Every comic book fan loves a good crossover, a team-up or a battle between characters from different books. It gives readers a chance to see how their favorites measure up with one another and lets creators play with characters they wouldn’t have access to otherwise.
In most cases, these crossovers stay in the realm of superheroes, letting Batman join forces with Captain America or Judge Dredd fight thv Joker. But every once in a while, comic book crossovers go too far. They remember that comics can do anything, leading to some of the most outrageous and strangest comic book crossovers ever imagined.
1. Archie vs. Predator (2015)
The hit television series Riverdale took the wholesome teens from Archie Comics to some pretty wild extremes, but the show has nothing on the comic book series Archie vs. Predator.
Writer Alex di Campi comes up with a story that makes sense for both properties, in which the Riverdale teens go on a Spring Break trip to Costa Rica and discover an artifact that attracts the attention of the Predator. In response, the Predator tears through those lovable kids, which penciler Fernando Ruiz, inker Rich Koslowski, colorist Jason Millet, and letterer John Workman render in the style of classic Archie comics.
The juxtaposition of Eisenhower-era teen hijinks and brutal gory gets a good laugh every time.
2. Army of Darkness: Ash Saves Obama (2009)
Believe it or not, presidents make regular appearances in the comics, from JFK giving Superman a mission to Deadpool fighting off the reanimated corpses of FDR and Harry Truman. In most cases, the hero respects the office of the President, even when putting them in absurd scenarios.
Such is the case of the four-issue series Army of Darkness: Ash Saves Obama, written by Elliot Serrano, illustrated by Ariel Padilla, and colored by Rael Sidharta. The 44th President gets into trouble when he goes to a Detroit comic con while campaigning in Michigan. When the President buys a copy of the Necronomicon by accident, only Ashley J. Williams from the Sam Raimi Evil Dead movies must stop him from turning into a Deadite. Hail to the Chief, baby.
3. Batman/Elmer Fudd Special (2017)
The Looney Tunes have teamed up with their fellow Warner Bros. properties the DC Comics heroes even more than they have NBA stars, so no one was surprised when the company announced a series of one-shots that paired Bugs Bunny with the Legion of Superheroes or matched Harley Quinn with the monster Gossamer.
However, the Batman/Elmer Fudd Special stands out because it treats the premise with utter seriousness. Working with veteran artist Lee Weeks, writer Tom King — best known for his somber and philosophical work on Mister Miracle or Vision — imagines the Looney Tunes as figures from a noir film. A distraught Elmer comes to Porky’s Bar to kill mobster Bugs “the Bunny” in revenge for the murder of his beloved Silver St. Cloud, a plot that involves Batman.
Ridiculous as it sounds, King and Weeks make it work, thanks to moody colors from Lovern Kindzierski and bold, crisp letters from Deron Bennett.
4. Marvel Team-Up #74 (1978)
Stan Lee always saw the Marvel characters as his entree into the world of film and television. So he jumped at the chance to use the Saturday Night Live cast in a Marvel comic, in which Spider-Man meets the Not Ready for Prime Time Players.
Written by X-Men scribe Chris Claremont, penciled by Bob Hall, inked and colored by Marie Severin, and lettered by Gaspar Saladino and Annette Kawecki, Marvel Team-Up #74 sends Peter Parker and Mary Jane to a Saturday Night Live broadcast (hosted by Stan Lee, of course — that guy always loved cameos). When the Silver Samurai arrives to make trouble, Spidey has to keep John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, and other cast members from becoming dead in New York that Saturday night.
5. Eminem/The Punisher (2009)
When war vet Frank Castle lost his family to a mob attack, he became the anti-hero the Punisher. When Marshall Mathers needed a way out of the Detroit slums, he became the rapper Eminem. A match made in heaven, right? Marvel produced the one-shot Eminem/The Punisher as a promotion for the rapper’s upcoming album Relapse, but the company put some solid talent behind the project.
