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I Finally Read JLA/Avengers

And I have one overwhelming, virulent response:

Kurt Busiek teased a fight between Batroc and Batman. Batroc even kicked Batman in the face, which I think gives it an 11 and “Greatest Panel Ever” on the Chris Sims objective critical scale and certainly gives anyone who follows that metric many boners in their heart. Objectively, of course.

But the rest of this battle for the ages happened off panel. And that is unforgivable, devaluing the rest of the comic and cementing Busiek and Perez as untalented hacks of the highest (lowest) order. They are worse than Composite Rob Liefeld (who is half Rob Liefeld, half Chuck Austen, and talks like Chris Claremont and his purpliest prose).

Sure, the rest of the pages between the face kick and Batroc being laid out by the Batman (RIP) are filled with trademark George Perez “every character I can squeeze in to a page” cosmic spectacle, and Busiek does a great job juggling all of these characters, making the story work while still packing it with as many “fuck yeah” moments as he can, and it’s a fun story that provides fan service without devolving in to the worst cliches of this sort of thing. It even has something to say about both fictional shared universes in the process, and it worked better as an epic superhero crossover than any of the bloated mega events that followed it in the subsequent years have.

But no multi page Batroc/Batman fight? Most epic of epic fails, Busiek and Perez! Why do you hate comics so much, you black holes of talent and humanity?

I also picked up the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier trade, just to balance out my comic book nerd porn with some English literature/pop culture porn. I’ll be sure to find something to have mock outrage in that once I read Jess Nevins annotations and figure out what the hell’s going on.

24 Comments

Tom Fitzpatrick

January 21, 2009 at 4:07 am

A huge standing ovation for you over here in Canada!

It takes a REAL man to admit he’d finally read JLA/AVENGERS. ;-)

I’ve read it twice, single issues and tpb, and already seen LoEG: Black Dossier long before now.

Bet you can’t wait for LoEG III: Century?

The worst thing to me was Captain America swearing! The bit where Hawkeye gets killed… Cap uses a very nasty four-letter word… Very Un-Cap…

I then of course realised that in printing the “L” and the “I” had run together… ;-)

Just finished the Jess Nevins annotations fro the first League book, and I’m now ordering his books for book 2 and Black Dossier.

Thought I had picked up tonnes of stuff before reading Nevins’ book… Boy! His research is thorough! I also really liked the extra comments by Kevin O’Neill – some of the accidental bits are hilarious (geek-wise anyway!)

Back in December, when one of the JLA/Avengers covers was discussed on this blog, and Busiek himself dropped by to comment on it, I pledged that I would pick up the trade immediately after Christmas, if I didn’t receive it as a gift. I have made good on this promise, I read it in the first week of January, and it is awesome.

Is there a lot of fanboyish “Spot the Reference” stuff? Yes, there is, but Busiek doesn’t let that get in the way of the story. I believe you could hand this book to a complete comics novice, and they’d still enjoy it; perhaps not as much as an old hand, but still enjoy it. And nothing I can say can adequately describe Perez’s art. When I first heard of JLA/Avengers, my first thought was, “They’d better get Perez to draw it, or it’s not worth doing.”

If I could change anything, perhaps six issues instead of four would give the story a little more room to breathe. I don’t think it would have been bloated at that length. But I agree entirely, Brad; I’d rather have this than House of Civil Final Invasion Crisis any day (One More or Brand New).

Yeah, JLA/Avengers is easily the best ‘event’ comic I’ve read. It did exactly what it set out to do: give fanboys countless geekasms while still telling a story a relative neophyte could follow.

Random Stranger

January 21, 2009 at 7:34 am

The Perez art really looks great blown up in the oversized hard cover. It really is an absolute masterpiece by him.

And I won’t discount Busiek’s ability to put together a story for the event that justifies bringing together the two teams, puts in something that should resonate with any comic fan, while at the same time flowing smoothly. It really helped that each issue was its own self contained epic.

In my opinion, JLA/Avengers was THE last good “Event” crossover. At least on DC’s side. After that, “Identity Crisis” came out, and it’s been downhill since then. JLA/A was the last of the “for the fun of it!” crossovers, done not to change the Status Quo or to to set up a long chain of crossovers but to bring to life fan’s dreams about their two favorite universes meeting (in a way even the Marvel vs. DC miniseries never did!) And of course, it had Busiek and Perez, the best in the business, doing it, for extra credit.

I remember the fans arguing over such things as Superman beating Thor, but hey, we’re fans, and that’s what the Net is for; but I was quite impressed that Busiek actually bothered to try to answer the naysayers’ complaints online, despite many being less than polite about it. That only increased my respect for the man. And Perez actually HURT his hand trying to meet the deadlines (instead of, you know, letting the whole thing slip off schedule like it’s been done with other crossovers recently). Now THAT’S dedication!

Some might say that JLA/A was the last piece of a more naive era. Maybe, but it was STILL great. I think we could use more of that “naivete” in today’s comics.

