For some it’s up there with the Clone Wars. Considered a creative nadir. The moment when the comic didn’t so much jump the shark, as pirouette above it naked, wearing nothing but a cold fusion powered jetpack.
It’s called The Crossing, it was an Avengers crossover and it was originally published in 1995. And now it’s being published, complete, 750 pages of it, in an Omnibus hardcover form.
The talent associated it was certainly worthy. The Avengers group editor was Mark Gruenwald, the writers of the various Avengers books that crossed over included Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, current DC EIC Bob Harras, Terry Kavanagh and Ben Raab with Mike Deodato and friends, J. Calafiore, M. C. Wyman, Ed Benes, Alex Maleev, Tom Morgan and Jim Cheung drawing it.
This was at a time when the Marvel board had demanded greater and greater profits to pay off debts and the Marvel machine was going into overdrive to achieve this, but we’d also had sales falling faster than the company could turn them around. Spin off books, gratuitous guest stars, variant covers, embossed, holographic, die cut covers… (okay, we haven’t had that last one for a while), it was part of a number of last ditches to keep Marvel alive.
The plot saw mysterious foretelling of future events, mysterious foretellers of times to come, Tony Stark killing a nanny and gaining a split personality, that frames Hawkeye for his own crimes, who goes on the run with Alien Armour War Machine and USAgent. One of Tony’s exes who suspects the truth teams with Madame Masque, Gilgamesh gets killed by a monster called Neut, more nineties style characters start to appear, time travelling and dimension hopping with axes, as reality twists, Vietnam disappears, and suddenly there’s a Force Works Avenger called Moonraker. Kang gets involved. Then everyone beats up on Tony Stark. Including going back in ime and bringing forward a teenage version of Tony Stark, and guest starring pretty much anyone in the Marvel Universe at some point. And two Jarvises. It seemed nothing more than an incredibly convoluted attempt to reboot Iron Man as a teenager, something which would last a few issues until Heroes Return rebooted the lot.
Marvel writers then spent the next few years trying to unpick The Crossing from ever actually having occurred, or at least not in the way it was presented. Tobias and Malachi were meant to be the Vision and Scarlet Witch’s kids, but became creations of Space Phantoms – with Wiccan and Speed taking those roles later. Luna, Moonraker, Tuc and Mantis were also Space Phantomised away, Benedict was now a robot slave, the Celestial Messiah who was mean to arrive at the end of the story was delayed for six years, Gilgamesh was suddenly alive without question, and it was all apparently the fault of Immortus with some interference from Franklin Richards.
And while it now may be ignored by the Marvel Universe as a whole, just like the uncle that no one talks about after he featured on To Catch A Predator, it’s still a continual point of discussion for Avengers fans. And where there is discussion, there is obsession. And where there is obsession there is…
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