his watch.
- Atrocious Alias: Some of the portmanteau names are just painfully stupid.
- At least in one case, it was done on purpose due to the Rule of Funny: there's a merge of two characters who already had each one separately DC's Matter-Eater Lad, from Legion of Super-Heroes, and Marvel's villain Paste-Pot Pete (who changed his name to Trapster) were combined into... Paste-Eater Pete.
- Plus calling the Flash/Cannonball amalgam "Cannonflash" instead of "Flashcannon" because Cannon comes first in his name.
- Badass Normal: Most of the characters in the title Bruce Wayne: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Catsai from Assassins, Trevor Castle from Bullets and Bracelets. The whole eponymous team of Challengers of the Fantastic also qualify, although Rocky Grimm temporarily became an Empowered Badass Normal.
- Cliffhanger: Several of the one-shots had twist endings or left plot points seeking resolution. For example Bruce Wayne Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. has an ending which implied that most of the featured heroes and villains were killed in an explosion. Their fate was never clarified. X-Patrol ended with a major character crippled and the rest of the team reacting to it.
- Composite Character: The whole point of the universe is that pretty much every single character is a combination of a DC character and a Marvel character.
- Two examples that really stand out here are Magneto and Will Magnus. As if it wasn't enough to make one character out of the original two, they decided to make two characters, explain them as brothers and put them on opposite sides of the law. Even more interesting, the one who took the name Magneto ended up becoming a hero, while the one called Will Magnus became the villain (who, funnily enough, is a Donald Pierce-esque mutant persecutor), in a reversal of their namesakes' usual roles.
- Dr. Strangefate is the only character to be fully aware that the Amalgam Universe is not "real", and so attacked Access to prevent the universes from being restored. The ending of his issue was a Tearjerker.
- Although most characters are the fusion of only two characters (one from Marvel, one from DC), some charters are the amalgam of more than two characters: Dr. Strangefate mentioned above is one DC character (Dr. Fate) merged with two Marvel ones (Dr. Strange and Charles Xavier); Speed Demon is the merge of two DC characters (The Flash/Barry Allen and Etrigan) with one from Marvel (Ghost Rider/Johnny Blaze).
- The Magnetic Men are an interesting case: in the 1996's title Magneto and the Magnetic Men, they were just Marvel's the original Brotherhood of Mutants' members merged with the Metal Men. In the 1997 title Magnetic Men featuring Magneto, however, they got human disguises and civilian identities. This made them be the combination of three or four characters, like Iron/John Henry Steel (Iron of the Metal Men + Steel/John Henry Irons + Unus the Untouchable) and Bismuth/Snapper Jones (Tin of the Metal Men + Snapper Carr + Toad/Mortimer Toynbee + Rick Jones).
- The exception is the Wonder Woman and Bullets and Bracelets comics. Diana is basically Wonder Woman without the name or costume (kind of like the period when Artemis took the Wonder Woman mantle), while Ororo remains the same Storm she ever was, except she's called Wonder Woman and wears the costume, while still having her normal Storm powers.
- Cosmic Retcon: In Spider-Boy Team-Up the title character is saved moments before his death by the Legion of Galactic Guardians from 2099, who want to thank him for being such an inspiration before his death. However they are attacked by the Frightful Five who destroy Spider-Boy's only means of return home which risks a Chronal Collapse. He is taken five years into the future by the surviving members of the Legion who rebuilt the machine and try to send him back to his time. However the Chronal Collapse seemingly erases the original future and Spider-Boy arrives in a rebooted 2099 with an altered version of the Legion. This version has less members, with some pre-reboot characters being replaced or heavily altered like Invisible Girl (a Dark-Skinned Blond who becomes a white woman) and Lady Bug (who seems to be human pre-reboot but looks like an alien post-reboot).
- Crisis Crossover: The Secret Crisis of the Infinity Hour.
- Crossover Alternate Universe: Since it's a crossover between Marvel and DC, we get this universe.
- Death by Adaptation: Peter Parker did exist in here, and contributed genetic material for the creation of Spider-Boy (his own DNA and, probably, spider DNA), but since the experiment was rigged, he was killed in an explosion.
- Decomposite Character: In some cases, a single Marvel or DC character originated more than one amalgam: Marvel's Daredevil originated Dare (merged with Deathstroke, in Assassins) and Deaddevil (merged with Deadman, in The Exciting X-Patrol); DC's Batman originated the titular characters of Legends of the Dark Claw (merged with Wolverine) and Bruce Wayne: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Meanwhile, Diana didn't become Wonder Woman, rather becoming the lead of Bullets & Bracelets, while Ororo (Storm) became Wonder Woman. And Cable was merged into both Niles Caulder (to form the heroic Niles Cable) and Manhunter (to form the villainous Wired).
