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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Unlimited Access

(A Suspended Animation "classic" from 1998.)

The latest comic books in DC-Marvel crossovers is Unlimited Access.

The first three issues are as confusing at first reading as anything I've ever seen, but the fourth pulls everything together. Rereading the issues gives a better view of the intricate plot than reading them a month apart.

The first impression is that Karl Kesel wanted to use every character from every era of the two universes, even the Western heroes. (Since Jonah Hex and Two Gun Kid are time travelers, this is a reasonable development.)

The primary villain is DC's Darkseid. In a previous crossover, he merged with Marvel's Thanos character, but this time he remains un-amalgamated. He does cause some of his minions to merge with Magneto's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Darkseid's awareness of the two universes could make him recurring villain in later crossovers.

In the fourth issue, we see the amalgamation of heroes. Some are ingenious. The current version of Superman merges with Thor to become Thor-El, the Kryptonion Thunder God. My favorite is the blending of Captain America with Captain Marvel Jr. Rather than "Shazam", Captain America Jr. uses the magic words "Uncle Sam" to gain the powers of various presidents: the wisdom of Lincoln, the strategy of Eisenhower and the trickery of Nixon.

Other good pairings include: Robin and Angel to produce Redwing; Impulse and Iceman become Quickfreeze; Black Canary and Marvel Girl become Jean Black.

Weaker pairings: Giant Man and Green Lantern become Green Goliath; Wasp and Wonder Girl become Wonder Wasp.

There is not enough story space to allow more than a hint of what these amalgamations could do. I was relieved to hear that there would be no companion titles featuring these characters since last year's spin-offs did not find a wide audience. At the same time, I have to hope we have not seen the end of this year's better hybrids.

Give Kesel a full A for this. Also, give the major artists, Pat Oliffe and Al Williamson, high marks for their efforts.

Reviewed by Dr. Jon Suter