Favorite Moments From The 'Justice League Avengers' Crossover
Feb 18, 2022
by Troy-Jeffrey Allen
Originally proposed as a comic book event in 1979, JLA/Avengers was ultimately scrapped after four years of drafting. The way the story goes is that fan-favorite artist George Perez (truthfully, the only artist who could've pulled this off) had completed about 21 pages of Roy Thomas’ script before the whole project ultimately collapsed due to editorial conflicts.
Jump forward to the early 2000s, and the JLA/Avengers crossover was put back on the table. An agreement was made between Marvel and DC. Artist George Perez would rightfully return, and then Avengers writer Kurt Busiek would script.
Needless to say, executing a JLA/Avengers mini-series was still a monstrous task. And while the end result might not please every die-hard fan, it is an impressive and well-balanced experience. One that allows major and minor characters their moment to shine.
With the upcoming Hero Initiative re-release of JLA/Avengers arriving in March, I figured it was a good time for me to pore over my own copies of the four-part mini-series and highlight my personal favorite bits from it.
5. Batman and Captain America Kinda...Sorta...Get Along
Like I mentioned earlier, just about every character gets their moment to shine in JLA/Avengers. That’s in no small credit to writer Kurt Busiek’s air-tight knowledge of DC and Marvel lore. The earliest and most immediately gratifying example of this is when Batman and Captain America square off. Both of these cowled heroes are known for being tactician (a detail Busiek is clearly aware of), so after Cap and Bats are done sizing each other up they both realize quickly that the match is going to end in a stalemate. Or as Batman characteristically admits to Cap: “It’s conceivable you could beat me, Avenger. But it would take you a very long time.” From there, they both agree to focus their attention on who or what is causing their two universes to collide. This leads to another great moment where, later on, Captain America realizes that he and Batman have both lost a sidekick (above). Steve tries to use this realization to relate to Bruce, but Bruce isn’t particularly interested in a heart-to-heart and just wants to focus on the mission. Typical.
4. Darkseid Tosses the Infinity Gauntlet Like A Parking Ticket
The plot to JLA/Avengers is understandably elaborate (it would have to be given it involves two colliding realities), but the long and short of it is that both teams are being played against each other in a game to retrieve the most powerful items in their respective universes. One such item turns out to be the Infinity Gems!
In one of several “Holy $#!+” moments, the Avengers and the JLA both run headfirst into Darkseid brandishing a fully blinged-out Infinity Gauntlet. Everyone -- Avenger and Justice League members alike -- stop dead in their tracks at the sight. There is a catch, though. The gauntlet doesn’t work in the DC universe because it belongs to the 616. So Darkseid just tosses one of the most dangerous weapons in the Marvel Universe like it was a cheeseburger wrapper on a highway.
3. Hercules Makes the Mistake of Introducing Himself to Wonder Woman
Marvel's Hercules is known for his bravado in the Marvel Universe. In the DCU, however, Wonder Woman knows him only for being a (**ahem**) “despoiler of Hippolyta.” Needless to say, when Hercules announces himself to an already pissed-off Wonder Woman...he’s met with a Themysciran knuckle sandwich!
2. Superman Hates it Here
One of the more hilarious ongoing jokes in JLA/Avengers is Superman’s utter contempt for the Marvel Universe. More than a few times, he notes how “backward” it is. This is doubly funny seeing how Marvel has long been considered “the world outside your window.” That is to say, while the DC characters live in a brighter world (don’t tell Zack Snyder!) Marvel characters live largely in the “real world.” Complete with corruption, discrimination, and economic disparity.
The funny thing about this is that back when JLA/Avengers was published, this perspective of the Marvel Universe vs. the DC Universe was pretty common amongst fans. While DC stories would definitely dovetail into dark topics, DC was often considered to be the shinier universe. A universe where the good guys would struggle but could ultimately still win.
This had a lot to do with Marvel’s rise in popularity in the 1960s due to their focus on heroes who dealt with their personal flaws, their own anxieties, and ripped-from-the-headlines issues. As for DC, truthfully, this perspective of the big two became a bit erroneous around the 1970s. Regardless, it definitely persisted until recent years.
In JLA/Avengers, Superman becomes a mouthpiece for this longheld point of view. Surprisingly enough, it’s Aquaman who points out to Superman that the Marvel heroes' world is “stacked against them.”
1. Superman vs. The Avengers
This is a moment so big in JLA/Avengers that I won’t spoil it too much here. All I’ll say is something happens between Superman and a Marvel hero that changes the tide of battle between the two teams. This results in ALL the Avengers delivering a beatdown on Superman as if they were initiating him into a gang. The preceding moments are awesome and jaw-dropping alone, but the subsequent reaction of the Avengers is...hilarious. It also deftly underlines Superman’s point earlier about the difference between the two universes. The DC heroes pride themselves on playing by the rules. But the Marvel characters have enough personality flaws to make them totally unpredictable.
Looking back at JLA/Avengers, it now feels like a time capsule, a tome from a seemingly more wide-eyed era for the genre. Since 2003 - for better or worse - the world of superheroes has aggressively expanded beyond just the pages of monthly comics. In 2022, the DC vs. Marvel grudge match now has larger stakes for the respective media companies that own them. This also means that things like intercompany crossovers are likely a thing of the past. That said, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that DC, Marvel, and The Hero Initiative had teamed up to do a limited run of this crossover. While the original release of this book was an all-star event in itself, this rare reprint is meant to commemorate artist George Perez, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer last year. Dropping in March, the proceeds of this 288-page softcover will go to the artist's charity of choice. All the more reason to recognize it, enjoy it, and cherish it.
Please note: Due to the limited print run and overwhelming demand for this item, pre-orders are not guaranteed by PREVIEWSworld Pullbox. Please contact your local comic shop/retailer for additional details on how they will be handling customer orders. - Pullbox Team
Troy-Jeffrey Allen is the producer and co-host of PREVIEWSworld Weekly. His comics work includes MF DOOM: All Caps, Public Enemy's Apocalpyse '91, Fight of the Century, the Harvey Award-nominated District Comics, and the Ringo Awards-nominated Magic Bullet.