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Why Marvel & DC’s Lost Crossover Will Probably Never Be Seen Again


by Xtreme HD IPTV


  • “World War III” was a forgotten Marvel/DC crossover from 1997 that merged the Wildstorm and Heroes Reborn universes.
  • The crossover allowed creators to do whatever they wanted with characters, resulting in a high body count and traitorous heroes.
  • The story will never be republished due to real world events and the integration of Wildstorm characters into the main DC Universe.



While a Marvel/DC crossover is highly unlikely these days, there was a time when the two companies pitted their characters together on a fairly regular basis. In spite of all that, there is one story that has been forgotten, and really only became an official “Marvel/DC” crossover years after its original publication. This is the bizarre yet true story of “World War III,” a crossover from 1997 that’s since been lost to the ages.

The story of how “World War III” came to be starts the year before its publication. 1996 saw the return of Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld to Marvel after leaving four years previous to found Image Comics. This was the Heroes Reborn experiment, an initiative where Marvel licensed its flailing books out to each superstar artists’ respective studios.

Heroes Reborn Banner

Rob Liefeld’s Extreme Studios was given the task of relaunching Captain America and The Avengers, while Jim Lee’s Wildstorm took on Fantastic Four and Iron Man. While initially a sales success, Heroes Reborn was met with a mixed reaction by fans, and the relaunched titles were scheduled to come to an end after twelve issues.

“World War III” Merges the Wildstorm Heroes with Marvel’s Heroes Reborn

Fantastic Four Vol 2 #13 Cover

Before Marvel relaunched the four titles back into the main universe, Jim Lee managed to squeeze out a thirteenth issue for each series, which would cross over with the heroes of Lee’s Wildstorm Universe. Dubbed “World War III,” the crossover saw the pocket universe from Heroes Reborn merged with the Wildstorm Universe to create a post-apocalyptic scenario where Earth is overrun by a combined Skrull/Daemonite invasion. This merged universe saw Marvel and Wildstorm heroes swapping places on each respective brand’s most popular titles. Maul from WildC.A.T.s and Burnout from Gen 13 took the Thing and the Human Torch’s place on the Fantastic Four, and Spartan and Brass took Captain America and Iron Man’s place on the Avengers.

Running through the thirteenth issues of Fantastic Four, The Avengers, Iron Man and Captain America, the crossover had the benefit of doing whatever the creators wanted over the course of the four-part story. Writer James Robinson was responsible for scripting the crossover, with Mike Wieringo, Michael Ryan, Larry Stroman and Ron Lim handling the art, and the transient nature of the “merged” universe gave the creators free rein to do whatever they wished. The storyline racks up quite a body count before it ends, as major heroes are revealed to be traitors. The whole thing concludes with the universe being split apart once more as everything fades to white. Most epic crossovers promise the ultimate destruction of an entire universe – “World War III” is perhaps the only one to deliver on that promise.

“World War III” Retroactively Became a Marvel/DC Crossover

It could have been nothing more than a fun little crossover, but real world events meant the story was never republished and likely never will be. Jim Lee sold his Wildstorm imprint to DC Comics in 1999, and the decades since have seen those characters slowly incorporated into the main DC Universe. Given that the WildC.A.T.s, Stormwatch and Gen 13 teams are now officially DC Comics heroes, that makes the “World War III” storyline an official crossover between the two biggest superhero universes in existence. It also means that the story will never be republished in any form, resulting in a lost Marvel/DC crossover that exists now only in back issue bins.

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by Xtreme HD IPTV

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