And where better to start on a blog about Marvel and DC crossovers than with everybody's favorite character, Axel Asher, otherwise known as...Access! (Also known as 'probably NOT everyone's favorite character to a few. Or maybe a lot. I don't care, I like him.)
Just who is Access, you ask? Well, grab yourself a cup of coffee (or vodka, whatever floats your boat) and get comfortable, and I'll fill you in.
Access is a character owned by both Marvel Comics and DC Comics. He first appeared in DC vs. Marvel #1 (March 1996), the first issue in a four issue cross-over event between Marvel and DC. The character was created as a way to enable in-continuity crossovers between the two companies, an idea I thought was great! I also remember thinking "Marvel and DC characters together in one series? This is gonna be bananas!!!" Okay, I didn't actually think 'bananas', but I needed an excuse to post this picture.
Okay, back to Access. The in-story history of Access goes a little bit like this. Axel Asher first became aware of his extraordinary powers when two cosmic entities known simply as "The Brothers," (one basically is the Marvel Universe, the other, the DC Universe. Think Eternity on a larger scale) became aware of each other. This occurred as a direct result of the events in crossovers previously published by Marvel and DC (meaning stuff like Superman/Spider-Man, Hulk/Batman etc etc). Each Brother wanted to prove himself superior over the other. Picking eleven 'champions' from each universe, they pitted their heroes against each other in combat, the winner being whomever immobilized the other first. The Brother with the most wins, would be...well, the winner.
Axel, a normal teenager living in the New York of the Marvel Universe, happened across an old bum named Morty in an alley. Morty protected what seemed to be a big, plain old cardboard box but was in actuality a portal between the two universes. (The cardboard box/portal first appeared in the Green Lantern/Silver Surfer: Unholy Alliances one-shot (Dec. 1995) which was kind of a lead-in to the whole Marvel vs. DC crossover.) Morty also revealed that Axel was next in line to bear the powers and responsibilities of being "The Access", the person in charge of preventing the universes from merging into one. Apparently, the universes are drawn to each other because they were originally one universe that split in two when The Brothers first fought each other. According to Morty, certain 'fragments' of each universe remain in both realities, the 'box' being one, Access the other.
Axel discovered that, as Access, he had the ability to create and use inter-dimensional gateways between the the Marvel/DC universes to teleport himself to either universe. He could also summon others to him. He can merge two people he touches if one is from each universe, creating an "amalgamation" of the characters (hence the whole 'Amalgam Universe' line of books. What's that? Wait and see!). The gateways also permits time travel when crossing universes. Access can also feel the presence of anything from one universe which is present in the other.
I don't really want to go in to to much more detail about the events of any of Access's appearances, as I will be covering them when I get to the actual comic reviews. I will say this. I absolutely LOVED (and still love) this character and the idea behind him. I mean, how much fun could Marvel and DC have with this character? Well, obviously not as much as I thought they were going to. I mean, here you have a character DESIGNED to make crossovers happen in-continuity, and what happens? Pretty much nothing. Oh sure, Access was around for a couple of years, and even had two limited series of his own and appeared briefly in Green Lantern #87 (June 1997), but after that, he was gone. I remember when JLA/Avengers came out, and how excited I was that I would see Access again. Nope, nothing. I would have been happy with a cameo, or at least a mention, but instead I got...yup. NOTHING!
It just didn't make any sense to me. It was even mentioned in-story that crossovers that had happened earlier (and later) that had both companies characters seeming to occupy a 'shared earth' (meaning they seemed to both always live in the same world) were just examples of dimensional fluxes where the DC and Marvel 'verses had begun to merge again. And once Access 'fixes' the fluctuations, the characters of each universe forget the crossovers even happened in the first place. Well, I guess that could be an explanation right there for JLA/Avengers, but still, a cameo would've be nice.
Will we ever see Access again? Unlikely, but never say never. I remember asking one of the bigwigs at either Marvel or DC (I think it was Tom Brevoort) if we could possibly have Access appear again, and the answer was "We aren't allowed to use him because of DC!" (Or was it Marvel?) Wait. What? Both companies own the character so why can't...ah, I'm sure there's some legal mumbo-jumbo behind it that I don't understand, so I'm not even going to bother. If any of you out there know, give me a holler.
But what we do have, in the meantime, is great fun. If you want to check out the comics containing Access, here is a checklist of all his appearances to date:
Marvel vs. DC #s 1-4, Access's first appearance.
Doctor Strangefate #1 (April 1996), a comic set in the 'Amalgam' universe, featuring an amalgamation of Doctor Strange and Doctor Fate.
DC/Marvel All Access #s 1-4, Access's first limited series.
Unlimited Access #s 1-4, Access's second and final limited series.
And the aforementioned Green Lantern #87, where Access pops in on Jade while looking for the Kyle Rayner Green Lantern. When he realizes GL isn't around, he decides to go find 'that guy with the surfboard' (meaning the Silver Surfer, for all you people who have been living under rocks).
That's it, that's all for this time. My next BIG entry on this blog will probably be a review of 1976's Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man. Hope you'll all be there.