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World's Greatest meet Earth's Mightiest!

JLA/Avengers (or Avengers/JLA — both titles were used) is a four-part comic book miniseries co-produced by the DC Comics and Marvel Comics companies (each published two issues) in 2003-2004. It features a Crisis Crossover between the companies' top superhero teams, The Avengers and the Justice League of America. The crossover has an interesting story both within the comics and without.

Originally, the crossover — which would have pitted the teams against their respective enemies Kang the Conqueror and the Lord of Time — was meant to come out in the early 1980s; noted artist George Pérez, who had worked on both team's titles, was set to draw it. But some behind-the-scenes conflict (allegedly, Marvel's then Editor-in-Chief, Jim Shooter, pointed out some story errors — such as the hero Quicksilver being as fast as The Flash — and asked for a rewrite, which was not well-received by the DC people) led to the project's cancellation, despite Perez having already drawn several pages. This caused resentments that prevented the companies from doing crossovers again for several years, and left many comics fans disappointed.

By the early 2000s, however, relationships between the companies — both under new administrations — were cordial again, and the project was revived, with Perez once again set to draw it, and a new story done by writer Kurt Busiek (both of whom were in charge of the Avengers' comics at the time). The series was a financial and critical success, and is even (apparently) considered canonical by both companies (the "Krona Egg" artifact has appeared in some issues of DC's Justice League and Trinity (2008) series, while the events of the crossover are mentioned in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe).

The story involves Krona, a DC villain turned cosmic, obsessed with discovering how universes are born, and tearing several of them apart in the process. To save his universe, The Grandmaster, a cosmic being from the Marvel Universe, offered to give Krona the knowledge he wanted…if he beat Grandmaster in a gamenote . Krona accepted. The "game" was to force the two superhero teams to compete against each other (without telling them the real reason) over several artifacts scattered over their worlds — notably, each being backed the team of the opposing universe. This turned out to be a plan of the Grandmaster's to imprison Krona; it also resulted in a change of reality, creating a world where both teams had always co-existed. However, they discover the truth, and, finding out that Krona is about to free himself, decide to join forces to beat him once and for all. Alterations of time result in virtually every hero who had ever been an Avenger or a Leaguer showing up to help (but so did their enemies, under Krona's control). In the end, Krona is defeated and reality is restored to normal on both worlds.

It should be noted that this crossover seems to supersede the similar Marvel Versus DC one that had taken places in the 1990s, despite that one having also (apparently) been canonical. This was explained as a dimensional variation of Timey-Wimey Ball by Access.

This comic series provides examples of:

  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: In Issue #4, when the two teams are working together on preparations to attack Krona, they all have their masks off, while some heroes pair off for conversations, such as Barry Allen and Hal Jordan talking about their legacies, Aquaman and Thor chatting about Superman, while Superman and Captain America apologize for their out of character behavior. Meanwhile, you have brief moments with Wonder Woman expressing concern for Scarlet Witch, Bruce and Tony putting their heads together on modifying the Atlantean craft, and so on.
  • Always Someone Better: Played straight and inverted with the speedsters. The Flash completely dominates Quicksilver in the DC universe, but since the Speed Force doesn't exist in Marvel, the Avenger gets the upper hand on his home turf once the Flash's stored energy runs out.
  • Anything but That!: When Superman knocks out Thor, the Avengers yell things in the line of "No! Not Thor!" in anger.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Metron asks Krona if it's knowledge he's looking for — or power.
  • Audience-Alienating Era: invoked Leave it to Kurt Busiek to make a compelling story point out of these. In the third chapter, the heroes are in a happy Silver Age-style two-earth universe, and once they finally realize that this is just a distraction as the Earths destroy each other, they ask to see the worlds the way they should be. Each character sees the Face-Heel Turns, Heroic Sacrifices, Suspiciously Similar Substitutes, and With Great Power Comes Great Insanity that they will experience in the "correct" universe. They are horrified and initially consider the selfish idea of just leaving the Earths as is. Finally Hal Jordan, who arguably has the most to lose, tells everybody that they don't have the right to play God with the Earths (which, ironically, was the root of his own Audience-Alienating Era), and the heroes agree to restore everything that was, both good and bad.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Because of him and The Flash saving both the Marvel and DC universes from Krona, Hawkeye has been inducted into the Justice League. Yes, Clint Barton currently holds the distinction of being a member of BOTH the Justice League and the Avengers; the premier superheroes of both universes.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Superman and Thor take all comers.
