So earlier this afternoon, I did finally come across my collection of Amalgam Comics, the Marvel/DC crossover where they literally combined the universes and characters into one world. It was from the late 90's, and it was a really awesome experience. The best writers and artists from both companies pitched in and delivered some truly special books.

So my question is this: How much interest is there on this board in doing a reading project through these books? I'd love to get one going if anybody else is game, and I'm pretty sure Jeff of Earth J would love to join in as well, although I can speak only for myself.

I know I will get much more out of a current reading, because my only Marvel reading at the time barely scraped the surface of the company. The majority of my Marvel reading experience was within about the last ten or fifteen years. I know I will pick up many more references this time.

Let me know who else would be interested in one of the most grin-inducing events of the 90's.

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I'd already done a read-through, but I'd be interested to see your impressions..

Awesome. I've read a few of them already (couldn't help it).

Legends of the Dark Claw #1

Writer: Larry Hama

Artists: Jim Balent and Ray McCarthy

The title character of this book is a combination of Batman and Wolverine. He battles Hyena, who is a combination of the Joker and Sabretooth. Dark Claw has a sidekick who is Jubilee in place of Robin by the name of Sparrow. This book also features Huntress, who is--in this world--Carol Danvers. When I saw the blonde hair, I thought she was going to be Bobbi "Mockingbird" Morse of Marvel, but they threw me a curve ball here. I guess looking back, it wasn't as much of a surprise as it is in today's world.

I have to say that the stories in these one-shots are extremely straight-forward. The beauty in these books is not their creative storytelling, but rather the creative ways in which the two universes are combined.

The art in this book is what I was most apprehensive about. I was pleased to find that it was not nearly as bad-girl as I thought Jim Balent would have been. Of course, Balent didn't have all that much female to work with here, and Sparrow did show a lot of buns and thighs, but luckily we were mostly only able to see Balent at his most 90's.

As for the writing, I thought Larry Hama did a nice job of combining the two worlds. It's interesting looking at this 20-some odd years later and finding that some of the writers combined the characters and some of them simply mixed them and then mixed the names around also.

This book, the first one I re-read, reminds me of how much I would have loved for the Amalgam Universe to really exist, and have writers be able to explore this world beyond just the surface level. I didn't read this one the first time around, I remember. It wasn't until later that I picked it up, but I'm glad I did, because it's an awesome mix of two characters that I would never put together today, but at the time, who were both at the top of their popularity.

“How much interest is there on this board in doing a reading project through these books? I'd love to get one going if anybody else is game, and I'm pretty sure Jeff of Earth J would love to join in as well, although I can speak only for myself.”

I remember Bob’s discussion from 2014, and I just read through all of my posts to that thread from five years ago. I was really busy at the time (and I do remember why) so I didn’t really participate as much as I would have liked to. My opinions haven’t really changed all that much, but Bob’s post did get me to read a couple I hadn’t read before. In a nutshell, my “Amalgam” titles fall into one of three categories: 1) those I have read once, 2) those I have read multiple times, and 3) those I haven’t read at all.

I’ll be following along (maybe reading along from time-to-time), hoping to think of something to say I haven’t said before.

Dark Claw Adventures #1

Story by Ty Templeton

Art by Ty Templeton and Rick Burchett

This book came a year or two after the original issue, Legends of the Dark Claw #1. This one was based on a fictional cartoon, a la Batman Adventures.

This story contains not only the Dark Claw (Batman and Wolverine), but also his undercover alter ego, Patch Malone, who is a combination of Matches Malone and I assume an alias of Wolvie's known as Patch? Anyway, Patch Malone is attacked by some ninjas, and after destroying them, figures out that this must be an attack by Lady Talia (Lady Deathstrike and Talia al Ghul). Dark Claw and Lady Talia have a past in which her father, Ra's Al Pocalypse (Ra's al Ghul and Apocalypse) was flying over the desert when Dark Claw shoots down his plane. Talia wants revenge on Dark Claw, naturally.

