DC versus Marvel / Marvel versus DC
Two entities, effectively “brothers” who personify the Marvel and DC universe, become aware of each other. They immediately enter into open combat, forcing some of the 90s most popular characters from both companies into a battle royale in which only one reality was said to survive with the other ceasing to exist. This crossover event from 1996 was not only distinct in that it was a “canon” multi-company crossover but the reader decided the outcome of several of the fights by way of a public vote.
|"Shards/Guardians" of both universes|
|Marvel Universe||DC Universe|
|Marvel Universe||DC Universe|
|Characters with no dialogue:|
|Marvel Universe||DC Universe|
|both universes||Amalgan universe|
|Marvel Universe||DC Universe|
DC versus Marvel #1-4, Dr. Strangefate #1
- DC vs. Marvel #1
- DC vs. Marvel #2
- DC vs. Marvel #3
- Dr. Strangefate #1
- DC vs. Marvel #4
- In the beginning, there were two entities, called “Brothers” throughout series although they are genderless. These beings encompassed all of “everything,” considering themselves completely unique in all of existence. Eons ago, they had become aware of each other and, seeing it an affront of their “uniqueness” to have a peer, they engaged in open warfare, resulting in the destruction of all that was. In the “Big Bang” that followed, the brothers were blown apart and their shattering created the Marvel and DC multiverses. Untold millennia passed before the Brothers remembered they had even had sentience. At the onset of the series, the Brothers have still not remembered the other one exists.
- The “Big Bang” also resulted in the creation of “shards” of the Brothers. Technically, these “shards” belong to both universes, being part of both Brothers. They can form into vortexes or inter-dimensional gateways. They can even form into living beings or soul shards. The “shard person” feels an immense sense of wanderlust and lack of purpose. Most of these shards are unaware of their nature. One such shard, Morty, gained self-awareness and is guarding a gateway in an alleyway at the start of the series, trying to contain its energies “with duct tape.”
- Another shard, Axel Asher, has a younger sister. When he was a child, she accidentally shot him, resulting in him developing a slight limp. Axel considered this the most traumatic thing to happen to him. Axel has no idea he is a “shard” at the advent of the story.
- Gotham City (home to Batman) and Metropolis (home to Superman) feature prominently in this series. They are both fictional American cities in the DC universe. To put them into geographical context, Gotham is situated in New Jersey on effectively three islands that are joined together to the mainland by several bridges. These islands do not exist in the real world. Metropolis faces Gotham in the state of Delaware next to the Delaware River. Both cities are based on New York City but exemplifying different art movements with Gotham (gothic) and Metropolis (modern/futurism).
- Green Lantern and Silver Surfer had met in the prequel series Green Lantern/Silver Surfer: Unholy Alliances #1 also written by DC vs. Marvel co-writer, Ron Marz. They reference the series during their fight later on.
- Fans were given the option of voting for the five final battles, using ballots available in their comic book shops. (see below)
Act One: There Is a Light That Never Goes Out
Main plot: In the Manhattan of the Marvel Universe, Morty's box starts to glow and project out beams of light. A young man named Axel Asher witnesses the lightshow and Morty recognizes him, relieved that he's here and asks for help. Axel excuses himself, thinking the man a lunatic. As the beams of light shoot out, they start to hit targets. Spider-Man is transported to Gotham City and meets the Joker. Storm, Gambit and Wolverine are fighting the Juggernaut, only for him to disappear and end up in Metropolis, facing off against the city's protector, Superman. When the three X-Men return to the X-Mansion to tell Professor-X and the rest of the team about Juggernaut's vanishing, they too disappear, hit by the same light and are transported to the Gotham City. These occurrences are not limited to denizens of “Marvel” characters alone. For example, Timothy Drake aka Robin finds himself in the bedroom shared by Generation X's Jubilee and Husk. Jubilee is instantly smitten with Robin due to his bizarre fashion sense.
[Note: The Jubilee/Robin romance is one of the series main sub-plots and a key part of the sequel to DC vs Marvel, DC/Marvel: All Access.]
