Saturday, January 16, 2016

Avengers Versus JLA - A Contest Of Champions!

The greatest crossover in the history of comics continued in the second issue of the four-part epic. In the previous installment The Avengers and The Justice League of America learned of each others' respective universes thanks to the machinations of the Grandmaster, Metron and Krona. The teams were set to battle one another across the landscapes of both universes to gather up twelve mystical and powerful objects from both.

The battle rages as the two teams clash lead by Thor and Superman. The Batman and Captain America face off against each other as their teammates battle and after taking the measure of each other realize that they are pawns and decide to work together, but leave their compatriots in the dark as they steal off to the Batcave. Meanwhile the battle rages as the Scarlet Witch is suddenly infused with vast chaotic power, which she uses to instantly transport the Avengers to the sites of the hidden mystical objects. The Justice League realize what has happened and call in their reserves to go the locations and battle for possession on both worlds.

The Flash confronts Iron Man and Hawkeye in Manhattan who take the Green Lantern's Power Battery. Superman and Green Lantern battle Wonder Man and Ms.Marvel in Santa Rico to get the Orb of Ra.  Wonder Woman and Aquaman defeat She-Hulk and Hercules in Asgard for the Book of Eternity. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver battle Hawkman, Black Canary and Blue Beetle in Central City to win the Wand of Watoomb.

Meanwhile Batman and Captain America discuss the problem in the Batcave while Metron searches out Galactus. Cap then contacts the Fantastic Four who send Ben Grimm with a specially developed cycle from Mr.Fantastic to travel across dimensions and time.

A second wave of battles develops as Thor and the Vision are defeated by Firestorm and Red Tornado in Happy Harbor for possession of the Bell, Wheel and Jar. In Wakanda the Black Panther finds the Medusa Mask while Yellowjacket and the Wasp battle Martian Manhunter and Plastic Man. Iron Man and Hawkeye defeat Captain Atom and Green Arrow in Smallville for Casket of Winters and on Paradise Island Quicksilver slips by the Flash for possession of the Evil Eye. On the Blue Area of the Moon Wonder Woman Woman and Quasar battle while Captain Marvel slips away with the Spear of Destiny.

Cap and Batman arrive at the Grandmaster's elaborate other-dimensional headquarters and find the Atom still there and able to access the scene when the Grandmaster and Krona made their deal. The secret is that the Avengers are working on the behalf of Krona, and it is crucial that they lose or he will destroy a universe.

On Apokolips Darkseid has possession of the Infinity Gauntlet but casts it away when he realizes it will not work in his universe. The heroes gather it up and depart just before the Omega Effect can touch them.

Then assembled in the Savage Land all the heroes who have waged the fight confront one another for the Cosmic Cube.

The battle rages, especially between Thor and Superman with the latter defeating the former before his colleagues seek revenge. The fight is furious as the Grandmaster and Krona appear, but so do Batman and Captain America and through Cap's interference Batman takes possession of the Cube meaning the Grandmaster wins the contest.

But Krona rejects the outcome and attacks the Grandmaster, demanding to see Galactus, the one being who has survived the universe which preceded the Big Bang.

The titans battle, but the Grandmaster, still alive reveals that the twelve objects of power were gathered for his benefit and he uses their assembled might to cast all of reality into seeming nothingness. 

It's actually rather difficult to absorb this story as it unfolds. There are so many colorful characters, so many switches of evocative settings, and so much slam-bang action that I felt rather intoxicated after reading it through. Clearly the intent was to jam as much as possible into each panel of each page as imaginable. 

This is the story that gives us what we've been waiting for for many decades, a real and proper clash between the League and the Avengers, for real stakes. And if Kurt Busiek had wanted to rest on those laurels, then that's just what we might've gotten for the next two issues of this spectacular event. But he didn't and as we can see by the Grandmaster's endgame maneuver, there is something else entirely afoot for the next installment. I cannot wait.

But I will. More next week.

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  1. Thanks for these reviews, Rip. You've given me a hankering for re-reading this quite fun epic!


    1. I haven't read them all the way through since they first came out. It's been a rich experience, well worth the energy expended. Perez is amazing!

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