10 FTW: Comic Book Crossovers We Need To See

If there’s one thing comic books allow, it’s the grandiose crossover between characters. Ever since Barry Allen met Jay Garrick all the way back in 1961 and introduced the idea of multiple parallel universes, comic book characters have existed in both isolated shared universes and travelled across a near infinite multiverse. However, while it’s relatively common to see Bruce Wayne/Batman and Clark Kent/Superman interact with the Justice League or the Teen Titans, or to have Peter Parker/Spider-Man randomly join forces with the Fantastic Four or the X-Men, we’ve also seen the characters of DC and Marvel Comics interact with each other. We’ve seen Superman and Batman both cross paths with Spider-Man, the X-Men team with the New Teen Titans, and both publishers’ greatest heroes go head-to-head in the epic DC Versus Marvel Comics (Marz and David, et al, 1996) crossover.

There have been some weird crossovers in comics.

In addition, Dark Horse Comics snapped up multiple science-fiction and horror film franchises, giving us crossovers such as RoboCop Versus The Terminator (Miller, et al, 1992) and a whole slew of Aliens vs. Predator (Various, 1989 to present) comics. It doesn’t end there, either; we’ve seen Batman cross paths with Judge Dredd on multiple times and Frank Castle/The Punisher team up with not only Eminem but also pop up in Archie Comics, and it was thanks to such comic book crossovers that we finally got to see the three-way mash-up between Freddy Kruger, Jason Voorhees, and Ash Williams! Yet, as many and varied and seemingly limitless as these crossovers can be, it seems like we’ve missed out on a few seemingly-obvious crossovers. Maybe it’s because of licensing issues or the fact that DC and Marvel Comics don’t tend to do a lot of business together lately, but, either way, I figured I’d talk about ten crossovers I’d love to see in comic books.

10 Justice Society/Watchmen

After DC Comics finally put an end to the largely-awful New 52 run, they teased Alan Moore’s seminal work, Watchmen (ibid, et al, 1986 to 1987), becoming part of DC canon when Edward Blake/The Comedian’s iconic smiley-face button turned up in the Batcave. Cue the extremely delayed publication schedule of Doomsday Clock (Johns, et al, 2017 to 2019), a storyline that revealed that Doctor Jon Osterman/Doctor Manhattan had been influencing DC canon for decades. While this, obviously, brought the characters of Watchmen (or, at least, versions of them) into conflict with Superman, Batman, and other versions of the Justice League, it’s the older, more seasoned members of the Justice Society of America (JSA) I’d like to see have extended interactions with the Crimebusters. The JSA were at their peak around the time of World War Two, meaning they are decidedly more optimistic and pragmatic about their approach to crimefighting. The Crimebusters, meanwhile, existed in a largely dystopian version of the 1980s that was pretty bleak and constantly on the verge of another World War, meaning this team up could produce an interesting clash of styles and philosophies that would probably be more in keeping with Moore’s more reflective text rather than an all-out brawl. Plus, who doesn’t want to see who would win a battle between Jim Corrigan/The Spectre and Doctor Manhattan?

9 Pulp Heroes United

Before Batman and Superman, there were the pulp heroes of the 1930s to 1950s. Names like the Phantom, the Shadow, the Spirit, the Rocketeer, and Green Hornet may have faded from mainstream relevance in recent years, but they live on thanks to publications from Dynamite Comics and crossovers with DC Comics. Speaking of Dynamite Comics, they came very close to this crossover with their Masks (Various, 2014 to 2016) series, which saw the Shadow teaming up with the Green Hornet and Kato, a version of Zorro, and the Spider but this crossover has so much potential to really pay homage to the heroes of yesteryear. Ideally, such a comprehensive team up would be similar to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Moore, et al, 1999 to 2019) in its scope and legacy; hell, I’d even have the Phantom, the Shadow, the Spirit, the Rocketeer, Green Hornet and Kato, Zorro, Doc Savage, the Lone Ranger and Tonto, and the rest of their ilk butting heads with the Martians from The War of the Worlds (Wells, 1897) at the turn of the century. A proper sepia-toned, steampunk-filled piece that sees these wildly different pulp heroes begrudgingly working together to save the world could be a great way to thrust these overlooked classic heroes back into the spotlight.