Side plot Daily Planet: Superman, in his guise of ace-reporter Clark Kent, returns to Metropolis’ Daily Planet to meet with his fiancé, Lois Lane. Lois is speaking to their new editor, J. Jonah Jameson, and attempting to explain Clark's absence when he arrives. Jameson yells at Clark to make sure he makes his deadline given all the “weird stuff” happening. Jameson has been hired by the Daily Planet's mysterious new owner, who fired long-time editor, Perry White. The identity of the buyer would not be discovered until later on. Clark gets to work immediately but is interrupted by Lois, who introduces him to new planet photographer, Peter Parker. Clark gives him a friendly welcome, advising that he was familiar with his work and was looking forward to working with him.
[Note: The Daily Planet subplot receives a sizable amount of page time, although it has very little to do with the central plot. The main impetus of focusing on this workplace seems to be to ground how everyday people are reacting to the consequences within the crossover but, more importantly, show what people are not reacting to. Characters from both universes seem to be oblivious to being outside of their reality and even large objects such as Four Freedoms Plaza (home of the Fantastic Four) just go unmentioned. The Daily Planet subplot also foreshadows the eventual merger of the two universes in Amalgam.
Main Plot Continued: As the transportations between the two universes continue with seemingly no pattern, two cosmic protectors for both universes, The Living Tribunal (Marvel) and Spectre (DC) become aware of an irrevocable shift in the cosmic order. The “Brothers” have become aware of each other one more. [Act One: takes place in DC vs Marvel #1]
Act Two: The Wager
Main Plot Continued: Axel Asher witnesses the “Brothers” meeting in his mind’s eye. Deeply disturbed by what he witnessed, he nearly faints. A nearby police officer, thinking Axel on drugs, stops him, only to be stopped himself by another police officer from the other universe, who thinks that this officer is impersonating a member of the force. As the two officers bicker, the previously disappeared Wolverine emerges from the sewers, fighting the Batman rogue Killer Croc. Axel panics and runs from the fight and the police. He then attempts to drain his bank account from an ATM, only for his card to be rejected as his bank card belongs to a bank in the other universe. Frustrated, Axel realizes he has somehow ended up back at the alley with the man and the glowing box. Inexplicably, the homeless man is attempting to seal the glowing cardboard box with duct-tape but to no avail and the box bursts, fully illuminated in a bright yellow light. The two Brothers, both convinced of their superiority over the other, have decided that unlike the last time they battled in open combat they would place a wager. Each Brother would select champions and those champions would battle in their stead. The winning side would continue to exist, with the losing side vanishing from existence. Should those selected refuse, the Brothers request they would again enter open warfare themselves, which would result in the end of all existence. The Brothers message was received by all living beings, who now waited with baited breath to see if they would have a future. After this “telepathic message,” Morty also explained to Axel that he too was a “shard” and what this meant for him.
Sideplot Thanos vs. Darkseid: Arguably the main villains of both of their universes, Darkseid (ruler Apokolips) and Thanos (the mad Titan) become aware of each other. Thanos challenges Darkseid to a duel, to which Darkseid laughs, telling Thanos he thinks he is merely a “pale imitation” of him. The two despots fight would continue off-panel for most of the story.
Fight One: Thor vs Shazam: The first heroes to fight were almost the most reluctant, both even praying before their rumble. In combat, Shazam attempted to make use of their environment, a fairground, and threw a Ferris wheel at Thor. Merely launching it back at the hero, Shazam had no choice but to transform back to his alter ego, the teenager Billy Batson. When Batson crawled free of the debris and attempted to transform again, Thor, realizing it was lightning that triggered the transformation, used Mjolnir to disrupt the energy discharge, thus preventing the return of Shazam. In the aftermath of the battle, Billy was unconscious and Thor had lost Mjolnir. Win: Marvel
Prelude to Fight Eight: Storm vs. Wonder Woman: Mjolnir was found by Wonder Woman, who was deemed worthy. Lifting the hammer, she added its elemental power to her already substantial arsenal of skills.
