Sunday, April 27, 2008

JLA/Avengers: The Collector's Edition tabloid hardcover

Often in these crossovers, you long for more space to have characters interact outside the main story. Somehow, with 218 pages, this is still true. It seems to me the problem was inclusionism. Rather than giving the primary heroes of interest room to interact, the space was taken up by more in-jokes, locations and characters, to the point you just get tired and want it all to end. Worse, this book seems to follow-up Jim Shooter's concern regarding the first attempt at this pairing, that the core story was weak, by layering the plot with details and complications. That's all well and good, but I found myself in the Dick Giordano camp of not giving two shits about the stupid goddamned set-up, because all I want to read about are the heroes meetings with one another.

I've never been fond of the unwieldy tabloid format, but it serves this specific project well. Perez draws so many intricate scenes and in such massive scale, you need the format to do it just. The hardcover is also an enhancement, as the original cardstock issues prevented readers from really opening up those two page spreads and basking in their glory.

A problem I had with the book was the clear favoritism. For instance, the Scarlet Witch single-handedly defeated Starro, with a plan generated by the Vision. This was done at the protest of her brother Quicksilver, who'd just been released from Starro's sway. The Scarlet Witch taps into the overwhelming chaos magic of the DCU, knocking the JLA about while teleporting her Avengers to wherever they wish. Quicksilver twice loses the object of his pursuit to the Flash, who in one instance leaves the Avenger all wet. Quicksilver fares well against Plastic Man, Hawkman, and Blue Beetle, but Scarlet Witch has to save him from Black Canary to secure their victory. Maybe there's an issue with speedsters, as Flash proves powerless on Marvel Earth, gets beaten by an angry mob who mistake him for a mutant, and can't even retrieve a power battery from Kyle's apartment without Iron Man and Hawkeye beating him down. On the other hand, the script seems to overcompensate by having him retrieve two more artifacts on his own, both times denying the inferior Quicksilver.

Iron Man, a character so favored by Busiek that he wrote his adventures in both a solo title and the Avengers for several years, just constantly owns. He's the one who comes up with a means of detecting and tracking the JLA on Marvel Earth; devises a weapon that can send the JLA back to DC Earth with a shot; is given a Mother Box that ramps him up further; teams-up with friggin' Hawkeye to beat Flash, Green Arrow, and most incredulously, Captain Atom (who's erroneously treated as having radioactive powers susceptible to lead shielding, not the quantum energy that allows no such quick fix.)

Wonder Woman is never shown performing above her abilities, but it's so uncommon for her to be treated with proper respect in these sort of affairs, you know George Perez had a hand in the matter.

Batman and Captain America proved the most level headed and deserted to pursue an investigation. That's swell, I suppose, but I still wanted to see the Dark Knight get his ass handed to him. As a partnership, these guys proved a two-fold bore, with the only livelihood provided by a guest appearance by Ben Grimm.

How's this for an oddity: Plastic Man shouting in Batman's face for going off-mission and being unprofessional. It occurs to me he pulled a similar turn with Superman after "Our Worlds At War." Who knew Eel O'Brien had such huevos and the moral indignation to bust others of such magnitude. He kind of reminds me of Mr. Pink.

Zatanna, despite her power and the opportunity to properly showcase them here, got virtually no play. Are we certain Gerry Conway had no hand in this incarnation?

I know the Mighty Thor is one of the big three Avengers, but the severe reaction of his fellows to his defeat at Superman's hands felt wrong. That would be more of a Cap reaction, y'know?

The third issue of the mini-series was fucking dreadful... 48 pages of spinning wheels caused by an editor who seems to have offered criticism rather than solution. We'll go into greater detail later. I took a nap partway through my reading. A purposeless waste of time and talent that would have been better served by cutting the issue altogether. Also, what was up with the super-villain team of Silver Swan, Killer Croc, Shrapnel, Mammoth, Bloodsport, Sonar, Silver Banshee and Poison Ivy? A Secret Society of the 80's that never was? So random.

The opening pages of the finale were among the best of the crossover. It was great seeing the heroes working together, and the poignancy of some reunions (Vision & Wanda; Hank and Janet) were deeply felt. Somewhat less so with Hal and Barry, since DC flogs itself so routinely with that sort of pathos. After acting like assholes for three straight editions, the respectful nods between Captain America and Superman were important.

Things went downhill with the assault on Kronus' citadel, which threw in everything, including the kitchen sink, to numbing excess. Seeing Batroc get the drop on Batman was hilarious. I dug the Extremist Masters of Evil, two of my favorite villainous tastes, made great together. The deaths of Barry and Clint and Green Arrow's seemingly portentous words should have been paid off, but were instead cheated. Again with the favoritism slighting a potentially memorable character moment right into the dustbin of history. Captain America's certified ownership of Prometheus was swell, as were the martial arts collective versus Batman's impromptu troop. It was so, so nice to see Perez finally draw a proper Aquaman in a spotlight moment. Toward the end, the barrel scarping for characters was quite audible. So was the creaking of the shoddy resolution under all that weight. Still, seeing two of my favorite characters, Captain Anerica and Martian Manhunter, working so seamlessly together made it all worthwhile.

Left field moments I dug: Lobo vs. the Imperial Guard; Thanagarian Wingmen vs. Skrulls; Mongul vs. the Brood; how much cooler the Starros looked in the MU and under Perez's pen; Atom's subdued but consistent presence; Hawkman looking bad ass; Wonder Woman's choke hold on Hercules; Black Panther stealthily snagging an artifact with no resistance; Bruce Wayne's severe slickback look.

I think I'd have preferred to read all of the original version of this meeting from 1983, but this still served well enough.

No comments:


Blog Archive


Surrender The Pink?
All books, titles, characters, character names, slogans, logos, and related indicia are trademarks and/or copyright of their respective rights holders.