- Depending on the Artist:
- Shatterstarfire's fingers. In X-Patrol, drawn by Roger Cruz, she had four fingers per hand, as Shatterstar; In The Exciting X-Patrol, penciled by Bryan Hitch, she had five fingers per hand, as Starfire (and most humans).
- The Silver Racer appearances in Challengers of the Fantastic and Spider-Boy Team-up are meant to happen at the same time, but his costume differs a bit from one appearance to the other: it's much more detailed in the latter◊ than in the former.
- Evil Is Not a Toy: The Hellfire League of Injustice summon Fing Fang Flame to destroy all the mutants, only to be reduced to skeletons for their troubles because Flame considers all humanity to be mutated.
- Expy Coexistence:
- Thanos, an Expy of Darkseid, not only met the source material, but also got fused with him.
- The Fantastic Four, created as Expies of the Challengers of the Unknown, also merged with them.
- FaceHeel Turn: Firebird, for whom some of Phoenix's story was used, including the Dark Phoenix Saga.
- The Fantastic Faux: The Challengers of the Fantastic are an amalgamation of the Fantastic Four and the Challengers of the Unknown.
- Framing Device: About half of the original comics are flashbacks giving exposition to the merged characters' origins.
- Gender Flip: Marvel's Daredevil and DC's Deathstroke are both male, but they were merged into a female character: Slade Murdock/Dare from Assassins.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Super-Soldier, the combination of both universes's biggest All Loving Heroes, has blonde hair.
- Hulk Smash: Inevitable with The Skulk (Hulk + Solomon Grundy).
- Letters to the Editor: Some of the one-shots had faux letter columns with letters from portmanteaus of DC/Marvel creators (such as Simon Siegel) referencing earlier issues of other comics in the Amalgam line. There were also other characters that were only mentioned in the letter pages.
- Mutants: A given considering this universe is half-Marvel. Except they are called "metamutants", as they are called metahumans in DC. Considering they used to be called "malforms" in Jono Hex's time, this may be a step up.
- Mythology Gag: Robin and Jubilee being combined to make Sparrow, aside from working due to both of them being protégés of the heroes that make up Dark Claw's being, is doubly cool due to part of Jubilee's look being inspired by the Carrie Kelly Robin from The Dark Knight Returns.
- Spider-Boy's secret identity takes the first name of Peter Parker and the last name of his father, General Ross. Thus, it's Pete Ross, which was name of Superboy's best friend and Secret-Keeper.
- One of the artifacts Strangefate collected is Sir Kal's sword from Elseworlds' Superman Kal.
- In Exciting X-Patrol, Niles Cable discusses a Morton's Fork situation he finds himself in, and tells Raveniya the Healer that it's a matter of which doom will hurt the patrol the least.
- The Challengers of the Fantastic are basically the four members of the Fantastic Four without powers, but they have access to tech that allows them to emulate the powers of their Earth-616 counterparts (such as Prof Richards using one of Doc Ock's metal harnesses to invoke the original's Rubber Man abilities) to combat Rocky Grimm, who gets turned into (what else?) a monster made of orange rocks by Galactiac. The Challengers manage to reverse the transformation, but Rocky later asks Prof to find a way to make him transform into the rock monster again, except with him in control which, humorously enough, is the inverse of how the Thing usually gripes that Reed can never find a way to turn him back to normal or, if he does, it doesn't last long.
- Thorion's world was seemingly created after one very similar to Thor's usual nine realms was cosmically retconned by Odin's pact with the source. Thus, we go from the gods of Asgard to a setting that fuses their setting with that of the New Gods', which is similar to Jack Kirby's original intent of the New Gods having replaced the asgardians (despite not being allowed to explicitly state as much).
- Palette Swap: A few of the amalgams, such as Beastling and Thanoseid, have the body of one component, and the color scheme of the other.
- Space Police: The Starbrand Corps that were mentioned in Iron Lantern. They are suggested to be one due to being an amalgamation of The New Universe's Star Brand and the Green Lantern Corps.
- Super Soldier: Super-Soldier, natch.
- Trenchcoat Brigade: Bruce Banner
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Doctor Strangefate wants his universe to be kept together, even if he has to make two others collapse into it. Since the DC and Marvel universes are incompatible with each other (even the size of the Earths is different), we would later see the potential consequences of doing so in JLA/Avengers.