Friday, April 22, 2016

The Greatest Heroes Of All Time (Marvel/DC)
Unlimited Access #3 When: February 1998
Why: Karl Kesel How: Pat Olliffe

The Story So Far...
Axel Asher was just an ordinary New York University student until a trip down an alleyway turned into a life changing meeting with destiny!

Confronted by a man with a glowing cardboard box - Axel learned the responsibility was his to maintain the balance between two universes as the hero Access! When the two worlds went to war he learnt on the job: first merging the worlds together to stop the warring cosmic brothers that fuelled their fight, then fighting to stop reality as it should be from ceasing to exist!

Access is still trying to keep the worlds apart, but dark forces have begun to tamper with time and space! Thrown between the universes in their different periods, Axel has no choice but to recruit the aid of more crossover heroes! When the Justice League and Avengers go to war, he can only pluck the next generation to come to his aid when The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants strikes!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Juggernaut 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Robin 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Impulse 7 (Lightspeed)
Stamina: Juggernaut 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: Toad 5 (Cat-Like)
Fighting: Sabretooth 7 (Born Fighter)
Energy: Scarlet Witch 7 (Cosmic)

The Teen Titans are: Robin, Superboy, Captain Marvel Jr, Impulse & Wonder Girl. They come to the aid of inter-dimensional summoner: Access.

As hard as it is to believe, we've got a couple of debuts coming our way on both side of the fight! For the heroes, this is the first time The Comic Book Fight Club has played host to Impulse and "Wonder Girl" Donna Troy!

They're fighting alongside the Tim Drake and Kon-El versions of Robin and Superboy. Important to note because they'd easily be confused amidst the time travel shenanigans that have brought the Teen Titans into conflict with today's villains...

The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants are: Mastermind, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Toad, Mystique, Blob, Sabretooth & Juggernaut.

The time displaced bad guys begin as the original sixties Brotherhood [see; X-Men #6], but get a serious injection of talent from other eras in the form of Mystique, Blob, Sabretooth, and the decidedly non-mutant, but still quite bad: Juggernaut!

For those keeping score at home, this marks the site debut for both Mystique and Blob! This all spells bad news for the kid heroes who are outnumbered, and arguably overmatched when it comes to experience and firepower, as well!

There isn't a lot of crossover experience between the two teams as they exist here, but what there is, is noteworthy. Three of these characters featured in the DC versus Marvel cosmic event: Robin defeated Jubilee [Marvel versus DC #3], Superboy lost to Spider-man [Marvel versus DC #3], and Quicksilver was defeated by former Titan: The Flash [Marvel versus DC #2]! Juggernaut also found himself flung into the path of Superman in an unofficial bout [DC versus Marvel #1], and later fought Wonder Woman in Unlimited Access #1, plucked from a time period after this fight. Donna Troy was the only Titan to participate in the pre-Crisis 1982 Uncanny X-Men/New Teen Titans crossover.

Juggernaut and Blob are arguably menace enough to occupy an entire team on their own. The unstoppable force and immovable object, respectively. They may be able to call upon the physical strengths of Captain Marvel Jr or Superboy to pin either down, but for the Teen Titans to stand any chance, they're going to want to pull some classic team tactics. Impulse's speed, and/or Robin's agility could be the answer to redirecting Juggernaut's unstoppable charge in the direction of Blob. That's a best case scenario that leaves their powerhouses free to occupy the rest of the villains.

Quicksilver's speed could prove problematic, but Superboy might slow him down with some well timed tactile telekinesis and brute strength. Scarlet Witch poses a serious threat with her hex powers, but in the old days, her timid personality will likely take her out of the fight when her brother's hurt. Toad and Mystique are lightweights matched by Wonder Girl and the team. Sabretooth is cunning, brutal and strong, but even if he gets the drop of the team and takes a hostage, the likes of Impulse or Captain Marvel Jr have it covered.

Mastermind may be the most likely danger working for the Brotherhood. His ability to cloud the young heroes' perception with illusions could very quickly render them vulnerable, or even turn them against each other. All the villains could pose serious threats given the right circumstances, but Mastermind's unassuming appearance and tendency to hang back makes him a big one!

