When we last left the two stalwart teams of superheroes they had finished with fighting one another and had assembled their might to confront the true enemy which they learned was Krona. But the Grandmaster had used the power of the mystical objects to change things utterly.
That change is reflected immediately as we meet our heroes again and again in a series of friendly meetings between the two teams. In this new reality the Avengers and the Justice League meet regularly and even exchange members from time to time as evidenced by the presence of Hawkeye as a member of the League.
The heroes even share tales of past adventures including a weirdly familiar one involving Kang and the Master of Time. But things keep changing as one hero then another doubts the truth of the reality they are confronted with with. Eventually the friendly nature of the heroes is cast into doubt. Superman and Captain America reject this reality and suddenly things change again.
Likewise other heroes of both worlds are fighting to save those they can in New York City as mighty fires rage. It becomes evident that things are even stranger as what appear to be two realities are crashing into one another.
That is in fact what is revealed to be the case as Iron Man and Superman behold the threat of Krona revealed as the enemy seems to be forcing the two worlds together in a violent way destined to destroy both.
The heroes are then led by the enigmatic Phantom Stranger to the weakened form of the Grandmaster
He tells them they must return the universes to their true natures despite the disappointments, shocks, deaths and madness which await some of the members of both teams.
The Grandmaster then seems to die.
The heroes conclude that only their combined might might end the threat in spite of the pain it will cost some of them, and vow to do so as the story reaches its end. We note that Metron watches.
This is the issue, under a truly awe-inspiring cover, where this crossover separates itself from its predecessors. The sheer fanboy delight at seeing the League and the Avengers assembled on Hydrobase and the Mansion and most of all in the Satellite is too much. The members in this issue are the ones I'm closest to, the League of the Satellite and the Avengers with old Hank in his handsome yellow and blue togs.
The way this story becomes not about them fighting one another in a gambit for treasure, but becomes about how they can overcome their differences of worldview and the nature of heroism to work together to recapture the reality which has been taken from them is truly epic. That they know that recreating that one true reality will bring death and madness and pain makes this truly a story of heroes and not merely super-strong athletes in competition. This becomes war not merely conflict, and war has lasting consequences. And one thing these crossovers rarely have is a sense that they will matter for long or ever. This one feels different.
The end is in sight, but after this issue, I know it will not be what I'm expecting.
The final issue comes next week.