Detail of the cover art for JLA/Avengers #1 (Sep. 2003).
Art by George Pérez.
|Publication date||Sep. 2003 – May 2004|
|Number of issues||JLA/Avengers #1, 3 (Sep. & Dec. 2003)
Avengers/JLA #2, 4 (Oct. 2003 & May 2004)
JLA/Avengers (Issues #2 and #4 titled Avengers/JLA) is a comic book limited series and crossover published in prestige format by DC Comics and Marvel Comics from September 2003 to May 2004. The series was written by Kurt Busiek, with art by George Pérez. The series features the two companies' teams of superheroes, DC Comics' Justice League of America and Marvel's Avengers.
In 1979, DC and Marvel agreed to co-publish a crossover series involving the two teams, to be written by Gerry Conway and drawn by George Pérez. The plot of the original crossover was a time travel story involving Marvel's Kang the Conqueror and DC's Lord of Time. Writer/editor Roy Thomas was hired to script the book, based on Conway's plot, and although work had begun on the series in 1981 (Pérez had penciled 21 pages by mid-1983) and it was scheduled for publication in May 1983, editorial disputes - reportedly instigated by Marvel Editor-In-Chief Jim Shooter - prevented the story from being completed. The failure of the JLA/Avengers book also caused the cancellation of a planned sequel to the 1982 The Uncanny X-Men and The New Teen Titans crossover.
An agreement was reached between the two companies in 2002, with a new story to be written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by George Pérez. In a joint panel at WonderCon 2000, Busiek (then writer of the Avengers title) and Mark Waid (then writer of the JLA title) stated they had nearly come to an agreement to begin the crossover within the regular issues of the respective titles but the two companies could not come to a business arrangement. When the series was approved, however, Waid was unavailable due to an exclusive commitment with company CrossGen, and Busiek became the sole writer on the project. Perez also had an exclusive commitment with CrossGen, but had had a clause written into his contract allowing him to do the series if and when it was approved.
The series was reprinted by DC Comics in 2004 as a two-volume collector's edition hardcover (which included for the first time the original 1983 Pérez penciled pages), and then re-released as a trade paperback in November 2008. As of 2015, it is the most recent crossover between DC and Marvel.
Krona, an exiled Oan, travels across and destroys universes seeking the truth of creation. When he arrives in the Marvel Universe, the Grandmaster, wanting to save his universe, proposes that they play a game. If Krona wins, the Grandmaster will lead him to a being Galactus in that universe who has witnessed creation. If he loses, Krona has to spare the Grandmaster’s universe. When summoning the players to participate in this game, Krona decides to swap champions, so the Grandmaster’s longtime adversaries, the Avengers, will represent Krona, and the Justice League, from Krona's home universe, will fight for the Grandmaster. This means that the Avengers must lose the game in order to save their universe.
The Grandmaster informs the Justice League that to save the universe they have to gather 12 items of power, six from each universe, while his ally Metron tells the Avengers that they have to stop the League to prevent the world being destroyed. The six items from the DC universe are the Spear of Destiny; the Book of Eternity; the Orb of Ra; the Psycho Pirate's Medusa Mask; the Bell, Jar and Wheel of the Demons Three; and the Green Lantern Power Battery of Kyle Rayner. The six items from the Marvel universe are the Ultimate Nullifier; the Evil Eye of Avalon; the Wand of Watoomb; the Casket of Ancient Winters; the Cosmic Cube; and the Infinity Gauntlet.
