Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Graphic Novels - JLA/Avengers

Graphic Novels - JLA/Avengers (aka Avengers/JLA)
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: George Perez

While I am still trying to finish the 6th volume of Teen Titans, I have decided to hold it off for a moment and talk about the greatest crossover ever: JLA/Avengers. I had planned on getting this eventually, but I didn’t want the tpb. I ended up finding all four issues for about…I don’t even remember. All I know is that I got it cheap. The basic story is that some big evil threatens just about every universe, and it’s up to the JLA and the Avengers to stop it. I’ll do this like I did Legends: quick synopsis (A LOT happens in these four issues), opinion, and highlights. Before I do that, here’s the creative team:

Kurt Busiek – a long time writer. He’s most known for his work on Marvel’s Marvels (with Alex Ross), Astro City (which I’ve heard is good), and the revival of the Avengers in the late 90’s. He’s also done work on the Superman books Post-IC, Static Shock, and DC’s Trinity(don't know about that one).

George Perez – a legendary artist. He does both the pencils and inks for the book. COIE, New Teen Titans, Action Comics (as a writer as well), Avengers, Perez has done a lot of stuff for comics in the last few decades.

So here I go:

The prologue begins as some sort of force destroys two universes: Arkon’s universe (Marvel) and the Anti-Matter Universe (DC). The force is revealed to be Krona, an Oan and DC villain who was exiled for trying to figure out how the universe was created. He runs into the Grandmaster (a Marvel space entity) who will give him the answers he wants if he can beat him in a game. If the Grandmaster wins, Krona will sit his butt down and not destroy the Marvel Universe (MU). If Krona wins, then the Grandmaster will tell all he knows and let him destroy a universe.

Meanwhile, The JLA face a villain from the MU (I don’t know that villain) and the Avengers face Starro the Conquerer. Both teams start to notice that folk from another universe are popping up in there universe (example: Lobo vs. the Imperial Guard of the Shiar Empire. Dang). The Flash (Wally West) even crosses over into the Marvel Universe where he loses his powers (no speed force in the universe), gets mistaken for a mutant, and gets beaten up (….frickin' humans). Suddenly, the Grandmaster shows up to lay out the rules for this “Game”:

I’m perplexed too J’onn.

Well, the Flash is able to send the team to the MU. There they split up and get a big view of the MU. Superman’s peeved at the heroes of the MU because the world in such a crappy place. They eventually find one of the artifacts on Monster Island. After an epic fight with Godzilla and Rodan (Ha), they find the Ultimate Nullifier. Before they can get it, the Avengers send them back to the DCU (the JLA get the Nullifier though). The Avengers then run into Metron (a New God, I think) does the same thing Grandmaster does and tells them of the game:
The EVIL Eye? I guess someone ran out of ideas for names…Oooo…

The Avengers are able over to transport to the DCU via Mother Box. They see the DCU in all of it glory. Captain America states that the heroes of the DCU run the world as a fascist society (…..Nah!). The two teams finally meet and do battle. During the fight, Batman and Cap face off, but realize they’re evenly matched and that both groups are being manipulated somehow. SO, they go off on their own to figure out what’s going on. Meanwhile, both teams get their reserves in and the hunt/battle begins! I’m not going to go into detail with this because it’s a lot of battling and if you want to see it, buy the thing! Meanwhile, Batman and Cap (with a little help from the Atom) find out that the Avengers are fighting for Krona and the JLA are Grandmaster’s team and if Krona wins, he will destroy another universe. We then get something that is cool and scary at the same time:

Oh Fudpucker!

Luckily, the Infinity Gauntlet (Next time…) doesn’t work in the DCU, so Darkseid discards it and DC gets another point. It’s 6-5. Both teams get transported to the location of the Cosmic Cube, where another epic fight starts. The main combatants are Thor and Superman and something happens – Superman clocks Thor!


During all of this commotion, Krona and the Grandmaster show up. Quicksilver (marvel) grabs the cube and Marvel almost makes it a tie - - until Cap uses his shield to knock it into the hands of Batman. Grandmaster Wins, but Krona will not take this sitting down. He blasts the Grandmaster and discovers the secret about the creation of the universe: Galactus. Krona teleports Galactus there and beats the crap out of him. The JLA and Avengers then join forces to stop what’s happening, but to no avail. Grandmaster then uses the 12 items to… something real cool.

We then see the JLA interacting with the Avengers as if nothing bad has happened to them before. They interact a lot like how the JLA interacted with the JSA in the Pre-Crisis Universe. They take out their own villains, and interact with each other like they have known each other for a long time. Barry Allen and Hal Jordan are alive as well. The only two who think something is wrong are Superman and Captain America. As time shifts, we see the many incarnations of both teams. Superman and Cap then argue and start to come to blows (?) as this happens:

….Uh, don’t cross the streams?

The two teams are scattered. Vision and Aquaman fight a set of Krona's minions in a destroyed, snowing Metropolis when before Hal Jordan, Iron Man, Wonder Woman, Thor, and Captain America come to help and try to figure out what’s going on.

