While the Marvel and DC Universes don’t crossover with each other much today, stories that saw characters from these two worlds meet were fairly common in the ’90s. And in 1995’s Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds by J.M. DeMatteis, Mark Bagley, Scott Hanna, and Mark Farmer, two of the publishers’ deadliest villains, Spider-Man’s symbiote serial killer Carnage and Batman’s nemesis the Joker joined forces as one of the most dangerous duos ever assembled.
The crossover sees the worlds of Marvel and DC coexisting naturally on the same plane, with Batman even aware of the events of Maximum Carnage. In this merged world, Carnage is being held, as usual, at the Ravencroft Institute. Cassandra Briar explains that she has a radical new procedure that can put an end to Carnage for good: the implanting of a microchip into Carnage’s brain that would render him completely docile.
Similarly, Dr. Briar takes her microchip to Gotham City and gains the authority to implant the chip into the Joker’s brain as well. Dr. Briar believes she has done the impossible: she has effectively defeated both Carnage and the Joker, two of the most dangerous men on the planet. Her sense of victory is cut short when the Carnage symbiote bursts out of Cletus Kassady, its human host, and reveals that it shorted out her microchip the moment it was inserted.
Before Carnage can begin a rampage in Gotham, Batman appears and orders him to stop. At this exact moment, Spider-Man appears as well, offering to give Batman help in taking down Carnage. Carnage launches an attack on nearby soldiers and guards, allowing himself to escape with the Joker. With Batman and Spider-Man left behind, Carnage inserts a tendril into Joker’s head and shorts out his microchip.
The nightmarish duo seems to hit it off wonderfully, each reveling in the other’s love for mayhem and murder. Their friendship ends as quickly as it began, however, when they realize that they have different philosophies on killing. As the two begin to fight each other, Batman and Spider-Man find the two madmen. Carnage ensnares Batman and holds him tightly, bragging how he’ll finally kill Gotham City’s protector. Joker produces a lethal virus he had been planning on releasing on Gotham and states he’ll use it right then and there, killing himself along with the entire city, simply to ensure that he doesn’t allow Carnage the satisfaction of killing Batman. Taking advantage of Carnage’s intense fear of the Joker, Batman beats him into submission. Spider-Man follows the Joker and takes the virus from him, ending the threat he poses with a single punch.
Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds is a short one-shot, but it shows the way that its respective leads are quite similar and different in their own ways. Spider-Man is full of quips and willing to offer assistance as needed; Batman is reserved, even telling Spider-Man to leave Gotham moments after meeting him, before the two inevitably come together as an efficient team.
Carnage and Joker are appropriately evil and unhinged. Carnage and Joker’s inability to work together doesn’t come as a surprise as Joker is historically bad at teaming up with other villains. It’s a good thing, though, because if the two murderers had been able to coordinate viable plans together they would have killed countless innocent people.
Despite the brutality of its villains, Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds offers a fun, action-packed story that underscores how similar two of the most dangerous villains in Batman and Spider-Man’s rogues’ gallery are by forcing the heroes to team up to take them down.
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