  • Battle in the Rain: Thor summons rain in The Avengers' first bout with the Justice League.
  • Berserk Button
    • Superman (with some difficulty) knocks Thor unconscious. The Avengers go completely nonlinear upon seeing this, and Hercules, Iron Man, She-Hulk, The Vision, and Wonder Man viciously beat Superman into the ground.
    • This in turn pushes Aquaman's Berserk Button, motivating him to summon a Godzilla-sized sea monster and warn the Avengers not to touch Superman.
    • Batman definitely does not approve of murderous vigilantes.
  • Big Bad: Despite many planners and tricksters moving things around against the heroes, the true villain of the miniseries is Krona, the Mad Guardian of the Universe.
  • Big Damn Heroes: During the battle with Krona, Krona eventually ends up killing all of the heroes, Superman included, with one energy blast. Save The Flash and Hawkeye (whom everyone had presumed dead earlier), Barry then proceeded to distract Krona to give Hawkeye a good shot.
  • Bond One-Liner: Superman, when he knocks out Wonder Man after taking down Ms. Marvel:
    Sorry. She couldn't waitnote .
  • Both Sides Have a Point: While their hositility towards each other was escalated by the current situation, before the final battle Captain America and Superman each concede that part of the reason they were so hostile earlier is that they worry that the other's accusations were correct, Superman concerned that humanity is too dependent on him and Cap worried that no matter how hard he fights it may never be enough.
  • Brick Joke: A few seconds into their first fight, Batman notes that Captain America would probably beat him (though it would take a long time). In the final issue, when Prometheus claims that Batman's abilities should be more than enough to beat Captain America, Cap's only response is "Oh?". Cap beats him, essentially telling him copying someone else's skill set is a lazy substitute ("neural chaff"), and fighting in World War II gave Cap focus, something that can't be imitated or taught.
  • Bring It:
    • Superman on the cover of Issue #4.
    • Hulk briefly during the battle near the end of issue #4.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Poor Wally West really gets the short end of the stick in this one. On his first visit to the Marvel Universe, he discovers that he has lost his powers, as there is no Speed Force there. He is summarily beaten by an angry mob mistaking him for one of Magneto's Acolytes. He then gets owned by Iron Man. Then he is completely AWOL in the big brawl at the climax (save a one-panel cameo as Dark Flash) and shows up at the very end, having just missed a chance to see Barry.
    • Hercules, due to a misunderstanding gets beaten up by Wonder Woman. Later he's nearly killed by Screaming Mimi's Sonic Scream, only to be rescued by Black Canary…another sonic scream user.
  • The Cameo: Some of the few characters who have not been a part of the JLA or obviously The Avengers include the Teen Titans and X-Men, who make one panel cameos.
  • Cat Fight: In the background of one panel, heroic Marvel catgirl Tigra is wrestling with villainous DC catgirl Cheetah.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Photon learns enough from her first encounter with a power ring to drain Kyle Rayner's energy and use it to great effect. She later also uses this trick against Sinestro.
    • Subverted with Quicksilver. Hints are dropped that he'll learn how to access the Speed Force, but nothing comes of them.
  • Color Failure: During Issue #3 when the two worlds separate once more, the colors are so faded the characters are nearly monochrome in a few panels. This isn't because of the snow — snow wouldn't affect a character's color scheme after all. It's just to indicate that something has gone very wrong with the world(s).
  • The Chessmaster: Metron, who conspires with Grandmaster.
  • Chrome Champion: The Cosmic Cube-powered Kyle Rayner, as noted by Ms. Marvel.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: In the collectors' edition, things DC-related are blue, whereas Marvel-related things are red.
