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Avengers/JLA #4: Review

Dec 2003
Kurt Busiek, George Perez

Story Name:

The brave and the bold

Review & Comments

5 stars

Avengers/JLA #4 Review by (July 2, 2021)
I give this issue a coveted 5. Kurt Busiek and George Perez produce a fitting cap to a smashing series. Superman wielding Thor's hammer and Captain America's shield! Spectre repeating his feat of separating the universes!

The title of this issue is of course that of DC's The Brave And The Bold which among other things ushered in the Justice League Of America before becoming a team-up book which morphed into a Batman team-up book.

I like little touches in this series, eg visiting Avengers using seats in the Watchtower that belong to absent JLAers. We see Scarlet Witch occupying Zatanna's seat while Wasp is in Atom's little hover-chair.

Galactus' origin was originally more low-key in 1969's Thor #169 - the lone survivor oaf a dying planet who flew into a giant sun. But 1983's Super-Villain Classics 1-shot upgraded him to the last survivor of the previous universe and introduced the merging with the sentience of that universe.

That origin is based on the cyclic theory of universes. Born in a Big Bang a universe expands until it's gravity drags it back to shrink to a Big Crunch. An add-on theory, invoking quantum effects, is that such a universe experiences a Big Bounce so that the Big Crunch turns into the Big Bang for the next universe.
There are 2 things wrong with the theory as used in SVC and here.
The 1st is that by the time *this* comic was written it was already seen as more likely that our universe isn't going to end in a Big Crunch but an eternal expansion and dilution called the Big Freeze. (But Roger Penrose devised a cunning way in which even this can produce a Big Bang.)
The 2nd is the continuing popular misconception of the Big Bang/expanding universe/Big Crunch. The BB wasn't a point from which stuff expanded out. The universe was already infinite (or finite but without any edge) and the super-dense super-hot stuff existed throughout it. It expanded by the distance between bits of stuff getting bigger. So there wouldn't be a singular Big Crunch point, especially not 1 that Galen's spaceship could fly into from outside. (In this respect the original Thor #169 version was much more 'realistic'.)

Spectre (Hal Jordan) separating the Marvel and DC Earths and universes is a replay of Spectre (Jim Corrigan) separating DC's Earth One and Earth Two universes in Justice League Of America #83

The Cosmic Egg will reappear in the DC Universe where it will be broken open in Trinity #17 by Despero, Enigma and Morgaine le Fey as a source of power, releasing Krona to continue his villainy.

I don't think this event is mentioned in the Marvel Universe again.

After a minor role in Amazing Spider-Man #503, Grandmaster will rebuild his old Squadron Sinister (in New Thunderbolts #16) before pitting them in a game against the 'Bolts (starting in TB#102).


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers/JLA #4 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The story so far:-

Krona from the DC Universe is continuing his quest to learn the secret of the creation of universes, but his method of investigation destroys them. Grandmaster stalled him when he came to the Marvel Universe by telling him of a being who came through the Big Bang from the previous universe. Typically he proposed a game which if Krona won GM would tell him who that is (we know it's Galactus). The contest involved pitting Avengers vs JLA to gather 12 items of power, 6 from each of their universes. Metron of DC's New Gods helped organise it.

But it was a delaying tactic until dying GM grabbed all 12 artefacts and used them to imprison his opponent between the 2 Earths. But Krona has the artefacts now and has pried the truth from Galactus. He is gradually merging the Earths and the surrounding universes, which will eventually destroy them both. Last issue we saw the superhero teams in a combined universe in which they had always coexisted. But that universe keeps changing. Early versions of the heroes found the GM who explained what was happening and then died. Now they know they have to get the 2 original universes back, even though they have seen the bad things that will happen to their future versions there. It's time for their greatest team-up ever.

