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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA/Avengers #3

JLA/Avengers #3

Scheduled to arrive in stores: November 6, 2003

Cover date: January 2004

Writter: Kurt Busiek
Penciller: George Perez
Inker: George Perez

"Strange Adventures"

Reviewed by: Michael Bailey


The Justice League, including Batman, Wonder Woman, Black Canary, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), the Flash (Barry Allen), Superman, Elongated Man, Green Arrow and former member of the Avengers Hawkeye watch as Doctor Doom becomes one with a wall of giants at the end of the universe. The team is satisfied with their victory and Black Canary is pleased that her lover Hawkeye decided to migrate to the JLA universe. Everyone seems happy for the couple, with the exception of Green Arrow, who is visibly jealous at the display. Suddenly, a distortion effect occurs and him ranting about Hawkeye turns into him ranting about Hawkman, who isn't there. The group decides to travel to the Avenger's universe to inform that team of Doctor Doom's incursion into their "airspace."

End Prologue.

In the Avenger's universe the group, including Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Beast, the Vision, Wasp, Scarlet Witch and Ant Man, look on at the husk of Brainiac's ship as it floats outside their Hydrobase. While the others are happy with their victory Captain America is unsettled by an odd feeling that everything about the battle seems wrong. The Wasp agrees and puts in a call to the Justice League. The JLA arrives and the two groups chat and banter as they enter the Hydrobase. While Green Arrow and Hawkeye debate who the better archer is Captain America looks around in confusion. Wonder Woman asks him why he seems distant since this type of crossover should be old hat going back to the days of World War II when the Invaders met the Justice Society. Steve expresses his concerns that none of this should be happening when another distortion affect occurs.

Suddenly Cap isn't talking to Wonder Woman, but Wasp instead. He also finds himself on the Justice League satellite attending the annual Avengers (including Cap, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Wasp, Beast, Black Panther, Wonder Man, Moondragon, Thor, Hercules, Quicksilver, She-Hulk the Vision, Scarlet Witch , Yellow Jacket and Captain Marvel) and JLA (including Superman, the Elongated Man, Red Tornado, Zatanna, Green Arrow, the Flash, Hawkwoman, Black Canary, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Firestorm, Hawkman, Blue Beetle, Guy Gardner and Batman) get-together. As Hawkeye and Green Arrow play William Tell, Wonder Woman and Wonder Man arm wrestle. Superman stands alone in the corner, but is approached by Thor, who comments on the feast Snapper Carr, Rick Jones and Jarvis have produced. Superman asks Thor not only who he is but who any of the Avengers are. Thor is puzzled, but Superman goes on to explain that they are like black holes with gravity warping around them. Suddenly there is another distortion effect and the space around Superman changes.

Now it is the Martain Manhunter questioning Superman, but they are at yet another Avengers (Doctor Druid, Black Knight, Hercules, Warbird, Mockingbird, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, the Vision, Black Widow, Wonder Man, Hellcat, Hank Pym, Captain America and Iron Man) and JLA (Superman, Martian Manhunter, Doctor Fate, Ice, Captain Marvel, Atom, Booster Gold, Green Lantern, Flash, Fire, Vibe, Rocket Red, Aquaman, and Batman) gathering, this time at Avengers' Mansion. On the other side of the room Captain America is having similar feelings of the whole situation not being right as he sees both Flash and Green Lantern turn to other versions of themselves and then back again. Wasp reminds him of past exploits while Iron Man and Batman check the comm-room to make sure that all of their enemies are securely locked away. Captain America and Superman argue over who is causing the disturbance. As their argument intensifies they come together, causing a massive distortion effect where a clap of silence overwhelms everyone and everything goes white.

The Vision regains "consciousness" in a barren, snow covered city. The city is mostly destroyed, but he manages to find Aquaman coming out of the water. At first Aquaman accuses the Vision of being responsible, but the two soon discover that they share a clouded memory and work to find out what happened. The Vision reveals that he can sense people watching from the near-by buildings and that they are scared. Soon they come upon the broken globe from the roof of the Daily Planet building and realize they must be in the JLA universe. Suddenly the two heroes come under attack from the Silver Swan, Killer Croc, Shrapnel, Mammoth, Bloodsport, Sonar, Poison Ivy and the Silver Banshee. At first the villains gain the upper hand, but Thor, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Captain America and Iron Man arrive on the scene and turn the tide.

