What Were They Thinking- Amalgam Comics

Now, I will get this out of the way straight away. I’m not saying that the Amalgam crossover between DC and Marvel was a bad idea. I’m saying it was a badly executed idea. The concept was sound. Mix together some of our best loved and most popular heroes in a new universe for a couple of special limited series, great thinking, fine with that. But then you have to go and ruin it by making bad choices for amalgamations or bad costume choices for those that you’ve done well. The best illustration of this is to look at each level individually.

First up, we have the only example I can really think of where they managed to do the right amalgamation and the right costume: Super-Soldier (Superman & Captain America)

Really, they couldn’t have mixed these two guys with anyone else. Both fiercely patriotic, both have been the leaders of and figure heads for their respective universes superheroes. They also managed to keep the costume simple, mostly Captain America in design, just adding the Superman trunks and hair flick whilst using the iconic logo as the shield. Then they go and set his series in WW2, where he can interact with amalgamations of both companies best Golden Age heroes: Human Lantern (Green Lantern & Human Torch), The Whiz (Flash & Whizzer), Aqua-Mariner (Aquaman & Namor) & American Belle (Liberty Belle & Miss America). Well done there, good idea & done to a satisfactory degree.

However, there things go down hill. Jeff has already gone over the problems of Dark Claw’s costume here- http://www.heromachine.com/2012/08/15/as-if-you-needed-another-reason-to-hate-the-nineties/. However, I might as well have my say too.

Now, if we take the costume out of the equation, the concept makes sense. Take the two darkest, most popular heroes from either stable and put them together to make one character. Sounds good right. However, then the costume comes riding back into the equation and ruins it. It could have been fairly decent if they’d only practiced some restraint. Unfortunately, this was the 90’s, so restraint wasn’t in the dictionary.

Finally, we get to the bad idea/ bad execution stage, things that never should have happened. For this, I present the monstrosity that is Speed Demon (Barry Allen’s Flash & Ghost Rider).

Now I can only assume that, because they’d crossed Impulse with Quicksilver in the first JLX special, they couldn’t think of anyone to cross The Flash with, and you can’t have that, one of the most popular heroes of the DC universe not getting the Amalgam treatment. Then, I guess that they had that most terrible of things, a meeting. A meeting where they brainstormed ideas, trying to appeal to ‘the kids’ and they tried to think of speedster names that hadn’t yet been used. Then some guy a few seats down the table pipes up “Hey, how about we cross him with Ghost Rider and create Speed Demon. Then we can make him all spiky and covered in flames, ’cause that’ll look EXTREME. And the kids love EXTREME.” And then because no-one else could think of a better (or more probably worse) idea, they went with it and we ended up with this and all I can say is that it needs to be killed, if not with fire then certainly with water.

My last problem with Amalgam Comics was the sheer laziness of the naming policy. Here are some of my favourites: Dr. Strangefate (Doctor’s Fate and Strange plus Professor X, why not call him Professor Stephan Fate, then you get all three in there without resorting to “just jam the names together and that’ll do), Angelhawk (Hawkman and Angel), Iron Lantern (Green Lantern and Iron Man), Bizarnage (Bizarro and Carnage), The Challengers Of Fantastic (Challengers of the Unknown and The Fantastic Four, just adding a ‘the’ could have saved that one) and best of all, Shatterstarfire (Starfire and Shatterstar, I mean WTF). Seriously, did they get a three year old to do those, because anyone above that age would be ashamed to have done so.

 

14 Responses to What Were They Thinking- Amalgam Comics

  1. I’ve already stated in the past how much I hated the Amalgam
    concept, but I will go to the defense of Speed Demon for a second. If you think about it, it actually was kind of a good match up. Both Flash and Ghost Rider at the time were legacy characters, and they even incorporated that into the story. Speed Demon was a mash up of Barry Allen and Johnny Blaze, and he had a sidekick who was a mash up of Wally West and Danny Ketch, who were Flash and Ghost Rider at the time this came out. They even did a combo of Jay Garrick and the Original Ghost Rider, who Marvel had renamed Phantom Rider. If I remember correctly, it was one of the better written of the Amalgam books. Plus at the time both Flash and Ghost Rider were being drawn by Salvador Larrocca, so it was kinda cool to see him mix the two together. I agree that the costume left something to be desired, but then again, like you said, most of the costume were terrible.