  • Combat Breakdown: In the final battle, the Martian Manhunter establishes a telepathic link that allows Captain America to command the entire battlefield at once. Attack orders and enemy weaknesses are distributed in seconds, which allows the heroes to cut through Krona's defenses with a brutal efficiency. That all falls apart when the link is severed after Manhunter is swapped out thanks to a temporal shift, leaving the heroes to fend for themselves.
  • Conflict Ball: Yes, the reasons for the two teams fighting each other are incredibly contrived. It's justified and invoked by Grandmaster, who instigates the ball (along with Metron) to distract Krona. (Do you honestly care? Also the perfect example why this particular trope isn't always bad.)
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: The combined strength of Superman and the Martian Manhunter is not enough to knock out Thor in the first fight. Later, Superman just about finds the strength to put Thor down by himself after a very short (but very brutal) fight.
  • Continuity Nod: So many that it's nearly impossible to list them all.
    • During the final battle, one of the universal shifts causes Captain America's shield (being held by Superman at the time) to disappear, and when it cuts back to him it might seem like he's been replaced by U.S. Agent. But longtime readers of Cap's book will know that's his outfit from his days as The Captain which was then given to U.S. Agent, and the reason the shield vanished is because he was forced to return it to the government.
  • Continuity Porn: The final battle. Every Leaguer and every Avenger up until that point vs. pretty much every villain both teams have faced.
  • Cosmic Entity: Krona; Grandmaster
  • Cosmic Keystone: Several, from both universes.
  • Crapsack World: Although it's played for laughs, Marvel Earth really does come off as this when compared to DC Earth, judging by the differing treatments that the superheroes receive. In-Universe, the Avengers even speculate that DC Earth may be a Crapsaccharine World, where the "shiny gloss" conceals super-powered tyranny or some such thing. Then again, Marvel started out as a Deconstruction and built itself on the concept where the threats were far more powerful than the heroes, which is why the MacGuffins from the Marvel Universe can wipe out reality, while the artifacts from the DC Universe are relatively less dangerous and more functional; the Green Lantern itself is one of them.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Hawkeye keeps his Lead-Foil Containment Arrow around on the off chance that he'll run into Radioactive Man at any given moment. He has a plan for possibly bumping into one single guy. Naturally this came in handy against Captain Atom, but still, considering how often the Radioactive Man attacks the Avengers (the man was one of the original Masters of Evil), this makes a lot of sense.
  • Crossover Couple:
    • The plot is set in motion by Kismet and Eternity, the avatars of the DC and Marvel Universes respectively, falling in love. In the end, they're forcefully torn apart.
    • Hawkeye and Black Canary get together, but only briefly and for the sake of a gag. A shift in the multiverse quickly puts her back together with Green Arrow.
  • Crossover Villain-in-Chief: Krona fits this role, summoning all of the villains of the DC and Marvel universes as troops to toss against the heroes (and he has the power to make them obey — the climax happens in his personal palace, made out of Galactus' corpse).
  • Dead Alternate Counterpart: In issue #3 the Marvel and DC worlds have become combined, turning it into a Silver Age utopia. When the characters learn how their realities are supposed to be, the character who argues for the restoration the most is Hal Jordan — who is "supposed to" be dead, and in fact died a villain as Parallax (Barry Allen is there too, but he's not quite so eager to restore the realities until he convinces himself otherwise).
  • Death Is Cheap: Discussed when Metron asks Grandmaster if he enjoyed being dead. The latter responds it was interesting.
  • Desperation Attack: Superman lands the knockout punch on Thor while lying on his back, leaving himself wide open for the Avengers' No-Holds-Barred Beatdown. Well, he got up, but he sure didn't expect to be knocked down again so soon.
  • Deus ex Machina: The Phantom Stranger shows up at a point where both groups are out of ideas and takes them where they need to go then vanishes. In other words, his usual shtick.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Krona casually and effortlessly whacks Galactus like a bug, which makes perfect sense as he had destroyed a significant number of universes at that point, and overpowered infinitely more powerful entities such as Eternity. And then builds a house out of him. Let it never be forgotten that Krona beat a planet-devouring entity within a minute, then built a house out of him.
