John Gholson is a life-long Avengers fanboy who has previously covered all manner of superhero news at AOL. After dabbling with comic book self-publishing in the '90s, John moved on to study sequential art at the Savannah College of Art & Design, and currently produces a regular web comic, ‘Appetite for Destruction,’ for Tapsauce.com. He’ll also buy any comic with Hawkeye on the cover. You can read his AvengersCountdown here at Movies.com once a month.
It’s looking more and more like this Summer is all about Avengers versus Batman. The two movies, The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, have several weeks of breathing room between their release dates, but many die-hard fans will still see the battle the same way they view any superhero battle. There will have to be a winner. Which will be the better film? Which blockbuster will make more money? Who makes better movies -- Marvel or DC (through parent company Warner Brothers)?
While we all wait for the answers to those questions, we can take a look back at a few of the times the Avengers have met the DC Universe head-on.
Batman and Captain America
This is a sillier affair than you might immediately suspect from the two leads. Writer/artist John Byrne decided to set this cross-over firmly in the early 1940’s, complete with “old chum” Robin and plenty of cornball All-American do-gooder attitude. It’s a fun book, but its tone suffers a little under Byrne’s meticulous pencils. While he’s writing it as if the book came straight out of comics’ Golden Age, he’s not drawing it with that same intent in mind, and the story could’ve used someone with a lighter touch on pencils.
Incredible Hulk Versus Superman
No, you won’t walk away with a definitive answer on who’s stronger, but it’s one of the more cohesive cross-overs with writer Roger Stern meshing the two universes under the solid, somewhat-retro artwork of Steve Rude. The story sees Lex Luthor manipulating Bruce Banner against the Man of Steel, and I don’t think it’d be a spoiler to note that the good guy come out on top (even after trading fists-to-the-face).
Batman Versus the Incredible Hulk
While neither a great Batman story nor a great Hulk story, the artwork from Jose Luiz Garcia Lopez is top-notch. Both characters are represented at their quintessential best, Hulk is dumb, mean, and green, and Batman feels like he’s fresh from the pages of his ground-breaking run under Neal Adams and Denny O’Neil. The story finds Bruce Banner working on gamma technology for Bruce Wayne’s company, but the new tech is stolen by the Joker who wants to exchange it with an alien entity who can shape worlds into whatever he desires. Naturally, it’s up to Batman and Hulk to save the day.
Marvel Versus DC
This was the event that comic fans had dreamed of and speculated about for decades. Did it live up to the hype? Not exactly. Letting the fans vote for the outcome of superhero brawls like Wolverine vs. Lobo probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but it resulted in a flimsy story good for a few one or two-page fight scenes between beloved heroes. The best thing to come from Marvel Versus DC were the inventive mash-up books published under the Amalgam banner, that saw characters like Bruce Wayne, Agent of SHIELD and Dark Claw, a Wolverine-Batman fusion.
Both companies took a mulligan on Marvel Vs. DC when they approached JLA/Avengers, and writer Kurt Busiek and artist George Perez tackled the challenge like any proper fanboys would. Here, an exiled Oan and the cosmic entity known as the Gamemaster wager for the fates of both the Marvel and DC universes. The series is chock-full of great money shots, like Superman weilding both Cap’s shield and Mjolnir, and both universes are treated with respect in the service of the story -- a rare thing for inter-company cross-overs.
Avengers News Assembled
-- Since the last Avengers Countdown, we’ve gotten a final one-sheet for the film. It’s not the best-looking poster ever, relying on the “everybody posing in a big collage” style that’s grown tiring over the past ten years. At least it’s better than the Japanese poster, which looks like the cover to some bootleg Avengers movie you might find for a few bucks at a neighborhood bodega. Along with the new poster came a series of character banners that should be hanging up in your local multiplex by the time you read this.
-- Someone with some serious time on his hands and a heck of a lot of passion has cut a trailer for Avengers made from existing pieces of Marvel animation.