Written by Fred Van Lente, illustrated by Salvador Larroca, colored by Frank D’Armata, and lettered by Joe Caramagna and Cory Petit, Eminem/The Punisher looks and reads much better than one would expect. Even the plot, in which Eminem comes between Punisher’s search for criminal Barracuda, has more grit than the standard commercial.
6. Infestation (2011)
The comic book company IDW Publishing makes its name with licensed characters, creating new adventures of figures from film and television, including Sonic the Hedgehog, Doctor Who, and others. With Infestation, the company tied together four of its most popular, but distinct, franchises: Transformers, GI Joe, Ghostbusters, and Star Trek.
Writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning craft more of a spiritual crossover than a traditional team-up, as it never puts Optimus Prime on the Enterprise or sends Slimer to bother Cobra Commander. Instead, the various heroes all deal with a trans-dimensional zombie invasion, one that threatens multiple realities.
7. Star Trek/X-Men (1997)
Star Trek imagines a progressive future, in which humanity has overcome its prejudices and devoted itself to exploration. X-Men imagines a world in which prejudice forces the mutant population to fight for their lives. Against the wild differences between the franchises, they came together in two Marvel comics and even a novel by Michael Jan Friedman.
To make things more strange, one comic teams the X-Men with Kirk, McCoy, Spock, and the original Enterprise crew while the other comic, and Planet X, sends the same X-Men line-up to meet the crew from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Messiness notwithstanding, the three X-Men and Star Trek team-ups have some great moments, such as Storm noticing the similarities between Captain Picard and Professor X, several years before Patrick Stewart would play both parts.
8. Sonic Super Special #7 (1997)
Give or take a Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog and his pals tend to go on good-natured adventures befitting their funny animal designs. In the 1990s, Image Comics published the edgiest and most extreme comics about Spawn, Shadowhawk, and Youngblood. The two worlds collided in 1997’s Sonic Super Special #7, written and inked by controversial Sonic scribe Ken Penders, penciled by Image regular Jim Valentino, colored by Frank Gagliardo and Pat Spaziante, and lettered by Jeff Powell.
The story sends Sonic and his pals on a tour of the Image Universe, dropping by to meet Savage Dragon and others. However, Penders shows more interest in pairing the Sonic characters with FBI agents Wolf Scolder and Lana Mully, a pastiche of the X-Files protagonists.
9. Green Lantern co-starring Colonel Sanders (2017)
In 1970, DC heroes Green Lantern and Green Arrow went on a journey across the country, chronicled in a comic book series called Green Lantern/Green Arrow. In 2017, the third issue of a mini-series about KFC spokesperson Colonel Sanders paid homage to that team-up. Green Lantern co-starring Colonel Sanders sees the Colonel seek out the help of Green Lantern Hal Jordan to find out who stole his secret recipe.
Writer Tony Bedard and penciler Tom Derenick — working with inkers Trevor Scott and Sean Parsons and letterer Carlos M. Mangual — play the premise straight, working the Colonel into current continuity and never cracking jokes about the restaurateur’s presence. The approach dulls some of the comedy and makes for a pretty solid adventure.
Even among bizarre comic book crossovers, this one begs the question: who comes up with this stuff?
10. Amalgam Comics (1996)
It’s always weird when DC and Marvel characters team up, whether it's a non-sense story in which Batman dropkicks the Hulk or the excellent JLA/Avengers. But the weirdest crossover occurred in 1996, in which the two companies combined their characters for a new universe called Amalgam Comics.
Some of the mash-ups worked, such as the Green Lantern and Iron Man combo Iron Lantern or the Batman and Wolverine combo Dark Claw. Others — such as the mix of Etrigan and Ghost Rider and the Flash called Speed Demon — have too many moving parts.
11. Archie Meets the Punisher (1994)
The Predator wasn’t the first oddball to visit Riverdale. In 1994, Indie comics great Batton Lash wrote a story that brought Frank Castle to Pop’s Soda Shoppe, on the hunt for a ginger-headed criminal called Red Fever, who just so happens to resemble Archie Andrews.
