On Wednesdays I look at various chapters in Wonder Woman’s history. Click here for previous installments.
This is so strange to say that I can hardly believe it as I type it, but Wonder Woman has never headlined an intercompany crossover comic. Even during the period when DC and Marvel were crossing over so often that you had such B- and C-list matchups as Darkseid/Galactus, Team X/Team 7 and Green Lantern/Silver Surfer, Wonder Woman got no play.
Superman has crossed over with Spider-Man, Madman, Savage Dragon, the Fantastic Four, Aliens, He-Man, the Hulk, the Terminator, Gen13, Tarzan, Thundercats, the Darkness, the TRS-80 Whiz Kids, Muhammad Ali and the Quik Bunny, among others. Batman matchups have included Daredevil, Spawn, Judge Dredd, Grendel, Predator, the Hulk, Captain America, Punisher, Aliens, the Darkness, Hellboy, Tarzan, Planetary, Deathblow, Danger Girl, the Shadow and Doc Savage.
But Wondy? Nix. Nada. No Wonder Woman/Captain America. No Wonder Woman/Red Sonja. No Wonder Woman/Thor. No Wonder Woman/Vampirella (Catwoman did that one instead). No Wonder Woman/Glory. No Wonder Woman/Valkyrie. No Wonder Woman/Promethea. No Wonder Woman/Witchblade (though there was a JLA/Witchblade crossover that had Diana possessed by the object in question). No Wonder Woman/Xena. No Wonder Woman/Wonder Man.
Wonder Woman has at least appeared in a number of intercompany crossovers, just never as a headliner. So I thought it would be fun to take a look at her appearances in the various Marvel/DC crossovers.
Wondy’s first appearance in one of these crossovers was Superman and Spider-Man—not the first DC/Marvel matchup from 1976 but the 1981 follow-up. Written by Jim Shooter and drawn by John Buscema, this one lets a little more of both universes’ casts of characters creep in. The villains are oddly chosen—Doctor Doom, who’s rarely had much of a beef with Spider-Man, and the Parasite, who’s hardly one of the better-known Superman villains. Superman has an interesting side battle with the Hulk, who seems to hardly be able to ruffle Supes’s hair, and Wonder Woman is fairly easily tricked by Doom into attacking Spider-Man.
They quickly clear up the wacky misunderstanding, but one thing I really don’t buy is that Diana says Spidey’s whole routine is scary. Arachnophobia I could understand, but Spider-Man has never been big on striking fear into evildoers. And let’s not forget, Wondy is old friends with Batman, who is deliberately creepy.
Unfortunately, once they’ve agreed to be pals, Wonder Woman is knocked out and dragged off somewhere by the bad guys to be one of the “specimens” Doom’s going to use to bulk up the Parasite’s power, along with the Hulk. I don’t much like Wonder Woman being taken out so easily, but hey, it’s not her comic, and she doesn’t have Spider-Sense warning her of danger. But what I really don’t like is the Parasite demanding her unconscious body for unspeakable purposes. Ew.
It’s maybe worth mentioning here that this comic took the tactic of pretending that the Marvel and DC heroes lived in the same world all along and had just never run into each other before, as opposed to later crossovers that made a big deal about how they lived in completely different universes.
DC Versus Marvel Comics was a case in point, and also coincidentally the next time Wonder Woman was seen in a DC/Marvel crossover, even as a cameo. The 1996 miniseries posited the two universes as embodied as two long-lost cosmic brothers who have just become aware of each other again after countless millennia. Their worlds start colliding and overlapping, heroes and villains spontaneously appearing on each other’s earths, and the brothers assemble a group of champions to battle it out to prove which universe is number one.
That means a whole lot of one-on-one battles, some of them determined by fan votes. Although the storyline, written by Ron Marz and Peter David, is frankly ridiculous, the miniseries has a number of cool moments and random encounters, with cool art by Dan Jurgens and Claudio Castellini that almost makes up for some of the hideous 1990s costumes.