We could come at this a lot of ways, but that's the quick version. It's the Teen Titans who need to fight uphill. Let's just find out how they actually did...

The Tape: Sabretooth Ranking: Robin (#32)

What Went Down...
Having been lured in by an illusion of his girlfriend in peril -- Access has found himself in the super-fast clutches of Quicksilver! Magneto's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants is working for Darkseid and Access knows he needs help if he's to stop their evil plan. With the Avengers and Justice League busy, he uses his power to open a portal between worlds and summon a selection of Teen Titans!

The young heroes recognize peril where they see it - Impulse the first to act to rescue Access from The Brotherhood! Quicksilver takes exception to the brash, "big-footed" speedster, who opts to skip his lesson in humility!

Meanwhile, Toad gets a lesson in the value of theatrics from Robin. The mutant leaps and kicks circles around his foe, boasting the advantage of being homo superior, but is quickly dispatched with a skill toss of a roped batarang. "Listen, if your name doesn't make your enemies fear you, your actions better!"

Superboy tries a more affectionate approach to subdue the Scarlet Witch, but his charm offensive falls on deaf ears. Her hex power on the other hand, falls on a nearby fire hydrant - which blasts the young hero with a well deserved and intense "cold shower"!

Lucky for Superboy, fresh faced Wonder Girl is more than thrilled to be fighting in his presence! She comes to his rescue with a swift uppercut that dispatches the Scarlet Witch before she knows what hit her!

Captain Marvel Jr isn't sure what's happening to him, either, when his arms begin to turn against him in the form of giant serpents! It's all part of the plan of the illusion projecting Mastermind! Unlucky for him, Junior's mastery of the wisdom of Solomon helps him see through the mentalists trick. The strength of Hercules is more than a match for meek Mastermind, who takes a stiff left!

Unfortunately, it's no trick when Juggernaut comes up behind Marvel Jr and pounds him into the ground with two clubbing, unstoppable fists!

It also isn't an illusion when two Superboys confront Wonder Girl! She has no way of knowing the truth as they both plead their case to being the genuine article. At least, not until Sabretooth lurks up behind her with claws drawn and the real Superboy springs into action to stop him!

Superboy succeeds at torpedo driving Sabretooth into a stationary car, but can't be of any assistance as the second Superboy gets the drop on Wonder Girl - delivering a stiff chop to the neck as he transforms into Mystique!

Robin is busy doing his best to slow down the Blob. His martial arts fail to make an impact, serving only to annoy the hulking mountain of mutant mass! Having collected the bundled up Toad, Blob turns him into a living projectile - hurling his unconscious body at a Robin shaped bullseye!

Still stomping around the fight - the Juggernaut sets his sights on Access and Impulse and starts a-rampaging! Access is relying on Impulse to dash them both to safety at the last second -- when suddenly a beam of energy slams the Juggernaut! And a blast of ice sends him unstoppably slipping and stumbling!

Watching from elsewhere: the master of magnetism Magneto curses the arrival of Xavier's merry mutants: The X-Men! Evil Darkseid assures him all is going to plan. The Brotherhood seem to think so as well, Mystique ordering a strategic retreat as a thundering boom tube opens to whisk them from the battlefield.

Professor Xavier telepathically warns the gathering of young heroes of the New Gods' evil he sensed, leaving them to await further instruction in victory.

The Hammer...
An unexpected end to an unexpected crossover! The momentum may have been shifting to the bad guys, but plan or no plan - we're going to call this one a forfeit victory! That means the Teen Titans are the winners with the assist from the X-Men!

Admittedly - this wasn't an easy call to make. There was no decisive finishing blow. Cyclops & Iceman got the last offensive, but they arguably only stalled their target. The Titans were able to take several villains out of the fight during the melee, even if they had their own visual losses as well. The X-Men's arrival ultimately prompted The Brotherhood's retreat, but the X-Men didn't participate enough share in victory.