This issue contains a lot of characters for such a simplified story. We have Harvey Osborne (Two-Face and Green Goblin), Cybercroc (Killer Croc and a character I don't know), and Bloodcrow (Scarecrow and another character I don't know).

Like issues of Batman Adventures (and all of the similar comics that came after), this story is pretty simple, but it's cool. I liked seeing the characters combined, and there was a surprising amount of Marvel throughout this issue. It made me very interested in seeing what the Bruce Timm/Paul Dini team could have done with the Marvel properties.

This was a great issue. Anybody else remember reading this?

And thank you for participating, Thomas! Glad it stirs up good memories for you too.

Wolverine adopted the alias “Patch” for his adventures in Madripoor.

Wandering Sensei: Moderator Man said:

Dark Claw Adventures #1

Story by Ty Templeton

Art by Ty Templeton and Rick Burchett

This book came a year or two after the original issue, Legends of the Dark Claw #1. This one was based on a fictional cartoon, a la Batman Adventures.

This story contains not only the Dark Claw (Batman and Wolverine), but also his undercover alter ego, Patch Malone, who is a combination of Matches Malone and I assume an alias of Wolvie's known as Patch? Anyway, Patch Malone is attacked by some ninjas, and after destroying them, figures out that this must be an attack by Lady Talia (Lady Deathstrike and Talia al Ghul). Dark Claw and Lady Talia have a past in which her father, Ra's Al Pocalypse (Ra's al Ghul and Apocalypse) was flying over the desert when Dark Claw shoots down his plane. Talia wants revenge on Dark Claw, naturally.

This issue contains a lot of characters for such a simplified story. We have Harvey Osborne (Two-Face and Green Goblin), Cybercroc (Killer Croc and a character I don't know), and Bloodcrow (Scarecrow and another character I don't know).

Like issues of Batman Adventures (and all of the similar comics that came after), this story is pretty simple, but it's cool. I liked seeing the characters combined, and there was a surprising amount of Marvel throughout this issue. It made me very interested in seeing what the Bruce Timm/Paul Dini team could have done with the Marvel properties.

This was a great issue. Anybody else remember reading this?

Got it! I am much more well-read in Marvel lore than I used to be, but I clearly still have many gaps to fill in. Thanks for the info!

Dave Palmer said:

Wolverine adopted the alias “Patch” for his adventures in Madripoor.

Spider-Boy #1

Written by Karl Kesel

Drawn by Mike Weiringo

This issue was so jam-packed that I went through after I read it and tried to make note of all of the references to both Marvel and DC throughout it.

Page 1:

  • Loved the very Marvel blast announcement on page one: “The Awesome Arach-Kid!”
  • Also, we get our first look at Bizarnage, an odd combination of Bizarro and Carnage.
  • Project Cadmus and the D.N.Alien is also mentioned.

Page 2:

  • SB mentions “that wacky Castle guy,” and I think this is the guy from Bullets and Bracelets, the Amalgam version of Frank Castle (combined with Steve Trevor).
  • “The adventures of Spider-Man when he was a boy,” as often noted of Superboy in the Silver Age.
  • Cadmus evidently is run by Director Harper, most likely Jim Harper, the Guardian.
  • “Rocky”, a combination of the Challengers of the Unknown’s Rocky and Ben Grimm storms in yelling, “I’m gonna clobber that crusty creep!”

Page 3:

  • Another member of the Cadmus team is Johnny Storm.

Page 4:

  • Reed Richards and Dabney Donovan are also a part of the Cadmus team.
  • Johnny Storm is revealed to have a Johnny Stormtrooper mini-clone in his pocket, a reference to the mini-clones from Darkseid’s Evil Factory.
  • He says he is “still up for the trip to the Phantom Zone”, which would be perfect for the Fantastic Four to explore.

