The Baron Re-Reads a Bunch of Amalgam Comics (SPOILERS)

We start not with an Amalgam comic, but the book that set the whole thing up:

 

DC Versus Marvel Comics #1 (1996): "Round One"

Written by Ron Marz, art by Dan Jurgens and Claudio Castellini, and Josef Rubinstein and Paul Neary.

 

We start with an old hobo with a glowing box, and a young guy whom the old guy has been waiting for. What they have to do with anything, we are not told. Characters begin disappearing from their own universes and re-appearing in the other universe. Spider-Man meets the Joker, Superman meets the Juggernaut, that sort of thing.

 

Aside: If Superman fought the Juggernaut, who do you think would win?  I would go with Superman as far as strength goes, but aren't Juggernaut's powers magically-derived? Would that make him more effective against Superman than he might otherwise be?

 

Aside the  Second: I'd forgotten the insanely ugly costume they had Thor in in those days. Thor should not look as though he's trying to cosplay as Cable.

 

The Spectre and the Living Tribunal are concerned (or dyspeptic, it's hard to say).

 

There's a bit with J.Jonah Jameson as the editor of the Planet, which is mildly amusing,.

 

We end with a big blue guy and a big red guy, who I gather represent the two universes.

 

Overall: Wow, that wasn't as good as I remembered it being. Once you get beyond the amusement value of seeing characters who don't usually meet encounter one another, there isn't much "there" there.  Perhaps it picks up as it goes along.

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Bruce Wayne: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 (April 1996): "Mission: Destroy HYDRA!"

Written by Chuck Dixon, with art by Card Nord and Mark Pennington.

An interesting idea, here: Bruce Wayne's parents are agents killed by HYDRA, He uses his family fortune to gain control fo SHIELD and wage war against the Green Skull, who is Luthor, apparently.  His allies include:

  • The Huntress (Barbara Gordon)
  • Moonwing (Dick Grayson)
  • Tony Stark - wheelchair-bound, he is Bruce's technical advisor.
  • Nick Fury and Sgt. Rock, who act as sor tof senior advisors.

 

HYDRA agents include:

  • Selina Luthor, the Green Skull's daughter. She seems more like the Viper than Catwoman.
  • Baron Zero, a combination of Baoon Zemo and Mister Freeze.
  • Nuke - who seems to be a combo of Bane and Venom.
  • Deathlok (Jason Todd)

 

The storyline:  As SHIELD assaults HYDRA's base, Selina kills her father and takes over, only to discover that before he died, he activated a plot device that will kill them all.  As the issue ends, everything blows up real good as the Green Skull - somehow still alive- watches and gloats!

 

Overall: This is pretty good. It's not quite one of my favorites, but it's not bad. If anything, it's a little cluttered, as if they tried to shoehorn a few too many characters and concepts into one issue.  A hazard of this kind of thing, I suppose. Since they knew that this likely to be the only issue ever of this book, they perhaps wanted to get as many of their ideas into it as possible.

Last night I pulled all of my Amalgam comics out of their box. There are 24 of them, and I have divided them into three roughly even categories: those I have read once, those I have read multiple times, those I haven’t read. (I was a “completist” back then, and I bought the whole set whether I intended to read them or not.) I enjoyed all of the ones I chose to read, even if I read them only once. I plan to re-read my favorites along with your reviews, and I’m going to allow your comments to sway me to re-read the others (or read them for the first time). Let me get caught up to the ones you've read so far.

BRUCE WAYNE: AGENT OF SHIELD: I concur with your overall opinion.

AMAZON: Your opinion of Amazon is a bit more positive than mine. What you said about Bruce Wayne: Agent of SHIELD (“This is pretty good. It's not quite one of my favorites, but it's not bad.”) applies here. It made (and makes) an interesting counterpoint to John Byrne’s Wonder Woman.

ASSASSINS: I didn’t read this one… for pretty much the same reasons you didn’t care for it.

As I was flipping through these last night I found myself wondering if they’d make good reading, not as part of a crossover but on their own merits? They’re all “done-in-one” essentially, although some (if not most) give the illusion of setting up another, larger story. Many (if not most) of those set-ups, though, are little more than “inside references” to previewed characters’ non-amalgamated counter-parts.

So far you haven’t yet covered any of my seven favorites.

Thanks, Jeff. If all goes well, tomorrow I'll have my thoughts on Bullets and Bracelets.

One issue is that these books occasionally contradict one another. Obviously, since there were essentially done as a gag, "constructing a coherent universe" doesn't seme to have been a priority here.

  I figured since the entire universe was in flux they didn't need to bother with continuity too much.

The Baron said:

One issue is that these books occasionally contradict one another. Obviously, since there were essentially done as a gag, "constructing a coherent universe" doesn't seme to have been a priority here.

Plus, if the DC & Marvel universes were to be combined, the continuity glitches of each would be at least doubled in process--look what happened to the DCU after COIE merged five Earths, most of which were less complex than these two!

I wonder what the Amalgam universe would look like today, if they re-visited it.

Bullets and Bracelets #1 (April 1996): "Final Thrust"

Written by John Ostrander, with art by Gary Frank and Cam Smith.

This had Diana "Freelance" Prince and Trevor "The Punisher" Castle as exes who re-unite to recover their kidnapped son from Thanoseid, encountering Jim "Monarch" Rhodes and the humorously-named Big Titania along the way. They find their son (sort of), then are returned to Earth.

This was an interesting concept. Not wild about Thanoseid and company, but then I was never a big fan of the Fourth World stuff anyhow.  Might've been better to see them fighting more terrestrial villains instead. The art is real nice, though.

  I just realized that I didn't get a lot of these, I think I was short on money just then.  Kind of nice to have a reality where Steve and Diana stay together though.

The couple that kills together, chills together! 

I read four of my seven favorite Amalgam comics last night and plan to read the other three tonight so that I’ll be ready when you get to them. Then I’ll be willing to be possibly “swayed” to reading some I haven’t read before. Bullets and Bracelets wasn’t one of the ones I read last night; it’s one of the ones I skipped 17 years ago. Now that I’m looking at it, I wonder why? John Ostrander and Gary Frank sounds as if it could be pretty good. I guess I was just adverse to “this” version of Womder Woman… and pretty much any version of the Punisher.

Doctor Strangefate #1 (April 1996): The Decrees of Fate"

Written by Ron Marz, with art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Kevin Nowlan.

We are introduced to the Amalgam Earth's Sorcerer Supreme, an obvious combo of Doctors Strange and Fate. He's out to catch Access, who he perceives as containing the keys to separating the two universes, which Strangefate does nort want. He is attended by his faithful manservant Myx, who appears to be an amalgam of Wong and Mxyzptlk!  He summons three agents

  • The Skulk (Bruce Banner), a Solomon Grundy/Hulk combo
  • Jade Nova )Frankie Rayner), a Frankie Raye/Kyle Rayner Combo
  • The White Witch (Wanda Zatara), a Scarlet Witch/Zatanna combo

 

and sends them after Axel. The Witch catches him and turns him over to Strangefate, who discovers that Axel has hidden the keys somewhere.  Access escapes, and we end with the reveal that the man beneath the hlemet of Strangefate is none other than Charles Xavier!

 

Overall: I'm not a big fan of sorcerors in general, but this was a fairly entertaining issue, plus the art was quite good. One would think that someone with our Chuck's mental powers and the combined mystical knowledge of Strange and Fate would be nigh irresistible, but Access gets away form him pretty easily here.

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