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I have a bone to pick with this book – Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man

November 11, 2010

I waited a long time to read this book. My two favorite characters locked in mortal combat and eventually teaming up to defeat two iconic adversaries — how could one ask for more? It’s so big, I couldn’t even scan the cover and had to resort to an image culled from the web. Only a treasury sized binding could hold this action!

And it was a bit of a disappointment. We’re not talking a walking-out-of-The Phantom Menace-and-thinking-that-was-it? level disappointment, but one nonetheless.

The whole problem I have with the story lies in the central conceit that allows these two characters from different companies to coexist. My problem is that there is no conceit. Everybody in this story inhabits the same world, and they apparently always have and always will.

I had no idea about this going in. I had always pictured this story occurring because of a rip in the fabric of reality or something, perhaps a Lex Luthor experiment gone awry or a Doctor Strange spell run amok. Something. I realize that many intercompany crossovers take this tack, but this one vexed me for some reason. Perhaps it was the years of anticipation.

As it is, it all feels as organic as the Harlem Globetrotters showing up on Gilligan’s Island:

I suppose it could be me. Perhaps it’s the comics era that I was raised in. I just expected something, well, more. More than Superman and Spider-Man meeting for the first time and uttering variations of the “I’ve heard a lot about you” line. More than Lois and Clark and Mary Jane and Peter double dating. I’m sure there are a lot of others that are thankful that the story was handled in the way that it was, and that it was free from any rigamarole about getting these two together. I’m not one of those people. My loss, I suppose.

Man, my recent posts have been gripey, this one included. Sorry about that. I concede that there’s a lot in this book to recommend it — the action on the oversized pages being at the top of that list. Some of the panels are so wonderfully huge you could almost fall into them. Sometimes I get hung up things, though.

I’ve been a little under the weather lately — that’s my excuse for the recent negativity, and I’m sticking to it. I’ll make a concerted effort to be more sunny and cheerful in the days to come. I dont want “Blog into Mystery” to devolve into “Blog into Bitching.”

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 11, 2010 9:21 pm

    I read this as a kid and absolutely loved it. I didn’t think them being from the same world was lacking conceit; I think that was the conceit. Later on, when crossovers became about being from different worlds, I thought it was tired. JLA/Avengers is the only crossover that I think handled that right.

    This is still one of my favorite crossovers ever, right behind JLA/Avengers and Punisher/Archie. I think the characterization was pitch-perfect, and Spider-Man breaking his hands while hitting Superman is hilarious and makes me laugh to this day.

    Feel better, Jared.

    • November 11, 2010 11:37 pm

      I understand your perspective completely, and fully admit that it might have been my preconceptions that dragged this down for me. I still had a bit of fun reading it, but the conceit/lack of coceit is a tripping point in my head. I think I’d prefer a “different worlds” approach for this particular crossover, but for others I suppose that the “is what it is” method used here is sufficient.

  2. November 12, 2010 4:15 am

    I got this at the time it came out and I too was disappointed with it. Not with the art, which is great. I mean, there’s Ross Andru, Dick Giordano, Neal Adams and John Romita all chipping in with it, so it was always going to look good. I don’t think the writing’s particularly bad either. It caught the feel of the two strips nicely. It was just that Superman clearly didn’t need Spider-Man, and Dr Octopus seemed a bit useless, just tagging along with Lex Luthor and going on about how incredible everything he did was. I was a Spider-Fan, I wanted to see Spidey and Doc Ock get the chance to pull their weight but the truth is their presence seemed a bit redundant.

    Supes and Spidey being from the same world was a problem for me too. It meant I couldn’t see it as a “real” story, just one of those “imaginary” ones that DC had a history of producing.

    Still, it does look good, and I always liked the MJ/Lois Lane cattiness, sexist as it might have been.

    • November 12, 2010 6:59 pm

      The “real” vs. “imaginary” dichotomy was what I was trying to get at in my post, but in my near-feverish state I somehow managed to dance around that without actually saying it. That about sums up my whole issue with the book. And you’re right about its looks — it really is beautiful.

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