  • Does Not Like Guns: Namechecked by Batman, of course; when Tony tells Bruce that he's sorry the modifications sacrificed the Atlantean warcraft's guns, Bruce replies he didn't care — he doesn't like guns.
  • Drama-Preserving Handicap: There is no Speed Force in the Marvel Universe, which prevents The Flash from winning Grandmaster's game single-handedly.
  • Eldritch Location: The respective universes have this effect on Captain America and Superman, driving the otherwise reasonable heroes to pick up the Conflict Ball. They get over it.
    • Superman even comments that sunlight in the Marvel universe feels "greasy."
  • Expendable Alternate Universe: Subverted. Several characters do try to invoke the idea several times throughout the series, but fail for differing reasons.
  • Fanservice: On literally every page. And it's not just about Wanda's belly-dancer outfit.
  • First Blood: Thor knocks Superman through a building with his hammer to start the battle in Metropolis, literally drawing first blood in the process.
  • Foreshadowing
    • Likely unintentional, but it's almost eerie seeing the Scarlet Witch becoming corrupted by the evil of chaos magic, and nearly having a nervous breakdown when confronted with the memory of her children. This was a full year before Avengers Disassembled and House of M, remember.
    • In the series, Hawkeye (Green Arrow after the universe fluctuates mid-conversation and Flash is put in Hawkeye's place) had saved the day when he fired an impossible shot to beat Doctor Doom. Guess how Krona is beaten?
    • And forget not that some of the headlines the Avengers first saw in the DCU included feats such as Superman bringing water to drought-ridden lands and Wonder Woman working with the UN as Themyscira's emissary. The Avengers are bothered by the idea that if they were a little more out-of-the-box in their approach, the world might be significantly better. And what does Thor do immediately after this storyline? Become king of Asgard and begin trying to make the world a better place by doing more than just punching bankrobbers. (It doesn't end well.)
    • The hammer becoming, for a time, avaliable to Superman's use despite his lack of traditional Thor-like traits is something explored further during the Aaron Thor run, suggesting in hindsight it may have not been Odin who let Superman use it for a spell.
    • Flash and Hawkeye during the first battle are having fun. They share the same jocularity during the final battle while fighting side-by-side, eventually coming up with a plan to defeat Krona.
  • Forgot About His Powers:
    • Thor can block, deflect, and absorb energy attacks with his hammer, yet never tries to defend himself from Superman's heat vision. He is also fast enough to block bullets and energy attacks, even those fired at point-blank range. Given how effortlessly Thor's defended himself from heat vision-style attacks over the years, even against opponents he's never fought before, for the God of Thunder to suddenly "forget" his most reliable defensive ability is bad writing at best. According to Word of God, both Superman and Thor were starting with their standard "tank" options and would have worked up to their more advanced abilities if the fight had progressed further. Alluded to when Thor mentions to Aquaman that he could have taken Superman now that he has his measure and knows how to counter him.
    • Despite being unable to use his powers in the Marvel universe, Wally West should still be fast enough to defeat several of the Avengers by himself. As it is, Wally is limited to the basic speedster skill set: running fast, dodging attacks, and little else.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: In the first encounter between the teams, Iron Man uses a device called the signature modulator to send the Justice League back to the DC universe against their will. That technology is never seen or mentioned again. Though this might be the only instance where it would have worked. Wally found it immensely difficult to crossover between the two universes even after the barriers between them are weakened (harder than many other universes he's been to) and snapped back to his universe on his own as his powers (and vibrations) faded. As the story progresses, the two universes move closer and closer together to the point that their histories start being retconned by historical instances of the two universes crossing over.
  • Freak Out: Hal Jordan has one when it appears Flash (Barry Allen version) and Hawkeye are killed. Sadly, he's swapped out for Kyle Rayner before he can do anything to the ones responsible, though it may be for the best since he turned into Parallax in the final frame. Thankfully Kyle finishes what Hal started and vaporizes both villains due to a temporary power boost thanks to the Cosmic Cube.
