Even at Comic-Con International in San Diego, it's a rare project that's able to get standing room only crowds for works a year or more off. Usually it's a phenomenon reserved for Star Wars movies. But Saturday morning, the first attendees of the day packed into a room to hear a little more about the long-awaited "JLA/Avengers" project.
With only nine pages drawn so far, the bulk of the project still lies ahead of artist George Pérez and writer Kurt Busiek. (Twenty-one pages were drawn the first time the crossover between DC and Marvel Comics was attempted, back in the early 1980s.) But so far, Pérez has drawn the Crime Syndicate, the Grandmaster, Eternity, the Weaponmasters of Qward, the Justice League of America (including Plastic Man) and Terminus (who is fighting the JLA). Included in the JLA line-up is a member who, as of a recent chapter in DC's "Our Worlds At War" crossover, might no longer be available.
"We haven't heard from ['JLA' editor Dan Raspler] yet if that Aqua[man] thing needs to be changed," Busiek said.
DC editor Mike Carlin didn't seem concerned: "Aquaman is missing in action. A Guy Gardner has been killed before. So don't worry, everyone."
("I thought Aquaman was missing in 'Adventures of Superman,'" Busiek interjected to a chorus of groans.)
Even Pérez, who laughs in the face of crowd scenes that make other artists quake in fear, has been daunted by the enormity of the task ahead of him. For one thing, who knew there were so many Justice Leaguers?
"Oh my god, the Jurgens years, the Giffen years," he laughed. "This is going to be fun."
Sure, he's done big events like this before, with a cast beyond belief, but he's not satisfied for what he accomplished in 1985.
"I want this to put ['Crisis on Infinite Earths'] to shame," Pérez said. He'll get his chance: The cover for issue three will feature all the members ever of each team.
Still, the fans want more, more, more. Which isn't to say they'll always be getting what they're requesting.
"I'm confident that Wolverine won't be showing up," Busiek said.
"I'm confident that he won't be scripted," Pérez grinned. "As 'Crisis on Infinite Earths' proved, sometimes characters are there for no other reason other than 'ooh, look! Cool!'"
But Pérez and Busiek will be the arbiters of what's cool and what isn't in the series:
"The Beast will be showing up," Busiek said.
"He was an Avenger!" piped Pérez.
And I think we can guarantee he will be the Avengers version," Busiek said, referring to the newly leonine Beast in the pages of "New X-Men."
Those appearing in the first issue – or, rather, those scripted to show up in the first issue, Pérez gleefully informed the audience, chortling about all the ways he'll be adding more figures to every scene – include the following:
- The Hawkpolice of Thanagar
- Captain America
- Iron Man
- The Scarlet Witch
- The Atom
- The Watcher
- The Imperial Guard
- The Brood
- The monsters of Monster Island
- Hal Jordan as The Spectre
- Dr. Doom
- The Punisher
"Thank god for George Pérez," Carlin said. "There's no other artist on Earth that loves drawing armies."
"This is a fanboy wet dream, and every one of us is soaking our pants," Pérez said. "And that's an image that will haunt you to your graves."