Archive for the 'Crossover Celebration' Category

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Crossover Celebration Part 7: Robocop and Terminator Duke it Out Over the Decades

March 7th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

I can’t think of a more fitting mixing of properties than Robocop and Terminator. Both 80′s movies are perfect opposing sides to the same coin. Robocop is a robot on the outside with a human on the inside. Terminator is a human on the outside with a robot on the inside. Robocop is about the extreme dangers of mankind. Terminator is about the extreme dangers of technology. Robocop is a machine bent on protecting humans. Terminators are machines bent on destroying humans. Robocop’s theme rings of optimistic victory. Terminator’s theme rings of impending doom. Robocop saved Sting from the clutches of the Four Horsemen. The Terminator failed to save us from Axl Rose. You get the idea.

There have been two comics about the two sides clashing via two different companies with two decades in-between. One of them is exceptionally good. The other one is not. The first one is by pre-insanity Frank Miller with Walt Simonson on art. That should spell it out pretty easily, I’d say.

The four-part series Robocop vs. the Terminator was released in late 1992 by Dark Horse. It’s released a year after Terminator 2 and just months before Robocop 3, which also has Miller’s name on it… whether he wants it to or not. Interestingly enough, Robocop vs. the Terminator has virtually nothing to do with Terminator 2 despite the movie’s immense popularity. Going further, this isn’t even a traditional crossover in the sense that none of the Terminator cast appear at all. The most we get is references to the adult John Connor. There’s no sign of him, his mother, his father or even the T-1000. The most we get is a T-800 that may or may not have the same appearance as the one from the movies. Though he does steal a blind man’s shades, so I guess it’s supposed to be an Arnold-bot.

It’s a unique mixing of properties where it’s simply Robocop and his world interacting with the world of the Terminator. Not the characters, but the concepts.

Several decades into the future, the war with Skynet is all but finished. The last remaining humans are overwhelmed by the machines and the last survivor is a tough-as-nails female soldier with a bowl-cut named Flo. She uses the diversion of her comrades’ deaths to find out for sure what caused Judgment Day to happen.

Uh oh.

With more robots on their way to get her, Flo drops trou and runs into a time machine. She goes back in time to not-so-distant-future Detroit, where she’s almost run over by a cab driver. Strangely, nobody bats an eye to the fact that she’s nude and instead her inability to look where she’s going (by teleporting in front of a moving car) causes the driver to pull out his gun. Many onlookers get ready for the showdown by taking out their own pieces, but Flo disarms the cabbie and steals his gun. Everyone backs off and goes on with the rest of their day. The thing that really gets Flo about all of this is the very sacrilegious idea that man would threaten man with violence. Then again, Skynet hasn’t happened yet.

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Crossover Celebration Part 6: Turtles Forever

February 8th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

It’s really pretty amazing how Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is one of the more versatile properties in comic history, ranking up there with Batman and Wolverine. Remembered mainly for the popular 80′s and 90′s children’s cartoon, you have to remember that the foursome started out in a comic where Leonardo impales Shredder with his katana in the very first issue. He even drinks some beer a few issues later, which feels off in retrospect. The property has taken some strange turns over the years, even to the point where the more kid-oriented comic series by Archie Comics featured a storyline where they go back in time, beat up Hitler, convince him he’s in Hell and trick him into shooting himself in the head. Around the same time, Michelangelo was teaming up with the Muppet Babies, Alf and Bugs Bunny to get a kid off drugs on a Saturday morning TV special.

When the Turtles fad died down, the cartoon still remained on TV for a long, long time. How long? There was an episode that featured April O’Neil looking stuff up on the internet. Jesus. I even remember stumbling upon the very last episode one Saturday morning, surprised that it was still around. The ending was rather nice, with Splinter telling the four that he had nothing left to teach them. They were all his equals and would no longer be able to call him “Master”. They tried to keep the franchise around just a little bit longer with a live-action show, but with that failing, the Turtle stuff took a break for a few years.

In the early 2000′s, a new Ninjas Turtles series was created by 4Kids that revitalized the concept. It decided to go back to basics, throwing away all the ideas and characters from the 80′s cartoon and basing everything on the original Mirage comics. In fact, there’s an almost purist distaste you can feel from the series in their refusal to pay any lip service to the first cartoon, outside of a couple Easter Egg references. Though it is rather cool that by revealing their version of Shredder to be an Utrom alien, he’s essentially Krang and Shredder in one character. Regardless, it was a good show and lasted a rather long time, even after jumping the shark and going into the future for a season.