This issue opens with Krona explaining to Metron what he learned from Galactus.The previous (Marvel) universe was dying and the beings of the planet Taa with it. They sent a spaceship into the Terminal Point (ie the Big Crunch). Only 1 Taa-an survived the Big Bounce by merging with the sentience of that universe and emerging on the other side as Galactus. Krona latches on to the voice which spoke to Galan and links it to the hand which he once saw cradling the birth of the DC universe as evidence of a sentience behind the universes. He now intends to force the DC and Marvel universes together, even though it will mean their destruction, to force their individual sentiences (Kismet and Eternity) to reveal the ultimate secret behind everything.

Meanwhile chaos continues on the gradually merging Earths. We see other superheroes like the Defenders and the Teen Titans helping folks while everyone wonders where the Avengers or JLA are. We see them (Captain America, Goliath, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Thor, Vision, Wasp and Aquaman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Superman, Wonder Woman) gathered in the JLA Watchtower having a council of war. Synthezoid Vision doesn't see the logic of believing the dead Grandmaster over their own memories and 'restoring' a reality which will see his and Scarlet Witch's children gone. But Wanda Maximoff says her connection to the superior Chaos Magic in this (DC) reality has shown her that the current reality keeps changing and that other reality is the real 1.

They know that Krona has the 12 items of power and Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) reminds them that he can mentally enthral villains (as he did last issue). Flash (Barry Allen) and Iron Man have a plan to get inside Krona's stronghold but they'll need a 'spaceship'. Superman says they need a joint leader and he proposes Captain America (despite their recent arguments). Batman 2nds him and Martian Manhunter mentally checks that the rest of the JLA agree with the choice.

Aquaman donates an Atlantean warship. Atom joins them and he and Iron Man create special cabling which Ray Palmer and Wasp help install. This will convert GL's Power Ring scans into data fed into Vision who's acting as a supercomputer. And Flash's treadmill is installed inside.

While waiting for the dimensional harmonics to be right Scarlet Witch and Vision, Hank and Jan Pym, and Barry and Hal contemplate what they've seen of their futures in the restored DC and Marvel realities. Captain America and Superman apologise to each other for the harsh things they said about the other's world, and but each admit that there was truth in what was said by the other. Cap is going to be running the show from the ship via Manhunter's mindlink so he gives Supes his shield to wield in the fight. Kal-El promises to honour the gift.

Then it's time to go. Thor powers Flash's treadmill with Mjolnir as Flash uses it to break the dimensional barrier. Vision senses a weak point in Krona's shielding and Scarlet Witch disrupts probability with a Chaos Hex. And the warship is through to Krona's base, which they discover is built out of bits of Galactus.

Krona is expecting them and sends AIM, Hydra, Kobra Cult, Lava Men, Parademons and the 1000 to stop them. But the combined team wade through them with Superman and Wonder Woman leading the cry "Avengers Assemble". Moloids and (Leader's) Humanoids join the fray as Cap gets Lantern and Thor to force a gap that Atom and Vision can slip through to recce the interior. He sends Flash and Wasp to scout the sides for a vulnerability. Wasp spots a gap that Batman sneaks through.

But then there's a reality ripple that swaps Aquaman, Goliath and Scarlet Witch for Green Arrow, Hawkeye, Quicksilver and Yellowjacket. Cap sends Pietro Maximoff off to do more scouting while the 2 bowmen stand back-to-back exchanging insults and firing arrows until the Royal Flush Gang take down Oliver Queen.

Metron compliments Krona on his defences, especially now he's brought in individual supervillains rather than nameless hordes. Krona has captured Eternity and Kismet and wants fellow knowledge-seeker Metron to help him pry their secrets out of them before they are annihilated with their universes. But the New God queries whether the Maltusian is after truth or power. And he exits via Boom Tube, but says he will be watching with interest.