After the battle Wonder Woman uses her lasso to make Sonar tell them who their master is. Sonar mumbles incoherently about how their master is trapped, but he will escape. Green Lantern tells them that they should get back to their headquarters and finds that the moon is damaged. He then wonders why he thought of the moon. Captain America orders Iron Man to keep his sensors open because while the JLA act trustworthy there is something wrong. The Vision asks if the heroes of two worlds are scattered across Metropolis is the same true on the Avengers Earth,

On the Avengers Earth Superman, the Flash, Goliath, Batman, Martian Manhunter, Scarlet Witch and the Wasp are busy saving the citizens of New York from a devastating fire. Superman, the Wasp and Goliath begin to talk about their hazy memories and what is wrong with them when the citizens besiege them, asking them for help. Some of the citizens are from the JLA Earth, leading Batman and Goliath to believe that the worlds are crossing over. Goliath believes if they find the epi-center of the quakes they will find the man responsible.

Suddenly the air goes electric and it becomes colder and darker and a murmur starts that builds until ghostly images of people begin to appear. Superman orders J'onn to mentally reach out to the ghosts and see if they understand. J'onn does so and there is an explosion. The storm fades, but J'onn has disappeared.

On the JLA Earth the same storm builds and a similar explosion occurs. J'onn appears and explains that he knows something of what is going on. He contacts the Avengers Earth and tells Superman and the others to follow him. They do and find the rift between the two worlds where the storms are more violent. What's more, there is a copy of the Daily Planet, complete with a Clark Kent interview with Spider-Man, when it shouldn't exist. The two groups find each other and both see a face in the distortion, which Green Lantern recognizes as Krona. Captain America turns on GL and begins to rant about the heroes of the JLA Earth while Superman counters about the heroes of the Avengers Earth. Wonder Woman breaks them up and both she and the Wasp plead for them to work together,

Cap and Superman both remember how the two teams fought to assemble items of power in a game designed by the Grandmaster. Krona lost but wouldn't abide by the rules and summoned Galactus when the Grandmaster did something. Suddenly, a rift erupts out of the pavement and takes off into the sky. Superman and Iron Man follow and as they do both notice that their world's are merging in odd ways, which Iron Man believes to be due to the variances in the sizes, densities and magnetic fields of their Earths. Once they reach orbit the rift begins to slow and when they turn the heroes see two giant hands pushing the Earths together.

On the ground, the Scarlet Witch fires into the disembodied head of Krona and it has some effect. Green Lantern joins her and with their power combined with the collective will of both teams they succeed in destroying the rift. The Avengers find themselves back on their Earth and head to their Mansion where they find Jarvis sitting at the front door. Cap asks if the basement lab is still functional and Jarvis tells him that it is. Cap asks for him to put some coffee on because they are about to have company.

The Justice League joins them and Cap briefs them that they have delayed Krona, if that is their true enemy, but this is all far from over. Iron Man raises images from both Earths on the video monitors and points out that Hawkeye, US Agent, Tigra, Hawkman, Hawkwoman, Firestorm and Doctor Light are from different eras. He also reveals that several of them have changed appearances as well. The Flash reveals that there are gravitic distortions across the universe with double stars forming everywhere and new stars forming where nothing should be. Cap believes that the Grandmaster holds the key and Batman agrees.

While the heroes discuss what the best way to find him would be the Phantom Stranger appears. He asks them to follow him and after some resistance they do just that. The Avengers and JLA follow him up a staircase that leads them to a path across the dimensions. The Stranger warns them not to stray from the path or they will be forever lost. Iron Man's sensors go haywire just as Superman's enhanced senses do the same. The Stranger leads them to a door and after entering the find the wounded form of the Grandmaster who tells them that he lives, but just barely. He explains that he was not prepared for Krona's ferocity, but managed to use the artifacts to bind the universes together while trapping Krona at a juncture point between them. The Grandmaster gambled that Krona would not destroy the universes if his fate was tied to them. The universes are fundamentally incompatible with differing natures, which affected those who were strongly attuned to their reality. These people sense the changes with their memories fighting to surface. Krona is causing the universes to overload, forcing them together to build to a critical mass. Not only is Krona causing this, he's accelerating the process and plans to cause another Big Bang with the knowledge he culled from Galactus.

