Every form of entertainment from time to time needs to do something to get people more interested in it. Studios will try to energize failing franchises by getting original cast members back or introducing more grandiose villains. TV has been having special guest stars since the 1950’s. Who can forget when Meadowlark Lemon appeared on “Hello, Larry” and taught Kim Richards life lessons? Or Jon Hamm on “30 Rock” who played an incredibly handsome physician who was as dumb as a box of rocks or James Franco on any show that will have him?
Comic books are no different. Sometimes when sales are flagging, editors get frantic and will resort to stunts like having a main character die or introducing a new character. But when they really start to panic, that’s when the fun truly starts. Because panic leads to desperation and desperation leads to crossovers. Think about it. What possible reason does Superman have to interact with Pat Boone? The only acceptable answer would be to destroy him but that’s not what happens. Instead, the Man of Steel tries to sabotage Lois Lane’s duet with the Boone-ster which, in it’s own way, is a public service.
Anyway, to make this list there must be no logical reason for the characters in the comic books to interact. It’s just to get some cheap heat as our friends in professional wrestling would say. Enjoy.
10. Batman meets Sherlock Holmes – “Detective Comics #572” (1987)
This one feels like a natural. You’ve got Batman who has often been referred to as “the world’s greatest detective” and you have Sherlock Holmes who’s no slouch in the detecting department either. What makes it odd is the math. Holmes was born in 1854 making him, in 1987, one hundred and thirty three years old.
At least give Mike W. Barr credit for not coming up with some time travel, spatial vortex comic book runaround to explain why Holmes is still alive. The more reasonable explanation given is that Sherlock Holmes now lives in Tibet, has a proper diet consisting mainly of royal jelly and he’s given up smoking. Hey, the guy still looks great and is instrumental in defeating Queen Elizabeth’s would be murderer. If Holmes were just a little younger, Robin would’ve been kicked to the curb.
9. The Avengers meet David Letterman – “The Avengers #239” (1984)
In 1984, Marvel Comics introduced “Assistant Editors’ Month with the conceit that while the real editors were busy at Comic Con, the assistant editors got to take over for an issue and do something wild. In this case it was the Avengers appearing on “Late Night With David Letterman.”
Simon Williams, a.k.a. Wonder Man, is an aspiring actor whose agent books him on the Letterman show as long as he bring along other Avengers like the Beast, The Vision, The Black Widow, etc. Sure, it’s an insult that Wonder Man alone wasn’t enough but show business can be even more brutal then the worst super villain.
Speaking of super villains, an aspiring one, by the name of Fabian Stankowicz, is sitting in the audience. When he decided the time was right, Fabian managed to get the cameras to shoot lethal energy beams all around the studio. The Avengers swing into action while Dave dives under the desk and Paul Shaffer plays “Wipe Out.” In the end, the Avengers defeated Mr. Stankowicz and the audience loves it. No word if the Avengers were ever contacted by Fox to have their own talk show.
8. Jerry Lewis is Saved by Batman and Robin – “The Adventures of Jerry Lewis #97” (1966)
Amazingly, there was a time when Jerry Lewis was so popular that he had his own comic book and no, it wasn’t just in France. In issue #97, Jerry and his nephew, Renfrew, took to dressing like superheroes and called themselves, Ratman and Rotten. A super villain who called himself “The Kangaroo” kidnaps Rotten believing him to be the nephew of a rich man who would pay through the nose to get his nephew back. Do your homework Kangaroo, Jerry Lewis was known as one of the cheapest men in Hollywood. Batman and Robin show up to solve the case with Jerry, still in costume, in tow.
Eventually the world’s greatest detective solves the case and returns Renfrew to his Uncle Jerry which, if you talk to Jerry’s real life sons, may not be where you’d want to end up. Nevertheless, the story is wrapped up and Jerry became an unofficial president of the Batman Fan Club. I’m sure, somewhere, Dean Martin was kicking himself for not being a part of this very special project.
7. Superman meets Orson Welles – “Superman #62” (1950)
This is much more an Orson Welles story then a Superman story which is what all comic book readers want anyway, right?
While filming a movie on location in Italy, Orson stumbles upon a rocket with the door open and, of course, the great Welles enters and the door slams shut and the rocket takes off. Two hours later, Orson is on Mars and bad news, they’re trying to invade us. Mr. Welles seizes control of a radio to warn Earth about the impending invasion. Problem is that it was only a scant twelve years ago that Orson fooled us with his “War of the Worlds” hoax and no one was going to fall for that again.