  • Funny Background Event: Plenty of them in the moments where many characters are on-panel; being this a George Pérez comic, it's bound to happen anyway. An example is the fight that opens volume 2, when you can see Batman do a flying kick right through an intangible Vision. The "whoa!" look on Bats' face as he does so is priceless.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: The Flash and Hawkeye engage in jovial banter, even in the first battle when the JLA and Avengers are enemies.
  • The Heart: DC's Wonder Woman and Marvel's Wasp often act as this for their respective teams throughout the miniseries.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Vision gives Superman the last of his solar energy reserves to counter Radioactive Man and Solarr's ambush.
  • Heroic Willpower: Using Green Lantern and Scarlet Witch's powers as a conduit, the classic members of both teams momentarily prevent their two worlds from being forcibly merged, jolting everybody back to their own universe, just by concentrating really really hard.
  • Hoist Hero over Head: While the Avengers are battling Starro, She-Hulk (with a Starro drone on her face) grabs Ms. Marvel and lift her above her head.
  • Hold the Line: The entire final battle is just to get Supes (armed with Cap's shield) to Krona — everyone else's job is to clear the way, leading to many such moments, including Wonder Woman, who gets some help from Hippolyta and She-Hulk (see the Heartwarming page for details).
  • Hulk Speak: The Hulk's line about "puny-costume men".
  • Hypocritical Humor: In scouting the Marvel Universe, Batman makes it perfectly clear that the other members of the JLA are not to interfere in the various aspects of Earth 616, such as Latveria. Shortly after, Batman comes upon The Punisher shooting some drug dealers. Plastic Man goes to leave, only to turn around and see that Batman has crashed through the window, presumably to take down The Punisher. As they rejoin the rest of the JLA, Plastic Man berates him for his interference (see image on the Funny subpage).
  • Identical Stranger
    • Surprisingly not noted within the story itself, but Vision and Metron look a lot alike. Justified because they were both designed to resemble Leonard Nimoy.
    • Thor and Aquaman both have blue eyes, long blonde hair, and identical beards (on the second half of #3 and first half of #4 at least, in Thor's case). Only their headgear sets them apart in certain panels. (Plus their obvious height difference: Aquaman is 6'1" while Thor is 6'6".) This is quite prominent when they are talking to each other early in #4.
  • Jerkass Realization: It's clear that Superman and Captain America feel this way when they learn the shifts in reality have been affecting their temperaments.
  • Kick the Dog: Dreamslayer and Doctor Diehard pull off this trope when they appear to kill Flash and Hawkeye. Their reasoning, the pair's "jovial banter" was inspiring the other heroes.
  • Legacy Character: It's genuinely touching to see Barry Allen and Hal Jordan assuring each other that Wally West and Kyle Rayner will continue their legacies after they've died. Well, it was more poignant back in 2004...
  • Lemony Narrator: Not in the series itself, but in the collectors' edition panel-by-panel breakdown. Highlights include the narrator cheering at the downfall of Rocket Red #7, getting frustrated at the Red Skull's many almost-appearances, and the ultimate showdown between The Wasp and Iron Man to see who can wear the most outfits.
    Panel 5: Iron Man is in his thirteenth armor of the crossover, tying the score once more, but he's cleary tiring and we're not sure he has another in him…
  • Let's You and Him Fight: The Mini-Series.
    • Several of the confrontations of this are of this nature; a partial subversion occurs between Batman and Captain America, however, who briefly test each other's skills before deciding that continuing the fight — which Batman states the Cap could, eventually, win — would be a waste of effort that would be better served finding out why they were put in that position in the first place. Batman even says, in effect, "Let them and them fight" while they look for answers.
    • Another subversion is when Aquaman fights She-Hulk; he soon remembers that all he needs to do is go after the artifact they were sent there to collect, and so he flees from her to pick it up, while Wonder Woman is busy beating the crap out of a rather confused Hercules.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Wanda Maximoff is able to tap into the Chaos Magic of the DC Universe just as she can use such magic in her home universe, although the power in the other universe is stronger and harder for Wanda to wield properly, resulting in more uncontrolled attacks.