The Justice League travels to the Marvel Universe and are dismayed (especially Superman) by the Avengers' failure to improve their Earth's condition. When the Avengers visit the DC Universe, they are surprised by the "futuristic" architecture of its Earth's cities and the honors that the Justice League and other native heroes receive for their deeds, thus they (mainly Captain America) become convinced that the Leaguers are fascists who demand that civilians worship them. Various Leaguers and Avengers travel across the two universes and fight each other to retrieve the artifacts of power. A final battle for the Cosmic Cube takes place in the Marvel Universe’s Savage Land. Quicksilver claims the Cosmic Cube and at that moment Krona and the Grandmaster arrive on the scene, with the latter observing and commenting that the score is even at 6-6. However, Batman and Captain America—who together investigated the cause of the contest—arrive. Captain America purposely throws his shield and knocks the Cube from Quicksilver's hand and into the arms of a waiting Batman. With Captain America's forfeiture of the Cosmic Cube, the Grandmaster now announces the Justice League as the victors, with the final score now being 7-5, but Krona, unwilling to accept defeat, attacks the Grandmaster and learns from him the identity of Galactus, proceeding to summon him. The Grandmaster uses the power of the artifacts and merges both universes together before Krona can tear Galactus apart.
Reality is altered such that the Justice League and Avengers are longtime allies, regularly travelling between worlds to fight various threats, but the universes are incompatible and begin destroying each other, with the side effect of causing Superman and Captain America's tempers to flare to the point they blame each other for everything that is happening (which is later explained both heroes being too strongly synchronized to their native universes). The appearance of a spectral Krona helps the heroes remember some of the contest, and the Phantom Stranger appears to lead the heroes to the Grandmaster. Weakened by Krona's attack, the Grandmaster explains to the heroes that he brought the universes together to imprison Krona using the 12 items, but Krona is merging the universes further to destroy them, hoping to create a new Big Bang, which he can survive and learn the secrets of. Before dying the Grandmaster asks the assembled heroes to stop Krona and restore order, and shows them various events that had taken place in the separate universes. Each team member witnesses the tragedies that had befallen them in their separate universes, such as the death of Barry Allen, Hal Jordan's descent into madness and villainy, or the loss of the Vision and Wanda's children. Several heroes contemplate leaving the universes as they are to prevent the tragedies from happening, but Hal Jordan inspires everyone to work for the good of their worlds.
Krona has captured the universal avatars of Eternity and Kismet. Reality continues to change, and at Krona's base, Captain America leads every hero who has ever been a member of the Justice League or the Avengers; chronal chaos at the base causes an ever-shifting roster of heroes to confront every villain the teams have ever fought. Even though the chaos and the sheer forces against them (both from Krona and the summoned rogues) causes the heroes to fall one by one along the way, Krona is ultimately defeated when Flash distracts him long enough for Hawkeye to shoot an explosive arrow into the machine he used to keep both worlds merged, both heroes having been earlier presumed dead in battle. The universes are returned to normal with help from the Spectre, who is in fact Hal Jordan, returned to this state. As the heroes from both universes leave to return to their proper places, they state whether or not they do too little or too much they are still heroes who'll always fight the good fight. Krona has imploded to form a cosmic egg, which is stored in the JLA Watchtower; Metron states that when the egg hatches, Krona will learn the secrets of its creation by being part of it. Metron and the Grandmaster discuss how Metron intentionally lured Krona to the Marvel universe. The Grandmaster says that this is the first game he played when all sides won.
- Cowsill, Alan; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "2000s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 311. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9.
[JLA/Avengers] was an event that...proved to be one of the biggest and best of the DC and Marvel crossovers, incorporating many of the two companies' greatest heroes and villains.
- Pérez interview, David Anthony Kraft's Comics Interview #6 (Fictioneer, Aug. 1983).
- Giordano, Dick. "Meanwhile..." DC comics cover-dated April 1983.
- Marv Wolfman interview, Amazing Heroes #50 (Fantagraphics, July 1984).
- O'Neill, Patrick Daniel. "Career Moves" (Pérez interview), Wizard Magazine #35 (July 1994).
- McKiernan, Jay. "A Sit Down with Kurt Busiek," ComiXtreme (July 25, 2003).
- JLA vol. 3, #108-114 (Jan. - July 2005)