Over the vast time span that we have been enjoying comic books, there have been countless cross-overs that have been amazing stories and dreams come true. Some of those have featured characters within the same company, like Spider-Man and the Punisher, Green Arrow and Green Lantern. Others have featured characters from the big two, like Captain America and Batman and Justice League and the Avengers. But with the awesome comes the crap-tastic and the stories that make you scratch your head and say “What the hell?” That’s the direction I’m taking today. Needless to say, there were numerous comics to choose from, but I’ve narrowed the list down to a select seven that are definite brain scramblers. So, let’s dive right into this one, shall we?
1- Eminem/ The Punisher
What happens when you take an unpredictable person with anger issues and a talent for pissing people off and teaming him with the Punisher? Well, you get “Eminem & The Punisher”, that’s what. Eminem and his posse are confronted by Punisher, who kills most everyone around. Shady is able to escape and is grabbed by Barracuda, who takes him into a building. Eminem, thinking he’s been recued by Barracuda, gets the jump on Castle and hits him in the face with the butt of his gun. In turn, Shady is shot by Barracuda, but not fatally (thank goodness!). Eminem and Punisher must team up to take down the bad guy. Of course, violence ensues and Shady saves the day.
Right. Predictable in every sense of the word. Being that Eminem approved this comic, he also had quite a bit of creative input, hence the bad-ass hero interpretation of his drawn self. The story only gets better and it is fairly obvious that the writer did everything he could to include all of Shady’s suggestions for the story. Of course, in doing this, it essentially castrates and sissifies Frank Castle, which I wasn’t sure was possible.
2- Star Trek/The X-Men
Remember when you were a kid and you’d grab every action figure you had and made them fight each other? This seems like the only time you’d ever see He-Man battle Andre the Giant or GI Joe take on Batman. I’m convinced this is the origin of the Star Trek and X-Men crossover. Oddly enough, there were actually two different Star Trek/X-Men crossovers, but we’re going to stick with the one featuring the original cast. It should be worth mentioning that Wolverine is best by the biggest brainiacs in both comics.
As the Enterprise sails through space, they come across the planet Delta Vega, where they encounter a psionic rift, out of which comes a Shi’ar space vessel. The psionic energy destroys the ship, but not before Spock detects seven life forms of “near human” nature. A second vessel comes through the rift and quickly fires an unusual projectile at the Enterprise: Gladiator. After issuing a warning to the Enterprise, he winds up and lays a left hook on the space ship, damaging the reflector shields and the ship itself (Captain Kirk: “Did he just… punch my ship?” The X-Men narrowly escaped the explosion of their ship by transporting themselves onto the Enterprise, where Spock detects and confronts them. He quickly dispatches Wolverine with a Vulcan Nerve Pinch.
Now, I understand that both of the franchises has massive followings and it seems like a grand idea to place them together, but it’s not. The story was a convoluted mess that intertwined time travel and old continuity from both series. But not all was bad, as it also featured numerous Easter Eggs to make fans hunger for more, such as the previously mention Vulcan death pinch. A second book was also completed where the X-Men met up with the crew from ‘The Next Generation’, but sadly, it occurred before Patrick Stewart took on the role of Prof. X in the big screen adaptation of the X-Men. Imagine the fun they could have had with that!
3- The Avengers/David Letterman
Long before David Letterman was fighting a vicious ratings battle with Jay Leno and Team Coco, David Letterman took on the wanna-be villain Fabian Stankowicz, using a door knob. Yeah, I was expecting a more toothy approach, too. Sure, Letterman has had his funny moments in his many years on television, but was it necessary to include him in a comic? The worst part about this is that Iron Man, Thor and Captain America didn’t make an appearance, so Letterman, who’d only been hosting his then NBC series for only four years, was left to chat it up with the lower-tier characters.
The good part about this is that if you ever get into a conversation that requires you to give proof that Paul Shaffer and Beast ever shared a page in comic books, you know where to look.
4- Spider-Man/Ren & Stimpy
Remember back in the day when cartoons were good and worth watching? One of those was Nickelodeon’s quirky and rather unruly cartoon Ren & Stimpy, a twisted toon that focused on the relationship of a dense cat and an angry dog. In the world of Ren & Stimpy, there is really only one character that even remotely comes close to resembling a hero: Powdered Toast Man (Stimpy’s farts come in at a close second). During the 80′s and 90′s, Marvel held numerous comic properties, one of which was Ren & Stimpy. This offered up numerous opportunities for some interesting crossovers and Spider-Man and Powdered Toast Man is one of those.
