Avengers/JLA #4, 2003, DC & Marvel, cover by George Perez.
The POP Retro Cover Of The Week continues its examination and celebration of iconic comic covers from the 1970s through the 2000s, this week returning to the Aughts, when the biggest crossover event in comic book history finally happened, and a battle-torn Kryptonian from one universe wielded two of the greatest weapons from another.
First conceived in the early 1980s, an Avengers/JLA book or series was to be the icing on top of a cake baked with earlier successful team-ups between DC and Marvel, like Superman vs Spider-Man, and Batman vs The Hulk. However, personality clashes and working style differences between editors at the two companies killed any chances of completing the series. It would take nearly twenty years and changes in leadership at both publishers to make this event actually happen.
A suitably epic story was created, with the Earths of the Marvel and DC heroes being used as celestial weapons by cosmic beings. The super-teams of both universes make a final stand against one of those cosmic beings, Krona. Captain America is chosen to command both teams remotely, and Cap picks Superman to lead the charge, lending him his shield to protect him from Krona’s assault. But even Superman cannot breach Krona’s final line of defense, an energized force-field. An overwhelmed and defeated Thor completes the cover imagery by tossing Superman his hammer…not only proving the Man Of Steel is worthy of wielding it (however briefly), but foreshadowing by years Captain America doing the same in the pages of Marvel Comics and most recently onscreen in Avengers: Endgame.
Perez’s choice of cover imagery couldn’t have been more perfect or more dynamically rendered. Superman holding Cap and Thor’s weapons with heat vision burning in his eyes is a fanboy’s dream, and in the story, Superman himself geeks out at the awesomeness of wielding them both. Subject matter for the Retro Cover Of The Week doesn’t get any cooler than this!
Next week: Back to the 1970s!