Artist Alex Ross Celebrates DC and Marvel’s First Superhero Crossover With Superman vs Spider-Man Throwback

Esteemed artist Alex Ross shares a throwback to his 1999 artwork inspired by the cover of 1976's [...]

Esteemed artist Alex Ross shares a throwback to his 1999 artwork inspired by the cover of 1976's Superman vs The Amazing Spider-Man, the first superhero crossover between DC Comics and Marvel Comics. The original cover, pencilled by artist Ross Andru from an original sketch by then-DC publisher Carmine Infantino, promises the "greatest superhero team-up of all time" as the most famous superheroes of their respective companies clash atop the Empire State Building. Billed as "The Battle of the Century," the story scripted by former Amazing Spider-Man writer Gerry Conway pit the Man of Steel against the web-swinging wall-crawler before the heroes teamed to take down united foes Lex Luthor and Doctor Octopus.

In a letters page from Infantino and Marvel publisher Stan Lee, Spider-Man's co-creator, Lee revealed how the story they were told "couldn't be done" came to be, bringing together DC and Marvel's respective mascots through Infantino and Lee's longtime friendship.

Calling Superman and Spider-Man's meeting something "we both knew would someday have to happen" and "the one thing that all fandom was clamoring for," Lee wrote: "We knew we couldn't keep our top heroes apart much longer. Readers everywhere were demanding a team-up of the best of the old and the best of the new. SUPERMAN, the first, most powerful, most famous caped crusader of them all — and SPIDER-MAN, the newest, most realistic, most popular wall-crawler on the scene today — both together in one titanic, unforgettable adventure!"

In a tweet, Ross shared his interpretation as part of a side-by-side comparison with the book's original cover.

The book, overseen by Lee and Infantino, was made possible by blending creatives from both companies: from Marvel, Andru and colorist Glynis Oliver, and from DC, Conway, inker Dick Giordano and letterer Gaspar Saladino.

Superman vs Spider-Man was inspired by Lee's book agent, David Obst, remembered by Conway as "kind of a comic book nerd" who pushed for the first-ever meeting between the two superstar superheroes.

"I remember David was talking with Stan and asked why Marvel and DC have never done a crossover with Superman and Spider-Man," Conway told SYFY WIRE in a 2019 interview. "Stan said 'Well, it would be impossible. We'd never be able to make a deal.'"

Superman vs The Amazing Spider-Man #1 was followed by several other intercompany crossovers, including the DC vs. Marvel event in 1996. The two companies would clash again in 2003's JLA/Avengers, currently the last crossover between DC and Marvel.