Decided to do another one this week to make up for not doing one last week. Or maybe even the week before. I'm inconsistent. I know this. Anyway, this time, it's Top 5 Amalgam Books!
For those of you who don't know - or possible even care - DC and Marvel had a big crossover event in the 90s where the best known characters from each company got to slug it out with each other for the survival of their very universes. Halfway through the series, the two universes were combined, and characters from the two companies were merged into new characters (Superman and Captain America became Super-Soldier, Batman and Wolverine became Dark Claw, etc.), and they printed comics featuring these characters under the Amalgam Comics banner (pretending that these characters and their books had always existed this way). The books sold well enough that they made more Amalgam Comics titles the following year. Between the two events, a couple dozen Amalgam books were published. A lot were pretty bad, but some of them were pretty good and had a lot of fun with the concept. These are my 5 favorites.
5. X-Patrol (first series) - Not the first time the Doom Patrol and X-Force were combined, nor the funniest; both of those honors belong to Grant Morrison's Doom Force Special. But it was a decent enough little story (certainly more readable than X-Force ever was, and probably more accessible to a wide audience than Doom Patrol at the time), and it had one moment of inspired genius: Dial HUSK (amalgam of DC's Dial H for HERO concept and Generation X team member Husk) becoming...
Mary Marvel Girl. Brilliant. Makes me laugh every single time I read it.
4. Challengers of the Fantastic (second series) - Combining Challengers of the Unknown with the Fantastic Four is pretty much a no-brainer, but this goes above and beyond what you'd expect. Tom Grummett's artwork is suitably big and Kirbyesque for the occasion, and Karl Kesel doesn't hold back with the story, throwing as many wild concepts from across Jack Kirby's entire comics career into the mix, and throwing in jokes for Marvel or DC continuity fans whenever possible (as when Uatu the Guardian tells Johnny "Red" Storm that he must find Galactiac's device and "ultimately, nullify it."
3. Spider-Boy (first series) - Spider-Man was in the midst of the clone saga at the time, and Superboy was hanging out with a bunch of old Kirby creations from the Jimmy Olsen days (DNAliens, the Newsboy Legion, etc.) while also serving as jailbait love interest to several much older women. So, you know, not particular good parts to be forced to combine, but somehow the whole comes together in a surprisingly fun way. More Karl Kesel, so the Kirby aspects are played up large and as off the wall as possible, so I'm sure that had a lot to do with it. The Mike Wieringo art helped, too.
2. Spider-Boy Team-Up (second series) - More Spider-Boy, more Kesel, and some Roger Stern thrown in for good measure. Spider-Boy meets the Legion of Galactic Guardians 2099 - several times - and, of course, they're completely different each time. So even in the Amalgam universe, the Legion can't keep its continuities straight.
1. Dark Claw Adventures (second series) - The first Dark Claw book was pretty grim, which was unsurprising since it combined Batman and Wolverine at the point when they were both consistently written as nearly-psychotic asshats. This book, though, shows the characters in their would-be Amalgam Animated Universe forms, and it's kind of brilliant. Even considering how much of the Wolverine stuff is thrown in here, it still fits in pretty well with the tone of the Batman Adventures book published at the time. But my favorite part of the book is this scene, where we get our first glimpse of Dark Claw's Burrow:
I'm not sure what I love most: the Devil Dinosaur robot, or the giant Canadian nickel. Is there a level beyond genius? Because I think this reaches that. I know I'm given to superlative, but I think it's justified here.