Of course, we soon discovered that such a Battle Royale probably wasn't going to happen. The fact that the popular characters were owned by competing comic book publishers created what seemed to be an insurmountable legal barrier that not even this pair of powerhouses could smash through.
Ah, but then lightning struck in the form of Superman vs. Spider-Man (1976), a tabloid-sized answer to our prayers that proved competing characters could not only meet each other, but fight each other over a misunderstanding as superheroes tend to do. More inter-company crossovers were arranged over the next several decades...some good, others not so good. One of the very best of them was The Incredible Hulk vs. Superman (1999). Unfortunately, this well-crafted story kinda got lost in the shuffle during a flurry of late 90's DC-Marvel crossovers, so I thought I'd give it some of the attention it deserves...
Written at a rollicking Silver Age clip by Roger Stern, the story isn't merely a meeting of two characters, but a clever, near seamless blending of their thematic and visual worlds. Illustrator Steve Rude does a masterful job of capturing the look of both Jack Kirby's early Hulk and the Superman of the classic Fleischer cartoons (based on the work of Joe Shuster, et al). The use of these retro visual styles is surprisingly powerful, giving the story an even greater iconic (and somewhat nostalgic) feel.
Okay, okay...less talky and more looky, right? Here we go: Brought to New Mexico by off-the-chart seismic readings, Superman arrives to find the source of those earthshaking events wolfing down stolen barbeque chicken!
(Click on the pages for a larger view)
Sure, Stern occasionally veered into deeper territory by exploring their mutual themes of dual identity (not to mention the role huge explosions played in their origins), but he's perfectly aware of the real reason we show up for stuff like this...
So, while neither the Hulk nor Superman clearly "win", that childhood "dream clash" is more than satisfied by this slam-bang adventure (and giddy tribute to a bygone era). My only (minor) complaint? For whatever reason, Superman's pal Jimmy Olsen wasn't around to meet the Hulk's teen companion Rick Jones! Sure, Lois Lane met Betty Ross....General "Thunderbolt" Ross met Lex Luthor...but no meeting of the boy sidekicks?
Bahlactus demands an answer!