I love a good intercompany crossover. The chance to see characters interact that, under normal conditions, would never cross paths always gives me warm, fuzzy feelings. Having read a ton over the years, I’ve decided to highlight some of my absolute favorites.
Batman ’66 Green Hornet (DC/Dynamite)
Since DC Comics reacquired the license a few years ago, they’ve been on a tear in pumping out Batman ’66 content, and that includes crossover comics. They have crossed paths with Steed & Mrs. Peel (BOOM! Studios), and the gang from Riverdale (Archie), but the best crossover to date remains their meeting with Dynamite’s Green Hornet in a comic sequel to a small-screen team-up.
Penned by Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman with art from Ty Templeton and covers by Alex Ross, this crossover was a dream come true for fans of both the classic show and good, fun comics. Smith has admitted that most of the writing was done by Garman. If that is the case, major props to the first-time comic writer. This isn’t so much a comic as it is an episode of the classic show transposed onto the page. Character mannerisms and speech patterns are authentic, and because of that readers can buy into the over-the-top action sequences which are way beyond the show’s budget.
Witchbade: Demon Reborn (Top Cow/Dynamite)
The best of these intercompany crossovers predates Dynamite’s existence as a publisher, instead the result of a licensing arrangement with Top Cow and parent company Dynamic Forces. Published in 2003, this one shot by Mark Millar and Jae Lee was only 14 pages of story and retailed for $6. However, those 14 pages comprise arguably one of the best Witchblade stories ever. Succinct in its storytelling and featuring great art from an up-and-coming Lee, Witchblade: Demon is a hard-boiled noir thriller infused with supernatural elements.
Nine years after the Witchblade: Demon one-shot Dynamite produced a 4-issue sequel series. With no Mark Millar and no Jae Lee at the helm, it was up to the creative team of Andre Parks and Jose Luis to carry the torch. While this duo may not have the same pedigree as the team behind the 2003 one-shot, what they did have was the time and space (literally 9 times the page space) to craft an interesting sci-fi mystery. While this is more of a collaboration between publishers rather than an actual crossover, I’m counting it as one. Because I can.
Rocketeer/The Spirit: Pulp Friction (DC/IDW)
Will Eisner’s The Spirit is one of the most influential comic creations of all time, but the character has had a difficult time finding a stable home in recent years. Before taking up residence at Dynamite, DC held the rights to the character for a decade. During that time, there was an awesome series by the legendary Darwyn Cooke, and there was this intercompany crossover with IDW’s Rocketeer.
Written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Paul Smith and J. Bone, this is simply a good time. The characters are well written and demonstrate good chemistry. While there is certainly a personality clash between the two heroes (and their supporting cast), it is not overblown and adds a nice touch of humor as the series progresses. Villain motivations are often… problematic in these types of crossovers, and this is no different. At least this one sees a less convoluted than some of the others seen on this list. Overall, this is one of the better written intercompany crossovers because the story takes precedence over the spectacle of the mashup.
The Marvel vs. DC Comics crossover of the 1990s may have seen a lot of buzz, but for an actual story it was largely shit. Consider this: the best thing about Marvel vs. DC Comics was the creation of the [short lived] Amalgam Universe. That’s how bad it was. There’s big, dumb fun, and then there’s dumb. This 1990s “story” is definitely the latter.
JLA/Avengers, on the other hand, is a largely enjoyable story thanks to the creative team of Kurt Busiek and George Perez. Yes, there are big, cosmic shenanigans and stupid logic, but the creative team seems in on the idea that this is supposed to be big, dumb fun for readers to enjoy. Rather than having the heroes of both publishers fight each other, Busiek and Perez give readers childhood wish fulfillment by having the JLA and Avengers work side-by-side. Yes, there’s the obligatory heroes-fight-heroes first, but it is done in a manner which serves the plot. Though such a crossover is unlikely to ever happen again, we can at least savor the existence of this one.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles / Usagi Yojimbo (IDW/Dark Horse)
The TMNT and Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo have had their fair share of crossovers since the 1980s, including Miyamoto Usagi making guest appearances in the 1987, 2003, and 2012 cartoons. However, it is this 2017 one-shot written and illustrated by Sakai that is the cream of the crop. A master at his craft, Sakai was given carte blanche to do with the Ninja Turtles as he saw fit. The result was one of the few 5-star reviews I’ve given to a book. There’s a lot more I can say about this, but my recommendation is to just go read it.
Monster War (Top Cow/Dynamite)
What’s this? Another crossover between Top Cow and Dynamite? Yes. This time Dynamite brings their versions of public domain monsters together with four of the Cow’s heavy hitters. Each issue is dedicated to one battle, with overarching story beats interwoven across the four issues.
Okay, there’s something I need to get out of the way. This is by no means a good miniseries. In fact, it’s pretty bad. The art is subpar. The writing has more in common with a trashy romance novel than the supernatural thrillers it tries to emulate. And it starts off rough, with the crossover’s opening chapter overtly sexualizing Magdalena – probably the only character in the Top Cow roster where doing so feels beyond icky. But in the second issue (Tomb Raider vs. The Wolf-Men), the creative team finds its footing, becoming more self-aware and taking the book from “bad” to “so bad-it’s-good.”
Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (DC/IDW)
As a child, there were only 2 things that mattered: Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Apparently, I was not the only one with this attitude, and the fine folks at DC and IDW knew exactly how to hit readers in the nostalgia by crossing over each publisher’s biggest properties. Thanks to the rock-solid creative team of James Tynion IV and Freddie E. Williams II, this crossover was miles better than it had any right to be. A sequel series came out a few years later. Though not quite as good, it’s still worth a read.
Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man
The first of the modern intercompany crossovers, this 1976 story saw DC’s Man of Steel and Marvel’s Webhead team up against their mad scientist foes: Lex Luthor and Doctor Octopus. Completely outside of both characters’ canon, probably the most notable thing about this is the all-star creative team: Gerry Conway (story), Ross Andru, Neal Adams, John Romita Sr. (pencils), and Dick Giordano (inks).
Archie vs. Predator (Archie/Dark Horse)
Okay, this one is bonkers that it even happened, let alone being good. Perhaps the most unlikely of crossovers, it is arguably the most badass of them all. Archie crossovers are always fun, fully embracing the ridiculousness of any situation. Seeing the gee-golly, wholesome kids from Riverdale engage in a bloody battle with the Predator sounds bonkers, so the creative team made it bonkers.
Dishonorable Mention: Witchblade: Shades of Grey (Top Cow/Dynamite)
This fucking thing. Look, I like that Dynamite has been able to carve out a niche in the market by taking classic characters and putting new spins on them. Their work with old pulp heroes like The Shadow is especially admirable. Their James Bond books are fantastic. Red Sonja kicks ass. But who in the right mind thought Dorian Grey could be re-purposed as a compelling superhero?
Witchblade: Shades of Grey is said to take place between issues #8 and #9 of the original Witchblade run, and the creative team of John Reppion, Leah Moore, Stephen Segovia and Walter Geovani certainly do a great job in recreating the feel of those mid-1990s comics. Unfortunately, this series was published in the late 2000s, right in the midst of Ron Marz’s definitive and less objectifying run on the character. I’m a huge fan of the work Marz (and to a lesser extent, Tim Seeley) did in making Witchblade a strong, character and story-driven title. However, this crossover only reinforced the majority of comics fandom’s preconceived notions regarding the character. There are certainly worse crossovers out there (Batman/Spawn anyone?), but this gets the dishonorable mention for actively doing great harm to a character working through a reinvention.