It was announced that Nickelodeon was buying the rights to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and if the 4Kids series wasn’t already on its way out, this made it definite. The creators decided to go out the best way possible: an animated movie in the style of a crossover between the 4Kids TMNT and the 80′s cartoon TMNT.

The movie begins with Hun, leader of the Purple Dragons and go-to muscle for Shredder, as he steals some tech stuff at a lab. The Ninja Turtles appear to stop them. Later that night, the situation makes the news, distressing Splinter, who can’t believe his students would be so careless. What’s extra strange is that all four turtles have been home in the sewer all night. They figure out that the Purple Dragons are involved and go to find out what’s going on.

We find that the Purple Dragons won that little pre-credits skirmish and have the Turtles as prisoners. Hun sees them and is completely confused.

“You were expecting maybe someone else?”

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Crossover Celebration Part 5: Star Wars and Friends

February 5th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

The big nerd news of recent months is that Disney bought Star Wars from George Lucas and that Star Trek guy is going to be directing it. For me, this is great news no matter how you look at it. For one, the franchise isn’t in Lucas’ hands anymore. Already a plus. At best, Disney might be able to use some of their magic to make a good Star Wars trilogy to break the tie created by the previous two. At worst, we’ll have something new to make fun of.

I thought about doing a Crossover Celebration article about Star Wars, but then it hit me how sparse Star Wars crossovers are. Even then, they’re all fairly brief to talk about. Ergo, I figured I’d go over every Star Wars crossover I can possibly think of. Remember, it’s official crossovers only.

The first crossover came in 1979, in-between the first two movies. During the 11th season of Sesame Street, a UFO land and out come C3PO and R2D2. The two befriend Big Bird and reveal that they are sent by an intergalactic relative of Oscar the Grouch to deliver a message for the grumpy, green guy. That message being, “GET LOST!” Over the course of the episode, as well as another episode later in the season, the two droids mostly hang out with Big Bird, including a segment where they sing a song about remembering which number is which. There’s also an amusing bit where R2D2 happily tells C3PO that he’s in love, only to be brought down when he discovers that it’s just a fire hydrant.

A year later, Star Wars would keep the Muppet friendship going with a hosting gig during the fourth season of the Muppet Show. As Scooter readies the show’s guest host, a Scottish Muppet named Angus McGonagle, the trio of Luke Skywalker, R2D2 and C3PO bust through the wall. The three are looking for the kidnapped Chewbacca, but Scooter sees this as an opportunity to get rid of Angus and replace him with some real stars. Other than R2, the heroes seem disinterested in the idea of hosting a variety show. They’re more focused on tracking down their kidnapped friend Chewbacca.

Luke appears less whiny and unsure and more of a gung ho revolutionary, screaming, “REMEMBER ALDERAN!” when he bursts into the room at one point. While he isn’t keen on singing and dancing, he does leave the room so that his cousin Mark Hammill can give it a try. Wait, cousin? I wonder if he was Owen and Veru’s kid. If so, he’s certainly gotten over their fiery death. Mark fails to impress Kermit and Fozzy, especially after he and Angus do a musical gargling duet on stage.

Things pick up when they invade the set of Pigs in Space. They commandeer the Swinetrek in hopes of finding Chewy and interact with the cast. Link Hogthrob gets along swimmingly with Luke, inquiring about where he gets his snazzy uniform. Dr. Strangepork is intrigued with R2D2 and Miss Piggy dresses up as Leia as a way of hitting on Luke. This episode was released as hype for Empire Strikes Back, so we aren’t aware of how creepy this is. The two sci-fi teams fly to a planet where they confront the mysterious Dearth Nadir!

He too wants to know about Luke’s tailor. The segment becomes a pure clusterfuck with Chewbacca coming to Luke’s aid (wasn’t he kidnapped?) and Nadir being saved by Angus McGonagle’s gargling abilities. Then Kermit arrives to transform it into a musical segment, which includes the horrors of Chewbacca dancing. Then it gets into cosmic territory as both the Muppets and the Star Wars cast get together and sing “When You Wish Upon a Star” as a Disney-like castle appears behind them.

Yes, they’re doing this decades before Disney would own both properties. Absolutely crazy.