Meanwhile the battle scene has got even more complicated as loads of DC and Marvel villains fight loads of extra Leaguers and Avengers from various times. Someone who I'd guess DC fans will recognise kills Flash and Hawkeye, but Green Lantern kills *him*. However Green Arrow retrieves Clint Barton's quiver and promises to make every shaft count. The reality shifts affect the main teams too. Batman changes from pre-Crisis to post-Crisis versions, Cap gets his Captain uniform, Superman gets long hair and Green Lantern Hal Jordan switches to Kyle Rayner. There are interesting clashes like Jack Of Hearts vs the Jack of the Royal Flush Gang and Black Canary vs Screaming Mimi (Songbird before she became a heroine in Thunderbolts). The original Fawcett Captain Marvel fights side-by-side with the original Marvel CM. And Wasp goes through multiple costume changes (so what else is new?). And then the forces of good lose their coordination as a ripple takes J'onn J'onzz away.

Batman has defeated Batroc but is now faced with a Brigade of other villains. Black Panther, Black Widow and Huntress leap in to help him. Captain America is attacked by DC's (1st) Prometheus who has just uploaded Batman's fighting skills. Reality shifts and Superman is transformed into his Superman Blue energy form, and he's without Cap's shield. But Cap now defeats Prometheus with the photonic version of the shield. The disorganised and continually changing heroes continue battling towards Krona's Citadel.

As Metron hinted Krona is no longer satisfied with the truth, he wants to punish those who tried to stop him getting it. Scarlet Witch has made her way back here with Chaos Magic just in time to see the villain threatening to kill Eternity and Kismet and drag the secret from their corpses (and the dead universes). Wanda uses the Magic to increase the proportion of heroes over villains as reality keeps stirring the mix. Iron Man has designed a powerful weapon for Green Lantern's Ring to generate. Aquaman uses his control over sea creatures to stop Attuma and his undersea legions, but unfortunately it also affects Sub-Mariner and his wife Marrina. The Citadel starts to fall apart. Wonder Woman prepares to hold off all the the villains as many heroes storm into the Citadel, but she's joined by her mother Hippolyta and She-Hulk.

Supes has Cap's shield back, but now it's the original triangular version, and he faces Radioactive Man and Solarr (who Lex Luther has taught to emit Kryptonite and Red Sun radiation respectively). But Vision emits the last of his own energy as yellow solar radiation to reinvigorate the Kryptonian. Wading through his foes, and now with the round shield, Superman reaches Krona's last defensive barrier, but he can't get through its energy. Thor is smothered in villains but he tosses Mjolnir to Supes. Kal-El grabs it and is energised beyond his wildest dreams. He smashes through the wall with 1 blow and leads a gaggle of heroes in.

But then a might blast from Krona blows them all back. The villain thinks he now has all the heroes defeated, dead or delayed, and he turns his attention back to Eternity and Kismet. But suddenly Flash (Barry Allen) zooms in surprising Krona who (like us) thought he'd seen him obliterated with Hawkeye. But Flash is only the distraction as Hawkeye fires his last arrow into the collection of artefacts powering the baddie. They explain that Flash had whisked them away from their imminent death and they've laid low since then waiting for the right moment to strike. And Clint casually mentions it was a TNT arrow as the force-globe holding the artefacts blows up. And Krona disappears into a maelstrom of energy.

Most of the heroes and villains disappear leaving only the versions that started this series, including Flash (Wally West) and Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner). But in space they see the 2 Earths still partly merged. Until the giant green hands of Spectre (Hal Jordan) force them apart. Next Galactus starts to reform from the Citadel Krona had turned him into. Superman goes to pick up Mjolnir to give him back to Thor but can't do it. The Thunder God explains about Odin's spell, but his father was wise enough to let it relax in times of dire need.

Eternity and Kismet disentangle, and the heroes are returned to their own worlds (as we are led to believe are the items of power). Grandmaster has been brought back to life, and he and Metron have a Cosmic Egg which now contains Krona. They speculate that it will 1 day hatch into a new universe, and Krona will then learn the secret he sought.

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


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Panther
Black Panther

Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Clint Barton)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Jack of Hearts
Jack of Hearts

(Jonathan Hart)

(Pietro Maximoff)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)

(Jennifer Walters)


(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Eternity, Goliath (Hank Pym).

> Avengers/JLA: Book info and issue index

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