Favorite moment: When the heroes decide to restore reality to normal, DESPITE knowing it would mean ruining their lives (by allowing all the bad, in-continuity stuff that had happened over the years to occur again). Now THAT is heroism! :D

Composite Rob Liefeld is terrifying.

Why would you conjure up such an image?

God, I hated that book. Ugly fan service . . .I mean, I guess that’s all it could have been, really, but I remember it, at the time, seemed to exemplify a lot of superhero books’ lamest aspects.

I can testify that the book works for comic-novices. When my girlfriend was first getting into comics, it was one of the first books of mine that she read, since it had both DC and Marvel characters in it. She enjoyed it a lot, and subsequently reading Busiek’s Avengers, she has noticed more and more of the allusions that KB/GP were able to fit in there.

I remember enjoying JLA/Avengers when it came out, and I will probably revisit it at some point in the future. But I remember enjoying the spot-on send-up of the cross-over by Milligan and Allred in X-Statix even more. X-Statix is certainly on the list of “forgotten” series that I really miss.

Neal K – I’ve read X-Statix and honestly don’t remember the JLA/Avengers send-up you’ve mentioned. Which issue was it in?

I believe it was #20-25, and it was hilarious. It features the semi-famous Iron Man vs. The Orphan while naked fight.

I don’t think that was a JLA/Avengers send up at all.

I think it was more of a parody of the old Avengers/X-Men or Avengers/FF brawls that Stan and Jack used to have back in the 60′s.

There was no Busiek/Perez/JLA allusions in those XStatix issues, I’m pretty darn sure.

In the opening fight of issue 2, Perez drew Batman kicking through the Vision, with a surprised look on his face. Oddly enough, that was the first image that came to my head when I read the title of the post.

The Avengers/X-Statix story was a direct parody of the old Avengers/Defenders War.

I’m pretty sure the X-Statix story was specifically inspired by the Avengers/Defenders war — the globehopping to find a macguffin and use of subchapters within issues for each fight are very reminiscent.

I still remember my disappointment when the original crossover fell through in 1983. What Busiek & Perez did was worth the 20-year wait. It pleased the 11-year old fanboy who wanted the original team-up but it still held up as a story for the 31-year old fanboy I’d become.

Everyone doing a massive crossover should study what Busiek & Perez did to make JLA/Avengers both comprehensible & FUN. Which really should be the minimum requirements for superhero stories.

Batman vs. Batroc, hmmm?

Gosh, I have no idea who would possibly win that one.

JLA/Avengers was fun, but mostly eye-candy mixed with cosmic mumbo-jumbo. Granted, that’s probably what most readers wanted/expected, but the stand-out moments were the quieter ones:

#1 Marvel heroes hate DC heroes, and vice-versa. Busiek did a great job of plausibly showing how the heroes didn’t get along, which grew organically out of Marvel and DC’s differing philosophies. The DC heroes think the Marvel heroes are doing a shitty job. The Marvel heroes think their counterparts are just overstuffed celebrities. Great!

#2 The “shared reality” universe. I loved this idea that the two teams had interdimensional team-ups going back to the Invaders/JSA era. If only it were so …

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 21, 2009 at 7:29 pm

God, I hated that book. Ugly fan service . . .I mean, I guess that’s all it could have been, really, but I remember it, at the time, seemed to exemplify a lot of superhero books’ lamest aspects.

You should check out Waid and Perez’s Brave And The Bold – might be more up your alley!

PSYCHE!

You suck Rice!

Go read an autobiographical comic!

I do. I really do suck.

I recently read Avengers/JLA (I know it’s formally called JLA/Avengers for various reasons, but I love Marvel just as much as I love DC), and I just felt too many characters were involved. Now, I understand that currently the Big Two is trying to add more focus on other characters so that they can receive the same love as the mainstays like Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Hulk and other beloved characters. However, because of everything that went on that took so long for JLA/Avengers to get in stores, I felt the story should have focused on a core group of heroes (and not any PARTICULAR team from both universes, mind you). On the other hand, George Perez IS the artist and is legendary for his having multiple characters in a scene. If that’s what he loves to draw, then all the better for us fans. All-in-all, I thought it was a great story, incorporating elements from both DC and Marvel that many of us probably didn’t expect to see in a crossover. With crossovers now happening in movies like Iron Man/The Incredible Hulk and even an extremely smaller one like Spider-Man/The Punisher, maybe we’ll see multiple company crossovers on the big screen someday. After all, as comic book fans, we have PROVEN to Hollywood that we’re not a bunch of “nerds with pocket protectors and can’t-get-girls” as the stereotypes go, haven’t we?

The X-Statix story had a few disparaging remarks about JLA/Avengers in the recap pages that opened up each issue. My favorite being an incredulous bit about Superman beating Thor.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 26, 2009 at 5:08 pm

I read it on the weekend and enjoyed it!

It’s exactly what you expect, and if you like what you expect, then it’s good times.
If not, you suck.

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