To help sell the continuity between the two styles, Archie Meets the Punisher employs Marvel penciler Sal Buscema and regular Archie penciler Stan Goldberg, both inked by Tom Palmer and colored by Barry Grossman, with letters by Jack Morelli. Thanks to the creative team, Archie Meets the Punisher tells a satisfying story, one that does right by both the hard-boiled Punisher and good ol’ Archie Andrews.
12. X-Statix #13 – 17 (2003)
The storyline “Back from the Dead” in X-Statix #13 – 17 makes this list less for its execution and more for its intentions. Writer Peter Milligan and penciler Michael Allred used the X-Men spinoff X-Statix as a forum to skewer celebrity culture, featuring a team of young, good-looking mutants who hide their odd or disgusting qualities to achieve media stardom.
For “Back from the Dead, Milligan and Allred planned to add a new member: Diana, Princess of Wales, who would have been a mutant who gets resurrected from her death in 1997. The issues, inked by J. Bone, got pretty far along in production before Marvel pulled the plug and forced colorist Laura Allred and letterer Cory Petit to change Diana into the pop star Henrietta Hunter. And yet, despite the interference, Henrietta still feels a lot like Diana, making the storyline a pseudo-crossover.
13. Deadpool Killustrated (2013)
In most cases, Deadpool’s fourth-wall-breaking abilities lead to little more than snarky gags. But with the miniseries Deadpool Killustrated, writer Cullen Bunn, artist Matteo Lolli, and inker Sean Parsons take him to an extreme. Aware that he and everyone he meets are mere fiction, Deadpool goes mad and begins killing indiscriminately.
After slaughtering everyone in the preceding miniseries Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe, Deadpool goes after the classics in Deadpool Killustrated, colored by Veronica Gandini and lettered by Joe Sabino. Across the four issues that follow, the Merc with a Mouth wreaks havoc on books by Herman Melville, Mark Twain, and other literary icons.
14. Mars Attacks Image (1996)
Those who on know Mars Attacks! as just a lesser Tim Burton movie may be surprised to learn that the film adapts the Topps! trading card series from 1962, and a shocking one at that. To capitalize on the buzz around the film, the fledging company Topps! Comics commissioned a new Mars Attacks! comic, and teamed with Image Comics.
By 1996, Image had lost some of its big-name creators and quite a bit of its initial buzz. So the company wanted to use Mars Attacks Image as something of a reboot, allowing the Martians to kill off minor characters and set a new status quo. Despite the involvement of true titans of the industry, including writer Keith Giffen and Bill Sienkiewicz on inks, Mars Attacks Image reads like a joyless slog, carrying over none of the card series’ dark humor nor any of the action in the best Image adventures.
15. Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern (2017)
Although not part of DC Comics’s top tier, Green Lantern has crossed over with a number of properties. Most of the time, those properties match Green Lantern’s space police premise, as in Green Lantern Versus Aliens (2000) or the two Star Trek/Green Lantern miniseries (2015, 2017).
Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern is a lot harder to explain. Written by Robbie Thompson and Justin Jordan, illustrated by Barnaby Bagenda, colored by Alex Guimarães, and lettered by Ed Dukeshire, the six-part series doesn’t mess around too much with explaining how the two worlds collide. Instead, it just introduces a “universal ring” that draws the attention of the Lanterns and of Cornelius on the Ape planet before giving readers what they want: six issues of superpowered primates.
16. Justice League vs. Godzilla vs. Kong (2023 – 2024)
With a lineup that includes Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Flash, the Justice League can handle anything that threatens the Earth, no matter how big. Justice League vs. Godzilla vs. Kong puts that claim to the test when kaiju from the American MonsterVerse appear at various points on the planet.
Writer Brian Buccellato — working with illustrator Christian Duce, colorist Luis Guerrero, and letterers Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt — doesn’t mess around with a busy plot. Instead, it finds the Justice League and its extended membership splitting up to hold the massive beasts at bay, giving fans the knock-down, drag-out fights they want to see.
17. Avengers #239 (1983)
Wonder Man has always been one of the more off-beat members of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, a bad-guy turned good-guy turned being of ionic energy turned movie star. It’s in that last capacity that Wonder Man gathers his fellow Avengers to join him on the Late Show with David Letterman in Avengers #239.
