Amalgam Comics was a publishing imprint shared by DC Comics and Marvel Comics, in which the two comic book publishers merged their characters into new ones (e.g., DC Comics' Batman and Marvel Comics' Wolverine became the Amalgam character Dark Claw). These characters first appeared in a series of twelve comic books which were published in 1996, between the third and fourth issues of the DC vs. Marvelminiseries. A second set of twelve comic books followed one year later.
The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Alternate Universes 2005 designated the Amalgam Universe as Earth-9602. DC Comics has not identified an Amalgam Universe in its Multiverse.
On two separate occasions – April 1996 and June 1997 – Marvel and DC co-published issues under the Amalgam Comics imprint. The issues were presented as if the imprint had existed for decades, with stories and editorial comments referring to a fictional history stretching back to the Golden Age of Comics, including retcons and reboots. For example they referred to Secret Crisis of the Infinity Hour (an amalgamation of Marvel's Secret Wars, DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths, Marvel's Infinity Gauntlet, and DC's Zero Hour), which featured the well-known cover of Crisis on Infinite Earths #7, but with Super-Soldier holding his sidekick's body, instead of Superman holding Supergirl. Several issues included fake letter-columns to provide the illusion of background to the stories, with the "fans'" hometowns formed by amalgamating the names of existing cities.
The first Amalgam event occurred near the end of the Marvel vs. DC crossover event in 1996. In that event, the Marvel and DC universes were shown being combined into one, and the Amalgam comics were presented as the result of that. The first twelve Amalgam titles were released the following week, delaying both publishers' regular releases by one week. Half the comics in the event were published by Marvel and half by DC. A year later, the stunt was repeated, but without the crossover providing context. Later, both publishers collected their issues into trade paperback collections.
Between the two rounds of Amalgam Comics, the two publishers released a second crossover, DC/Marvel: All Access. A third mini-series, Unlimited Access, followed the second round. Both crossovers featured additional Amalgam characters.
The two comic universes came together when the two physical incarnations of their respective universes (referred to as "the Brothers") became aware of each other after eons of slumber. To prevent the Brothers from destroying each other, characters from each universe battled to determine which universe would survive (a real world vote by readers of the series was conducted to determine the outcome of five of the in-comic matchups, with three of them favoring the Marvel hero). Access, a character created for the event and co-owned by Marvel and DC, served as a gate keeper who became stuck while traveling between the two universes.
When the fighting concluded, neither universe was willing to go. To prevent total destruction, the Spectre and the Living Tribunal created an amalgamated universe, in which only Access and Dr. Strangefate knew the truth about the merge. The two characters fought against each other to reverse or preserve the change.
Access managed to separate the Brothers with the help of Amalgam's heroes; before the merge had taken place, he had planted 'shards' of the universe in Batman and Captain America. Once he discovered Dark Claw and Super-Soldier, he used those shards to give the Spectre and the Tribunal the power to restore the universes. Batman, Captain America, and Access were thus able to make the Brothers realize that their conflict was pointless, and the universes were separated once again.
During the event, pairs of Marvel and DC characters were merged into single characters. The same was done with teams and fictional locations. Usually the merged characters had something in common (for example, the four-member Jack Kirby creations of the Fantastic Four and Challengers of the Unknown, or water-themed heroes Namor the Sub-Mariner and Aquaman), or their names or themes allowed for clever combinations (such as Superman and Captain America's amalgamation, Super-Soldier, a reference to the Super Soldier serum that created Captain America; Bat-Thing, an amalgamation of Man-Bat and Man-Thing; or Shatterstarfire, the amalgamation of Shatterstar and Starfire).