Wonder Woman asks the Grandmaster if he can't separate the universes, but the Grandmaster replies that he is too wounded. It is up to them to top Krona, who is both lock and key. Krona must be faced and defeated. The two teams are prepared to do just that, but Superman feels they need to know more. Cap agrees and asks what their worlds are really like and what is the proper order they should restore. The Grandmaster feels this is wise and shows the heroes the proper order of their universes, both good and bad.

After that the Grandmaster dies, leaving the heroes to decide what to do next. Most of them wonder if they can fix the wrongs they witnessed after defeating Krona. Green Lantern tells them that there isn't another way. What they saw was the truth, good, bad, love and pain, it was all real and it isn't up to them to play God. Cap looks to Superman and asks if they are agreed. Superman says yes and the two declare that they will fight. The Avengers and JLA will stand united and take the battle to Krona to the bitter end.

Meanwhile, Metron sits in his Mobius Chair and watches.

5Story - 5: Good lord in heaven that was a lot to take in!

Seriously, this had to be one of the most densely packed (character wise at any rate) story that has ever been published. While Crisis on Infinite Earths may have had more I can't remember when I have seen this many heroes in one setting.

I really didn't know what to expect from this issue. After issue two where reality seemed to end (and yet I'm still here) and knowing that this issue was going to have every single Avenger and Justice Leaguer in it I had no idea where Busiek was going to take the story. Then I read the story and re-read it to write the synopsis and realized that Busiek has paid off just about every check written for the series. He has managed to keep an overall story going while giving fans of both teams what they want.

Amazing. Simply amazing.

The problem that many fans seem to have with this series even before the creative teams had been decided had to be what line-ups of the League and the Avengers should Busiek and Perez use. Should they go with a "fan favorite" line up or should it be the teams as they are right now. Apparently this is was one of the factors that held up the original series back in the '80s because, from my understanding, both DC and Marvel wanted the current rosters in the book. Busiek and Perez have found a way to have their cake and eat it too and they did this by starting off with the current rosters (sort of) and then playing with time and space they were able to cobble together the "favorites" and have them team-up. This was ingenious and a great pay off to those who have waited so long for this book.

Besides, it would have been a crime for Barry and Hal to not have been a part of this series. Both characters deserve it.

It was only fitting that Captain America and Superman would be the ones to know that things were not right with the world. The way Busiek paced the distortions was great as it allowed for the reader to get into the get-togethers a bit before changing realities again. Aside from that it plays on the fact that Cap and Superman were so adamant in their distaste for the other universe's heroes, which if I am reading it right was actually explained in this issue.

Iron Man put forth the theory that the Marvel and DC universes are dissimilar in just about every physical way possible with different atmospheric compositions, background radiations (and probably radiation in general, which would explain why gamma rays turn men into Hulks), sizes, densities, magnetic fields and even their physical laws. The Grandmaster added that the universes natures were fundamentally incompatible and that some of the heroes were so attuned to their own worlds that the changes would make them edgy as their real memories were fighting to the surface. Going with both of these theories and sticking to them I think Superman and Cap's irrational behavior comes from the fact that they are so attuned to their own worlds and philosophies that even setting foot on the other world would unbalance them somewhat and make them just a little bit testy.

At least I hope that's the explanation. It certainly seems that way, especially the looks Cap and Superman exchanged when the Grandmaster told them about the differences between the two worlds. Though I do have to admit that I was glad when Wonder Woman and the Wasp told them to calm down and work together because frankly it was about time

There were some great character bits as well. The overall vibe of the old Earth-1/Earth 2 JLA/JSA team-ups was well done highlighted by the argument between Iron Man and Green Lantern about which Earth is Earth-1 and Earth-2. Having Snapper Carr and Rick Jones together is always a treat, though I have to admit that the single best crossover between those two characters had to be in Young Justice. The reference to the Invaders/JSA team-up has a lot of potential, but I always felt that it should be an Invaders/All-Star Squadron crossover since the Justice Society disbanded so that its members could fight in the war and then reformed as the Justice Battalion a few months later. I also liked the villain team-ups that brought the Justice League and the Avengers together, mostly because they made so much sense. The running gag about Green Arrow and Hawkeye having little contests to see who the better archer is was another nice touch since these two would probably not get along, especially if Black Canary would be as attracted to him as she was at the beginning of the issue.