Page 5:

  • Reed “Prof” Richards says, “Another crisis well-contained,” probably referring to the fact that the Amalgam Universe--like the DCU--is prone to regular “Crises.”
  • Senator Ben “Rocky” Grimm attacks Dabney Donovan, the bad guy director of Cadmus in the DCU, accusing him of being the one to free Bizarnage.
  • Professor Reed is revealed to be the one who freed Bizarnage in his own thought bubble with a wicked grin on his face. Seems pretty weird until…
  • Dabney Donovan is revealed to be adding “evil DNA” to Professor Reed’s diet, a seed planted for a future fictional issue.

Page 6:

  • Suzie “Ace” Storm (Sue Storm in place of Ace from the Challengers), Agent of SHIELD enters.
  • King Lizard (King Shark and the Lizard) is running rampage in the city, which makes Dr. Curt Connor (alias of the Marvel U’s Lizard) feel guilty.
  • He is told not to feel guilty, because it’s not his fault that his severed arm fell into Dr. Pym’s particle accelerator and combined with reptile DNA, which created the “Cannibal Croc, King Lizard”, which cleverly ties DC’s Killer Croc into the character.
  • The Challengers of the Fantastic (Challengers of the Unknown and the Fantastic Four) are referred to as a team.
  • Sue Storm’s boss is mentioned, Bruce Wayne, Agent of SHIELD.

Page 7:

  • Dr. Palmer is asked about his white dwarf star device. I love how all of the scientists from both universes work for Cadmus. Dr. Palmer is the Atom in the DCU.
  • Spider-Boy, in the past, was shrunken down to sub-atomic size by this device, where he saved “Princess Shatterstarfire.” This refers to the Atom’s time in a tiny jungle world in the Amazon Rainforest for a time in The Sword of the Atom. Princess Shatterstarfire seems to be a stand-in for Laethwen, the princess saved by Ray Palmer in that series. Princess Shatterstarfire herself is a combination of Marvel’s Shatterstar and DC’s Starfire.
  • Dr. Hank Pym is going on a playful rant about Ray Palmer, saying that “the hobgoblin of small minds” is that the future is macro, not micro; that Dr. Palmer needs to “think big”. Hank Pym, of course, was Giant Man in the original Avengers.
  • Cadmus in the AU has a couple of other Kirby creations--the Zoomway of the DCU and the Fantasti-Wagon, which combines the Fantasti-Car and the Newsboy Legion’s Whiz Wagon.
  • Doc Ock, Otto Octavius, also works for Cadmus. He seems to be a more benevolent version of the character.

Page 8:

  • Doc Ock mentions the Daily Bugle, where he says he suspects Spider-Boy must be employed. Of course, we know that he most likely does, because Peter Parker and Clark Kent both work for newspapers.
  • Amazon is mentioned (which is Ororo “Storm” standing in for Wonder Woman in the AU).
  • Doc Ock tells SB that he still wants to set him up with the daughter of his friend’s friend. In the Marvel U, Octavius once dated Aunt Mae, whose friend was the mother of Mary Jane Watson.
  • Spider-Boy, dreading the set-up, thinks, “What couldn’t Doc Ock be one of my arch-enemies?” Of course, in the MU, Spider-Man and Doc are enemies.
  • SB’s “Uncle Gen” is referred to.

Page 9:

  • It turns out that Uncle Gen is General “Thunderbolt” Ross, the last survivor of the Super-Soldier experiment. Super-Soldier is a combo of Superman and Captain America.
  • It turns out Uncle Gen worked with Doc Ock and Victor Von Doom (Dr. Doom) before he became Dr. Doomsday (Dr. Doom and Doomsday, naturally).
  • Turns out Spider-Boy was born in a test-tube much like Superboy after Superman’s death. He recalls that he “woke up like something bit me!”

Page 10:

  • In flashback, we see Uncle Gen killed, Spider-Boy running along the side of a building, and we find out that Doc Ock has been taking care of SB ever since.

