Comic Fodder

The cross company versus book goes to 11: "Batman & Superman vs. Aliens & Predator"

Crossover "versus books" have a charming simplicity. I have been a committed fan of the genre since way back in 1991, when Batman vs. Predator came out. I remember finding out about the existence of such a book, and it blew my mind. Why had this taken so long to happen, didn't companies want the allowance money of me and every other like-minded 13 year old in the world?

This is what we did with our action figures when we were kids--get lots of different properties together and have them fight, regardless of what little sense it might make or the implications of intellectual property law and licensing. My little brother, and his extensive collection of figures and vehicles, was especially ambitious. His storylines usually involved Darth Vader employing Cobra to capture the Aliens, which were simultaneously being pursued by Predators. And of course G.I. Joe, the Rebel Alliance, and various Marvel superheroes and Batman were obliged to prevent this from happening.

Of course, we will never see something of that absurd scale in comics form, but late last year Dark Horse and DC teamed up to publish something as close as we are likely to get: four heavyweight properties in the same book. The title alone is enough to send the heart racing: Superman & Batman vs. Aliens & Predator. If you spent a significant part of youth consuming those licenses in all of their various media incarnations, as I did, you will want to read this book.

Writer Mark Schultz has pretty extensive experience with this genre, as he penned Aliens vs. Predator vs. Terminator in 2000. (I need to find a copy of that one too.) Artist Ariel Olivetti, of Punisher War Journal fame, brings his distinctive style to the book. In a nod to the recent film, which was not all that well received (but I liked it!), the setting is a remote area where everyone can concentrate on fighting without worrying about collateral damage. Of course, the plot is secondary in these affairs. Needless to say, circumstances conspire to place these four behemoths together and they have to fight. And yes, Batman and Superman take different approaches to dealing with the problem.

You already knew all of that without me telling you, but that is the beauty of this genre. We can't read postmodern allegories every month. For me, the novelty of this alone justifies the $12.99 cover price of the trade. If you are not of fan of the genre, this will not convert you. It's fairly short and straightforward (though there is a twist), and it's definitely aimed at fans of these various properties. My own childhood toys are packed off in an attic at my parents' house, lying dormant until the time I have a son, if that ever happens. This is the next best thing to going back in time, piling them out on the floor, and randomly teaming up Flint and Lando to put a stop to the nefarious dealings of the Joker and Miles Mayhem.

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Bill reads extensively from the Dark Horse stable and dreams of ever more complex vs. books.

What, no 'Mazing Man?

-- Posted by: John at July 28, 2007 10:48 AM