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Avengers/JLA #3: Review

Dec 2003
Kurt Busiek, George Perez

Story Name:

Strange adventures

Review & Comments

4.5 stars

Avengers/JLA #3 Review by (July 2, 2021)
The title this time is of course from an old DC mag Strange Adventures which spawned Adam Strange and Deadman amongst others.

The action in this issue takes place in a 'universe' where the Avengers and JLA have regularly shared adventures between their 2 separate universes.

Dating the 1st Avengers app is impossible. Brainiac's Skull Ship wasn't created until Action #544 Jun 1983, but Beast's Avengers stint ended with #211 Sep 1981. They didn't move to Hydrobase until #279 Apr 1987 when the team was very different, but for the JLA this would be post-Crisis On Infinite Earths. Iron Man appears to be in his Model 3 or 4 armour which would fit with the Beast era. But I don't believe there was ever a team *exactly* as depicted here, especially with Henry Pym in Ant-Man mode.

The JLA at the party seems also to be from a mixture of times. Eg I believe Elongated Man's purple/white costume post-dates Zatanna's. And I think Black Canary's costume is post-Crisis.

This suggests that the histories of these 2 universes differ from the main timelines in much more than just the odd crossover. But are we seeing random jumps around a consistent past history, or is each scene being randomly generated independently? (This of course is really a question about what the author is doing.)

There have been many other Marvel/DC crossovers:-

Early ones were set in an alternate universe where both sets of chars co-exist, which Marvel dubs Earth-7642. These range from the Superman vs Amazing Spider-Man 1-shot in 1976 to 1995's Darkseid vs Galactus and Spider-Man/Batman 1-shot.

Then 1996-97 saw the actual universes cross over 4 times, with 2 1-shots (Green Lantern/Silver Surfer and Silver Surfer/Superman) book-ending 2 4-issue mini-series Marvel vs DC and DC/Marvel All Access. Both series featured a new char Axel Asher/Access who inhabited both universes, and was also mentioned in the 2 1-shots. Marvel vs DC included a temporary mash-up Amalgam universe where DC/Marvel chars were merged, eg Dr StrangeFate who was 1 of the Amalgam chars who was given his own 1-shot.

1997 and beyond then saw a mixture of the 2 types. Axel got another 4-issue crossover mini-series Unlimited Access and was mentioned in the Superman/Fantastic Four 1-shot. But these were surrounded by other shared Earth-7642 1-shots. And Earth-3839 was invented for a WWII Batman/Captain America 1-shot (which would put it in the same relationship to Earth-7642 as DC's Earth-Two has to Earth-One).

And now there's this series. Which raises the question why don't the Marvel/DC heroes in this series recognise each other from their previous crossovers? Marvel's Official Histories and Handbooks and the Marvel Chronology Project include all the actual non-shared-Earth crossovers as canonical, and they get mentioned in other DC issues. I'm afraid the question has not been given an answer.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers/JLA #3 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
This issue begins with the Source Wall that surrounds the DC Universe, and a new addition to the dead gods, etc imprisoned on it is Marvel's Dr Doom in giant-size. The JLA just managed to stop him penetrating the Wall to learn the secret of the Source beyond.

But various things tell us that this is the pre-Crisis Justice League rather then the post-Crisis version of the previous 2 issues:- Batman's yellow chest emblem. Elongated Man instead of Plastic Man. Green Lantern is Hal Jordan. Green Arrow, Superman and Wonder Woman are less distinguishable. Black Canary is in her old outfit with fishnets. But the surprise is that her beau is Marvel's Hawkeye who has transferred from his Earth to be with her, and it was a trickshot from him that had defeated Doom.. Jealous Oliver Queen complains to Ralph Dibny, but partway through his rant against Hawkeye something happens ...

... and he finds himself talking about perennial thorn-in-the-side Hawkman, who isn't even there. Hawkeye has been replaced by Flash (the pre-Crisis Barry Allen), and Canary is snuggling up to GA who now is credited with the saving shot. (And in pre-Crisis chronology it was Dinah who had moved over from the JSA's Earth-Two and partnered up with Ollie.) No-one but Arrow realises something changed, and they decide to go tell their friends the Avengers about Doom.

And we see Marvel's Eternity and DC's Kismet locked in an embrace.