Page 11:

  • We get more of both universes, with SB saying something about “being halfway to Ka-Zar’s Skartaris (Ka-Zar evidently lives in Skartaris in lieu of Travis “Warlord” Morgan instead of the Savage Land).
  • We also get brief glimpses of Betty Brandt (Marvel) and Rex Leech (from Kesel’s Superboy run, where he was Superboy’s agent).
  • Computo (from the Legion of Super-Heroes) tries to make a joke, but SB tells him to leave that to the professionals.
  • “Insect Queen” is first referenced. She turns out to be a character played by the model Mary Jane Watson. Of course, Insect Queen was a girlfriend of Superboy (was it him or Jimmy Olsen first?). In the DCU, IQ is Lana Lang.

Man, I'm going to have to do the other half of this comic another time. There is so much in this book!

Spider-Boy and The Challengers of the Fantastic were the two Amalgam titles I wanted to see as ongoing series. 

Both of these would have been amazing. Karl Kesel has such a love for Kirby, and is one of the most clever writers that never got the attention he deserved.

ClarkKent_DC said:

Spider-Boy and The Challengers of the Fantastic were the two Amalgam titles I wanted to see as ongoing series. 

Spider-Boy, Part 2

Page 12:

  • Spider-Boy enters his workplace in his alias, Pete Ross. I love this because it combines the actual character from Superboy, Pete Ross, and combines it with both Peter Parker and Thunderbolt Ross.

Page 13:

  • Tana Moon, reporter for the Daily Bugle shows up. Tana Moon was Superboy's news-reporter girlfriend in the 90's series by Kesel and Tom Grummett. I never liked this, because Superboy was supposed to be somewhere between 14-16, and Tana Moon was his girlfriend. Her name was never expressly stated, but she was old enough to be a star reporter for her news station, which would make her an adult, which would make her a pedophile. I've been told that I am overthinking it, but it will never make sense to me.
  • Here we get Mr. J. Jonah Jameson in the flesh.
  • We also see Pete Ross with the half-Spider-Boy face like Peter Parker often gets when he is having Spider-Man thoughts.
  • Another reporter for the DB, Jack Ryder, is in this scene as well. Jack Ryder is also known as the Creeper in the DCU, who is a bombastic TV news personality.

Page 14:

  • The Spider-Boy song is referred to as he sings it himself. Of course, this refers to the Spider-Man theme song.
  • King Lizard is seen in "person".

Page 15:

  • The New York Special Crimes Unit appears. This comes from the Metropolis Special Crimes Unit, who played a big part (they even had their own miniseries) in the Superman comics in the 90's. This team consists of Flash Thompson (Spider-Man's arch-rival), Roxy Leech (Superboy's age-appropriate other girlfriend), "Brooklyn" Barnes (Bucky and "Terrible" Turpin combo).

Page 16:

  • Roxy mentions the fact that Barnes was once a member of the Young Commandos, presumably a combo of the Young Allies and the Boy Commandos.
  • Captain Makoa is Sam Makoa, from the Superboy comic at the time.

Page 17:

  • Pym is referred to as the "big man on campus" at Cadmus.
  • Superboy mentions his JLA Jr. Detective Merit Badge. The Justice League once sent these out to their junior members.
  • The "Phantom Negative-Zone Protector" is spoken of. This is a combo of the Phantom Zone from DC, and the Negative Zone from Marvel.
  • "The Mother Cube" is a combo of the Mother Box of DC and the Cosmic Cube of Marvel.

Page 18:

  • Doc Palmer's White Dwarf Prototype Gun. I already mentioned Ray Palmer's White Dwarf Star studies, but this is the first time the gun is mentioned. It seems similar to the Phantom Zone projector.

Page 20:

  • The Sub-Atomic Universe is an Amalgam Universe version of the Microverse.

Page 21:

  • Tamojoran Blue-Bloods are referenced. I know the DC side of this is Tamaran, but I have no idea what the Marvel half of it is.
  • Spider-Boy says, "You're here to tell me I'm a clone, right?" This beautifully references both Spider-Man and his clone saga with the fact that Superboy was actually a clone of Superman.
  • Mary Jane Watson is spoken of just before...

Page 22:

  • In her Insect Queen guise, Mary Jane says, "Face it, Spider--you just hit the jackpot."

Needless to say, I loved this comic. It's one of my all-time favorite single issues.

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