  • Mythology Gag: Loads and loads.
    • The opening sequence in the first issue is an homage to the beginning of Crisis on Infinite Earths, down to the Crime Syndicate's universe being the second one destroyed on-panel.
    • In the beginning of the story, everything goes according to the continuity of both Avengers and JLA at the time. But, as the laws of reality get screwed up in the third and fourth issues, everything becomes fair game. Dead or forgotten characters are brought back for a moment, characters suddenly wear older outfits, Continuity Porn of several major events of most characters, etc.
    • In the third issue, the Masters of Evil are imprisoned in the omni-lingual Green Lantern bubble in which the Justice League trapped the pre-Crisis Crime Syndicate.
    • Hawkeye becomes a Justice League member in the same manner as pre-Crisis Black Canary (the Golden Age one).
    • A painting of the JLA and Avengers' first meeting is modeled after the cover to the first JLA-JSA crossover.
      • In fact, the third issue shows the JLA and Avengers having frequent cross-dimensional team-ups, similar with the JLA and JSA pre-Crisis.
    • Heck, it even goes beyond the comics continuity. What toy does Iron Man come up with when he helps Green Lantern (Kyle Raynor to be specific) make a weapon? Why, the Proton Cannon. To top it off, Iron Man is wearing the Modular Armor when the cannon is fired.
    • There's also the Marvel Comics Captain Marvel taking down Black Adam while the DC Comics Captain Marvel punches out Ronan the Accuser, both each other's respective enemies. Also in the same panel is Marvel's Photon, who originally also called herself "Captain Marvel" (currently she goes by the name Spectrum). Meanwhile, the heroic female Doctor Light (something of an Alternate Company Equivalent to Photon) shouts "Captain Marvel, Look out!", to which both Captain Marvels reply "Thanks!"
    • Superman fighting Count Nefaria, a Marvel villain who was originally created as a parody/homage/Alternate Company Equivalent of…Superman.
    • The panel where Superman catches Thor's hammer is almost identical to one from Count Nefaria's first fight with the Avengers after gaining his powers.
    • Hawkeye considering the Justice League a "bunch of Squadron Supreme wanna-bes". Marvel's Squadron Supreme was originally created as a parody/homage/Alternate Company Equivalent of DC's Justice League. In fact, that particular scene was similar to the appearance scene of the Squadron Supreme at the begining of Kurt Busiek's run on the Avengers. "Five gets you ten they're mind-controlled!" is to point that Hawkeye realizes the Recycled Script (the Squadron Supreme was indeed mind controlled back then). Of course, only the scene was similar, everything else that followed was different. As he pointed when he complained that the boomerang arrow would have worked with Whizzer; it did work with him.
    • Wonder Woman angrily attacking Marvel's Hercules, referring to him as the "despoiler of Hippolyta". In the DC Universe, Heracles (a villain) at one point enslaved and raped Hippolyta (Wonder Woman's mother). In the Marvel Universe, Hercules (a lovable hero who Really Gets Around) did at one point have an affair with Hippolyta…who's actually considered a villain there. (The event is based in Classical Mythology, where Heracles/Hercules seduced Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, and stole her belt. Marvel and DC both gave it their own spin.)
    • One panel of the final battle has a shot of two established Spider-Man enemies fighting: Sandman (who had been an Avenger before, during a brief Heel–Face Turn) beating up the Scorpion.
    • Black Canary beating Screaming Mimi with her Canary Cry, effectively turning the tables on her (who also has sound manipulating powers, and had just brought down Hercules with a sonic scream).
    • Flash defeating Boomerang is suitable considering one of his main foes is another boomerang-themed villain, Captain Boomerang.
    • A very meta one: after the two universes are temporarily merged, the story mentions prior team-ups of the teams. One of which is the plot of the cancelled crossover from the 80s, complete with a recreation of the original planned cover that had been seen many times before.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Superman gets one from the Avengers (specifically Iron Man, Vision, Wonder Man, Hercules and She-Hulk) after he punches out their buddy Thor.