Fight Two: Namor vs. Aquaman: The two Atlantean kings fight fittingly took place in the ocean. As the two were so evenly matched, Aquaman took a novel approach to defeating his opponent. He simply irritated the humorless Namor with his words until Namor was sufficiently annoyed enough to be become distracted so that Aquaman could trap him in a rope and telepathically summon an orca whale to leap on top of him. Win: DC
Fight Three: Quicksilver vs. Flash: The speedsters bout took place on the open road. Unfortunately, their combat caused a whirlwind, which drove a truck with a father and son off the road. Flash promptly rescued both father and son before the truck exploded giving Quicksilver an chance to take him down. Winning in such a dishonorable way caused Quicksilver to hesitate to disable the Flash who shrugged off Quicksilver's attack and knocked him out. Win: DC
Side plot Daily Planet continued: Lois Lane is walking in Metropolis, overhearing some men taking bets on the fights. She is dumbfounded by the prospect of anyone betting on the fights, given the repercussions of a loss. While she is lost in thought, she is jumped by both the Marvel and DC versions of the Scarecrow, both of whom are attempting to take her as a hostage. Fortunately, Peter Parker (secretly Spider-Man) defeats the villains and escorts Lois back the Daily Planet. When they get back to the office, Lois tells Peter to stop fussing over her. In their thoughts, both Lois and Peter realize in this moment that they not only have an attraction for the other but can sense it is reciprocal. Just then, the two are interrupted by a man who introduces himself as the Daily Planet's new owner. Peter recognizes him as the crime lord Wilson Fisk aka the Kingpin. [Act Two: takes place in DC vs Marvel #2]
Act Three: Contest of Champions
Fight Four: Jubilee vs. Robin: Jubilee was finishing writing in her diary when Robin found her in Generation X's training facility the Danger Grotto. It was time for their fight. They held hands as they were teleported to the location of their fight, a balloon warehouse. Jubilee kissed Robin and told him whatever happens happens. Initially, she felt their battle was unfair as Robin had no powers but Lee had underestimated her opponent. Robin hid in the shadows and used his cape lure Jubilee. He then used a rope to tie her up from behind, incapacitating her. Despite the gravity of the cost of her loss, Jubilee still found the strength to flirt with Robin in the aftermath of their battle. Win: DC
Fight Five: Silver Surfer vs. Green Lantern: Silver Surfer and Green Lantern battle took place in space and was one of the quicker fights. Both agreeing they had no choice but to comply and battle, they unleashed all they had on each other, with Green Lantern's power ring lacking the strength to take down the former herald of Galactus. The Lantern ended up unconscious at the bottom of the Surfer's board. Win: Marvel
Fight Six: Elektra vs. Catwoman: Elektra and Catwoman's fight took place on a building site in Gotham City, with Catwoman confused as to why either one of them was even in the contest, remarking that neither woman was the “hero type.” While Catwoman drew first blood, she underestimated the ruthlessness of Elektra the assassin, who knocked her off a building into a barge filled with sand. Win: Marvel
[Note: Catwoman's defeat was undoubtedly a nod to the Batman Returns movie in which Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman was knocked off a building into a moving truck that was transporting sand.]
Sideplot Daily Planet continued: Lois Lane has written an article detailing the current status of the contest after Catwoman's defeat. Peter compliments her and the two find themselves flirting. Peter throws caution to the wind and asks Lois out on a date, only for her to tell him she's already engaged. Clark appears behind him and tells Peter he's her fiancée. A mortified Peter Parker excuses himself to the Planet's darkroom, only to be teleported away for his fight in the contest. Meanwhile, Jameson bursts into the room with Lois and Clark and advises that the Hulk is currently battling Metallo in downtown Metropolis and that he wants them to cover the story. Jameson is baffled by Clark's sudden disappearance but Lois assures him that she is sure Clark is already on the job. As she speaks, Clark changes into his Superman costume and speeds downtown.
Main Story continued: Morty and Axel are arguing in the alleyway with Axel, finding it hard to come to terms with his status as a shard, notwithstanding the nature of the Brothers. When Axel continues to push back, a frustrated Morty touches his arm and transforms him into a new guise of the superhero, Access. Morty tells “Access” that he has been serving as the guardian of the gateway and it only appears as a box because that's how he chooses it to be appear. As his successor, guardian of the two universes, the gateway could be something different for him. Morty explains to Access that it is now his watch and it is more important than any of his predecessors, as he must preserve the balance of both universes. To this, a mystified Access responds, how?
