In “Our Lives Together,” I spotlight some of the more interesting examples of shared comic book universes. You know, crossovers that aren’t exactly crossovers.
Today, we look at a unique Avengers/Fantastic Four Annual “crossover”!
When it comes right down to it, one of the easiest ways for two comic books to do an informal crossover is when the people behind both books are friends with each other. This was what led to the famous Avengers/Justice League crossovers from the early 1970s (that led to the creation of the Squadron Supreme), as most of the young guys writing comic books at Marvel and DC in the early 1970s were friends with each other. It was a small community, so everyone knew everyone else.
As time went by, that obviously became less of a thing, but there still existed a community between many creators. It’s one that exists to this day. Many comic book creators are buddies with each other. During the 1980s, though, a good chunk of the Marvel Universe was being controlled by a small group of writers who were all friends with each other (well, at least there were friendships mixed in between them all – obviously they weren’t ALL friends, as Chris Claremont and John Byrne were involved). John Byrne, Roger Stern, Walter Simonson, Louise Simonson and Chris Claremont wrote most of the biggest books at Marvel in the mid-1980s, and most of them were friends with each other (with the Simonsons being sort of the center of the group, as everyone liked them – who wouldn’t?). We’ve covered an instance of Byrne and Stern working together on an informal crossover already, as when the Fantastic Four’s home was destroyed, they moved in with the Avengers, so in issues of Avengers, the Fantastic Four would be in the background and in issues of the Fantastic Four, the Avengers would be in the background.
During that same period, we had the 1985 Annuals for both books, Fantastic Four Annual #19 and Avengers Annual #14, and sure enough, the annuals were a clever “crossover” handled by Stern and Byrne, who each wrote their respective books, with Byrne doing layouts for BOTH Annuals, with Kyle Baker finishing Byrne on the Avengers Annual and Joe Sinnott finishing Byrne on the Fantastic Four Annual.
The covers of the two annuals (by Kerry Gammill, inked by Baker and Sinnott, respectively) were even the same moment just shown from two perspectives. Check it out!
In the Avengers Annual, the Avengers are out in outer space trying to track down Nebula, the alleged granddaughter of Thanos, who the Avengers had just encountered recently in their own title. They run into the Skrulls and soon find themselves caught up in a Skrull civil war, a result of the Skrulls fracturing following Galactus destroying their throneworld.
The Avengers encounter a bunch of Skrulls who are obsessed with Earth’s past (there was an old Fantastic Four story involving these Skrulls) and the Avengers discover that one of the Skrulls in the civil war is planning some drastic measures. They fight there way to him on a space station and run into…the Fantastic Four?!?
In the end, the bad guy set off the bomb, which robbed all Skrulls of their shape-changing abilities (as you might imagine, this was short-lived). Everyone involved believed that maybe this would be a sign that the Skrulls were ready for peace (they weren’t)…
Okay, so let’s see the same story from the Fantastic Four’s perspective!!
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