Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bronze Age Crossovers

At the moment, Marvel and DC are deep in the midst of their Summer Blockbuster Crossover Event phase. From what I can tell via podcasts, Flashpoint seems to be getting people appropriately excited for the DC Relaunch as well as providing some interesting spinoffs in a sort of Elseworlds fashion. The same can not be said for Marvel's toyetic Fear Itself. The Matt Fraction series is getting tarred and feathered on places like iFanboy.

We take crossovers like this for granted now, but have you ever thought about the time when such crossovers were novel? As far as I can tell, the first early crossovers were in the Bronze Age. I define a crossover as, naturally enough, a story which spills over into another comic in such a way that it is necessary to buy the other comic to read the complete story.

The first crossover I can remember reading was the classic Avengers/Defenders War.

The next crossover I read was a bit shorter and took place in the pages of Nova and Spider-man.

Strangely enough, Nova never appeared in Marvel Team-Up, so seeing the two characters together makes up for that in the Fan Accounting side of my mind. Interesting enough, this crossover was penned by Marv Wolfman who would later architect the granddaddy of all crossovers, Crisis on Infinite Earths.

The last example I can think of may not really qualify. That's the Warlock/Thanos storyline that appeared in Marvel Two-In-One and Avengers.

Based on what I've read about the pushback Steve Englehart encountered when he came up with the Avengers/Defenders War, I think the reason we saw so few crossovers back in the Bronze Age comes down to a couple of reasons.
  • Difficulty coordinating storylines with other writers
  • Fear by publishers that such storylines might not ship in chronological order
  • Lack of interest by writers to participate in such events
What's funny is that now, with missed shipping dates such a common thing, a lot of those reasons still apply, but we have more crossovers than ever. Almost too many IMO. Money talks, aye?

Just curious -  Does anyone know if there were crossovers before the Bronze Age?

Have a great day!

- Jim


Trey said...

A quick internet search tells me the first crossover was in the Silver Age. Gardner Fox's Zatanna's Search starting in 1964.

BrittReid said...

Avengers/Defenders didn't miss an issue or publish out of sequence!
Remember when publishers could do that?

Piperson said...

One that comes to mind is the cross over in Avengers 53 by Thomas/Buscema and X-Men 45 by Friedrich/Heck/Roth in 1968. Marvel, from the very beginning had lots of character cross-overs, like the FF's appearance in Spidy #1 but I guess at the time multiple issue stories were not so common. But still, it's surprising that it took this long for it to happen.
Great post!

MattComix said...

These seem more like team-ups rather than crossovers at least as we have come to know them since Crisis and Secret Wars.

Back then you didn't need the now requisite annual bloodsoaked crossover clusterf*** to establish an interconnected universe. Each major character was only carrying two titles max so peppering the line with team-ups or even team-up titles (DC Comics Presents, Marvel Team-Up etc.) more than did the job of making it feel like these heroes co-existed. ..and did so without draining the idea dry.

I remember reading that Crisis itself didn't start out as the editorial mass-purging it became. Rather the idea was basically taking the old JLA/JSA team-ups to the grandest scale as a fun way to celebrate DC's publishing history by inviting every single character they ever put out to the party.

JimShelley said...

@Trey, yeah, I thought about Zatanna's Search but wasn't sure about including it. True, it's a story which continues from one comic to another, but the story is more of a magical guest star mcguffin which didn't really rely on they type of tight editorial planning as the first two crossovers I mentioned. (Which is also why I mentioned I was hesitant about the Starlin books. They fall into more into the same category as the Zatanna story.)

Then there's the whole controversy with Detective 336!

So, I just took a pass on that, but I'm glad you mentioned it all the same.

JimShelley said...

@BrittReid - yeah! DC has pledged to do the same thing with their relaunch, because they are tired of missing ship dates. It'll be interesting to see if they can keep up.

JimShelley said...

@Piperson - I'm not familiar with those stories. Thank you for the tip!

JimShelley said...

@MattComix - I had no idea about the true origin of Crisis. It would have been cool to read the original version.

MattComix said...

@JimShelley. I believe it's talked about in the forward of the trade for COIE.


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