Fight Seven: Wolverine vs. Lobo: The first of the fan-voted fights. Wolverine and Lobo's bout was a bar fight. Wolverine quickly gained the upper hand, dragging Lobo under the bar. A few moments later, Wolverine alone gets up and calmly finishes his cigar. Win: Marvel
Fight Eight: Storm vs. Wonder Woman: Storm and a Mjolnir-empowered Wonder Woman meet above the skies of Fawcett City (home of Shazam). While the added power of Mjolnir gave Wonder Woman an advantage, she released it, believing that utilizing it would simply be unfair. Confident her strength could defeat Storm on her own proved incorrect, as Storm reluctantly took down her opponent with waves of lightning. As Wonder Woman fell, Storm asked for forgiveness. Win: Marvel
Fight Nine: Spider-Man vs. Superboy: Spider-Man and Superboy met on the rooftops of Greenwich Village. While Superboy had an obvious advantage in terms of pure power, he lacked Spider-Man's intellect. Spider-Man tricked his opponent into hurdling towards him while he was standing in front of an electricity panel, only to launch impact webbing which prevented him from the avoiding the panel when Spider-Man jumped out of the way. Electrocuted, Superboy fell. Win: Marvel
Fight Ten: Hulk vs Superman: Prior to their fight, Hulk and Superman had just teamed up to knock out Superman's old foe, Metallo, when they were transported to the Grand Canyon. Their fight had begun. The Hulk’s considerable strength proved insufficient to Superman's power. Motivated by a will to save his universe and fiancée, Superman held back no punches and knocked a whole mountain on top of the Hulk. Win: DC
Fight Eleven: Captain America vs Batman: Captain America and Batman's fight took place in the sewers of Manhattan. Unlike the other fights, which were relatively quick, their battle took place across hours, the two men being very evenly matched. Talking in between punches, Captain America and Batman both tried to strategize some solution to their predicament but to no avail. As they were speaking, the sewer system starting to flush the chamber. Captain America was overtaken by the waves and passed out, only to be rescued by Batman. Win: DC
Main Plot Continued: Captain America and Batman crawled out of the sewers together, finding Access and Morty still in conversation. This was perfect timing, as Morty convinced Access to use both heroes, one from each universe, to preserve the shards of the universes inside them in the hopes both/either universe could eventually be restored. Unfortunately, it is too late. From their realm, the Brothers have decided to settle the contest their own way and begin to fuse. As before there will be only one surviving world: a combined universe called Amalgam. [Act Three: takes place in DC vs Marvel #3]
Interlude: Brave New World
With the new two brothers/universes merged, eons of history for both universes were written with new heroes, new cities, new teams emerging etc. Access found himself the lone survivor of the worlds that were, running through the sewers of “New Gotham City,” fleeing from a subterranean monster named the Abominite. As the Abominite swung at him, Access instinctively teleported away, unaware that a more dangerous foe was pursuing him.
The being called Dr. Strangefate was aware of the existence of Access and the threat he posed to his new world. He had his servant Myx summon his three most prized agents Skulk, Jade Nova and White Witch. He told them they needed to capture Access, that he was the greatest threat to ever face their world. When asked what fate he intended for Access, Strangefate asserted that unfortunately the only solution was death but made it clear to his agents that he would deliver the killing blow himself. With the agents dispatched, Myx questioned why his master had not pursued Access directly. Strangefate explained that his agents were intended to test the limits of Access' powers, as all of the lives in the world were depending on his success in this endeavor rushing into battle might be folly. Skulk was the first to find Access. Initially, he attempted to empathize with him as a fellow outcast but, when this failed, he attacked him in his undead form. Access managed to dodge Skulk, only to encounter Jade Nova, who tried to bind him with her energy constructs. Nevertheless, he again managed to instinctively teleport free. Lacking control over his teleportation powers, Access merely arrived at White Witch's location and the seductress used her powers to put him asleep and then delivered him to Strangefate.