8 Red Hood/Winter Soldier

If the comic industry was like it was back in the mid-nineties, we would surely have already seen this crossover, which is as obvious and as fitting as the team up between the Punisher and Jean-Paul Valley/Azrael during his brief tenure as Batman. Speaking of which, a team up between Jason Todd/Red Hood and the Punisher is just as enticing but, in terms of thematically complimentary characters, you’re hard pressed to find two more fitting that Jason Todd and Bucky Barnes. Both characters were well-known sidekicks to greater heroes whose deaths shaped, influenced, and affected their mentors for years, and both even returned to life as violent, broken anti-heroes around the same time.

Jason and Bucky’s deaths weighed heavily on Bat and Cap for years.

Yet, while Bucky has gone on to not only redeem himself and assume the mantle of Captain America (and is largely far more mainstream thanks to his prominent inclusion in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), Jason Todd has floundered a little bit. It didn’t help that Jason’s resurrection was directly tied to DC’s latest reality-shattering Crisis for years (even though there have since been far less convoluted explanations, and he really should have been Hush all along) but, even ignoring that, Jason’s place is skewed as one minute he’s a sadistic killer, then he’s a violent anti-hero, then he’s wearing the Bat embalm and is an accepted (however begrudgingly) member of the Bat Family. However, both characters have carved a name out for themselves as being willing to go to any lengths to punish the guilty; each has blood on their hands, a butt load of emotional and personal issues, and a degree of augmented strength, speed, and skill thanks to their training or resurrection. While both are similar, Bucky is far more likely to be the bigger man and take the more moral ground, which would be more than enough to emphasise the differences between the two (provided Jason feels like being more antagonistic in this theoretical crossover).

7 Judge Dredd/RoboCop

It’s no secret that RoboCop exists almost solely because of Judge Dredd; without 2000 A.D.’s no-nonsense lawman, we’d likely never have seen the excellently gore-and-satire-filled sci-fi action that is RoboCop (Verhoeven, 1987). While Batman has had more than a few run-ins with Judge Dredd, Detroit’s resident cyborg supercop has yet to meet his cinematic counterpart. The story is so simple is basically writes itself; you could have RoboCop awakened from suspended animation or reactivated after decades of being offline in the war-ravaged dystopia of Mega City One and briefly come into conflict with Dredd. I’d wager that RoboCop would be the more likely of the two to be more morally inclined; RoboCop generally operates based on very specific, law-abiding directives (or, depending on the version, his own conscience) that justify violence in service of protecting the innocent. Dredd, meanwhile, is just as likely to arrest victims of crimes as those who perpetrate them and is generally more an example of totalitarianism and uncompromising brutality in the name of the “law!” Yet, just as Dredd and Batman were able to work together despite coming to blows over their methods and philosophies, these two would make quite the formidable team once they’d ironed out their differences…though RoboCop may need an upgrade or two to survive in the future.

6 Deadpool/The Mask

DC Comics have had many crossovers with Dark Horse over the years, resulting in numerous interactions between DC’s finest and the Xenomorphs, Predators, and Terminators. Similarly, both companies worked together on a number of crossovers revolving around the violent, big-headed cartoon anti-hero “the Mask”. It stands to reason, then, that if the Joker acquiring the magical mask and gaining its powers is a natural fit, a crossover between the near limitless power of the mask and everyone’s favourite fourth-wall breaking Mutant, Wade Wilson/Deadpool, would be just as fitting. Both characters are known for their over-the-top, cartoony violence, springing weapons out of thin air, directly addressing the reader, and busting heads with a maniacal glee. Hell, DC and Dark Horse had Lobo team up with “Big-Head” and even acquire the mask in another crossover and, given Lobo’s similarities to Deadpool, it wouldn’t bee too hard to imagine a crossover between these two being little more than a non-stop bloodbath as they tried in vain to damage each other, before Deadpool inevitably acquires the mask for himself and, in all likelihood, reduces all of conscious reality to a cheesy puff.

