Monday, December 8, 2008

Retro Review #5 : JLA / Avengers

Story by Kurt Busiek
Art by George Perez

Did you ever think what would happen if your favorite heroes from Marvel met your favorite heroes from DC and hung out together? JLA / Avengers is what would happen. This is a surprisingly enjoyable story by Kurt Busiek with incredible art by George Perez and many classic comic book moments. As the book clearly demonstrates, the Marvel and DC Universes are VERY different places. (and by the way...I promise that the next Retro Review will be a non-DC Comics book)

This review is based on the individual 4 issue prestige format miniseries (thanks for the loan, Shawn) so I’m not sure of what, if any, extras are available in the recently released trade paperback version. The story is a classic one : two extraordinarily powerful cosmic entities, namely Krona from the DC side and The Grandmaster from the Marvel side, manipulate these two very different worlds in a grand game. With plenty of twists and turns along the way, including appearances by Metron and Galactus, the story is very fulfilling and well paced.

The art is classic Perez. Every page is filled with beautifully rendered characters from both camps, in some instances you wonder how he fits so much in a panel and it still doesn’t seem overdone. The interaction between the JLA and the Avengers is tumultuous at first, but they both realize that they are all being played. Due to rifts in time and space, we see appearances by some deceased favorites like Hal Jordan and Barry Allen, and some different versions of our favorites like Mullet Superman and quite a few variations of Iron Man’s armor.

The book is literally packed with more grin-inducing fanboy crossover moments than I could cover here, but here are a few of my personal favorites :

- Captain America versus Batman – these two brilliant tacticians spar for a few minutes, judging one another’s weaknesses and strengths. Batman finally halts the fight stating that he knows that Cap can beat him..but it will take a long time. They decide instead to just investigate together.
- Darkseid wearing the Infinity Gauntlet…enough said.
- Plastic Man poking fun at Galactus for his fashion sense
- During a battle scene, Dr. Light yells “Captain Marvel, look out!” as both the “Shazam!” Captain Marvel and the “Mar-Vell” Captain Marvel reply “Thanks!” in unison.

My absolute favorite image from this book is the cover to Issue #4 (pictured above). Superman, looking badly battle-worn, stands defiant against the cosmic threat wielding Cap’s shield in one hand and Thor’s Mjolnir hammer in the other.

There are some great emotional moments as well. After a space / time shift, Hal and Barry realize that they were dead and they catch a glimpse of their replacements, Kyle and Wally, and talk about how proud they are that worthy successors are around to carry on their legacies.

I wish these crossovers would happen more often because, for the readers, they are just plain fun if done right and this one is definitely done right. With A-list talent like Busiek and Perez it’s pretty much a no-brainer. My only disappointment from the book was the Batman versus Punisher fight that happened completely off-panel. I wanted to see this!!!! And, on a side note, Kyle Rayner’s costume in this book is the best design he ever had, why did they go back to the ridiculous faceplate mask??

As I said, I think more companies should bury the hatchet and try more of these crossover books. I’ll be honest, as a longtime DC fan this book got me interested in the Avengers and some other Marvel characters. And I’m not just talking DC and Marvel here, let’s go everyone…..Invincible / Spiderman / Blue Beetle??....Scarlet Witch / Zatanna??...Lobo / Wolverine???...and my personal favorite…Bomb Queen versus Power Girl :-)

1 comment:

Pendragon's Post said...

Great review.
Did you know there was such an outrage of Superman beating Thor, that Busiek had to go back & research it. He actually said that Thor should have won.