Writer Roger Stern and penciler Al Milgrom keep the stakes low and breezy, as even an interruption by a villain allows Letterman and bandleader Paul Shaffer to hone their signature sarcastic dialogue. Still, inker Joe Sinnott, colorist Christie Scheele, and inker Jim Novak give the story the slick Marvel pop, making the issue a breezy, if inconsequential, oddity.
18. Injustice vs. Masters of the Universe (2018-2019)
On the surface, a crossover between Injustice and the toy line Masters of the Universe seems natural. After all, the Injustice comic book adapts a video game about DC Comics superheroes fighting each other after Superman becomes evil, and Masters of the Universe is a toy line about superhuman muscleheads. Rather, the odd thing comes from the way DC Comics uses the crossover.
Despite coming from a video game with a ludicrous premise, Injustice became an interesting and popular alternate reality tale under writer Tom Taylor. But instead of giving the story a proper ending, DC used the arrival of He-Man and Skeletor to finally deal with the tyrant Superman.
Writer Tim Seeley, artist Freddie E. Williams II, colorist Jeremy Colwell, and letterer Wes Abbott do the best they can, crafting a fun superhero adventure. But it falls far short of doing justice to Injustice.
19. Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #141 (1971)
Jack Kirby is the father of superhero comics, without whom Marvel would not exist and DC would be far less interesting. But even Kirby was not infallible. DC Comics did Kirby no great favor by sticking the artistic giant on the low-selling book Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen. And while he used the series to introduce Darkseid and launch his titanic Fourth World franchise, issue #141 has no such lineage.
Written and drawn by Kirby, and inked by Vince Colletta, the issue inserts famed insult comedian Don Rickles into a battle involving Superman, the New Gods, and the Newsboy Legion. Worse, it’s not the only time that Rickles showed up in one of Kirby’s stories, as the King made a superheroic doppelgänger called “Goody Rickles” to get involved in the adventures.
20. Batman '66 Meets Steed and Mrs. Peel (2016)
Batman has teamed up with the Avengers many times before, but never like this. Written by Ian Edginton, illustrated by Matthew Smith, colored by Jordie Bellaire, and lettered by Wes Abbott, Batman '66 Meets Steed and Mrs. Peel teams the Batman from the 1966 Adam West TV series and pairs him with those heroes from across the pond, John Steed and Emma Peel from the British show The Avengers.
In addition to Smith’s solid recreations of stars West, Burt Ward, Patrick Macnee, and Diana Rigg, Edginton’s script treats the material with straight-laced sincerity, which makes the campy parts all the more enjoyable.
21. Godzilla: King of the Monsters #23 (1979)
Long before Godzilla fought the Justice League, he hung out in the Marvel Universe. Marvel secured several licenses for other properties in the late 70s and 80s and sometimes worked the characters into their shared universe. For some strange reason, though, it took twenty-two issues of the series Godzilla: King of the Monsters before the Avengers decided to do something about the gargantuan lizard spraying its atomic breath around the country.
In fairness, SHIELD and even the Fantastic Four had been checking in on the kaiju. But it wasn’t until issue #23 that the Avengers met Godzilla, courtesy of writer Doug Moench, penciler Herb Trimpe, inker Dan Green, colorist Ben Sean, letterers Gaspar Saladino and Irv Watanabe.
22. Superman vs. Muhammad Ali (1978)
Published as All-New Collector’s Edition #56, only one title can do justice to that issue’s story: Superman vs. Muhammad Ali. The issue follows an alien race called the Scrubbs who come to Earth and demand that Superman and Muhammad Ali box one another.
Writer Denny O’Neill and artist Neal Adams, the combination behind some great Batman and Green Lantern comics, have fun with the goofy premise. Along with a superstar supporting team that includes inkers D. Giordano and Terry Austin, colorist Cory Adams, and letterer Gaspar Saladino, Superman vs. Muhammad Ali lives up to its marquee billing.