Thursday, April 30, 2015

Fit to Be Tied In: A History of Marvel Crossovers and Events- Part 8: The Leftovers

I’ve largely tried to keep the chapters of this series A) grouped thematically and B) under 1,000 words each. As in life, not everything fits into such neat little boxes. With that in mind, here are some of the events the previous chapters missed.

Acts of Vengeance (1989): It’s the old supervillain switcheroo. A group of Loki-led nasties (Dr. Doom, Magneto, the Red Skull, the Kingpin, the Mandarin, and the Wizard) decides the best way to thwart their enemies is to change dance partners. And so you have Spider-Man fighting a giant mutant-hunting Tri-Sentinel, and Rusty and Skids from the New Mutants fighting perennial Spider-baddie the Vulture. The plot, of course, fails, mostly because the villains can’t stop fighting each other, to the point where Loki ends up imprisoning the Kingpin, the Wizard, and the Mandarin. Most importantly, we get a story in Uncanny X-Men about Psylocke being transformed into an Asian, bathing-suit clad ninja programmed to serve regular Iron Man enemy the Mandarin. This version of Betsy Braddock has largely stuck ever since. “Acts of Vengeance” also gave us the first appearance of the New Warriors superhero team, who would go on to inadvertently cause the Civil War. Fun fact: Among the villains who declined the supervillain team-up was Apocalypse. (Matt's aside: A personal favorite from this event is when Holocaust survivor Magneto slaps around Red Skull's Nazi ass in Captain America #367)

Operation: Galactic Storm (1992): A big Avengers-family crossover that spanned Avengers, Avengers West Coast, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Wonder Man and Quasar. The Avengers butt into a war between the Shi’ar and the Kree because the conflict is somehow destabilizing Earth’s sun. The story is considered a throwback to the 1970s’ Kree-Skrull War, in which the Avengers also took part, and features a uniting of the two Avengers teams – East and West Coast – and an overall beefing-up of their ranks (Hey, everybody, Gilgamesh is back!). The crossover has a bit of a bummer ending: A Nega Bomb kills billions of Kree, the mastermind of the whole conflict turns out to be the Kree’s Supreme Intelligence and the Shi’ar annex the Kree, leaving Lilandra’s mad sister Deathbird in charge of them.

Maximum Carnage (1993): AKA the crossover that got me reading comics regularly. Carnage – the figurative lovechild of Venom and the Joker – breaks out of prison and goes on a killing spree across New York with his Harley Quinn, a new supervillain called Shriek, and a gang of Spider-villains including the demonic version of the Hobgoblin, Spidey’s Doppelganger from the Infinity War, and Carrion. To stop them, Spider-Man teams up with Venom, Captain America, Iron Fist, Deathlok, Nightwatch, Cloak & Dagger, Morbius, Firestar, and the Black Cat. The villains are finally defeated with the power of love and hope – in the form of a Stark-tech device apparently powered by the Star Sapphires and Blue Lanterns. The Spidey-title crossover went on to inspire a 1994 Super Nintendo/Sega Genesis video game that came in a sweet red cartridge (And shortly after all that, there was “The Clone Saga,” but the less said about that mess the better).

World War Hulk (2007): A few years back, a secret superhero cabal called the Illuminati (Reed Richards, Tony Stark, Charles Xavier, Dr. Strange, Black Panther, Namor, and Black Bolt) decided the Hulk was too much of a threat and blasted him off into space. While away, he overthrew the rulers of the planet Sakaar, took a wife and made a nice little life for himself. Then the ship that took him there exploded and killed his pregnant wife, and Hulk. Was. Pissed. So he makes his way back to Earth with some space friends to get revenge. After all is smashed and done, Hulk is reverted to his Bruce Banner form and arrested. The Incredible Hulk is renamed The Incredible Hercules, following that hero’s adventures with Amadeus Cho. A new series, Skaar, Son of Hulk, follows the adventures of … well, I suppose it’s obvious. And another new series, Hulk, debuts featuring a Red Hulk who is later revealed to be famed Hulk-hater Gen. Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross.

Shadowland (2010): Before Mark Waid could relaunch Daredevil into one of Marvel’s best books, the character had to be completely run into the ground. And how better to do that than turning him into a demon-possessed ninja lord in a sprawling crossover with the company’s other street-level heroes? In addition to the main series by Andy Diggle and Billy Tan, Shadowland sucked in Spider-Man, the Heroes for Hire, Daughters of the Dragon, Punisher, Wolverine, Moon Knight, Ghost Rider, Black Panther, the Thunderbolts, Shang-Chi, White Tiger, the Night Nurse, and Elektra. Even the Kingpin appears to team up with the heroes in an attempt to stop Matt Murdock and the Hand from destroying New York. Among the series’ repercussions, Daredevil kills Bullseye (Don’t worry, he gets better); Daredevil kills himself (he gets better AND gets a new series); a new Power Man is introduced who looks like the one from Disney XD’s Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon; and the Black Panther, who has an entire country to deal with, takes over patrolling Hell’s Kitchen.

Spider-Verse (2014): A reality-hopping, Spidey-chomping, vampirish character named Morlun and his kin, the Inheritors, seek to wipe out every Spider-Man ever, until they all team up to stop them. We’re talking Peter Parker, Miles Morales, Spider-Woman, “Mayday” Parker aka Spider-Girl, Peter Porker the Spectacular Spider-Ham, Spidey 2099, Ock-Spidey, the Scarlet Spider, Gwen Stacy (whaaaa?), Uncle Ben (whaaaaaaaaa?), et al. Many Spiders die, but many Spiders also live, and some even get their own ongoing series, such as Silk, an Asian-American woman who was bit by the same spider that bit Parker; and new fan-favorite Spider-Gwen, a Gwen Stacy from a reality where she got bit and Peter Parker became the Lizard and died.

So there you have it. It’s not every crossover ever, but hopefully this series gave you more than enough background headed into Secret Wars, which if we’ve timed these right, should be starting nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnow. Happy reading!

Dan Grote’s new novel, Magic Pier, is available however you get your books online. He has been writing for The Matt Signal since 2014. He and Matt have been friends since the days when making it to issue 25 guaranteed you a foil cover.

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