Comic book crossovers

April 23, 2008 — Leave a comment

Originally published in The Daily Toreador.

Comic book crossovers are a weird – but often cool – tactic used by companies to both please fans and to attract new audiences to a property.

Most of the times, crossovers occur within universes owned by one company. For instance, DC Comics’ “Justice League” brings together DC icons like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman all into one place. Marvel Comics’ recent “Civil War” series did the same thing for beloved greats like Spider-Man and Captain America.

But sometimes two or more companies decide that they want to form an unholy alliance and bring some of their universes together. While usually very surprising, these can sometimes be very cool, such as in the first ever intercompany crossover, “Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man.”

But other times, the crossover is just plain weird. Batman has fought the Predator and met Tarzan. G.I. Joe has fought the Transformers. Superman has met The Terminator. Archie has met The Punisher… Yes, you read that last one right.

Crossovers aren’t exactly new to video games either. Nintendo’s “Super Smash Bros.” series is a popular example of this, with the most recent entry not only including various Nintendo characters, but also bringing in characters from other companies as well. Square-Enix has also partnered with Disney to create the “Kingdom Hearts” games, which merge beloved Disney worlds with characters from the “Final Fantasy” universe.

So when you look at all of that, maybe it’s not so weird that this week, Midway announced that the next game in their popular, ultra-violent fighting game series “Mortal Kombat” would be “Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe”.

Or maybe it’s just absolutely insane.

It’s wasn’t bad enough that “Star Wars’” Darth Vadar and Yoda would be characters in the next “Soul Calibur” fighting game, I guess. But then, maybe Batman beating up Sub-Zero is more realistic than a steel blade being able to block a lightsaber… Maybe.

This sort of thing isn’t exactly unprecedented. Capcom, makers of the “Street Fighter” games, made a similar deal with Marvel years back to develop the “Marvel vs. Capcom” series, which was actually quite good.

But there are a lot of things that need to be worked out before the idea of a “Mortal Kombat” and DC crossover even starts to make sense. How did these two worlds merge? Why can’t Superman just destroy everybody in his path, as they probably don’t have Kryptonite handy? If Wonder Woman’s ship is invisible, how can she find it?

Maybe they don’t need to worry about that last one. But if they could answer that age-old question, they’d have a hit on their hands. As for the others, “Mortal Kombat” creator Ed Boon assures us that things will make sense when we play the single-player story mode.

Apparently there’s magic involved.

Despite bearing the “Mortal Kombat” name – a name associate with buckets of blood and gory “fatality” finishing moves – the team at Midway is looking to make this a “Teen” rated game. The game will supposedly still maintain the “Mortal Kombat” brutality and intensity of the fights, but you won’t see Batman rip off Scorpion’s head. There will apparently still be finishing moves, but the likes of them haven’t been specified.

The fighting engine is also being revamped, allowing for standard fighting and fighting styles, but also adding things like Klose Kombat, where the camera pulls in close and changes things up, and Freefall Kombat, where you can grapple with your opponent even when in midair after falling off a building.

It’s hard to say this early on whether or not “Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe” will be a success or a failure. Maybe it will be another great character crossover? Maybe it will just be a very solid fighting game? Maybe the storyline will actually make some degree of sense?

Regardless, I just kind of hope that Aquaman is in the game, so I can punch him in the face.

Britton Peele

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Freelance video game critic for sites like GameSpot and GamesRadar. Amateur fantasy author.

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