Hulk y Superman
Intercompany crossovers almost never work. Yes, there’s an initial burst of excitement as two or more famed characters meet and duke it out, but the built-in reticence to have any events of lasting import spring out of it — since both sides of the equation will henceforth be sequestered — limits the potential. One needs only to look as far as the first and biggest to have an illustration of the rule: Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man. In that classic tale, the two superheroes lived in the same “imaginary” world yet had never met up at the start of the story (despite both having established crimefighting bona fides). It felt fake. It felt forced. These things always do. They’re events, but they’re non-events everyplace but the cash-box. They’re infuriating in their way.
Usually the only way any juice is squeezed out of the rind is when those crafting the book just say “screw it” and go crazy. Or take the concept and shake it up a bit, turn it on its head, as John Byrne did with his Batman/Captain America WWII plot. Or even Green Lantern Versus Aliens, though that rapidly collapsed under the weight of its own artifice.
Yet sometimes, in spite of the limitations, in spite of the ingrained transience, an intercompany meet-and-greet is at least a pleasant diversion, a pill of encapsulated nostalgia and old-fashioned storytelling mastery — a feast for the eyes, if not for the intellect. Enter Roger Stern’s, Steve Rude’s and Al Milgrom’s Incredible Hulk vs. Superman.
This joint Marvel/DC effort gets bonus points for coming before the mid-1990s DC/Marvel Amalgam venture, which robbed all crossovers thereafter of the bulk of their “Gosh, is this really happening?!” appeal. Superman and the Hulk, two stalwarts of their respective stables, had themselves been parts of the earliest minglings, Superman in his aforementioned tussle/partnership with Peter Parker, and the Hulk’s odd pairing with Batman. They had experience in this sub-genre. Both are hyper-strong characters who have to tone it down to play nicely with others, so putting them together gives them a chance to shuck the restrictor plates, and go all out. There are no worries about liquefying a mere mortal’s face.
But none of this would matter if the creative force behind the meeting blows it. Stern, Rude and Milgrom didn’t blow it.
The plot that Stern cooked up isn’t all that fresh. Told mostly in flashback, it recounts the first meeting, years before, of the Man of Steel and the Green Goliath, out in the Hulk’s native American Southwest stomping grounds, before the world knew that Bruce Banner was also Puny Banner. As is the norm, two primary villains partner up, in this case Thunderbolt Ross and Lex Luthor (though it’s not quite a happy marriage). There are initial confrontations between the two heroes, until they finally tag team to save the day.
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