Crossovers are a comic book tradition. Superheroes have always visited each other’s comics to either team up, have a fight or just to make a brief appearance for a panel or two. However, while most crossovers feel natural and it makes sense for certain characters to share the same page, some of these other fictional pairings are just bizarre.
10. Marvel Zombies Vs. The Army of Darkness (Marvel/Dark Horse)
The Marvel Zombies series has always been a fairly loose, jokey way to riff on some of the most popular superheroes and characters in the Marvel Universe. However, it’s still surprising to see the horror-inspired spinoff crossover with the cult Evil Dead movies for this five issue miniseries. Chainsaw wielding horror legend Ash inadvertently finds himself stuck in the strange zombie universe and is forced to face a new set of undead hordes. As ever, Ash finds himself in a situation where he is completely in over his head, but the crossover is a fairly successfully mash up of two very different zombie franchises.
9. Green Lantern vs. Aliens (DC/Dark Horse)
DC’s Green Lantern Corps have tangled with all sorts of different extra-terrestrial foes, cosmic entities and interdimensional beings over the years, but it’s still strange to see them fight the Xenomoprhs from the Alien series in this 4 issue arc. DC and Dark Horse comics paired up in 2000 for this strange crossover (Dark Horse comics published an on-going Alien comic series at the time), and the story matched Earth’s Green Lantern Kyle Rayner against the sci-fi horror legends. The Xenomoprhs are transported to the sentient planet Mogo by Hal Jordan in the comic’s prologue, but it’s not long before the feral aliens completely overrun their new habitat. Although the concept does work without feeling too gimmicky, the Xenomoprhs could really be replaced with just about any other type of alien species.
8. Batman vs. Judge Dredd (DC/2000AD)
In this DC/2000AD crossover, a ‘dimensional jump belt’ causes Judge Death to teleport from Mega City One into Gotham and he uses the opportunity to start causing havoc around the city. At the same time, Batman accidentally finds himself transported to Mega City One and quickly comes face to face with Judge Dredd himself. Although it would seem that Dredd would find a kindred spirit in Batman (given his penchant for violence when it comes to apprehending criminals), Dredd is determined to lock him up for crimes of vigilantism. Thanks to the mind-reading skills of Judge Anderson, Batman is eventually able to convince Dredd where he is from and the two make an unlikely partnership as they head to Gotham to take down Judge Death. It’s a pretty far-fetched premise, but both characters are in the safe hands of legendary 2000AD writer John Wagner. The crossover is a fun way to see what would happen when two of comic’s most iconic badasses come face to face.
7. Aliens vs. Predator vs. Terminator (Dark Horse)
Although it is now a series of video games and movies, the legendary match-up of sci-fi greats Aliens and Predators first came from the mind of Dark Horse comics. The title was a huge success and the company thought of adding new elements to the successful concept. Adding the Terminator seemed like a natural step, but this jumbled crossover doesn’t really capture the same magic as the original Aliens vs. Predator. This 4 issue series is far too busy and it doesn’t give each sci-fi legend enough time to make an impact. It also doesn’t help that all the antagonists are mostly mute and shoehorning in other characters from the different franchises like Jonn Connor and Ellen Ripley feels like fan service.
6. Batman vs. Predator (DC/Dark Horse)
Another unlikely sci-fi crossover courtesy of DC and Dark Horse comics, this limited run from 1991 matched the Caped Crusader against the deadly alien hunter. A grisly mob hit hints at an impending gang war in Gotham City, but the strange trophy-like removal of the victim’s spine and skull suggest something very different. Of course, the story reveals that a Predator is the one targeting foes in Gotham and it’s not long before the creature starts to pursue Batman himself. It’s a somewhat jarring crossover but the two are quite evenly matched when Batman builds a special mechanical exoskeleton to overcome the Predator’s strength and stealth technology. The crossover works as a one-off weird matchup, but two sequels to the original miniseries unsuccessfully tried to up the ante by bringing in more and more characters from the Batman comics.