When Access awakened, Strangefate introduced himself as the protector of this universe. Making it clear he bore Access no personal malice, the sorcerer explained that he needed to destroy him and the shards of the old universes to preserve his own. Strangefate unleashed his magical powers on Access, only to realize that Access did not have the shards. Access took advantage of Strangefate's shock to make his escape as the mystic begged him not to take his world apart. With Access having vanished, having finally discovered how to control his teleportation powers, Strangefate took off his helmet, realizing that despite all his power he was merely a man and had failed.[Interlude: takes place in Doctor Strangefate #1]
Act Four: This is the End
Main plot contd: In the Amalgam world, Morty is still guarding the glowing box in the alley and has a realization that the fusion of the universe was actually the result of a last-ditch attempt at preserving all life by their guardians, the Living Tribunal and the Spectre. Unfortunately, both entities efforts were now starting to fail. Access returned to Morty, who advised he had arranged for the holders of the Shards in the Amalgam world, Dark Claw and Super-soldier, to be nearby. Morty sacrificed the last of his strength and that of the box he was guarding and transferred all their power into Access.
As Morty had said, the heroes were close by, battling the villain Hyena. Access quickly teleported Hyena away and took the crystal shards from the two men back and funneled the power into the Spectre and Tribunal, who restored both universes. In the aftermath, the combatants were scattered across both globes. Access, Batman and Captain America were back in the alley. With reality reset, the brothers become aware of each other again and were furious.
Side plot Daily Planet continued: Hulk and Superman find themselves in the Bat-Cave facing off against the Moleman. Dwarfed in terms of power, Moleman flees. Superman sets off for Metropolis, presumably reuniting Hulk with Betty somehow on route. Back in the Daily Planet, Wilson Fisk is being berated by both J. Jonah Jameson and Perry White. Annoyed by White, he simply swathes him away. As this occurred, Spider-Man appears on scene and heckles Fisk, only for Superboy to appear and throw Fisk around, ordering him to sell the Daily Planet. Feeling he is no longer needed, Spider-Man swings off, while Lois Lane admires him from behind.
Sideplot Jubilee and Robin continued: The couple find themselves in Venice. Choosing to the ignore the chaos, they take advantage of this moment and take a romantic gondola ride.
Sideplot Thanos vs. Darkseid contd: Thanos is furious that Darkseid has disappeared in the middle of their fight and has emerged in New York City. Initially fighting Wolverine and Lobo, the two fail to make any headway due to Lobo's inability to work as a team. Quickly, they are found by Darkseid via Boom Tube, telling the mad titan if he is so enamored by death prepare to embrace her. Meanwhile in Central Park, some of the other combatants have also found themselves in combat, Elektra and Catwoman against Abomination and Flash and Quicksilver against Venom. As Darkseid and Thanos begin to face other, more “big guns” appear on the scene: Thor, Storm and Silver Surfer and Wonder Woman, Shazam and Green Lantern.
Darkseid finds himself under siege from the elemental fury of Storm and Thor and the cosmic blasts of Silver Surfer, while Thanos meets the fists of Shazam, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern. At one point, Thor is knocked down by Darkseid's omega beams and his hammer is dislodged from his grip. Wonder Woman is similarly knocked down by Thanos' punch at the same time. Lying next to Mjolnir, she simply hands the hammer to the thunder god, much to his shock. As this occurs, the sky starts to bleed, with all combatants stopping in their tracks, realizing this is the end of all things.
Side plot Daily Planet continued: Superman returns to the Daily Planet in his alter ego of Clark Kent to find Lois. She is standing next to Spider-Man, watching the world end. Lois and Clark embrace. Spider-Man asked Jameson if he wants to take a final potshot at him, to which Jameson says, “for what it's worth, he's sorry.”
Main plot continued: Captain America and Batman are not willing to surrender yet and convince Access to transport them to the Brothers. Finding themselves in a different plane of existence, they see the Spectre and Tribunal as mere specks, still trying to stop the destruction caused by the Brothers. All across existence, all life feels the end and mourns. Thanos, on the other hand, sees such ultimate entropy and marvels at the beauty. Despite the futility of their efforts, Captain America and Batman attempt to stop the brothers. They shout, they demand, they plead, but they fail. As the two men start to die, caught in the crossfire, their lives flash before their eyes. In this metaphysical plane, the brothers feel this death and see the adversities both men have experienced. They also see that, despite this, they retained their “uniqueness” and “nobility.” Humbled by what they have witnessed from a representative of the other's universe, the Brothers speak and tell each other “you've done well,” thereby ending hostilities. After this, both universes are restored, separate again. Jubilee and Robin grieve the loss of each other, while Batman and Captain America feel humbled by their actions. In the aftermath, Access decides to explore both universes and find himself. [Act Four: takes place in DC vs Marvel #4]
- The event had a trading card line tie-in.