5 RoboCop vs. Terminator vs. Aliens vs. Predator

Speaking of Dark Horse Comics, they really have brought us some great crossovers over the years; RoboCop Versus The Terminator and Aliens vs. Predator were natural stories to present in comics, videogames, and toys that were (arguably) too big for movies. They also merged three of these franchises together in Aliens versus Predator versus The Terminator (Schultz, et al, 20000), though that story was more a sequel to Alien: Resurrection (Jeunet, 1997) and a continuation of the Aliens vs. Predator comics than anything to do with the Terminator (Various, 1984 to 2019) films. Instead, this four-way crossover would give Dark Horse a chance to take the time-hopping, action-packed story of RoboCop Versus The Terminator and merge it with their complex Aliens vs. Predator comics. RoboCop would probably be best served as the central character of the story; a member of the human resistance could travel back in time to try and eliminate RoboCop, only to run into a T-800 right as Predators come to clean up a Xenomorph outbreak in Detroit. A time dilation could transport them to the war-ravaged future, where RoboCop could team up with a reprogrammed T-800 (or John Connor) against the aliens, or perhaps the future war would be changed by the reverse-engineering or Predator technology. There’s a lot of potential in this crossover but, for me, it only really works if you include RoboCop. Without him, you end up with a poorly-executed concept like Aliens versus Predator versus The Terminator, which really didn’t utilise the Terminator franchise enough. But imagine a Terminator/Xenomorph (or Predator) hybrid exchanging plasma blasts with a Predator-tech-upgraded RoboCop and tell me that doesn’t sound cool!

4 Hellboy/Constantine

We’re scaling back a bit with this one. Honestly, I am very surprised we’ve never seen these two team up before, especially considering the amicable relationship DC and Dark Horse Comics have had over the years. Hell, we did get a brief team up between Hellboy and Batman but, arguably, this is the far more fitting choice. In this concept, I would go with the idea that John Constantine and Hellboy co-exist in the same world and have them cross paths when investigating the same supernatural threat or mystery. Obviously, they’d have to fight before teaming up (or, perhaps, they’d just rub each other the wrong way after being forced to team up), but can you imagine the quips and taunts and insults Constantine would have for Hellboy all throughout this crossover? Toss in guys like Swamp Thing and Etrigan, or even the Justice League Dark and the rest of Hellboy’s buddies (and absolutely have Mike Mignola provide his distinctive art style to the piece alongside co-authoring the story with either Grant Morrison or Neil Gaiman) and you could have a very dark, moody, and entertaining paranormal crossover.

3 Batgirl/Spider-Gwen

This one is more of a light-hearted pick but there’s nothing wrong with a bit of unapologetic fun amidst all the big action set pieces and violent action. After her debut in the “Spider-Verse” (Slott, et al, 2014 to 2015) storyline and prominent inclusion in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Persichetti, Ramsey, and Rothman, 2018), this alternative version of Gwen Stacy has gained quite the fan following over the years and has become firmly entrenched in Marvel canon as Ghost-Spider. Meanwhile, since the New 52, DC have returned Barbara Gordon to the role of Batgirl; this wasn’t without some controversy as, for years, Barbara had operated just fine as a paraplegic and the Batgirl mantle had been assumed by other, far more suitable candidates. Yet, DC have continued unabated, largely changing Barbara from a smart and capable tech and information wizard, to a far more catty, athletic, and socially-conscious young lady. Despite this, this has the potential to be a really fun crossover between these two; while Babs should really be the older and more mature of the two, they’re both around the same age these days (somewhere between fifteen and twenty-one, depending on DC and Marvel’s sliding timelines), meaning there would be a lot of common ground between the two. No doubt they would have plenty to say about each other’s costumes, hair, and ex boyfriends (throw Nightwing in there and have that cause a bit of tension between the two) and I would even have them team up against C-list villains, like the Vulture, Chameleon, Shocker, Mad Hatter, or Killer Moth, just to keep the focus on fast-paced, witty action rather than getting all sour and bleak.