5. Star Trek and X-men (Paramount Comics/Marvel)
During the 90s, Marvel made a deal with Paramount Studios to produce comics based on some of their more popular movie franchises. However, the deal was short-lived (it only lasted two years) and the output mostly consisted of Star Trek and Mission Impossible comics. Marvel kicked off its Star Trek comic tie-ins with Star-Trek/X-Men; a one-shot issue which saw the mutant superheroes cross path with the crew of the Enterprise. It’s another unexpected crossover, but it makes a certain amount of sense given the X-Men’s history of time travel and their interactions with alien races like the Sh’iar, Skrulls, Kree, etc. As with all crossovers there is the inevitable confrontation (Spock even manages to perform the Vulcan nerve pinch on Wolverine) before the two teams decide to join up to fight a bigger threat.
4. Lobo and Howard the Duck (DC/Marvel)
Badass alien bounty hunter Lobo has fought most major characters from the DC Universe at one point or another, but his strangest pairing by far was with Marvel’s Howard the Duck. Unlike most crossovers, this was part of Marvel and DC’s ‘Amalgam Comics’ imprint which literally merged two characters together. The series has its fair share of curious one-off titles (Wolverine and Batman become the Dark Claw, Green Lantern and Iron Man become Iron Lantern), but the idea of a mean, foul-mouthed and super powered bounty hunter who also happens to be a duck definitely makes it the strangest.
3. Infestation (IDW)
Publisher IDW boasts an impressive line-up of comic tie-in franchises, so they decided to make the most of their licensing deals by bringing all of them together for the Infestation crossover event. This means that it’s up to the Ghostbusters, Star Trek, Transformers and G.I. Joe to stop a plague of zombies. Obviously, the whole thing isn’t meant to be taken very seriously and it’s about as far from canon as possible. Nonetheless, it’s another crossover event which tries too hard to appease as many fans as possible and bringing zombies into it only makes matters worse. None of the characters really get an opportunity for any characterisation aside from a few quips and kickass moments and, although the whole thing is an easy, breezy read, the series falls short of it’s weird crossover potential (although getting to see the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man being turned into a giant zombie is a highlight).
2. Archie Comics and Punisher (Archie Comics/Marvel)
Archie Comics is a wholesome American tradition and the long-running company has been responsible for creating iconic characters like Archie Andrews, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Josie and the Pussycats. Fans were understandably surprised when it was announced that Marvel’s no nonsense, trigger-happy vigilante The Punisher would be headed to the fictional town of Riverdale for a special one-shot issue. In a case of drastically mistaken identity, The Punisher confuses Archie for a notorious drug trafficker. However, The Punisher realises the mix up and the two become an unlikely pairing. Although they all remain in character, the comic is very tongue-in-cheek and thankfully the Punisher doesn’t lay waste to the innocent, cheery inhabitants of Riverdale. The front cover boasted that it was “The team-up you thought would never happen” and it was right. The comic ended with a tease that a Wolverine and Jug Head comic would come next, but sadly this spin-off never came to pass.
1. Mars Attacks and Popeye (IDW/Thimble Theatre)
Cult trading card series Mars Attacks was given a comic book relaunch by IDW in 2012, and the series was given an attention-grabbing event a year later courtesy of some baffling crossover titles. One-shot comics included Mars Attacks KISS, Mars Attacks the Transformers and Mars Attacks the Ghostbusters, but the strangest has to be Mars Attacks Popeye. Featuring surprisingly faithful artwork which perfectly mimics the original Thimble Theatre comic strips from the 1950s, the aliens march on Popeye’s home turf of Sweethaven with an aim to conquer the town and its inhabitants. Of course, the Martians (or “Marsh-kins” as Popeye calls them) face surprising opposition from the spinach-powered sailor and his friends. The crossover is a fun and nostalgic read and the writer is clearly appreciative of both properties.