Meanwhile, Superman, Martian Manhunter, Barry Allen, Wasp, Batman, Goliath and Scarlet Witch save New York from rivers of lava. However, they realize that the two Earths are merging, with differences as dramatic as a Daily Planet issue with an interview with Spider-Man by Clark Kent. The two teams converge at opposite sides of an energy wall separating Earth-616's New York City from the blasted Metropolis. Superman and Iron Man go into space to see what's happening, as the Scarlet Witch and Green Lantern assault Krona's energy form, hoping to defeat him. Beyond Earth's atmosphere, Superman and Iron Man see how the two Earths are being forced together by two big hands. Superman also notes how places like Gotham are wildly appearing and merging senselessly. Eventually, they are able to stop the merging for a little while Oh yeah:

1--2--3---Come on Tony! Let's see those teeth!!

With the danger stopped for a while, the main JLA and main Avengers regroup to figure out where the Grandmaster is. Luckily, The Phantom Stranger lends them a hand and takes them to the GM’s hideaway. We find the Grandmaster, who is still injured from the fight with Krona. He then explains it all….I’ll let him do it because this is just plain weird.

Me trying to get this: Okay....Alright....AH! So that's why....That makes sense...Hey, doesn't Krona look like a possessed Carl Winslow?

To stop Krona, the proper order of both universes must be restored. Cap and Supes ask what the proper order is. The Grandmaster shows them images of just about everything. They see life, death, victories, and losses. At the end of the slideshow, the Grandmaster dies. The teams wonder what to do next, and I think Hal Jordan sums it up quite nicely:

The Avengers and JLA then decide to fight Krona and set things “right.”

We then move to Krona, who is merging the two Earths to figure out the Truth to the creation of the universe. Meanwhile, on Both Earths, cameos happen! A lot of cameos happen…Nice. The heroes of their respective Earths try to save innocents. At the Avengers’ base, both teams come to terms with their decision and set out to stop Krona. With some comic techno babble and an Atlantian submarine, the teams set off to Krona’s base, where Krona and just about every villain from both universes are waiting. Then the epic battle of all battles…..that will end all battles occurs.

As the battle rages on, more heroes and villains join the action. We even get a few costume changes during the battle (Electro Supes!). When all is said and done, Krona is defeated (with a little help from Hawkeye and Flash) and the universes as well as the Earths are set right (by Hal Jordan as the Spectre). Both teams return to their own Earths with Flash and Thor's help and say their goodbyes. At the end, Metron and Grandmaster (“Gordon’s Alive!!!”) view Krona, who has been turned into a cosmic egg. The END.

Guess what? I love this mini-series. It’s definitely up in my top 10. What makes JLA/Avengers so great? First, I’ll start with the art. It’s beautifully done by Perez. It may be some of the best artwork he’s ever done. Everyone is drawn right, especially everyone in the background. I especially love the callbacks to the various members and costumes that have shown up on these teams over the years. The writing is also well done. Busiek takes a simple premise and makes it work well. The characters are all in character, and the conversations between the two teams are well done. You don’t need to know too much about the characters to read this. Everything is all explained here. We also see the differences between the two universes here. The DCU is the world that everyone wants. The heroes perform amazing acts to save the day and beat the villains, and they are respected well. The MU is a little darker, a little like the real world. Most heroes act heroic while others go to the extreme when concerning justice (PUNISHER). The villains have more power (Doctor Doom) and prejudice is more common (Humans vs. Mutants). Some heroes are hated as well. We see examples of the MU in the splash page in the first issue. Any complaints? None at all. This is the perfect crossover.

And now for the highlights of the crossover. For me, the whole thing is a highlight unto itself, but I’ll list a few things that were cool and got my attention.

1. JLA on Monster Island
The JLA take out these beasts real quick and in cool fashion. The thought boxes even say so!

2. JLA vs. Avengers Round 1
This is the first fight between these two powerhouse teams. Wanring - you will be saying "OH MY GOSH!!! THIS IS SO COOL!!!" or something like that.

3. Hercules: Despoiler of Hippolyta?
In the DCU, the Hercules there forced himself upon Diana's mother, Hippolyta. So you see the reason why she's peeved. What makes it funny is MU's Hercules' line.

4. Batman and Captain America Together
These two getting down to the bottom of this "game" was pretty cool.

5. Superman and Cap being Complete A-Holes
In the early issues, Superman in the MU takes every chance to take pot shots at the Avengers for not being more active in their world, and Cap takes shots at the JLA for being "Fascits". It does take Wonder Woman and Wasp to woman up and tell these guys to "Shut Up" and what not. It is explained in the story that the two are so strongly attuned to each other's Earth that they were edgy and strained (...something like that, I don't know). Anyway, the two do make up and that's how Superman gets Cap's shield.

6. Darkseid + Infinity Gauntlet = AHHHHHHH!!!!!!
That image still is a little haunting, don't you think?

7. "You can't do that to Thor!"
I have to admit that this was kinda funny.
Ha Ha Ha!!!

8. JLA and Avengers together
This image says it all.

9. The Calm Before the Storm
Before the final battle begins, both teams ponder the decision to set everything back to what it was before. It's some good stuff.

10. Superman + Cap’s Shield + Thor’s Hammer = EPIC PANEL!!!!!!!!
Yeah I'm saying it....I HAVE THE POWER!!!....Of America and Paganism??"

And now, get ready for a not so epic panel:
I wonder how this could have also went:
Superman: I--HAVE--(crack), AH, my hernia's back!
Thor: Don't strain thyself, Man of Steel.
S: Too late, Son of Odin. *#$#! Byrne, why did you de-power me?

Well, that’s all I have. Do I recommend that you read this? Heck yeah, I do. If you’re a fan of the JLA or the Avengers, get this mini-series. Come back next time when I finally talk about some “Avenging of a New kind.”


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