"The World's Greatest Super-Heroes versus Earth's Mightiest Heroes!"
JLA/Avengers is an epic, blockbuster comic event if I've ever seen one, and a thrilling, beautiful love letter not only to Marvel and DC as a whole, but also Kurt Busiek and George Perez's love for these wonderful superheroes.
When the new Hero Initiative Edition trade paperback reprint was announced, I was lucky enough to secure a copy, which was I very grateful for. Even after the story is finished, this also includes some fascinating insight into the behind the scenes of creating this series, showcasing all the challenges that came with it over the years, as well as any other fun extras. All the backmatter makes it a well rounded and satisfying collected edition beyond the end of the story.
Speaking of, I thought all 4 issues of this, all collected here, were spectacular! Just the scale of this event, without even mentioning anything else at first, was incredible. The way it's setup, from the cosmic stakes, down to the human interactions between the many, many, many characters here, with their different dynamics, teams and universes. It's so, so fun and the exact sort of thing you would expect and hope for out of a crossover like this. It's a really nice balance between a healthy amount of fan service, with a very substantial story behind it. Everything feels so earned and that's such an accomplishment.
In particular I loved the moments that made me as a reader reflect on the differences between the Marvel and DC universes, and their respective characters. There's the old phrase about the Marvel universe that it's "the world outside your window", and I remember first hearing years ago "Marvel is humans wanting to be gods, and DC is gods trying to be humans". Of course with that second one there are exceptions in both, but it's still interesting to think about.
There's a moment near the start (and another a bit later on) that specifically I loved which made me think about all that. I won't spoil it, but it just speaks to why I absolutely adore the DC universe and it's characters, even more than I love Marvel and their characters. There's something understandably fun and exciting about so many of the Marvel superheroes taking place in New York, but in DC with its fictional cities, how it's a step removed from our world in that sense, it always feels even more aspirational and exciting to me. Like an extra layer of magical and enchanting escapism, where these fantastical beings (and more grounded ones just the same) aren't even in cities which are supposed to be or resemble ours. Not everyone will feel the same, of course, that's just what I think.
But I digress.
None of this would be possible without the work of the late, legendary George Perez. His artwork on the covers of issues #1 and #4 alone are cool, the cover for #2 has an epic atmosphere to it, but #3? Mind-blowingly phenomenal. I mean the amount of characters packed onto that cover alone? You can spend ages just staring, appreciating it, soaking it in and trying to recognise the seemingly endlessly amount of characters there. Truly something special, and that's an understatement if I've ever said one.
I keep mentioning the scale of this, both literally and through my use of adjectives and hyperbole, but that's because of how massive it really is, what an integral part of the story it is, and how well I thought it was executed. Perez's art ensures there's a sense of timeless grandeur on every page, with these superheroic icons interacting. I know it's far from the first time they've done so, but it's the first Marvel/DC crossover I've ever read so it was incredibly special to read. It's a sight to behold, and like I mentioned at the beginning of this review I'm so grateful, and glad, that I got a chance to check it out.
Before I wrap this review up, I have to say that despite all I've mentioned about the scale of this book, it never collapses under its own weight. There's a lot going on, especially as the book progresses, which might be overwhelming to some (and did make it a somewhat dense read that I had to take my time with, especially with the longer than usual issues, but well worth it, as will be clear by now) but I'm a sucker for these sorts of cosmic shenanigans, it's always so fun, exciting and entertaining to me.
This series, and this book, is a fantastic tribute to Perez's work, legacy and skill and what he could achieve, especially when working with the fantastic writers he worked with like Busiek. Like many people, I also wish this was much, much more widely available, because of what an experience and book this was, but again finally, one more time, I'm glad and grateful I got the chance to read it.
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