2 Spider-Man 2099/Batman Beyond

I know what you’re thinking: Shouldn’t this be a crossover between Batman Beyond (1999 to 2001) and Spider-Man Unlimited (1999 to 2001), considering both cartoons aired at the same time and both characters wore similar, futuristic costumes? Well, you might be right, but Spider-Man Unlimited really should have been based on the initial Spider-Man 2099 (Various, 1992 to 1996) comics as that cartoon is largely remembered for being a poor follow-up to the superior Spider-Man (1994 to 1998) animated series and for featuring a pretty neat new costume for Spidey. Instead, I’d go with Spidey’s futuristic counterpart, Miguel O’Hara, who is more famous for operating in an alternative future of Marvel Comics. Again, the easiest way for him to interact with Terry McGinnis would be to have them exist in the same world but there’s a bit of an issue with that: Batman Beyond was set in 2039 when Terry was sixteen. The Justice League Unlimited (2004 to 2006) episode “Epilogue” (Riba, 2005) jumps to fifteen years later and Terry is a thirty-one-year-old Batman but the story would probably need some kind of time travel plot to bring these characters together at their peak.

Both characters come from similar futuristic worlds.

Luckily, neither character is no stranger to time-hopping adventures; perhaps the best way to do this would be to have two similar villains in each world experimenting with time/reality-bending technology and cause a dilation that threatens to merge both timelines unless Miguel and Terry can stop them. I’d even have them both swap places; have Miguel wake up one morning in Neo-Gotham, running into the aged, grouchy Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy) and battling some of Terry’s foes, while Terry randomly finds himself dumped in Nueva York and running afoul of Alchemax. After two issues of them exploring each other’s world, the third issue would be the obligatory fight between the two before they agree to team up for the fourth and final issue and sort out the problem. Both characters’ futuristic costumes have very similar traits and exist in visually interesting futuristic worlds, making a potential clash and eventual team up between them an exciting prospect for the art work and banter alone.

1 Batman/The Crow

Easily the top choice for me, and the genesis of this list, I literally cannot shake how perfect a crossover between Batman and Eric Draven/The Crow would be. Neither are strangers to inter-company crossovers but, while the Crow has had to settle for teaming up with the likes of Razor, The X-Files (1993 to 2018), and Hack/Slash (Seeley/Various, et al, 2014 to 2018), Batman has met Al Simmons/Spawn, Spider-Man, Judge Dredd, and even Elmer Fudd and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Yet, this crossover provides the opportunity to get Batman back to the gritty, noir-inspired style of stories like The Long Halloween (Loeb, et al, 1996 to 1997) utilising an art style that is part Dave McKean and part James O’Barr. As for the plot, I’d have Eric return to his undead life once again after it is revealed that there was another figure pulling the strings of Top Dollar’s gang. This would, of course, bring Eric to Gotham City, where he’d start killing members of this extended gang of thugs with his usual brand of violence and poetic justice. Naturally, this would lead him into conflict with Batman but, rather than the two descending into a poorly written, childish brawl as in Spawn/Batman (Miller and McFarlane, 1994), it would probably be better to focus on Batman’s detective skills as he investigates Eric’s murder, those behind the murder, and Eric’s violent actions on the streets of Gotham. In fact, I probably would only have the two interact right at the conclusion of the story, just as Eric is about to kill his final target; they could have a discussion on morality and the meaning of justice but, ultimately, Eric would fulfil his mission and return to the grave regardless of Batman’s protestations, leaving Batman to ponder the line between justice and vengeance.


What comic book crossover would you like to see? Which comic book crossover has been your favourite, or most reviled? Whatever you think about comic book crossovers, leave a comment below.

Talking Movies: Hellboy (2019)

Talking Movies

Released: April 2019
Director: Neil Marshall
Distributor: Lionsgate
Budget: $50 million
Stars: David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane, Sasha Lane, and Daniel Dae Kim

Hellboy (Harbour), a demonic paranormal investigator for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence (B.P.R.D.), is the only thing standing between the ancient sorceress, Nimue (Jovovich), being resurrected and leading the forces of darkness into all-out conquest over the human world.

Created in 1993 by noted writer/artist Mike Mignola, Hellboy is quite a unique and intriguing comic book character; a demon entity with a giant stone hand, filed-down horns, and a big-ass hand cannon, he is noted as being the world’s greatest paranormal detective and investigates, and fights against, the forces of evil. Of course, we’ve seen the character adapted by Guillermo del Toro and portrayed to fantastic effect by Ron Perlman back in 2004; although we got a sequel in 2008, talks on a third instalment stalled and, eventually, died out, leading to this grittier, bloodier reboot.