And on Marvel Earth the Avengers have just defeated DC's Brainiac. We see his Skull spaceship. The Avengers (Ant-Man, Beast, Captain America, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Thor, Vision and Wasp) are on Hydrobase when the JLA arrive. They have a (apparently continuing) friendly argument over which Earth is Earth-One and which Earth-Two. Married couple Hank and Jan Pym are apparently good friends with Ralph Dibny and his wife Sue. But Hawkeye's there too and it doesn't take long for him to start feuding with Green Arrow as Canary tries to keep the peace. We see a picture in Avengers Mansion of the JLA appearing in a cloud of smoke to the Avengers. (This homage to JLA#21 suggests that it's the JLA who are from Earth-Two.) Wonder Woman comments to Cap that their crossovers have been going on since the days of the JSA and the Invaders. But Cap and Superman feel something's wrong. Then Steve Rogers experiences a dislocation ...

... and the 2 teams are having 1 of their annual get-togethers but it's in the JLA's satellite and it's a luau. The crowd is much bigger. Wasp's in a different costume (when isn't she?). Green Arrow and Hawkeye are now having a friendly contest to see who can shoot something out of Elongated Man's mouth while Sue Dibny, Black Canary, Black Panther, Hawkman and Iron Man (in his Silver Centurion armour) look on. Red Tornado is looking at pictures of Vision and Wanda's kids. Quicksilver is chatting to Flash. Zatanna (in her JLA#161-187 costume) chats with Batman and Yellowjacket and Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau) with Blue Beetle while Hercules chats up Hawkgirl and Green Lantern (Guy Gardner) gets nowhere with Moondragon. Aquaman, Beast, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and She-Hulk are watching Wonder Man arm-wrestle Wonder Woman. And Snapper Carr and Rick Jones help Edwin Jarvis with the burgers. Thor goes over to Superman who is standing on 1 side wondering who the Avengers *are*, but then another change ...

... replaces Thor with Martian Manhunter, and there's a new cast and it's gathered in Avengers Mansion again. Black Knight, Black Widow, Dr Druid, Falcon, Gilgamesh, Hawkeye, Hellcat, Henry Pym, Hercules, Mockingbird, Ms Marvel (early costume), Scarlet Witch, Spider-Man, Sub-Mariner, Vision, Wasp and Wonder Man mix with Aquaman (in his camouflage suit), Atom, Booster Gold, Captain Marvel (Billy Batson), Dr Fate, Dr Light (the heroine), Elongated Man, Fire, Flash (Barry Allen), Green Arrow, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Gypsy, Ice, Rocket Red, Vibe, Vixen and Wonder Woman. But the party is interrupted when Captain America starts shouting that world keeps changing (and Supes is glad that it's not just *him* that's experiencing this). Even as he speaks Flash and GL turn into the Wally West and Kyle Rayner versions that Cap recognises from the last 2 issues. But that's only very temporary.

Janet van Dyne tries to calm him down, saying that they've known these guys for years. She reminds him of past team-ups:- Against Amazo and Ultron-4. When Grim Reaper and the Key got the Serpent Crown and captured Mantis and Zatanna to gain some Celestial Power. When Kang and the Lord Of Time made the teams fight each other on a quest for the Chronal Egg. Cap admits he does remember them fighting on *some* quest. Batman and Iron Man are checking that none of their enemies are behind whatever's going on. Cap suddenly accuses Superman of causing it all, and Supes responds angrily. They clash violently, and the world shatters ...

... and Vision awakes in a snow-bound and ruined Metropolis. He finds the long-haired, bearded Aquaman from the previous issues who blames him for the devastation and attacks - until he is shocked to realise he has 2 real hands (the Aquaman of current DC continuity in those issues had a prosthetic left hand). They both vaguely remember the previous events. They're attacked by DC villains Bloodsport, Killer Croc, Mammoth, Poison Ivy, Shrapnel, Silver Banshee, Silver Swan and Sonar. The heroes aren't doing too well until they are joined by Captain America, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Iron Man, Thor and Wonder Woman. The villains talk about a master who is trapped but will escape, and Thor's hammer Mjolnir can sense where the master's power emanates from.

By contrast Marvel New York is beset by fire and earthquakes. Batman, Flash (Barry Allen), Goliath, Martian Manhunter, Scarlet Witch, Superman and Wasp are trying to deal with the situation (despite J'onn J'onzz's aversion to fire). They discover that many of the civilians they aid are actually from DC-Earth. Then a snowstorm begins which terrifies the people because as they expect it heralds the arrival of 'ghosts' pleading for help. Manhunter reads the minds of the ghosts but before he can explain there's an 'explosion'. And then the snow ends and many people have disappeared to be replaced by new ones from DC-Earth who are at least glad to be out of its *permanent* snowstorm. But J'onn J'onzz has gone too.

