Amazing Spider-Man (1963–1998): The Massive Re-Read, Interlude Six — Spider-Man and Batman
In an ideal world, I would’ve done one of these posts for Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man too, but in that ideal world, I would’ve been able to get my hands on that comic for a more reasonable price than what I could find on eBay.
Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds — of all the other intercompany crossovers that featured Spidey at the time — deserved to get its own post, firstly, because it was by JM DeMatteis and Mark Bagley, who were winding down their run on Amazing Spider-Man at the time, which makes this feel almost like their unofficial last Amazing issue.
Second, and more importantly, this was easily the best Spidey crossover of its day and, until I can get my hands on Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man, in my opinion, one of the best crossovers of all time.
The plot’s pretty simple and the tone feels light, despite the theme of dealing with both characters’ demons. I don’t mean this in a bad way at all, but it feels very much like a taster for anyone unfamiliar with DeMatteis. Bagley, however, is solid here. No particular standout pieces of storytelling on the same level as Amazing #400, but great action and overall fine work.
The best thing about this crossover though is that it does what any good crossover does — it plays each character’s conflicting personalities and worlds off against each other. In this case, Disordered Minds looks at the darkness within Peter and Batman, but focuses on the different shades of that darkness. We see just how similar their origins are, but also how big an impact Aunt May had on the kind of person Peter grew up to be — and how the lack of such a figure made Batman… well, Batman.
That contrast, of course, results in some great moments. Batman initially dismissing Peter, Peter’s wisecracks not even coming close to cracking Batman’s scowl, and finally the sign of mutual respect between the two were all as iconic as you expected them to be. (I did feel that Batman’s change of heart about Peter seemed a bit rushed, but that all kind of gets forgotten when the two start working together because, holy crap, it’s Batman and Spider-Man!)
And as fun as it is to watch Batman and Spider-Man interact with each other, the contrast between Joker and Carnage was actually even better. As much as I love stuff like “Maximum Carnage”, the two villains’ conflict truly shows why Joker’s lasted as long as he has, while Carnage’s heyday was relegated to the nineties. “Any idiot… nothing personal, of course… can go out and slaughter a few thousand people. But where’s the laughter and tears? The handstands and histrionics? In short, my dense and sanguine pal, where’s the theatre?”
Crossovers generally are one-off pieces of fluffy fun, and this is no different — but it understands what it is, and plays perfectly to its strengths, delivering a crossover that remains one of my favourites ever.
Your move, Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man.
(Originally published on 1 July 2018.)