  2. I actually thought the Speed Demon idea wasn’t all that bad compared to the laziness of things like ‘Dr. Strangefate’. I mean, sure…Marvel had a B-list supervillain named Speed Demon already, but the pairing made a kind of sense.

    The costuming was typical 90’s schlock, but it was in keeping with Ghost Rider’s look at the time, if I remember correctly. (Though I think the Speed Demon outfit has a few more spikes on it, like it was lifted from a Games Workshop drawing.)

    I remember thinking that the Amalgam idea wasn’t that bad as a core concept, but overall it was just executed poorly. I recently read an Amalgam issue (Assassins) that I found in a bargain bin on a lark. I mean, for 50 cents, it might be entertaining, right?

    Sadly, the writing in Assassins was just…horrific. At least the character mash-ups were only moderately lazy, and in a couple cases, I was a little surprised.
    The Big Question = Kingpin + Riddler
    Catsai = Catwoman + Elektra
    Dare the Terminator = Deathstroke + Daredevil

  3. Just goes to show not paying a real writer and not enforcing good sense over the art can ruin a lot of great ideas.

  4. I propose we amalgamate DC & Marvel characters HM 2013 style. None of this “Spider-Boy” or “Bullets & Bracelets” nonsense.

  5. Katmir:
    I propose we amalgamate DC & Marvel characters HM 2013 style. None of this “Spider-Boy” or “Bullets & Bracelets” nonsense.

    I propose that we not do that incase of copyright laws. we don’t want Jeff getting sued by two huge corporations for breach of copyright.

  6. Why not a contest where we “Amalgamate” two characters from the PDSH site? Only rule being that they’re from different publishers.

  7. Skybandit:
    Why not a contest where we “Amalgamate” two characters from the PDSH site?Only rule being that they’re from different publishers.

    That could work.

  8. I do agree that it could of been done better but the idea was cool.

  9. See I liked Amalgam because it was poorly exicuted. It’s kind of like watching an old sci fi drive-in movie. You read it to laugh.

  10. Characters they missed out on Amalgamating that would’ve been cool (or not):
    Songbird – Black Canary & Mockingbird
    Redbird – Robin & Mockingbird
    Solomon Verde – Grundy & Hulk (“Grulk Crash!”)
    Fantastic Plastic Man – Plastic Man & Mr. Fantastic
    Zatanna Maximof – Zatanna Zatara & Scarlet Witch
    Arrowhawk – Green Arrow & Hawkeye
    Iron Eagle – Hawkman & Ironman
    The Master – Sportsmaster & Taskmaster
    Chance – Roulette & Domino
    F.I.V.E. – A.M.A.Z.O., Brainiac, and Ultron 5

    Dinner time!

  11. Timedrop23:
    Characters they missed out on Amalgamating that would’ve been cool (or not):
    Songbird – Black Canary & Mockingbird
    Redbird – Robin & Mockingbird
    Solomon Verde – Grundy & Hulk (“Grulk Crash!”)
    Fantastic Plastic Man – Plastic Man & Mr. Fantastic
    Zatanna Maximof – Zatanna Zatara & Scarlet Witch
    Arrowhawk – Green Arrow & Hawkeye
    Iron Eagle – Hawkman & Ironman
    The Master – Sportsmaster & Taskmaster
    Chance – Roulette & Domino
    F.I.V.E. – A.M.A.Z.O., Brainiac, and Ultron 5

    Dinner time!

    i know they did some of these, though they may have named them differently. Off the top of my head Grundy and Hulk became “Skulk” and Hawkeye was combined with Green Arrow to make…”Hawkeye” (but wearing green).

  12. Yeah, I’ve since looked them up and seen there is also a Mockingbird/Black Canary (although I think Songbird is more original than just calling her Canary) and a Zatanna/Wanda Amalgamation (but I don’t understand the logic behind the name White Witch…).
    I’ve since updated the list as part of my Bad Movie Title Ideas thread, which you can find here.

  13. punkjay:
    See, I liked Amalgam because it was poorly exicuted executed. It’s kind of like watching an old sci fi drive-in movie. You read it to laugh.

    Like your grammar & spelling. :)

  14. Lobo the Duck was nothing but genius.