Adults, teens, kids; the usual
This book, the second of two (I haven't seen the first), collects
various "Amalgam Universe" comics published as semi-jokey
(or entirely jokey) one-offs. Joint products of DC and Marvel
(but published by DC), the stories combine two or more character/story
concepts from DC and Marvel. Thus we have:
- "Bat-Thing," combining Batman, Swamp Thing, and
Man-Bat. The Bat-Thing has been offing people, and a portly black
detective is trying to protect the Bat-Thing's wife and daughter
from the monster.
- "The Dark Claw Adventures," combining the animated
version of Batman with Wolverine. Lady Talia (combining Talia
and Lady Deathstrike) is hunting for the Dark Claw, who killed
her father, Ra's A-pocalypse.
- "Generation Hex," combining Jonah Hex with Generation
X and a bit of Alpha Flight (forgive me if I screwed this one
up; I'm out of touch). In the Wild West, normal humans are terrified
of "Malforms." Jono Hex and his small band of outlaw
Malforms content themselves with robbing trains and the like,
until Marshal "Bat" Trask unleashes his robotic Razormen
in an effort to destroy all Malforms.
- "JLX Unleashed," combining the JLA with the X-Men.
The "Hellfire League of Injustice" summons up the dragon
Fin Fang Flame to destroy all "metamutants." The dragon
calmly incinerates the baddies and then proceeds to work on the
entire world, since "All humanity, after all, is mutated
to some extent." Only the combined might of the Judgment
League Avengers and the JLX can defeat it.
- "Lobo the Duck," combining Lobo with Howard the
Duck. I think you can guess the general feel of this story!
- "Super-Solider, Man of War," combining a plethora
of WWII-era heroes, most obviously Superman and Captain America.
Clark Kent, "frontline artist for the Daily Planet,"
is sent with Jimmy Olsen to England to follow a mysterious crate
of stolen equipment that the Nazis want very badly.
Depending on how beloved the "base" characters and
situations are to you, you'll either like or be indifferent to
this book. It also helps to know enough about Marvel/DC history
to understand the jokes being played. For me, what this book
did was play up the numbing similarities between superheroes'
personalities, and how generic everything feels when you don't
have "big names" in the main roles. Still, some of
the stories were entertaining. Certainly these stories take themselves
less seriously than the average "save-the-world" superhero
titles. My favorite was probably "Generation Hex,"
because the art appealed to me and because the characters were
villains rather than good guys, and I also liked the double resolution
of "Jono Hex's" personal problems and the Razormen.
Some impressions: The Lobo/Howard the Duck story is just chaos
from beginning to end, and there have been tons of these "Lobo
persona" stories--who the hell needs another one? On the
other hand, "JLX Unleashed" has some sly digs against
the Chris Claremont style of writing and plotting. After one
character is attacked in the middle of a mental solioquy about
how the "fate of the world is hanging
in the balance," another thinks, "Damn--so freakin'
self-absorbed--th' whole deal's goin' down th' drain!"
This story also has some of the best amalgams, including a Creeper/Nightcrawler
cross and a "Mr. X" that combines Professor X, a Skrull,
and the Martian Manhunter. However, the story wasn't all that
interesting--it's been told thousands of times. And "Super-Soldier,
Man of War" had the appropriate air of silliness of 1940s
superhero titles, with "Sgt. Rock's Howlers" rushing
around yelling, "WAHOOOO!" every time they appear,
and photographers crying "Great shots!" when the Super-Soldier
destroys an iceberg that threatens their ship.
This is one of those DC "insider" books that requires
the reader to bring along a goodly amount of knowledge about
matters superhero, though not so much as in their dreadful collections
of ultra-multi-issue stories in which three-quarters of the story
simply isn't collected at all. Recommended for comprehensive
superhero collections and readers who have the knowledge required
or interest in the superheroes amalgamated.