  • "No. Just… No" Reaction: Wonder Woman's reaction to Captain America and Superman beginning to snipe at each other yet again. Wasp quickly backs her up, forcing Supes and Cap to focus on the situation at hand.
  • Not Himself: Superman and Captain America become paranoid and irritable once the walls between universes start to collapse, blaming it on each other. According to the Grandmaster, this is because they are the most in-tune with their respective universes.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
    • Batman's fight with The Punisher isn't shown. Safe to assume it would have been awesome.
    • Batman, Black Panther, Huntress and Black Widow teaming up…and the scene shifts elsewhere.
    • After almost being defeated by Radioactive Man and Solarr Superman is restored by the Vision using his last stores of solar energy. Two panels later, Superman is at Krona's last line of defense, and the two villains are piled on the Grim Reaper, who Superman was fighting before Radioactive Man and Solarr attacked.
  • Oh, Crap!: In the beginning, the Avengers are fighting Starro the Conqueror, and having a bit of trouble since they've never fought him before. They realize his small copies can control minds, though - then one of them latches onto The Mighty Thor. This is not good news.
    • Hawkeye's (and the readers') reaction to seeing the Infinity Gauntlet on the fist of Darkseid. However, Darkseid discards it when he learns that the powers the gauntlet should allow him to control don't exist in the DC Universe. Made even better by the fact that Hawkeye recognizes Darkseid as being the most evil being in the multiverse even though he never met him (he says Darkseid "looks even worse than Thanos, if that's even possible" — the reason being that while Thanos is a stew of neuroses that was his eventual downfall, Darkseid has no such issues and knows exactly what he wants.)
  • Once Upon a Time: The narration of each chapter starts with this phrase word-for-word after their prologues. Given the fancy print and placement of the phrase — especially in the first chapter — it can be argued that "Once Upon A Time" may be the name of the story itself.
  • One-Steve Limit
    • Averted, predictably enough. Dr. Light yells "Captain Marvel — look out!" Marvel Captain Marvel and DC Captain Marvel simultaneously thank her. And in the background of that panel is Monica Rambeau/Photon, who originally went by "Captain Marvel" as well.
    • Hero Despero takes out Villain Despero in one panel.
    • This gets a lampshade as well:
    Elongated Man: (to Beast, after having talked to Ant-Man) Hi, other Hank!
  • Only the Chosen May Wield: Mjölnir, as usual, which is here shown to not normally have Superman deemed worthy, though he can overcome it in dire straits if Odin allows it.
  • Painting the Medium: Lots of it in the latter issues: panels breaking, colors being faded, etc. At one point, the heroes are staring at each other through the weakened barrier between their universes. Said barrier is shaped like Krona's face, in place of the usual panel borders.
  • Pitiful Worms: During the League's battle with Terminus at the beginning of the miniseries, the villain refers to the heroes as "pitiful worms".
  • Poor Communication Kills: Many of the fights in issues 1 and 2 could have been easily avoided had the League and Avengers actually discussed what was happening instead of pointing fingers at each other. Both Captain America and Batman instantly recognize this and immediately cease fire to investigate the situation.
  • Power Creep, Power Seep: To fix the imbalance between the Justice League and the generally less powerful Avengers, the story plays on the idea that some characters have different power levels depending on which universe they're in. So in the DC Universe, the higher levels of "chaos magic" make second-tier Avenger Scarlet Witch powerful enough to briefly stun the entire League, while in the Marvel Universe, the lack of a Speed Force makes the Flash nothing more than an ordinary human (Steel creates a device that enables him to store the Speed Force; however after some time in the Marvel Universe, Quicksilver is able to outrun him).
    Flash: She gets to be psycho-powerful over here, but I've got no powers over there? How fair is that?
    • Meanwhile, Iron Man is given a Mother Box by Metron. Yes, one of the most cunning inventors gets a sentient machine that extends his senses and feeds him technical data neurally.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Just before blasting Thor with his heat vision, Superman lays this on him (and the Marvel Universe as a whole):
    Superman: Tell yourself that, Mister…Ease yourself to sleep at night while you let your world go to Hell! Where I come from, though…LIVES MATTER!