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Crossover Celebration Part 4: Mortal Kombat vs. the DC Universe

November 11th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

Ever since Marvel and Capcom released X-Men vs. Street Fighter, nearly everyone said that there needed to be a fighting game that pit Mortal Kombat against the DC characters. Many were joking, but a couple were dead serious. Some of the laughs were directed at how ill-fitting it would be, despite being the natural follow-up to the Marvel vs. Capcom stuff. Marvel and Capcom at least felt right together. Marvel feels more down-to-earth and many of its more popular characters are more street-level, making such matchups as Wolverine vs. Ryu seem natural. Mortal Kombat has a stigma of blood and guts while the public sees DC as the more squeaky-clean of the big comic companies.

The night prior to the 2008 New York Comic Con, this image was released to the public.

And I didn’t get any sleep because oh my God. They were really going to make this?! Really?!

The more I thought about it and the closer the game came to release, I started to come around to the idea of these two worlds mixing it up. DC has gotten far darker and bloodier over the years and Mortal Kombat – despite its many problems – is still home to a pretty strong sense of mythological identity. There have been bad games, bad movies, bad comics, bad TV shows and more, but there’s still an allure to the franchise outside of the blood and guts. When they make it work, it really goes the full mile. Like the latest game, for instance.

It’s noticeable how the two sides don’t exactly match up so well head-to-head. Sub-Zero and Batman aren’t really all that alike. There are only a few pairings that truly work in that aspect. Like even though Deathstroke and Baraka are rivals in the game, Deathstroke has more in common with Kano as a one-eyed, top-notch assassin. Then there’s the perfect pairing of Johnny Cage and Booster Gold, making it a huge shame that neither shows up in the game at all.

The other big pairing that works perfectly is Mortal Kombat’s Shao Kahn and DC’s Darkseid. As far as I’m concerned, the two share the same level of threat, badass and stature. They each hold onto their own realm as feared tyrants and wish to extend their grasp, blocked only by easily-twistable rules. Darkseid has his truce with the people of New Genesis while Shao Kahn must fulfill the rights of Mortal Kombat in order to move forward. It was only natural that they’d make these guys the main villains of the crossover.

Still, there were questions. How would these two sides clash? Why would they fight when the rosters are mostly good guys? How can you have Kano beat up Superman and act like it’s a thing that makes sense? Hell, forget about the Mortal Kombat guys! How is Joker vs. Superman supposed to make sense?!

Luckily, Midway put the how and why in some good hands with DC writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti. The team known for breathing life into Jonah Hex and Power Girl would write the game’s Story Mode. Meanwhile, the collector’s edition of the game would feature a piece of cover art by big-time comic artist Alex Ross.

Seeing Scorpion and the gang in Alex Ross style is still so surreal.

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Crossover Celebration Part 3: Archie Meets the Punisher

October 24th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

When I talk to non-comic reading friends about comics, one thing I like to mention to mess with them is that Archie Meets the Punisher is a thing that happened. That always seems to get a little bit of a reaction out of them, but not as much as my claims that it was actually quite good! The usual follow-up to that is, “How could that possibly be good?” and it hits me as a loaded question. There are different reasons why it works so well, but it wasn’t for years until I found out the perfect way to explain it to the uninitiated.

Archie Meets the Punisher came out in 1994, just prior to the explosion of Marvel/DC crossovers that we’d see throughout the era. The Archie and Marvel camps were friendly with each other and there was a joke going back and forth that there should be a crossover where Riverdale becomes a darker and more violent place and Archie becomes a vigilante after his family is killed. Obviously, that didn’t happen, but writer Batton Lash came up with an outline that pleasantly surprised everyone involved and they moved forward with it.

Many crossovers are meant to be a look at the similarities and differences between the two parties involved. This book is less about the former and very much about the latter. On one hand, we have Archie Andrews, the optimistic and corny lead character in a town where the sun is always shining and the biggest tragedy is the decision over which hot girlfriend he’s going to ask out on any given night. Then you have Frank Castle, the dead-inside Vietnam veteran whose family was murdered by the mob, leading him to dedicate his entire being to showing no mercy to the criminal element. Granted, these are still the days when Marvel and DC weren’t overly violent, even in murderer anti-hero comics, and the only blood you’d see was a shadowy spray of black with no shot of the wound, but it’s still entirely messed up to do a story that mixes these two very, very different characters.

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Crossover Celebration Part 2: The A-Team and the WWE

October 11th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

The big urban legend says that a long-lasting fight between Muhammad Ali and virtual unknown Chuck Wepner inspired Sylvester Stallone to write the screenplay to Rocky. Some say that that isn’t true and that he was inspired by Rocky Graziano’s autobiography Somebody Up There Likes Me. Whichever is true is a pretty heavy incident as like a prime event in a butterfly effect, it had major ramifications on pop culture. I’m not even joking. The creation of Rocky led to the sequels. The third movie springboarded the career of a former bouncer trying to make his way into acting, as well as a lesser-known professional wrestler who would become a household name after a fairly small role in the opening minutes.

