Friday, 28 September 2007

DC Versus Marvel - 70's Style!

As I mentioned when I started this blog, I'm in the process of re-cataloguing my entire collection. Using the database from, I'm going through, adding cover scans and notes, plot descriptions and character appearances. It's a long old task but it gives me the opportunity to look over some of my comics that I haven't seen for a while, much like the one show here: Justice League of America #103 from December 1972.

About ten years ago, in 1996, the big event of the comics industry was what legions of fan-boys had been waiting for: a no holds barred, knock-down, drag out fight between the heroes of the big two companies. DC Versus Marvel was a four issue mini-series that pitted Batman against Captain America, Superman against the Hulk, Storm against Wonder Woman. The twist was that the fans got to vote for the winners of five of the battles, giving Marvel a narrow victory - a result that, with my blatant favouritism towards DC Comics, I disagreed with. I mean, come on - Storm beating Wonder Woman? Wolverine beating Lobo? Ridiculous.

Anyhow, while the heroes battled for the sake of their respective universes, I'm guessing a minority of fans remembered that they'd seen something similar before. True, not on the massive scale that the '96 series offered and with absolutely no interactivity, but the two universes had clashed previously.


Back in 1972 in JLoA #103, the League are warned by the Phantom Stranger that there are dark doings afoot in a city called Rutland, Vermont. Felix Faust, an old enemy of the League, is summoning demons for his own nefarious purposes and it's up to the League to stop him.

It being Halloween - when else would demons be summoned? - Rutland is hosting its thirteenth annual Halloween parade which means that not only are the League involved in it, but most of the people are in fancy dress costumes. As the plot thickens, the Flash encounters some possessed party-goers (hence the glow surrounding them) and while he recognises two of them being dressed as Supergirl and Adam Strange, the third introduces himself as Commando America. While none of the Marvel heroes are named, I can only imagine that back in the 70's there wasn't a great deal of worry spent on being sued over likenesses as there's no doubt that's Captain America!

Possessed, the party goers attack and the faux Captain America manages to lay out the Flash by flinging his shield which connects with a mighty BTANNG. They knew how to write sound effects in those days.

Batman, meanwhile has problems of his own as he is attacked by someone he describes as a "bargain basement web-slinger"! I swear, the balls on Len Wein - the writer of the story - are unbelievable! To get away with not only writing this but clearly having the Marvel characters depicted so that there was absolutely no mistaking who they were referring to beggars belief.

There's no way this could be done in today's litigious world.

Back to the story, though, and Batman is aided by the arrival of Green Lantern who manages to defeat the Spider-Man character. No sooner is that done, though, than another Marvel stalwart appears. Batman again shows his disdain for these characters, referring to the classic Jack Kirby designed costume of Thor as "a poor man's version"! Green Lantern's no help this time round, however, and both he and Batman fall.

The story turns out okay in the end, of course, and there are no other mentions of Marvel characters. As with the '96 battles, there is a narrow victory but as the fights take place in JLoA, it's no surprise DC wins out. There is one last guest appearance, though - Captain Marvel in his first (sort of) appearance in a DC comic.

Forced by DC Comics to stop publishing the good Captain because he was too similar to Superman, Fawcett Comics eventually licenced the character to DC. In what could only be a bit of a slap in the face to Fawcett, the Captain's first appearance has him going up against Superman, the very character that caused his cancellation!

There is light at the end of the tunnel in the shape of an advertisement for Shazam!, the new series DC were launching. The tag line actually reads Watch out, Superman! Here comes the "original Captain Marvel" The "original" line refers to Marvel Comics having trademarked their own Captain Marvel character in the period between Fawcett ceasing publication and DC getting their hands on him.

So there you go, the first unofficial meeting of the DC and Marvel heroes. As with almost every other first encounter, it ended in a fight, but at least this time the DC guys won!


  1. Wow, I never knew this happened. And you're right; Wein was playing fast and loose w/ the use of the Marvel characters. I'm sure this amused him to no end, since I'm thinking he had just left Marvel not too long before landing the writing gig on JLA. And you're also pretty damn right, that Marvel would sue the hell out of DC, and vice-versa if this ever happened in the present day.

    1. This was reprinted in the second Showcase Presents: The Phantom Stranger book and it looks like DC went even further to ensure Marvel wouldn't sue them - check this out!


Thanks for wanting to leave a comment, but this blog is no longer maintained. Feel free to visit my new site/blog over at

Look forward to seeing you there. :)


Related Posts with Thumbnails