-- AMC is hosting a special Marvel event that leads up to The Avengers. Select theaters will play Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger on May 3, with Avengers debuting in the midnight slot at the tail end of the marathon. You can view the full list of participating theaters here.
-- How would Joss Whedon one-up the Avengers if given the chance on Avengers 2? “By not trying to. By being smaller. More personal, more painful.” It’s an interesting take in a time where sequels almost always strive to be even more bombastic than their predecessor. Whedon hasn’t officially committed to a sequel just yet, but I like this line of thinking. (via Digital Spy)
-- Newsarama has a list of the 10 Greatest Avengers Line-Ups of All-Time. I agree with the placement of the Kurt Busiek/George Perez line-up and the inclusion of the West Coast team, but there are a couple rosters on there that I consider all-time worsts, namely the strange quartet of Captian America, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver, and the late-80s team that boasted Dr. Druid, Namor, and Black Knight as members.
-- The Uniblog found this Avengers gender swap from Snareser at Deviant Art. Some of these characters have been gender-swapped before in the comics (Hulk/She-Hulk, Spider-Man/Spider-Girl, etc), so their looks aren’t entirely surprising, but the Iron (Wo)man did get me thinking...Iron Man fans, help me out here - has there ever been a woman in the armor?
-- Yes, we will be getting an Avengers table in Marvel Pinball! Zen Studios has announced a table based on the movie, and three additional tables based on some of Marvel Comic’s biggest storylines (Fear Itself, World War Hulk, and The Infinity Gauntlet) available in one set. Zen’s Mel Kirk told CBR, “Working on a dedicated Avengers table that is based on the movie is just super awesome. There is no way we could say no to that.” The new tables will be available as a digital download this May for PS3 and X-Box 360 Marvel Pinball owners.
-- The costume designs on Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are getting tweaked for Season Two and Marvel.com has the first look. The new designs aren’t too drastic, and seem to reflect more of the look from the movie than the comics (note Captain America’s wingless mask). The new season starts April 1 on Disney XD.
-- You might be ready for Avengers, but is your dog? Ask him. I’ll wait. He’s not ready? It’s probably because you didn’t pick up one of these official Marvel pet accessories. Yes, now your dog can also sport an Avengers tee. Jamie Kampel, Director of Licensing at Marvel Entertainment lays it out for us, “Marvel Super Heroes are a family affair and therefore, should include the family pet.” Of course. The Marvel Pet Accessory line is available at PetSmart.
Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Episode Guide
Season 1, Episode 16: “Widow’s Sting”
In This Episode: During a bit of downtime for the team, Hawkeye decides to tie up some loose ends involving the Black Widow (against Iron Man’s better judgment). Captain America and Black Panther lend their support, as does Bobbi Chase aka Mockingbird, SHIELD agent turned superhero.
I’d almost completely forgotten about the subplot involving Black Widow, so kudos to the show-runners for bringing back this loose thread in a significant way. It’s certainly not wrapped up in this episode, but it shows they’re planning and plotting for things that will pay off later. With that philosophy in mind, check out the nefarious interactions between AIM and Hydra -- the bit with MODOK returning a bogus Cosmic Cube to Baron Von Stucker is sure to pay off soon.
And what about that ending? I can’t remember a time when a cartoon supplied me with a twist ending that actually got me really excited about what happens next, but this episode certainly sets up something that should make the rest of the season verrrrrrrry interesting.
Marvel Universe Watch: Lots of MODOK in this one, but Baron Von Stucker is the main villain. Lance Henriksen returns to voice Grim Reaper. I’m a big Mockingbird fan, and while her presence was welcome, I could’ve used more flirtacious banter between her and Hawkeye (who I consider to be one of comics’ greatest couples). Black Widow in the cartoon continues to be cooler than the movie version.
The Avengers, a Joss Whedon film, stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth. There are 46 days until release.