One of my favorite moments involves Wonder Woman, and I’m not even saying that out of loyalty or anything. After defeating DC’s Captain Marvel, Thor finds that his hammer has disappeared. And who happens to find it? Wonder Woman! Now, there are very, very few people besides Thor who have ever been able to pick up his hammer. That’s not because it’s so heavy but because it’s enchanted by Odin so that only one “worthy” of the power of Thor can pick it up. A few substitute Thors managed to lift it, including Beta Ray Bill and Thunderstrike, and Captain America did it, but it’s really very rare. But who would be more worthy than Wonder Woman? What I love is that when she picks it up, it’s in the middle of a very analytical monologue about what a subjective idea “worthiness” even is.
When next we see her, Wondy is all Thored out, magically garbed in a ridiculous version of the tacky costume Thor was wearing at the time. Her chosen opponent is Storm of the X-Men, and don’t get me wrong, Ororo’s awesome, but she seems badly outmatched here, hammer or no hammer. Make that “no hammer,” because Diana decides that it wouldn’t be a fair fight and throws it away.
And then… Storm just trounces Wonder Woman. Pretty much immediately. A few bolts of lightning, and Diana goes out like a punk. The fact that this is right after discarding her own newfound ability to control lightning just adds insult to injury. This is just a few pages after Wolverine beat Lobo, though, which fans were way more upset about, but it was all a popularity contest anyway.
That’s almost the last we see of her in the miniseries, except in some group shots, but she has one more cute moment in the middle of the finale, also involving the hammer.
Amazingly enough, the closest Wonder Woman’s ever come to headlining a crossover was when DC and Marvel briefly did an “Amalgam Comics” series of one-shots mashing up their two universes. This was right smack dab in the middle of DC Versus Marvel, when the two worlds were merged and every hero became an ungainly combination of at least two different heroes: Captain America and Superman became Super-Soldier, the Flash and Ghost Rider became Speed Demon, Wolverine and Batman became Dark Claw, et al. Amid such titles as Iron Lantern, Thorion of the New Asgods, Lobo the Duck and Generation Hex were two Wonder Woman mashups: Amazon, about Storm as Wonder Woman, and Bullets and Bracelets, teaming Princess Diana with a Steve Trevor/Punisher hybrid.
Bullets and Bracelets, by John Ostrander and Gary Frank, was a bafflingly ridiculous concept. Why merge Steve Trevor and Frank Castle? What does this have to do with Wonder Woman, aside from bringing back the silly mini-motorcycle-jacket and hot pants look she’d been rocking recently?
We get a flashback in which we learn how Diana’s adopted sister Ororo became Wonder W… I’m sorry, “Amazon,” while Diana forged her own path as a freelance something-or-other.
The two of them apparently got married, had a kid and then broke up, but their child has been kidnapped, and that’s why they’re Mr. and Mrs. Smithing it into action together.
The story just kind of piles on the villains: Monarch (Monarch/War Machine), Thanoseid (Darkseid/Thanos), Big Titania (Big Barda/Titania), and the Female Furies, pretty much intact from DC’s version. It’s a very silly and convoluted story, but kind of cute in its own right.
Written and drawn by John Byrne with his old X-Men inker Terry Austin, who has a lot of history with both parts of the mashup’s source material, Amazon is remarkably self-contained. It doesn’t pile on the hybrid characters but just tells you the new history of Ororo growing up on Paradise Island.
This Ororo is the same character that Storm always was, with the same mutant powers, only this version grew up among the Amazons as Diana’s adopted half-sister.
The rest of it is a confrontation with Poseidon that serves as a prompt to all the flashbacks, and a chance for Ororo to indulge in the moralizing that both Wonder Woman and Storm have in common.
Amazon also was one of the main characters in JLX Unleashed, a Justice League/X-Men mashup by Christopher Priest and Oscar Jiminez. It was a fairly incoherent comic, but then, so were both of the series it was combining at the time.
There were a whole lot of crossovers that popped up around the time of DC Versus Marvel Comics, but Wondy didn’t appear in any of them. In 1996’s Silver Surfer/Superman she’s one of many forms that Mr. Mxyzptlk takes on in a battle with the Impossible Man to prove which company’s heroes are better, but that really, really doesn’t count.
This brings us to the only DC/Marvel crossovers that have never been reprinted or collected: DC/Marvel: All Access and its sequel, Unlimited Access, both from 1997. You see, there was a character introduced in DC vs. Marvel named Access, whose power is that he can travel freely from one universe to another and transport people back and forth. He can also amalgamate and un-amalgamate them if need be.
