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The Amalgam Age of Comics: The DC Comics Collection (comic, obviously)

In the mid ‘90s, Marvel and DC brought their characters together for DC vs. Marvel, in which Marvel and DC characters fought each other to save their universe. One of the highlights of that story is when the two universes merge together to create entirely new character with DC and Marvel traits. The characters were cool enough to create new comics centered around them. The Amalgam Age of Comics: The DC Comics Collection contains six different #1 issues starring the Marvel/DC hybrid characters.

Amazon #1 stars Princess Ororo of Themyscira, also known as Wonder Woman. She’s a mutant with the power to control weather and she was adapted and raised as an Amazon. She deals with learning about her adoptive past, and with the wrath of Poseidon, the god of the sea.

Assassins #1 is about the crime-fighting duo of Dare and Catsai as they take on the evil New Gotham mayor, Enigma Fisk. Slade Murdock is blind and fights crime using the moniker Dare. She’s like a female Daredevil with a revealing costume. She teams up with Catsai (real name: Elektra Kyle), the crime fighting dominatrix to bring down Enigma Fisk, better known the criminal underworld as the Big Question. Imagine the Kingpin and the Riddler in a blender, and this strong and intelligent criminal mastermind is the result.

Doctor Strangefate #1 centers on Doctor Strangefate, a hybrid of Professor X and Dr. Strange. He’s your typical sorcerer/telepathic mutant. He sends a few of his minions to find the Access. If this story seems familiar, it’s because this issue was also included in the DC vs. Marvel comic.

JLX #1 is about a team of mutant superheroes called the Justice League X-Men. There’s a bunch of characters and I could tell you their names, powers, and affiliations but I’m feeling lazy right now, so I’ll just sum it up by saying there’s the JLX and they have a reluctant battle with another team of superheroes and then they go to Atlantis and have another battle with a team of super villains. There are a lot of characters and it’s fun to see which Marvel and DC characters they are composites of.

Legends of the Dark Claw #1 is about Logan Wayne, who calls himself Dark Claw when he’s fighting crime with his spunky sidekick Sparrow. His main nemesis is the Hyena, a former friend who used to be called Creed H. Quinn. Dark Claw is Batman and Wolverine combined, and the Hyena is the Joker and Sabretooth combined. This is one of the highlights of the collection.

Super-Soldier #1 is about a soldier who volunteers himself to be injected with alien cells found in a crashed rocket ship, becoming Super-Soldier. There’s a nice blend of Captain America and Superman mythology. It works because both those characters represent the best of the United States.

This collection of DC and Marvel mash-ups is worth exploring. The art is solid, distinctive, and beautiful. The panel layout adds momentum and movement. It’s fun figuring out which character traits and attributes belong to whom. Some of the character combinations are a little weird, but the majority of them are acceptable.

The Amalgam Age characters should be the next comic book movie franchise. Dark Claw on the big screen? Yes, please.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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DC vs. Marvel (comic)

Have you ever wondered what would happen if the greatest, most powerful heroes and villains from the DC and Marvel Universes met? How awesome would that be? Well, it already happened in 1996, so you missed out. But you can relive the past and pick up DC vs. Marvel and see the two worlds collide.

There is actually a pretty coherent storyline. Writers Ron Marz and Peter David are able brings some of the biggest characters from two rival companies together in a comprehensive way. So back in the day, these two brothers/entities were controlling their own separate universes, until they learned of each other’s existence. One brother is the DC Universe, and the other represents the Marvel Universe. They decide to have a battle between their top superheroes to determine which universe will be destroyed.

Each separate universe starts to be aware that something weird is happening when heroes and villains start vanishing in a flash of light, and new, different masks start showing up. A young man named Axel Asher finds himself inexplicably drawn to an alley where a crazy homeless guy is trying desperately to keep an inter-dimensional gateway contained in a cardboard box. Axel is the Access, and he just might be the key to solving the crisis if he ever accepts his destiny.

6 Marvel characters are chosen to fight 6 DC characters in one-on-one battles to determine the mightier universe. There are some really obvious fights between similarly powered characters like Aquaman vs. Namor, Wolverine vs. Lobo, and Flash vs. Quicksilver. There are also weird, random fights like Robin vs. Jubilee and Superboy vs. Spider-man. Elektra fights Catwoman, the Green Lantern and Silver Surfer duke it out in space, Wonder Woman somehow loses to Storm, Batman and Captain America are pretty evenly matched, and Superman barely beats the Hulk into submission.

Instead of one universe getting destroyed, the Spectre and the Living Tribunal are able to temporarily merge the two universes together. This buys them some time, and has the awesome bonus of creating hybrid superheroes like Dark Claw (a mixture of Batman and Wolverine) and Super-Soldier (Superman and Captain America’s lovechild).

Access finally gets his shit together and it able to separate the merged universe back to the two separate ones. He gets a little assistance from Batman and Captain America to end the Space Brothers’ hissy fit. And now the two universes can co-exist and life is good.

Yeah, there’s a lot of nonsense about two brother universes using magic humans to end a cosmic dispute, but once you get past that you can appreciate the story. What if the superhero you depended on was powerless to stop the end of the world? What if that superhero vanished and was replaced by a stranger in tights? What if you are a superhero and you can’t simply punch your way to victory?

The art is awesome. The panels spill over into each other, they overlap, it feels very fluid. Dan Jurgens and Claudio Castellini’s drawings are bold and powerful. And it’s pretty cool to see the Hulk and Superman exchanging blows in the desert.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of, but it doesn’t slow down the momentum of the story. If you like DC, it’s worth checking out. If you like Marvel, it’s worth checking out. If you like comics, then you should have read this already. You’re slacking.

Critically Rated at 13/17

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