The rivalry between Marvel and DC has led to some cool crossover events. We have gotten to see our favorite heroes slug it out, such as 1996’s Marvel Vs. DC, or twenty years earlier with Superman Vs. The Amazing Spider-Man Treasury. These are just some officially sanctioned DC/Marvel crossovers, but there are several unofficial, off-the-record crossovers too. For this post, I want to spotlight two issues. Each company inadvertently features one of the other company’s characters in one of its own titles. This is done by the writers (Alan Moore and Mark Gruenwald, here), and in these cases, it was to pay homage to a character from the other company.
Man-Thing at DC
Swamp Thing 47 is a story by the great Alan Moore, where Swamp Thing heads to Brazil and gets some revelations about who he is and where he comes from. In Brazil, Swamp Thing is lead by John Constantine and some natives deep into the Brazilian jungle. Constantine tells Swamp Thing what he knows about his nature, that he is part of a race called Plant Elementals, and there are many that came before him. Swamp Thing is lead into a section of the forest called The Parliament of Trees. These are Plant Elementals that have “lived too long and grown too wise for the distractions of the world”.
Swamp Thing learns some revelations and wisdom from his ancestors, whose various faces can be seen in the forestry all around him. While he is traveling through the Parliament of Trees there is a panel that shows what looks to be a distant cousin of his from the “distinguished competition”. On the sixteenth page in the lower-right panel we can clearly see half of a swamp creature’s face that looks like none other than Marvel’s Man-Thing. This is a cool way to give a shout out to Man-Thing, including him as part of Swamp Thing’s ancestors.
The Flash at Marvel
Quasar 17 is a really cool crossover that Mark Gruenwald wrote into the script with many references to The Flash. A being known as “The Runner”, from a race called “The Elders”, visits earth to initiate competition. He is seeking the fastest beings in the universe to compete in a great cosmic race. He contacts several Marvel characters who are known for their speed. The winner of the race from the earth will advance to the bigger race he has planned. Among those contacted to compete are Quicksilver, Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), The Whizzer, Speed Demon, Super Sabre, Black Racer, and a friend of Quasar, Makkari. A tunnel course is prepared that reaches from the earth to the moon, and the race begins.
Soon after the race starts, a blonde man with a tattered red and yellow costume materializes. His outfit has yellow boots, red pants, and jagged yellow around the beltline. He is surprised that he has form again. Then, he realizes that he is not in his native space, but somewhere foreign. The last thing he remembers doing is running. He feels the urgency to continue running and ends up going so fast that he passes up all the other characters and wins the race. The last we saw of The Flash (Barry Allen) was his death in Crisis on Infinite Earths #8 where he sacrificed himself to defeat The Monitor and ran until he disintegrated. So, when he shows up here in Quasar 17, he is surprised he has form again and feels a strong urge to keep running.
The Runner proclaims him the winner and asks for his name. The mystery man seems to have amnesia but vaguely remembers his name being something like “Buried Alien”. The name “Buried Alien” is as close as the character can remember to his real name, Barry Allen. The Runner asks him how it feels to be the Fastest Man Alive. A title The Flash holds. To which he responds “It feels…right”.
Closing Thoughts on DC/Marvel Crossovers
It is always fun to see Marvel and DC in competition. It is also great to see the respect shown by these writers and artists, acknowledging a character from the other company. Who knows if these DC/Marvel Crossovers issues will ever be worth anything. They are certainly cool and a unique part of comic book history.
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