The Review:
Hellboy is a chaotic, frenetic movie that blasts along at a mile a minute, rarely taking any time to catch its breath or take a moment to think about what is going on. While this does make for a loud (very loud; at times, the music drowned out the dialogue), action-packed slug-fest, it does make the movie far more exhausting than its 2004 counterpart. However, this version separates itself by being full of gore, violent action, and foul language, which definitely ups the movie’s fun factor. The movie opens with some narration from Professor Trevor Bruttenholm (McShane), who quickly runs through the story of the Blood Queen Nimue while we see it happening onscreen; this is one of those cases where a a prologue exists simply to spell out the plot for the audience as, later in the film, Hellboy obviously has to be told the same story so he knows what’s going on and I end up just asking why we couldn’t skip the opening narrative and just splice that footage in to the later exposition.

Harbour is a great replacement for Ron Perlman.

After that, we jump-cut to Tijuana, where Hellboy is unable to save a friend of his (a fellow B.P.R.D. agent) and, just as he’s trying to deal with the guilt of that, we jump-cut to Colorado, where Professor Bruttenholm sends Hellboy on an assignment to help out the Osiris Club with an outbreak of giants in England. So then we jump-cut to England for an exciting action scene where Hellboy fights giants; it’s around here that the actual plot starts to come together as, at every turn, Hellboy is told rumours of an approaching evil, his role in the apocalypse, twists, turns, betrayals, and so many sudden location shifts as Hellboy prepares for the resurrection of the Blood Queen. As perfect as Ron Perlman was as Hellboy, David Harbour is a fantastic replacement; gruff, sarcastic, and conveying a lot of conflicting emotions, he is less of a child-like goof but still portrays the character as enjoying his violent job and beating up bad guys. The make-up and effects on Hellboy are top notch, and clearly have had the most effort put into them; compared to Perlman, Harbour is bigger, more battle-hardened (scars pattern his face and body) but just as poor a shot and quick to enter a fight. I don’t really know the Hellboy comics very well at all but we still don’t see much evidence to support Hellboy’s status as the world’s greatest paranormal investigator; he’s more a hit-first-ask-questions-later kind of demon and, though there are some wrinkles in his portrayal, he’s pretty much the same character from del Toro’s films.

Hellboy wisely introduces some new character’s from the comic lore.

Supporting him are the always-great Ian McShane, who is a far more gruff and pragmatic version of Professor Broom, Alice Monaghan (Lane), a telepath of sorts who can talk to and summon spirits, and Ben Daimio (Kim), a UK-based B.P.R.D. agent who, despite hiding a big secret, hates all the world’s monsters and is prepared to eliminate Hellboy if he proves to be a threat. They’re okay; there’s far more friction between Broom and Hellboy given that Hellboy discovers his true origins for the first time in this movie; Alice is serviceable enough and helps to humanise Hellboy, while Daimio undergoes the most character development as he begrudgingly learns to tolerate Hellboy’s existence during the course of the movie.

Once again, Milla Jovovich is little more than a plank of wood.

Nimue is quite the antagonistic force; in addition to being effectively immortal, she can command the forces of darkness and bring about plagues through sheer force of will. She’s a constant shadow hanging over the film and actual shows up quite a bit, too; she’s also willing to concede her throne to Hellboy, given his destiny to be the destroyer of worlds. However, a lot of her threat and menace is diluted by Jovovich’s trademark wooden acting; as always, she is an emotional void, despite moments of emotion, and she just seems like a puppet dancing around onscreen.

Gruagach is a fun antagonist who needed more screen time.

