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What Are the Best Comics Crossovers, Ever?

You've got to love comics that feel like they "shouldn't happen."

    And one of these dudes actually won.
 And one of these dudes actually won.

DC finally getting to reprint the SUPERMAN VS. MUHAMMAD ALI hardcover this week (and in a sleek hardcover, no less) got me thinking about crossovers.  I’ve always been endlessly-intrigued by them for much the same reason as I’m always interested in alternate realities stories - - they're a refreshing reminder of the limitless possibilities of comics, even when things can get all-too-often truncated by self-imposed rules.  

I’ve already explicated my picks for my favorite company crossovers, but now we’ll throw a handy prefix into the discussion and talk about inter-company crossovers. That is, the ones that really are a break from business-as-usual. Contracts and rights and such make these a little rarer so, when they do pop, they're usually pretty special to begin with. 

Without further preamble, here are some of my all-time favorites...  == TEASER == 

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Doubly-notable as a team-up, this is also only time (to my knowledge)  that comics legends Frank Miller and Walt Simonson have worked together. It coincided with the release of some insanely-hard Genesis/SNES video games and it just happens to feature two of my favorite  movie characters. The creative team knows precisely what tone to give it - - they don't take anything too seriously, but still make this one feverish, frenetic, adrenaline-fueled ride. Very much comics' equivalent of rock song (featuring a guest guitarist!) Sadly, it’s out of print, though. 


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Full confession. I've only actually skimmed through this, but the idea is far too bizarrely-genius for it not to get mentioned here. What's maybe even more astounding is the fact that it's played more-or-less played straight, with both characters staying true to themselves. Basically, big Frank's trailing an escaped scumbag who's the spitting checker-browed, ginger baby image of Riverdale most famous teen. Anybody who thinks LITTLE ARCHIE/TINY TITANS is strange needs to check out to put things properly into perspective. Frank doesn't' waste anybody, though. 

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This came out when Grant Morrison was on an absolute, unstoppable roll with his JLA run and it's far better than it ever even should've been. It's actually a light parody of crossovers in general with scenes like Grifter backing down from a duel with a clearly-out-of-his-league Batman and Superman shutting an arrogant Mr. Majestic up with a single, fight-ending punch. Considering that Wildstorm's world has subsequently folded into the multiverse, you can think of this as something of a prelude to 52.  

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A crossover 20 years in the making. A comic with so much detail, it gave George Perez carpal-tunnel problems. A story that even Crossgen realized it shouldn't get in the way of. "Fan service" is a term that gets thrown around a lot in the circles of anime and manga, and this is probably the greatest example of such in comics. It answers long-discussed "battle thread" questions once and for all, and is a feel-good reminder of how fun shared universes superheroics can be at their best.  

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Given how both companies have evolved in the ensuing years, I don't think we're ever going to see another "friendly competition" effort like this. The mini-series itself was notable for letting the battles' outcomes be decided by fans' votes, leading to decisive victories instead of pussyfooting draws. The Amalgam books still capture my imagination as much today as they did in '96. I've read thousands and comics and I can think of few that were as unabashedly enjoyable and creatively exciting as these were. SPIDER-BOY, SUPER-SOLDIER & JLX were stand-outs.

Anyway, this is just a quick list of some of my favorites (with Amalgam being heads-and-tails at the top.) There are dozens and dozens more of these crossovers, so let me hear which ones have earned the favor of you Comic Vine maniacs.   

And I should give a special nod to the wickedly-cynical ending to SPAWN vs. BATMAN. There aren't too many crossovers that end with as much punch as a razor-sharp baterang to the face.

Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of  HYBRID BASTARDS! & UNIMAGINABLE . Order them on Amazon here & here.  Follow him on Twitter: @tompinchuk