Amalgam Comics

What you might've missed if you don't remember.
April 06, 2009

This is a simple article about the Amalgam Comics series that was published in 1996 and 1997. A great conglomeration of the two major comic book companies, DC and Marvel, this one-shot wasn't as well received as I enjoyed it. Every character, place, or thing was a mixture of some aspect of each company's storylines. This was a joint venture from both corporations bringing in their employees to make a truly intriguing spinoff. It was a 24 issue series that was split in half between the two companies. DC would do 12 issues, while Marvel did the remaining 12. Every book that was released under the Amalgam logo featured a different feel from the others from the lineup. That's because of the unique abilities of the staff that put this thing together. I loved reading and collecting these books. They truly inspired me to continue collecting comics. In this article, a plan on telling you a little bit about the series, and some memories that I have of it.

The Formation of Amalgam
Amalgam started during the later part of the DC vs. Marvel stint in 1996. This was the epic crossover between the two universes, known as "The Brothers", which pitted like heroes against each other (Flash against Quicksilver, Captain America against Batman, Spider-Man against Superboy, etc.). The story goes that the heroes from each universe learned of the others' existence and decided to duke it out to find the superior universe. Which ever one was the last one standing became the ever reigning champion and the loser had to just simply not exist anymore. Well, to make sure that the universes did not rip each other to shreds, a "gate-keeper" by the name Axel Asher (AKA "Access") oversaw the entire event.

Asher had the ability to walk between the two universes through a special cardboard box in a New York alley and held the duty to maintain that both universes never crossed paths. Unfortunately, they did.

Now, the fights of the heroes were coming to a close, but no clear cut winner was apparent, so something had to be done to regulate further destruction between the worlds. Enter the Spectre and the Living Tribunal.

These two ripped conflicting pieces from each "Brother" and fabricated a completely new universe with these chunks. This place would come to be known as the Amalgam universe. With the help of the recently created heroes from this universe, Access sought to separate the two clashing clans. Access found "shards" of Captain America and Batman in their incarnations, Super Soldier and Dark Claw. With these shards in hand, he gave them to the Spectre and the Living Tribunal to undo the mess that had unfolded. With Captain America and Batman restored, he tried to convince the rest of the heroes that what they were doing was pointless and unlike them. The forfeited heroes returned to their respected universes and the ordeal is forgotten. During this patch up job, the Amalgam universe was destroyed, and with it, part of my comic soul.

Amalgam Titles and Characters
The comics within the series were extraordinary. Every comic had some element that we the readers knew about. The creation of the books is somewhat intriguing, though. Every book that came out was published as if it was part of an ongoing series (except for the fact that each issue was issue #1). Flashbacks were used to further involve the reader, there were already preexisting relationships between the characters, and notes from the editor are seen in some panels persuading the readers to pick up past issues that weren't even published. There are even Golden Age versions of some of these Amalgam characters.

The whole idea is quite cool and convincing, almost as a hoax which wasn't really a hoax. In regards to the characters, we could easily recognize a specific character or name in each comic. It's a fun idea to think about. Imagine sitting at the meetings of the two companies during the brainstorming. It's almost hard to fathom the amount of details used for this new universe. Not only were names, characteristics, and powers squished together, but stories, origins, and relationships were merged. That's a lot of info on a single character. True, the info is already prefabricated, but it takes some creativity to come up with intriguing characters with material that is not yours.

The basic formula to create an Amalgam character goes like this, in my opinion. You take a popular character from one side of the spectrum (let's say DC). Find a similar character on the other side of the spectrum (Marvel). Whether these characters share the same powers, back stories, names, etc., it doesn't matter. Now you find the most intriguing objects that these character's have (Captain America's shield, Wolverine's claws, Superman's 'S', or Barman's high tech toys) and combine the two. Basically, you take the coolest things about one character and the coolest things about another and create a new hero with them. It's a fun thing to do. We've all done it. I made a Green Lantern/ Wolverine concoction. So in Mathematical terms, this concept looks as follows.

DC hero (cool powers, looks, items, etc.) + Marvel hero (cool powers, looks, items, etc.) = Kickass Amalgam hero!

With the books themselves, we can see many aspects that we enjoy in already existing titles. Here is the Amalgam series. Go ahead and figure out what each one is a mixture of. *I apologize for the enormous block of pics, but I thought everyone should see every book.*

My Top 15 Favorite Amalgam Characters
This is a list I thought you'd like to see to get a feel of the universe, and to add some visual objects to help you remember this one-shot. (DC/Marvel)