The interesting thing on this run is that writer Dan Slott was the man behind it. Slott, as we all know, went on to become the sole writer for Spider-Man 15 years later. The story sees PTM under the control of Doctor Dough-Naught. PTM continues to ravage the city and only the Web-slinger and a large amount of milk can rescue the city. Of course he saves the day and in the end, Ren & Stimpy audition to become Spidey’s side-kick, but the nasty antics of the duo end up grossing Spider-Man out.
I guess when you need a sales boost for a new comic series, you bring in the big guns like Spider-Man. As if Powdered Toast Man isn’t a big enough draw!
5- Archie & the Gang/Punisher
One of my favorite film scenes comes from Back to the Future, where Marty McFly grabs a guitar at a high school dance and blows the teenage crowd away with his rocking rendition of Johnny Be Good. Naturally, by the time McFly is done with his over-the-top guitar solo, the crowd sat in stunned silence. I guess the comic version of this would be when Frank Castle shows up in the world of Archie. Talk about a fish out of water, eh?
In this series, which was published with two different covers, one for Punisher and one for Archie, Punisher is hired by the government to apprehend a drug dealer, Red, in the town of Riverdale. While there, Punisher takes on the guise of the Riverdale High School gym teacher.
This is one of the few on this list that are included more for their hilarity than their badness. The very idea of Archie being confronted by Punisher is hilarious, let alone all of the cases of mistaken identity and Frank Castle as a Phys. Ed. teacher. Don’t run your laps? How ’bout a .45 to the knee cap? It should be noted that Punisher is asked to detain Red, not kill him, so self-restraint plays a big part. The comic closes with a tease of Jughead taking on Wolverine, which would be another classic pairing.
6- Superman/Nestley Quik Bunny
Since the beginning of comics, they’ve been used as a vessel for advertisements and endorsements, anything from bonds to toys. So why should delicious chocolate milk be excluded? In this little give-away gem, Superman, the Man of Steel, teams up with Quik, the mascot for Nestle’s chocolate milk, to take on the Weather Wizard. They do this, of course, with a group of lab-generated, perfect blend of ethnicity and knowledge to decipher a code to bring the villain down.
Throughout the comic, you will see that the best drawn and most clear images are that of the Nestle Quik package. Advertising at its best! And the first time we see the popular bunny, he is whoring…er…drinking a box of chocolate milk.
We’ve seen Superman stoop to some low points before, but this is pretty bad. Probably took him a while to recover from this one. Sure Lex Luthor and Brainiac had a hay-day with this news.
7 Spider-Man/Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time-Players (SNL)
Before I begin, let me just say that the image above brings to mind Batman’s now-famous line from the animated film Crisis on Two Earths: “No Aquaman! You’re too weak!” (Consider that paraphrased if it’s not what he actually said.) Fans of Saturday Night Live know that it’s best years are far behind it, with some of the best coming from the original cast, which included the likes of Dan Aykoryd, Chevy Chase, Jane Curtain, Gilda Radner and of course, John Belushi.
This story comes from the episode of Saturday Night Live where Stan Lee served as host. The TV show and the Spider-Man character were melded together for a comic in which Spider-Man and Mary Jane come to see Stan host the show. Arriving late, the pair is forced to sit in the balcony. Meanwhile, a surly man pushes his way to the front of the crowd and poses as an usher. Not is all as it seems, however, as this man is actually the Silver Samurai. As the show goes on, Samurai’s thugs access the control booth and take control. This sends Spidey’s “sense” into a tissy and he scurries off to help. With the help of the Not Ready For Prime Time Players, Spidey is able to thwart the plans of the Silver Samurai’s plans.
Nothing like a bit of shameless self-promotion to help get the sales boosted and Stan “the Man” Lee is no exception. But hey, I see nothing wrong with this, at least in this case. Who wouldn’t love to see John Belushi in his iconic Samurai gear go after Silver Samurai? Might even show Wolverine a thing or two.
Josh "ecksmanfan" Johnson
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