By: Jeremy M. Kossak
Kingdom Come, Crisis on Infinite Earths, The Death of Superman, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, DC vs. Marvel; these are just a few of the stories that every comic fan considers “essential reading”. JLA/Avengers is a story that fans should also put in that category. I almost want to compare this story to the previously mentioned DC vs. Marvel. To me, it has that epic-level feeling to it that DC vs. Marvel had. How often do the two biggest comics publishers collide like this? Not often, so readers know they’re in for something awesome. I felt there was a similarity in the structure of the story. The scope, however, is far greater! While DC vs. Marvel was a story of its time, JLA/Avengers spans the entire history of both teams. Kurt Busiek truly lives up to his promise to pack in everyone who has ever been a member of the JLA and the Avengers. Honestly I felt Busiek was the perfect man for the job given his experience writing both teams. As for the art, I can’t praise George Peréz enough. The panel layouts, character designs, attention to detail, and cover art are nothing short of fantastic. The cover art to issue three alone should grab the attention of any comics fan young or old. The man can draw any major crossover event and it would be successful. This project was made for him to draw!
The only thing I’d say that this story suffers from is the same clichés that all crossovers have. They meet, fight, realize they should stop fighting and be friends, meet the villain of the story, join forces, and battle the enemy. This always happens with crossovers. Getting past that, I thought everything was just awesome. Superman fights Thor! Batman fights Captain America! All the fight scenes were pretty spectacular. What made JLA/Avengers interesting (especially a second time around) was Busiek’s choice to point out the differences between DC’s Earth and Marvel’s Earth. Their size, radiation wavelengths, and magic fields ultimately made them incompatible when villain Krona tried to mash them together. I enjoyed seeing the “What If?” scenario of DC’s history combined with Marvel’s…in a non-Amalgam universe sort of way. This would be the perfect Elseworlds tale for any comics fan. Throughout all of the third issue, I smiled during all the Earth-1/Earth-2 meetings. It seemed like such an obvious way to go to have the Justice League and the Avengers team up in classic Pre-Crisis DCU style. It’s a shame this was temporary because I liked the relationships between characters like Green Arrow and Hawkeye.
I didn’t realize how much I’d forgotten from this story until reading it a second time (the first being in 2003/2004 when each issue came out). I forgot about the time shifts after Krona merges both Earths. I also forgot about Hal Jordan and Barry Allen’s involvement in issue three. I wasn’t a comic collector until around 1992, so Kyle Rayner was my Green Lantern for the longest time, and Wally West was the Flash that I knew. I enjoyed seeing Hal and Barry alive. The moments when they realized they had to die to set things right were actually emotional. The story was also emotional when Vision, Scarlet Witch, and other Avengers realized what they knew was wrong and had to be corrected. I especially loved the action in book four. Man was it intense! This was the ultimate fanboy treat of seeing tons of characters and their alternate versions (Superman-Blue!!) phase in and out of the fight. Busiek really handled these moments so well and Peréz’s art really popped. Everything from Cap taking charge to Superman, with Cap’s shield and Thor’s hammer, busting through the last of Krona’s defenses were spectacular. Honestly, I was blown away even after the second time I read JLA/Avengers. This is why I love comics. JLA/Avengers can be found in multiple formats including the individual books (1-4) and hardcover graphic novel. Also to note, this story is followed up in Busiek’s run on JLA in issues 107 through 114, the Syndicate Rules storyline.
Overall Grade: 10/10