JLA Avengers

One more comic collection to go over. Over on my other site this week I did a multi-article examination of Kurt Busiek and George Pérez’s four-part miniseries JLA/Avengers, or Avengers/JLA, depending on whether it was published by DC Comics or Marvel Comics. This is the last word I plan to say about the comic, a short review of the collection I own, seen above. There is more than one collection of the miniseries under either title, but as a DC fan on a budget I went with this one at the time. So how good is it?

Here’s a quick summary of the plot. I’ve written so much about this thing the past 6 days as it is. A DC villain named Krona is obsessed with learning the secrets of the Big Bang, even if it means destroying a few universes. The Grandmaster, a Marvel foe, uses his love of games to stall Krona by pitting the Justice League Of America and the Avengers against each other in a scavenger hunt. But why are Superman and Captain America, the team leaders at the time, being so judgmental of each other’s universes? Yes, this is a plot point.

Writer Kurt Busiek (one of my favorite comic book writers) goes beyond the usual crossover fare. Usually it’s just fanservice, getting fans of multiple fictional universes to get to see their favorite characters together when normally that would be impossible. Busiek, however, examines the differences between the DC and Marvel universes, both in how people work but also noting the metaphysical differences in how they approach science and magic. Artist George Pérez (one of the best in the business) and colorist Tom Smith are given a chance to also play with the various costumes and identities of the DC and Marvel universes (the various Iron Man armors or that time Superman turned into an electrical being for a while) and they do so beautifully. It’s one of my favorite crossovers, which is why I dedicated so many articles to examining it.

But what about this collection? It’s kind of bare-bones actually. There’s a foreword by Marvel legend Stan Lee and former DC editor Julie Schwartz that for some reason (I don’t know if this was the case for the Marvel printing) are given separate columns that go to the next page with no indication that it does. If you skipped a page while flipping you’d miss it and think it ended on one page. There’s also a gallery of the cover art for the four individual issues without the “trade dress”, all of the logos and bar codes and things. That’s pretty much it. Nothing from the writer or artist on making the book. I hear there’s another printing out there that actually has Pérez’s art from a failed attempt from the 1980s to put out a team-up with the two groups that was written by Gerry Conway but was never completed or printed for whatever reason. The story involved time travel and gets a couple of nods by Busiek in this story. If you’re going to seriously hunt a printing, that would be the one I’d recommend.

If you’re interests are more casual, however, this would be a decent printing, although it’s currently out of print so you’d have to find it online or in a story. It’s a bit expensive on Amazon, at least compared to when I bought it. (I paid $20 and now it’s between $40 or $50.) Whatever printing you get, or if you track down the individual issues, this is one of, if not the best, team-up crossover stories and I highly recommend it, especially now that DC is trying to match Marvel in creating a cohesive cinematic universe.