Co-owned by DC and Marvel, his job is keep the two universes stable and everything where it should be. These two miniseries happen because he’s bad at his job. Venom shows up in Metropolis and starts harassing Superman? This is a job for Access. The trouble is, he’s kind of a pushover. Jubilee of the X-Men struck up a romance with Robin during DC vs. Marvel, and she just has to see him again, and Access just can’t say no to her, even though he totally should. Doctor Strange still has a bit of Doctor Strangefate in him, the guardian of the Amalgam Universe who really wants to bring it back. Next thing you know, the JLA is battling the X-Men and it’s all a big mess.
Wonder Woman only shows up in the last issue of All Access, as part of the JLA/X-Men fight, reprising her tussle with Storm. But then Doctor Strangefate reamalgamates them into Amazon, much to the wonderment of all.
Soon, Strangefate is amalgamating X-Men and Leaguers into all kinds of ugly combinations, but Access soon has everything sorted out. Because that’s what he does. After cocking things up pretty badly in the first place, anyway.
Wondy is in the very first issue of Unlimited Access, in which heroes and villains start bleeding over from one universe to the other again, only now time is messed up as well. So you get the original 1960s X-Men meeting the 1990s Teen Titans, Days of Future Past X-Men meeting the Legion of Super-Heroes, the early Avengers and original JLA, et cetera, et cetera. Wondy’s role is when things are still relatively simple, teaming up with Spider-Man to fight Mantis and the Juggernaut.
With that in mind, her part is pretty straightforward. Come in, save the day, get out. There’s a little glimmer that something may be amiss when she doesn’t remember Access, but there’s so often a clean slate between these crossovers that it’s not really that surprising, except of course when it’s a plot point.
Quite possibly the best DC/Marvel collaboration ever was also the last one, 2003’s JLA/Avengers by the dream team of Kurt Busiek and George Perez. There were so many great things about this miniseries, starting with its acknowledgment, for the first time, that the two universes were very different. They have different geographies, different power levels, different relationships between the heroes and the populace, and the way things work in one universe doesn’t translate into the other. There’s no Speed Force in the Marvel universe for the Flash to tap into, and the Infinity Gauntlet that transforms reality in the Marvel universe does nothing in the DC world. This series was notable also for the incredibly badass image of Superman wielding Thor’s hammer and Captain America’s shield.
Here too reality is transformed. Caught in a game between the Grandmaster and Krona, the heroes find time shifting around them, as their lineup and costumes shift, sometimes in mid-sentence. At one point they find reality changed so that they’ve known each other for a long time, with yearly get-togethers like the Justice League and Justice Society used to have. And every Leaguer or Avenger that ever was shows up in one massive, confused battle.
Wonder Woman is there for pretty much the whole time, but she doesn’t play a large role. She’s the quietly badass one and the voice of reason, and her lasso comes in handy once or twice, but she’s mostly a background character.
Her one really cool moment in the whole series is kind of at her expense. When she meets Marvel’s Hercules she attacks him right away, because the Heracles she knows is the one who deceived and enslaved her mother. And, at least the way Perez drew Heracles early in the rebooted 1980s Wonder Woman series, they even look alike.
That was the last Marvel/DC crossover, and the powers that be have dictated that they’re not doing those anymore (which doesn’t necessarily mean never, because the powers that be change all the time). So it’s unlikely that I’ll be seeing a What If/Elseworlds story in which Steve Rogers washed up on Paradise Island instead of Steve Trevor, or Wonder Woman fighting side-by-side with Sif and/or Valkyrie anytime soon, all of which is a shame.
But there are plenty of companies that DC does do crossovers with from time to time. Right now it’s doing a Masters of the Universe crossover, so where’s my Wonder Woman/She-Ra comic? DC’s also done a number of crossovers with IDW lately, including The Rocketeer and the Spirit and Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes. So who else does IDW have right now? Doctor Who? True Blood? Godzilla? My Little Pony? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Possibilities, people! And it wasn’t that long ago since DC teamed with Dynamite for Red Sonja/Claw the Unconquered. And come on, a Sonja/Diana teamup would be awesome. Or get in there with Dark Horse’s Buffy comics, or Hellboy. All I’m saying is, the fact that DC has never put Wonder Woman forward for an intercompany crossover is an embarrassment and could easily be rectified if only they gave a damn.