Fortunately, Superman, taking no chances that day, flew over to Mars and used the moon as a slingshot to thwart the Martian take-over. Back at home, no one believed Orson’s story which may be why he started to drink excessively.
6. Spider-Man Goes to Saturday Night Live – “Marvel Team-Up #74” (1978)
In 1978, getting a ticket to see “Saturday Night Live” was even more difficult then it is now so it is a minor miracle that Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson were able to score stand-by seats to see Stan Lee host the show with musical guest, Rick Jones. Sounds like a helluva show even before super villain, Silver Samurai, appears.
As the show is about to start, Silver Samurai assembles his cronies in the prop room. For some reason John Belushi is wearing a ring sent to him by a fan which he cannot remove. Mayhem ensues and Bill Murray tries to infiltrate the Samurai’s gang but gets clobbered by Jane Curtin and Gilda Radner. Lorne Michaels is held hostage but eventually Spidey, with the help from the “Not Ready For Prime Time Players” saves the day and the show goes off with no one the wiser. Of course, since we’re talking about the original cast of “Saturday Night Live,” Garrett Morris is barely in it.
5. Superman gets whooped by Muhammad Ali – “Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali” (1978)
When I first heard about this book, I was worried it was some kind of race war. Fortunately, it was all about stopping an alien invasion. Of course, Superman had his powers temporarily suspended during the bout and “The Greatest” kicked the ever loving crap out of the Man of Steel. Victorious, Ali must fight the alien champ, Hun’Ya who does have super powers. Around the 2nd round Ali wished he was fighting Joe Frazier because Hun’Ya was super jacked. But Ali got a second wind and knocks out the alien in the fourth round. At the end, Superman and Ali team-up and save the Earth. You’re welcome!
Perhaps, the most fun part of the project is the front and back cover which showed the super fight which was populated by celebrities 1970’s style including Gabe Kaplan, Jimmy Carter, Tony Orlando, Lucille Ball, Johnny Carson, the Jackson 5 and every DC superhero you can think of. This one was genuinely fun.
4. Superman meet the Quik Bunny – “Superman Meets The Quik Bunny” (1987)
This was a one-shot comic in the late eighties, purely for promotional purposes. Superman is fighting the evil Weather Wizard with the help of an ethnically diverse group of twelve-year-olds and plenty of Quik chocolate milk. This recap is only two sentences and way more then this comic book deserves.
3. Archie meets Kiss – “Archie #627-630” (2012)
You’d think this one would be about Riverdale High needing a really big band to play the prom so they get Kiss but nope. Instead, Riverdale is overrun by monsters and luckily, Kiss still has the talisman from “Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park” which gives them super powers. It’s a four parter with each issue named after a Kiss song. Everyone in Kiss is referred to by their character names to further ensure that Ace Frehley and Peter Criss would receive no money from it. Well played.
2. Jimmy Olsen meets Don Rickles – “Superman’s Pal, The New Jimmy Olsen #141” (1971)
You’re Jack Kirby, one of the best comic book artists of all time. You leave Marvel for DC and are promised tremendous creative freedom. In fact, you’re allowed to write and illustrate your own books, which was unheard of in 1971. So, what do you do with the first book you’re given? Why you have Superman’s pal, Jimmy Olsen meet the greatest insult comic of all time, Mr. Warmth himself, Don Rickles! And, because one Don Rickles isn’t enough, we’ll throw in his brother, Goody.
This comic barely makes sense and that’s being generous. As near as I can tell, Rickles and Olsen are fed the poison, Pyro-Granulate, which will make them burst into flames within 24 hours. Fortunately, the Golden Guardian shows up just in time and gives Jimmy and Don the antidote, you hockey puck.
1. The Punisher meets Archie – “The Punisher Meets Archie” (1994)
What do you get when you take a veteran psychopath who was hideously scarred after seeing his wife and two children gunned down by the mob who frequently employs murder, kidnapping and extortion to achieve his ends with the gang from Riverdale High? Why, you get the Punisher meets Archie!
What’s unique is that John Buscema drew the Punisher while Stan Goldberg drew the Archie characters. The premise is that the Punisher is after a notorious drug lord named “Red” who looks almost exactly like Archie Andrews. What saves Archie from having his brains blown all the Riverdale High gym is that, for once, the Punisher isn’t looking to kill his prey because the feds are looking to interrogate the drug dealer.
The Punisher realizes that Archie isn’t the man he’s looking for and the two of them team up to save Veronica from Red’s clutches. What’s truly amazing about this cross-over is that it largely works and not in a winking at the camera kind of way. How great is this comic? A hundred years from now, even after we pay tribute to our robot overlord masters, this will still be the best comic book crossover of all time.