Smashing two heroes together is not new. It’s something we’ve all done late at night on sleepovers and DC/Marvel combined their heroes together in the famous Amalgam comics. But what about in-canon mashups? That’s harder to find unless of course, you read the Infinity Warps tie-in issues that coincided with Infinity Wars.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
As Requiem tears through the Marvel Universe, the very fabric of reality warps around the heroes of Earth…and the possibilities become infinite! Classifi ed 4-F by the military, Stephen Rogers was unable to serve his country in WWII – until a secret sorcerous government program transformed him into the Soldier Supreme, magical warrior embodiment of the American spirit! When Stark Odinson, the brainy but arrogant son of the All-Father, was kidnapped by Ice Giants and forced to make weapons, he turned their forges against them and became the Armored Asgardian, Iron Hammer! Plus, the Arachknight! Weapon Hex! Ghost Panther! And more uncanny twists on the heroes you know and love!
Why does this matter?
This collection offers up five two-part (or two issues) stories on specific combo characters with a two-issue grab bag of additional combined characters. That’s a lot of stories especially if you like origin stories — which this collection is full of.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
There’s a good mix of different types of stories here which makes it an easy pick-up for casual readers. Ghost Rider mixed with Black Panther, Spider-Man with Moon Knight, Iron Man with Thor, Captain America with Doctor Strange, and X-23 and Scarlet Witch are the main draw for this series and each story has an origin and major conflict. What makes these stories extra-fun is untangling how the creators combine the two, either by taking a little from column A and column B or doing something more organic. It’s fun to read these and try to untangle that mystery and figure out what is different and the same. That includes the villains these combos fight which also combines a villain from each hero.
Opening this collection is the Soldier Supreme two-parter written by Gerry Duggan and drawn by Adam Kubert (with colors by Matthew Wilson). This story stands out to me, making logical combinations between the two. The idea of a magic wielding hero during World War II makes a lot of sense and Duggan’s twist on why Stephen Rogers gets trapped is quite clever. Kubert does an exceptional job with magical elements as well as the monsters.
Both Weapon Hex and Ghost Panther deal with a bit more graphic artistry to convey the tragic nature of their stories. It’s interesting to see these characters conveyed as tragic heroes due to the sacrifices they must make, but of course, they are very different. Imagine a writer being given the keys to any possibility for a character combo and you can gather how fun it is to write and for us to read.
The Infinity Warps #1 and #2 issues are great vignettes by a variety of creators which range from silly takes to serious ones. You would never have thought a Doctor Doom and Galactus combo would be so funny. The Fantastic Two story is quite a clever take too with Thing and Human Torch combining into “Hot Rocks” and Invisible Woman and Mr. Fantastic turning into “Mister Invisible”. Much like the stories in this two-parter, it’s a short, but sweet adventure.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
I had a hard time getting into the Iron Hammer story. It’s a slow first chapter that leads to a second that’s filled with so many reveals it’s overwhelming. The story is also written in an old school style as if Stan Lee himself crafted it which is a fun idea, but doesn’t quite work.
The Arachknight story is interesting, but doesn’t stray too far away from the usual Spider-Man meets Green Goblin drama. This story has a clever idea of one of the alternate personalities being the super strong one, but it doesn’t play up that aspect enough to make it stand out.
Is it good?
It’s exciting to see one of the biggest publishers in the game playing around with their characters like this. The fact is some of these stories are so good many will hope for more stories for these characters. That’s a rarity when serial storytelling typically means fans want the same general formula for the same characters for all time.