The last interview in our epic recounting of the 90’s classic, DC vs Marvel is with writer Peter David. Best known for his unheard of 12 year run on the Hulk beginning in the mid 80’s, David’s written everything from Star Trek novels to episodes of Young Justice. I asked him a few questions about his involvement in the crossover…
jman: There’s a long storied rivalry between DC and Marvel. The companies have had crossovers in the past, but nothing to this extent. How did the idea for a DC vs Marvel crossover start?
Peter David: I actually don’t know the origins of it. I was brought on when it was already under way. My surmise was that it was cooked up by Mike and Mark. They’d shared the same office, Mike working as Mark’s assistant while he was at Marvel and they had a great friendship. So when Mike went to DC, it might well have been a project that the two of them cooked up.
jman: At the time of the writing, you were working for Marvel. What was the feeling toward the project in the main offices?
PD: That it was a worthwhile project that would sell huge numbers of copies and get plenty of good publicity for everyone.
jman: Mike Carlin and the late Mark Gruenwald were editors on the project. How much involvement did they have in the process? Did they give you the idea to run with? Or did each editor have final say on the script?
PD: It all began in Mark’s apartment. Ron and I met with him and Mike and together the four of us worked up the entire concept of the series. I don’t remember the details although it’s possible that I came up with the concept of two cosmic brothers playing a sort of galactic chess match, because it was similar to something I did when writing the Photon novels for Ace/Jove. It certainly made sense considering it was sort of a meta-commentary on the entire project since two guys who were brothers in all but blood were the ones who were spearheading it. That day may be one of the greatest creative days of my life. Four grown men discussing which superheroes were going to win the battles that we controlled. It was fantastic.
jman: How did you get along with your co-writer, Ron Marz during the writing process? Were there things you wanted to do that he didn’t? Or likewise with him?
PD: We fundamentally knew what was going to be happening in each issue. It was just a matter of how to write it. Originally we tried to co-write issue #1, but it didn’t work. Our writing styles were too different and Mike and Mark didn’t like our first draft. So Ron and I got on the phone and I suggested that each of us write two issues from start to finish. Ron said, “Which ones do you want to write?” I said, “Honestly? Issues 2 and 4.” And Ron said, “My God, that’s perfect! Because I want to write issues 1 and 3!” He wanted to do #1 because, y’know, first issue. And he wanted to do #3 because that was the highly publicized issue where the fans decided the outcome of the battles. I was the opposite. I didn’t want #1 because it was principally a lot of introduction, and I didn’t want #3 because I was concerned the fan choices would be idiotic. (And I was right. Wolverine beats Lobo? No way. And I say that as a Marvel guy.) I wanted to do #2 because that was where the battles that we had decided on would be fought, and #4 was a challenge because I had to wrap the whole thing up. So it was a rare instance of a compromise that worked out great for everyone.
jman: Obviously, both companies want to come out looking good. And things needed to be as even handed as possible. Were there some not so obvious things either company didn’t want you to do?
PD: The main concern was not wanting either company to come out totally on top. We had no control over the fan choices, but we could control our own. So when we planned out the battles that we could control, we made sure to split it so that DC won half and Marvel won half. That way neither company would get completely pummeled.
jman: The top 5 battles were to be picked by fan vote. How difficult was it to plot out a story ahead of time, where the outcomes still weren’t determined? If any of the battles were voted the opposite way, did it change the outcome of the story at all?
PD: No, the outcome of the battles themselves had no impact on the end.
jman: Is there any particular fight you would’ve liked to have seen?
PD: Snapper Carr vs. Rick Jones.
jman: One of my favorite things to come out of the DC v Marvel crossover event is the Amalgam Universe. The Amalgam universe came about at the end of issue three of Marvel v DC, where the Marvel/DC universes were combined and the characters from both universes where “amalgamated”. How much involvement did you have in setting up the Amalgam Universe?
PD: I think I may have suggested a few of the Amalgam’s, but I didn’t have anything to do with it beyond that.
jman: Looking back on it now, almost 20 years later, is there anything you would’ve done different? Anything about the project you would change?
PD: No. I’m perfectly happy with how it came out.
jman: What are projects are you currently working on?
PD: Spider-Man 2099, a Maestro limited series, Stephen King’s Dark Tower, and some other projects I can’t discuss.
Many thanks to Peter David for taking the time to answer my questions!
Don’t forgot to check out the show that spawned the interviews! The Almost Internet Famous Internet’s DC vs Marvel episode