In Metropolis Thor has quietened the storm. As they approach a black tornado of energy Vision senses people disappearing around them, and everyone feels the temperature rising. There's an energy surge and many people appear, and with them is Martian Manhunter. He communicates back to the heroes he left in New York and explains that the energy storms are causing the random swaps between worlds. And they're getting more frequent and more violent.

In New York they see buildings appearing and vanishing. They find a copy of DC's Daily Planet newspaper which shows Clark Kent interviewing Spider-Man. Then the 2 sets of heroes see each other through an energy barrier with the face of Krona. Hal Jordan is surprised that his old enemy Krona is alive (he wasn't present for the previous 2 issues). Steve Rogers sees this as another reason to believe that the DC side is to blame for everything and he and Superman restart an argument from #1 that the DC heroes allow the people to treat them like gods while the Marvel Heroes have allowed their world to become dark. Wasp and Wonder Woman calm them down and the 2 heroes remember a synopsis of the plot of #1-2.

Then the storms and quakes resume as energy-Krona shoots into the sky. Superman follows saying he thinks he knows what's going on. Cap sends IM to keep any eye on what happens. They see that the effect is spreading all over the world(s). And then from space they see what their minds interpret as Krona's giant hands squashing the 2 Earths together. Tony Stark communicates with those below that the Earths are being merged, but it is also tearing each of them apart.

The villain's face is still hovering in the sky over the assembled heroes. Scarlet Witch tries to stop the process with her hex power. Green Lantern joins  in with the force of his Power Ring. But they haven't the willpower to be successful. The other heroes lend their wills to the effort. And everything goes white ...

The Avengers find themselves back on their own Earth where Edwin Jarvis has been defending the Mansion against looters and donating their stored food to soup kitchens. Stark's emergency generators are functioning so they go down to the basement where as they expect the JLA teleport in from their satellite. They get reports from other heroes on both worlds and learn that time is still askew. (Eg Hawkeye is wearing his costume from Av#98-109 when he reports in with Justice, Tigra and US Agent. And Hawkman/Hawkgirl don't belong with Firestorm/Dr Light.) (Iron Man also comments that Wonder Woman has gone through changes, which may be an in-joke because to my untutored eye she seems to be 1 of the few constants in the (old) DC Universe.) Deepspace scans show that the whole universe is being affected.

They now remember the end of #2 where Grandmaster used the 12 assembled items of power from both Earths to defeat Krona, and so he must be responsible for what's happening. They concoct a plan to track him down, but DC's Phantom Stranger pops up to give them a shortcut. He magically creates a doorway and staircase which take them to a Ditko/Starlin realm of shifting realities and eventually to another doorway. Inside they find the giant body of En Dwi Gast dying from the injuries Krona inflicted last issue.

He explains that he used the artefacts to connect the 2 universes and trap Krona between them at the juncture point that is the Earths. He gambled that Krona wouldn't destroy the universes because it would kill *him*. But unfortunately the merging is itself destroying the universes. However Krona stole knowledge of surviving the Big Bang from Galactus (last issue). Now the villain is accelerating the merging because he wants to cause another Big Bang and finally learn the secrets he has been searching for. GM is too weak to do anything so it's up to the heroes to defeat Krona and restore their universes to their proper states.

But the heroes have a question. They know that the universe they've been experiencing isn't right but they are unsure what the 'proper' universes are like (the current squads seem to be a mixture of chars from earlier times, eg Hal Jordan's Green Lantern and Hank Pym as Goliath). So Gast shows them a montage of stuff from those universes, which include some of the tribulations their characters will face. These include Thor replaced by Thunderstrike, Cap's Super Soldier serum failing, peace-loving Wonder Woman turned armed warrior, Martian Manhunter betrayed by his own race, the Pyms' divorce with Yellowjacket's disgrace, Aquaman losing his hand, Scarlet Witch losing her children and the love of her husband Vision, Flash (Barry Allen) dying during Crisis, the death of Jason Todd, Bane breaking Batman's back, the death of Superman, various Tony Stark traumas, and Hal Jordan turning into the villain Parallax and then Spectre.

And then Grandmaster dies leaving the heroes to decide whether to fight to get *those* futures back. Of course they decide to do it for the sake of everyone else in the world(s) (and the universes).

And Metron watches from his Mobius Chair.

George Perez
George Perez
Tom Smith
George Perez (Cover Penciler)
George Perez (Cover Inker)
Tom Smith (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Richard Starkings.
Editor: Tom Brevoort. Editor-in-chief: Joe Quesada.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Hank Pym)

(Hank McCoy)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Clint Barton)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Edwin Jarvis)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)


(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Eternity, Goliath (Hank Pym).

> Avengers/JLA: Book info and issue index

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