As much as I love Mr. T, I’ll concede that his budding career isn’t exactly the most important thing in the world. The rise of Hulk Hogan, on the other hand, is a pretty big deal that may not have happened had he not been given that role opposite Stallone. Mr. T’s fame would increase as part of the ever-so-popular A-Team and he’d have a major role in the World Wrestling Federation’s increasing prominence, including the first two Wrestlemanias. Such a major output was created, possibly because a man refused to go down so easily against the greatest boxer in the world. It’s crazy to think about.

In the mid-80′s there was a time when Hogan and Mr. T seemed inseparable. Mr. T joined Hogan in his war against “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, but that was as his stage self. When Hogan would return the favor, he wouldn’t be teaming up with, “First name: Mr. Middle name: Period. Last name: T.” No, he and the world of the WWF would step into the reality of the A-Team.

The A-Team shouldn’t need an introduction, as the opening credits explains things so perfectly. It was probably the manliest of all shows, giving dudes four characters we wish we could be. The calculating genius, the suave ladies man, the lovable lunatic and the take-no-guff badass. All of them helping people while sticking it to a corrupt government. What’s not to love? Well, other than some of the first season and most of the fifth season? Luckily, when Hulk Hogan shows up, it’s during the fourth season when things are still going strong.

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Crossover Celebration Part 1: JLA vs. Predators

October 7th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

You know what I love? Crossovers.

Really, when you look at it, it’s such a fun concept. Write a story where the main selling point is that two pre-existing parties cross paths and interact. It says a lot about the power of fiction and the properties that come from it that you can even do that. At worst, it’s a cheap cash-in. At best, it’s an interesting character study.

I think my admiration for crossovers is similar to why I’m drawn to Marvel’s What If series and to a lesser extent DC’s Elseworlds. It’s a celebration of the characters and ideas that have been built up over time while lovingly stretching them in fantastic ways. Like, I’ve never seen Star Trek. At all. Never watched any of the shows or seen any of the movies. I think I tried watching the cartoon when I was really young, but it bored me into a coma. Anything I know about the series comes from pop culture. That said, when they did an X-Men/Star Trek crossover and had a scene of someone busting into the room to yell, “DR. MCCOY?!” and both Leonard McCoy and Beast react to it and then glare back at each other, I still laugh about it because it’s almost like that was the entire reasoning for doing the comic. If it wasn’t, you know that writer had that on the top of his idea list, just over, “Spock takes out Wolverine with the Vulcan Neck Pinch and then Wolverine gets back up because of his healing factor.” Story came secondary at best.

I figured that if crossovers are a celebration of the characters, then maybe it’s about time that I celebrate the crossovers. One of the great things about crossovers – and another similarity with What If – is that they’re all so damn fascinating. It’s hard to make one that’s dull and uninteresting. You might find a crossover that works out great for everyone involved and tells a good story to boot. More than likely, you’ll get a bizarre mess that’s fun to look back at.

I’m not going to strictly talk about comics here. I’m talking crossovers in all media, whether it be comics, TV, movies and so on. I’ll only count stuff that’s official. Fan works and the like don’t count. Avengers fighting the Squadron Supreme, who themselves are Marvel’s stand-ins for the Justice League, doesn’t count. Also, in-universe crossovers don’t really rate here. Spider-Man meeting the Hulk isn’t very special. Regular Spider-Man meeting Ultimate Spider-Man? Yeah, maybe. I’ll at least use DC/Wildstorm crossovers.

For this debut entry, I’m going to go with JLA vs. Predators from 2001, drawn by Graham Nolan and written by John Ostrander. Ostrander’s a guy who I respect enough that I did a double-take when I realized he was behind it because he’s better than this.

This is one of the six times the Predators have crossed over with DC, five of the times in stories involving Batman. It hits me how safe the Predators are in this situation as the story is already written the moment you come up with the title. The Predators have a little more substance and likability than the Alien xenomorphs, but at the end of the day, in situations like this, they’re just high-profile cannon fodder. It’s a race of nameless creatures made up of some loose traits created from scenes from the first movie and, to a lesser extent, the sequel. When the xenomorphs aren’t around to make them the lesser evil, the Predators are simply, “those assholes from space”. They’re cool as hell, but there’s no mystery on who will win and who will die while laughing and exploding.

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