- Marvel advertised their win in their books as part of a marketing campaign.
- Spider-Man had met the Joker in Spider-Man and Batman #1 but this story is not considered canon. Interestingly, Joker claimed to already know Spider-Man in the series. This implied that the Spider-Man/Batman crossover had in fact occurred, which does not make sense. One explanation could be that the instability between both universes had existed prior to this series occasionally causing ripples resulting in a story like this, only for it be erased for continuity. Joker’s “remembrance” of the event may actually come from his insanity of which many cultures believe can also result in “insight.” Another easier explanation is that he was just messing with Spider-Man and put two and two together about name from the logo on his chest.
- Access went on to appear in two sequel series DC/Marvel All Access and DC/Marvel – Access Unlimited. He also appeared in Green Lantern (3rd Series) #87. Marvel has not opted to use the character, despite both companies technically holding rights to him. Strangely, he did not appear in the other canon crossover event JLA/Avengers, despite his presence being highly logical.
- Jubilee and Robin would reunite in DC/Marvel All Access but their romance remained doomed due to their belonging to difference universes.
- Dr. Strangefate would return in DC/Marvel All Access as the main antagonist, having somehow hidden himself in Dr. Strange's subconscious when the universes were separated. He was attempting to restore the Amalgam universe but was opposed by Access, the Justice League and the X-Men. In the conclusion of the story, Dr. Strange spared Strangefate, containing him in a green orb along with a facsimile of the Amalgam universe. He gave the orb to Access for safe keeping.
- Batman and Captain America meet again in JLA/Avengers but neither acknowledged their prior meeting. Jubilee mentions in DC/Marvel All Access that knowledge of the DC vs. Marvel event started to leave the combatants after it was over. However, she kept a diary, which jogged her memory. It is possible this effect became more powerful after time, causing amnesia in all witnesses.
- When Storm initially meets Wonder Woman prior to their fight, she uses her catchphrase and calls her “Goddess,” to which Wonder Woman corrects her and says “Amazon.” It would turn out that Storm was right the first time, as in the line-wide “soft” reboot that was DC’s New 52, Wonder Woman was retconned as the secret daughter of Zeus and the queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta. Prior to this, she was believed to be a type of “golem/Pinocchio” creature, in that she was crafted by her mother Hippolyta from clay as she wanted a child and the clay was brought to life magically by various goddesses. Giving Wonder Woman a father was highly controversial, with some fans lauding the change as it brought her more in line with Greek myth with other’s disappointed at the removal of her solely female centric origin for the iconic heroine. Regardless of the backlash, it does appear to be the status quo now and even formed a significant part of the plot of the first Wonder Woman movie starring Gal Gadot. Storm and Wonder Woman also meet again in DC/Marvel All Access #3-4, briefly fighting before the two natural diplomats decided to become friends.
- The event and its sequels were intended to be canon and were stealthily referenced in Thor the Worthy #3, with a small vignette of Wonder Woman gripping Mjolnir. Presumably due to legal issues, the event and its sequels cannot be referenced more succinctly. Interestingly, Wonder Woman’s Justice League teammate Superman also lifted the hammer in the later crossover event JLA/Avengers but it was stipulated he could only do so due to a temporary lifting of magical restrictions by Odin in an effort to save both universes. When the conflict was over, he failed to lift the hammer a second time. Given Wonder Woman’s ability to lift the hammer twice in the series and that her victory of Storm could have doomed the Marvel Universe, it stands to reason that she was simply worthy as per the hammer’s enchantment, as her win could hardly serve the interests of the All-father. This would also track with her being Storm's “counterpart,” as similarly Storm has shown the ability to handle Mjolnir. [X-Men: Serve and Protect #3]