The two biggest comic book publishers, Marvel and DC Comics, have briefly set aside their competition in the name of supporting one of the modern legends of the medium. In a tribute to honor the artist and writer George Pérez, the big two have announced a special commemorative edition of the long out of print JLA/Avengers from 2003. Pérez, who has worked for both publishers and is responsible for legendary runs on titles like Wonder Woman and Teen Titans for DC and contributing to the first Infinity Gauntlet event for Marvel. Tragically, Pérez’s health has been steadily declining after being diagnosed with stage 3 pancreatic cancer.
Thanks to the support of the Hero Initiative, a non profit which financially supports comic book creators, DC and Marvel were able to negotiate a limited reprinting of JLA/Avengers to benefit the Pérez family.
Written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by Pérez, the JLA/Avengers crossover features the two biggest teams in comics being forced to fight to save their respective universes as part of a larger game being played between the villains Krona and the Grandmaster. JLA/Avengers was a book that was literally decades in the making, with initial work on the title being done all the way back in 1979. Thanks to editorial conflicts and tensions between the companies respective management over how the book should be done, the title was repeatedly canceled. When the dust finally settled and the book finally came together over 20 years later, Pérez, who had already left both companies to work for the publisher CrossGen, came back just to work on the title with Busiek. The crossover is such a big deal that the story remains a part of both publishers’ official canon to this day.
The relationship between the big two was short lived with the title being a casualty of their long standing rivalry. After one last reissue in 2008, the book has remained out of circulation both in print as well as digitally on sites like Comixology. Given that 2008 was also the beginning of the golden age of superhero movies, with both “The Dark Knight” and “Iron Man” coming out leading to superheroes being a dominant part of our culture today. Given how fiercely protective the two publishers and their parent companies are about their stable of heroes, there’s a significant chance that JLA/Avengers represents the last time we will ever see the two universes meaningfully interact in comics. The amount of work done to make this event speaks to Pérez’s legacy and represents a powerful, if melancholy, moment in comic book history.
The commemorative edition will feature both the original bonus materials from its original special edition in 2004, along with a new afterword by Busiek. It’s important to know that copies of the book are limited to 7,000 and are only being distributed to comic book stores via Diamond.
If you want to support a good cause and celebrate George Pérez’s monumental contribution to comics, you owe it to yourself to preorder this special issue.