The sequence where the heroes see the "proper order" was pretty powerful, especially for Green Lantern, the Flash, Wonder Woman and Iron Man. It speaks volumes for the characters as heroes that they were able to put aside their own concerns to save the world. This was highlighted by Captain America and Superman putting aside their differences to work together. It was almost iconic, though we as readers knew it was going to happen anyway. I especially liked the fact that it was Hal Jordan who made the case that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one considering Hal was the villain behind Zero Hour where he attempted to re-write reality. I don't know if this was a conscious decision on Busiek's part, but it worked.

And then there was Metron. My only hope is that his presence is explained next issue, though it's a pretty safe bet that it will.

5Art - 5: It's hard to nail down my favorite image or series of images from this issue. George Perez really outdid himself on this one and I was just amazed at the skill and craftsmanship that he possesses. The one thing George does better than just about any comic artist is his ability to make every character unique. There are no cut-out characters with Superman and Batman looking the same except for the mask. Faces and body types are all different, even in the group shots where it would be easy to cheat.

There was a lot of subtlety this time around, more so than Perez usually pulls off. The changes in the costumes with them shifting from one era to another were obvious in some cases, but kind of sneaky in others. I did not notice Wonder Woman's changing at the end of the issue until Iron Man pointed it out. It must have been mind boggling to keep straight, but it paid off in the end.

The sequence where the heroes watch their fates play out was fantastic as well. The layouts were amazing and not just in the fannish sense. The art pulled the eye in all directions and two page spread was awash in continuity, which was interesting to see. I was impressed with the little details and the research showed.

I also liked the fact that some thought was put into how the character interacted at the get-together. The running gag of Wonder Woman and Wonder Man hanging out, the fact that Red Tornado was sitting with the Vision, the Flash talking with Quicksilver, Captain Marvel (Shazam version) standing near Ms. Marvel, and the Hawkeye/Green Arrow feud were all great. The other little details, like the new version of the classic Justice League of America cover with the Avengers in the Justice League's place and the Justice League where the Justice Society should have been and the new version of the old promotional art from the original JLA/AVENGERS stuck in with the Lord of Time and Kang serving as the enemies were neat as well. The two things that bothered me the most were the fact that I didn't recognize Zatanna at the luau and that it took me a second to realize that the blond guy standing near Cap when he and Superman are both wigging out was actually Aquaman until I saw the partial costume on the next page.

My favorite image though? No contest. It had to be Sue Dibny at the luau on the Justice League satellite wearing a T-shirt that read "I LOVE IT ELEONGATED."


5Cover Art - 5: I was going to sit and here and list every single character on this cover. I really was. The problem I ran into was the fact that as familiar as I am with the DC characters my Avengers knowledge is not as good and I didn't want to screw up. I was actually surprised that I recognized as many of the characters as I did, which made me feel proud and depressed all at the same time.

Like the interior art there was a lot of detail and touches that Perez put into this cover. The fact that the Whizzer and the Flash were standing next to each other (though I am confused why Jesse Quick is there since I can't for the life of me remember when she was part of the League) was one. Having all of the magic based females on John Stewarts energy construct was another. It was also kind of neat that all of the archers were together in the middle of the cover towards the bottom as well as all of the shrinking character a little bit above them. I also liked the fact that Doctor Fate was carrying the Silver Sorceress, Doctor Druid, the Phantom Stranger, Moondragon and Sargon the Sorcerer and was it me or did all of the stretching characters seem to originate around the same place even though the rest of them was all over the cover.

Beyond that there were some subtle things that I didn't notice at first. If you look in the upper left hand corner of the back cover is Steve Rogers as The Captain. At first I thought it was US Agent, but he has Cap's shield and US Agent is below that towards the middle of the back cover. Also I am so glad that Perez included the Great Lakes Avengers and Justice League Antarctica as both are the black sheep of their respective families.

On the "Grab Me" meter this cover gets an eleven out of ten. Even though there is no background it is hard to not be impressed by this piece of art work. It may not have been as detailed as Perez's Avengers anniversary poster (which had the Wasp in all of her costumes framing the piece) but it comes close.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2004

February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004

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