Nimue’s desires are facilitated mainly through her right-hand…man…Gruagach (Stephen Graham and Douglas Tait), a half-man, half-pig who pretty much steals the show whenever he shows up thanks, in large part, not only to his gruff voice (which is full of personality) and his sympathetic motivations, but also due to him mostly being portrayal through practical effects. When he is onscreen with Nimue, she suddenly seems a lot more interesting and my only regret is that there isn’t more interaction between him and Hellboy as the film constantly throws other threats and obstacles in Hellboy’s path. Hellboy also features a booming soundtrack, though it does drown a lot of the dialogue out, as I mentioned earlier; this is something to note as Hellboy is a gruff-spoken character, Harbour has a gruff voice, and the make-up is obviously difficult to act through so it can be he hard to hear Hellboy’s snappy dialogue when the soundtrack is in full force. The effects are good, for the most part; the creature effects are clearly inspired by del Toro and the practical effects all look great. Some of the CGI lets the film down though, particularly around Nimue, her powers, her minions, and when Daimio reveals his true nature. The shots of hell seen in the trailer are very well done, though, and Hellboy looks great, and it’s helped that the movie blasts along way too quickly for you to really take in how good, or bad, a lot of the effects can be.

The Nitty-Gritty:
If you’ve seen the trailers, or Hellboy (del Toro, 2004) then you already know one of the film’s biggest spoilers, which is that Hellboy embraces his role as Anung Un Rama and, also, that he ultimately rejects his fate as the bringer of the apocalypse by breaking his horns. He is forced into doing this by the death of a loved one (this time it’s Broom) and talked out of it by being reminded of his humanity (also by Broom, as a spirit, in this film). It’s a bit too samey, unfortunately, as was the flashback to Hellboy’s origin, which differed only in that Broom was at Hellboy’s summoning in order to kill him and decided to raise him as a son and weapon against evil instead…which was somewhat implied in del Toro’s movie. The trailers did do a decent job of hiding Daimio’s true nature, however; it was heavily implied that he was a werewolf of some kind and it turns out that he can turn into a beast that resembles a sabretooth tiger. This doesn’t fully happen until the film’s climax, however; probably because the effects are not very good at all and he’s not onscreen in this form for very long.

Hellboy is betrayed and stabbed in the back, literally, at almost every turn, adding to the film’s chaotic nature. Yet, amidst all of this, Hellboy presents the idea that Hellboy is half-human, half-demon and that his human lineage stretches all the way back to King Arthur. This means that Hellboy is the true ruler of England, for one thing, and (conveniently) the only one capable of wielding the legendary Excalibur (the one blade that can kill Nimue). I don’t know if this is a thing in the comics but it felt a bit contrived and convoluted for me; the entire movie is this mish-mash of exposition and senseless action and then, suddenly, Hellboy is destined to be the descendant of King Arthur while also being destined to bring about the apocalypse. O much prefer Hellboy being a down-to-Earth kinda guy who rejects his demonic heritage to do good out of his own volition and not because “fate” says he will. Like any good comic book movie, Hellboy features a few post-credits scene; two set-up a potential sequel, especially with Baba Yaga (Emma Tate and Troy James) swearing revenge against Hellboy and Hellboy, Alice, and Daimio discovering Abe Sapien’s water tank; in another, Hellboy is randomly consoled by the ghost of the legendary Nazi killer Lobster Johnson (Thomas Haden Church).


In Summary:
Hellboy is a bombastic mess of a movie, to be honest. It’s loud, jumps all over the place, and never stops to let you catch up. The movie is full of foul-language and gratuitous violence, which really adds to its chaotic nature; unlike del Toro’s movies, this Hellboy doesn’t hold back and goes balls-deep with the violent nature of Hellboy’s work and life. While you can argue that the violence and gore is simply there just to be there, it really makes the film’s over-the-top premise and action far more enjoyable and allows this film to distance itself from its predecessors. I enjoy a mindless action movie as much as the next guy and am al for switching my brain off and watching some mindless violence, but Hellboy’s rapid editing and frantic pace soured me at the start. Similar to Suicide Squad (Ayer, 2016), Hellboy tries to cram way too much in at the start and then has multiple flashbacks to each character’s origin as they are introduced that interrupts the plot and makes things more convoluted than it needed to be; I think a cold-open and dialogue concerning Hellboy’s origin would have been enough. However, there is something to like about Hellboy; the effects are good, Harbour is great as the titular character, and the action and violence are loud and fun. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t seem to be tracking well and doesn’t look like it’ll turn much of a profit, if any, so we may never get to see a sequel iron out some of the film’s issues but, to its credit, Hellboy goes for the jugular right from the start and doesn’t let go even after the credits have rolled.

My Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Pretty Good