15. Bizarnage - (Bizarro/ Carnage)

14. Super Soldier - (Superman/ Captain America)

13. Dr. Bongface - (Scarface/ Doctor Bong)

12. Mariner - (Aquaman/ Sub-Mariner {Namor})

11. Angelhawk - (Hawkman/ Archangel)
10. Antimony - (Platinum/ Scarlet Witch)

9. Dare - (Deathstroke/ Daredevil, Black Cat)

8. Nickel - (Mercury/ Quicksilver)

7. Deadeye - (Deadshot/ Bullseye)

6. Nightcreeper - (Creeper/ Nightcrawler)

5. Moonwing - (Nightwing/ Moon Knight)

4. Cobalt - (Gold/ Mastermind, Captain Universe-esque)

3. Speed Demon - (Flash, Etrigan/ Ghost Rider)

2. Mercury - (Impulse/ Quicksilver)

1. Dark Claw - (Batman/ Wolverine)

My Take on the Amalgam Universe
This is the point where I discuss my memories of this series. I immediately fell in love with this comic book event. I remember when I first saw these books and bought one. I was with my dad and my two friends (Adam and Bill) at the local comic shop. Adam was in town from Tennessee to visit Bill and me for awhile. Adam had moved there a few years earlier with his family, so we hardly saw him. His mom used to babysit the three of us before our school days had begun. We got kinda close, so any time with the three of us was never time wasted. We had spent the previous night playing Twisted Metal 2 for hours, so we were reenacting the scenes from the video game with my toy cars. It was fun, but it was to get even better.

My dad walks up and asks if we want to go to the comic shop. I don't really remember if this really happened, I could have begged my dad to take us, but I don't want to make you think I was a desperate kid. I don't really think my friends liked comics, but I'm sure my dad thought it would be a fun activity to do. Keep kids busy with whatever you can is a pretty good motto to follow. Anyways, we headed to the comic store and I instantly lock my eyes on a certain rack. I saw a strange duck with a familiar haircut, an odd colored Iron Man, a weird Storm, and many other crazy creations. I saw the Amalgam comics and was instantly drawn to them. My friends and I spent many minutes looking at these new found treasures and I asked my dad for one. I eventually wound up with the book "Dark Claw Adventures". I think I felt more attached to this comic because I had been watching Batman: The Animated Series cartoon for awhile. The comic is even done by Ty Templeton, the artist and writer of the comic books about the show at that time.

We got home and I said my quick goodbyes to my friends. I was ready to read this masterpiece and absorb every bit of it as possible. I mean, I had my favorite comic heroes at the time (Daredevil and Quicksilver), but I never really got into reading the books I owned (which was just a budding collection at the time). I felt that I needed something to grab a hold of, and I had hoped Amalgam was it. I started reading the book and was captivated by every facet of the story. I remember taking the comic with me to dinner that night to some restaurant and reciting some of the things to my family, especially my brother (an ex Wolverine/ Batman fan). I could not put down the comic and was excited to get the rest of the books.

Back at school, I showed the rest of my friends my new Amalgam comics. I convinced them all to give comics a shot, and some did. One in particular, Kaeson, became sort of my rival. Since I showed him my new Amalgam comics (which was around 3 at the time), he went out and bought 4. I felt like I should one-up him, and I did. This thing became a competition to see who could get the most Amalgam comics, which then turned into which one could get the most first editions. I remember my dad bringing home a Married with Children #1 issue by NOW Comics (Oh, how I miss you, Now).

It seems stupid, but this whole competition eventually built me a nice comic collection full of worthless first editions; or at least grew my collection entirely.

Another Amalgam item that I remember loving to get was the trading cards. I'd get these packs by the handfuls at my favorite comic shop (not the one mentioned above).

We all had a favorite shop. Mine was just amazing. It was huge, had a great back issue collection, the hottest new arrivals, an entire wall of action figures, an amazing comic card selection, a glass case full of collectable comics, and an adult area that I could never sneak a peek into. My dad came out of it laughing one time, so I just had to see what was in there! This shop was wonderful to me, and it wasn't a long haul from my house, either. It had everything that I could ever want. One day during recess, one of my friends showed me his Green Goblin #1 issue and I had to have it. I wasn't cool until I had this comic. So I pleaded my mom to take me to MY shop. Of course, they had it, and I walked out a little something extra... a Daredevil action figure. Awesome.

Back to the trading cards. I'd buy the heck out of these cards. In some ways, they were better than the comics themselves. They were portable, fun to look at, had cool things to say on the back (like giving the character's first comic appearance, which was always an amalgam of the two "parent" characters' first appearance comics), and were so fun to collect. I'd spend hours studying my collection, making sure I knew everything about the character.

It was kind of funny because I hardly knew anything about the real characters, and would get confused with some of the actual info later on when I got really deep into comics. You can say at the least, it was nice getting a foot in the door of the comic world with these explosions of facts. It was like I was taking in at least twice as much info than you would normally get.

Comics soon became a diminishing fad for me. I had a good collection of around 8 Amalgam comics, a sizable amount of the cards, and part of the collection in a graphic novel. I stopped going to the stores, my favorite shop closed, and I just found other interests.

It wasn't until about 4 more years down the line when I decided to get back into comics, and guess what I started back up with? You guessed it, Amalgam. I got the complete set of the comic cards off of eBay and found the rest of the comics at various stores around the city (it took awhile). I had completed my Amalgam collection and felt at peace with myself. I now possessed the very thing that pulled me into comics; in a reading and learning sense; and felt whole.

Thanks for reading my article. Amalgam comics were a unique event in comiclore and I suggest picking up a few issues for yourself, or read up on it. It's a fun idea that is not that bad to read, either. Feel free to leave your memories of this event, favorite Amalgam characters, or share some characters you created using existing heroes.

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