February 27, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #339: Access

Sometimes, all it takes is a little something like copyright to keep a character from reappearing.

Many times in this column, I’ve covered characters who, for one reason or another, were totally forgotten by the companies that published them.  That could be due to a lack of interest, or a creator with a personal investment in  the character moving on, or any of a number of reasons both legitimate or silly for such a character to be forgotten.

Then there’s the curious case of Access.

Access is one Axel Asher.  He’s…actually not very interesting in and of itself.

Pictured: not anything interesting in and of itself.

But the thing is, it’s doubtful he even needed to be.  He’s more of a gimmick used to explain or set up something.  He first appeared in the mini-series DC Vs Marvel (or Marvel Vs. DC, I don’t remember) as a regular guy who, for reasons he never quite figured out, found himself zapping back and forth between the DC and Marvel universes.  Now, there are two things people remember about that story.  The first was that fans were asked to vote to see who would win a series of five of the eleven fights inside the book between DC and Marvel characters.  Fans could vote for Lobo vs Wolverine, Storm vs Wonder Woman, Spider-Man vs Superboy, Superman vs the Hulk, and Batman vs Captain America.  Other fights, namely Thor vs Captain Marvel, Aquaman vs Namor, Elektra vs Catwoman, The Flash vs Quicksilver, Robin vs Jubilee, and the Silver Surfer vs Green Lantern were decided by the creative teams.

By the by…those fights were often not that impressive.  I took the liberty of listing the winner of each battle first, but sometimes the fight wasn’t even visible on-panel.  Wolverine and Lobo fell behind a bar until Wolverine popped up again to have a cigar, so how he won is anyone’s guess (seriously, Lobo is strong enough to take Logan’s head off with one punch) while the Silver Surfer and Green Lantern collided with a big flash of light only for the Surfer to emerge conscious.  True, writer Peter David got more out of the two issues he wrote as opposed to the two writer Ron Marz wrote, and Marz handled more of the fight scenes that were often compacted to maybe two pages each.  Plus, I’m sure the five fights decided by fans were done up in a such a way to just swap a page or panel into place after a winner was chosen anyway.

Regardless, the thing was these two entities called “the Brothers”–essentially the symbolic representations of both publishers–were getting into a massive cosmic fight that had the potential to destroy both realities, and the mightiest cosmic beings of their respective universes could do nothing to stop it.  The decision was made to let some champions fight to see who had the better universe, and though half the fights were pre-determined, that didn’t stop Marvel from putting “thank you” ads in their books after the fight since they won three out of the five fan polls…and three out of the six other fights.  Eventually, the Brothers were appeased when the Marvel Brother looked at Batman and his history while the DC Brother looked at Captain America and his history–both heroes have long ones and both being present for the fight–and deciding that each of the two did good, shaking hands, and leaving.

It actually worked out a lot better than that sounds.

So, what was Access’s whole deal?  Well, he found himself zapping between worlds–in one of the more clever bits, he was in a toy shop, asking where the X-Men merchandise was, only to have the confused clerk ask what the X-Men were but having on display lots of Pinky and the Brain and Looney Tunes stuff–and at some point, realizing that the universes might both end, he combined the two into the Amalgam universe where every character was made up of two (or maybe more) characters from each universe.  For example, Batman combined with Wolverine to make Dark Claw while Superman and Captain America became Super-Soldier.

This sort of thing.

I actually found those to be fun.  They were silly and not often nonsensical, but fun.

Now, normally, a big event like this would be the first and last time Access would appear anywhere.  But not so!  Aside from a one page cameo in the pages of Ron Marz’s Green Lantern, he would appear two more times.  Both times were intercompany crossover mini-series, one from DC and the other from Marvel.

The first, the DC one, had Access getting sucked into a trap by Amalgam character Dr. Strangefate (Dr. Strange, Dr. Fate, and oddly enough Professor X all rolled into one) where it came out that Access could combine characters from both universes as he merged the Justice League with some X-Men against his will.  That one ended with the Amalgam Universe recreated in a place where Strangefate would never bother anyone again.

The second, better in my opinion, one was from Marvel, and it actually expanded the Access lore a bit.  That one saw Access traveling through time as well as space in what turned out to be a plot from Darkseid (working with Magento and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in what turned out to be a very uneven partnership) to corrupt Access and make a minion of him.  Not only could Access merge characters, he could bring them with him, sending a future Superman to stop a fight between the original line-up of the Justice League from that continuity and an Avengers team from around the time Cap replaced the Hulk.  But two more things came up there, namely that if Access stayed in one universe for too long, characters from the other would start to appear at random, and that people forgot he existed not long after he departed.

Basically, that addition explained how every DC and Marvel crossover happened and why none of the participants remembered it later.  It’s because Access was nearby and after he cleaned things up, people forgot about him.

Granted, crossovers since then, like the great JLA/Avengers mini-series from Kurt Busiek and George Perez, didn’t see fit to mention the guy, but that’s neither here nor there.  It’s an in-universe explanation for how those things happen in two universes.  Maybe more considering some of the other crossovers out there.

Make of this what you will.

Of course, there’s also a good real world reason why we haven’t seen Access since these mini-series:  he is co-owned by both DC and Marvel.  Both companies would need to sign off on his appearing officially anywhere.  And while individual creators and editors might have no problem with that sort of thing…the parent companies might since that could, theoretically, mean some kind of official sign off by both Disney and Warner Brothers, something that doesn’t seem all that likely any time soon.

Then again, he wasn’t all that interesting in and of itself.