For those who might be wondering - the X-Men who arrive on the scene are the earliest first class: Cyclops, Iceman, AngelBeast & Marvel Girl. So new - they don't even recognize Juggernaut: who the team first faced way back in 1965's X-Men #12! Those're some bona fide near mint mutants!

As noted in The Tape; the meeting of Titans and X-Men isn't without precedent. The original 1982 crossover was the last collaboration between DC and Marvel for over a decade. It played up the similarities of teen superhero drama that permeated the pages of both popular books. I'm not sure how many people were clamoring for the 90s Teen Titans to meet the 60s X-Men, but I suppose it has a certain charm. It certainly plays to the sixties retro fad that was going on at the time of publication. Not that comics ever need a reason to be nostalgic!

As in a lot of the crossovers of this period, they get away with some fun nods. Wonder Girl quizzes Marvel Girl about the X-Men being "misfit heroes like the old Doom Patrol". A fun jab at an old comparison. Of course, they also kinda did it a couple of years earlier, when the Amalgam mash-ups delivered X-Patrol. I'm not sure X-Force fit the bill quite as well, but it's close enough.

If you've been keeping up with our regular Hero of the Week entries, you know Doom Patrol is a series I've had on my mind [04/11/2016]. I'm hoping we'll get a chance to talk more about them some time soon. Today's feature was a nice chance to delve into another neglected corner of the DCU - the Teen Titans!

Admittedly, I've never been a big fan. Reading the adventures of Robin, Wonder Girl and Kid Flash had its thrills as a small boy, but the melodrama and sidekick angst of iconic Titans never geld with me. Not even as a teen. Kid heroes struck me as disappointingly second-rate as a kid. My peers ain't no Justice League! I'm slowly coming around, though. The idea of bundling existing young heroes together is certainly a good one.

The deviation of Doom Patrol's Changeling to iconic Teen Titan is the kind of living evolution that makes comics great. At least until line-wide reboots erase the chronology. DC's Rebirth is fixing to reinject first and third generation heroes into the New 52 line-up. It's something, I suppose.

The Titans line-up featured here may not be traditional - but it's much easier to appreciate. I've particularly enjoyed watching Captain Marvel Jr climb the site ranks. Glad to have Impulse on the record, as well. I wasn't sure on first look, but he's often struck me as a better junior alternate to the Flash than latter day versions of Kid Flash. Giving the Teens their own identity and mythology always helps. Especially when it isn't soaked in self-serious sobbing and lame rejects.

If you noticed me ducking references to Wonder Girl, it's largely because I'm a little sketchy on what was going on with Donna Troy during the short 'n' nerdy years. Undoing that predicament in the years that followed - a good idea. With any luck we'll get a chance to explore all of these characters at a later point.

Sadly, we won't be adventuring further into the realm of big league comics crossovers! This feature concludes our April celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Marvel versus DC and the 10th of our original feature(s). Fear not, though! There are still plenty of weird and wonderful combinations I'm sure we'll dig up in the future! You can also dig through the back issues via our Secret Archive Index, character tags and links, or by hitting up our recent retrospective in Old Comics Wednesday: DC versus Marvel!

Coming soon: We turn our attentions to heroic battles of another kind! Be here next week when we witness one of the first ever showdowns between two of Marvel's greatest hand-to-hand combatants of all time! See you then!

Winners: Teen Titans (w/ X-Men)
#25 (+7) Robin
#59 (+40) Captain Marvel Jr
#100 (+195) Superboy
#280 (new) Wonder Girl (Donna Troy)
#281 (new) Impulse
#38 (+1) Beast [+1 Assist]
#61 (-1) Angel [+1 Assist]
#64 (-1) Cyclops [+1 Assist]
#103 (-1) Marvel Girl (Jean Grey) [+1 Assist]
#109 (-1) Ice Man [+1 Assist]
#343 (-15) Scarlet Witch
#349 (-9) Juggernaut
#774 (new) Blob
#775 (new) Mystique
#786 (-243) Mastermind
#805 (-21) Toad
#808 (-11) Sabretooth
#813 (-8) Quicksilver

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