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Superman, twice. But he's not the only one.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Thor (Red) & Superman (Blue)
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: For much of the first part of #3 when the two worlds are merged, only Captain America and Superman realize that reality keeps warping, and the events of the previous issues. Their memories coming to the surface disrupts the worlds, after which the other heroes start remembering more. The Grandmaster later explains it as them being strongly attuned to their realities.
  • Rock–Paper–Scissors: (Superman + Manhunter) < Thor < Superman < Doomsday < Thor < Count Nefaria < Superman
  • Rousing Speech: Hal gives one at the end of the third issue. Despite knowing he has the furthest to fall, he argues the hardest to Save Both Worlds.
    Hal: There are millions, maybe billions dead or dying in the worlds as they are. Can we choose their deaths, because they're easier to bear? The reality we saw—It's the truth. Good, bad, love, pain—It's real. It's the one we're pledged to protect. Not to play God with.
  • Save Both Worlds: The Justice League and the Avengers fight to save both of their realities.
  • Save the Villain: Batman saves drug dealers from The Punisher.
  • Sequel Hook: Despite never getting a sequel, the last 3 panels of the series has Metron and the Grandmaster remark to each other that perhaps they should play a game with each other again soon.
  • Shirtless Scene: Thor manages to lose his shirt not once, but twice.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns:
    • Hawkeye and Plastic Man are pretty much absent for the mostly somber third chapter. Notice how quickly they come back in the more adventurous fourth chapter.
    • During the third chapter, the classic JLA and Avenger teams were around, i.e. Barry Allen and Hal Jordan are The Flash and Green Lantern, Aquaman still has his left hand, while Hawkeye is in his "blond hair, purple costume" look and not a part of the Avengers.
  • Shout-Out: Several, but especially, to the original story for the crossover.
    • Crisis on Infinite Earths. Barry Allen pulls nearly the same trick on Krona that he did on the Anti-Monitor. Of course, Barry was only distracting Krona to give Hawkeye a good shot. Since it was only a distraction, it wasn't literally fatal for Barry, though Wally returned, sending Barry back to his normal state: dead.
    • Signs in Metropolis include the following: Siegel Shuster Co., Marston Industries, and Kane.
      • This could also be a Mythology Gag as both universes have been naming in-universe buildings and streets after creators for decades. Especially DC.
    • At one point near the end of issue #4, at Iron Man's direction, Green Lantern whips up a large energy gun that's identical to Iron Man's Proton Cannon.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Used in the final issue, and a reason is given for it, too. Krona wants to use all the power he can to continue his research, and as little as necessary to spend on the heroes. So at first he uses just a tiny bit of power to summon the easiest, lamest goons with practically no willpower; easy to control, both physically and mentally, and throws them at the heroes. As they tear through the mooks, however, Krona is gradually forced to use more and more power and recruit stronger, smarter villains (as Metron lampshades) until at the end, he is literally summoning gods and world-destroying fire demons. Finally, he ends up destroying all of the heroes, Superman included, with one energy blast. Save The Flash and Hawkeye, who save the day.
  • Spiritual Successor: To the earlier Marvel Vs. DC four-parter, which (for better or for worse) had been a very 1990's-style story. Since almost every major character in either universe has been an Avenger or a Leaguer at some point, this story has much the same basic premise, but takes a completely different approach, generally having a Bronze Age feel to it.
  • Status Quo Is God: By necessity, since neither company can directly cite the other's trademarked characters. However, the JLA arc immediately after this crossover spun out of the destruction of the Anti-Matter universe in the first issue. Also Krona only managed to escape the Cosmic Egg much later in Trinity, as well as being one of the masterminds behind the events of Brightest Day.
  • Stay on the Path: The Phantom Stranger warns the two teams not to deviate the path he's created to take them to Grandmaster, or they'll be lost in time and space forever.
  • Story-Breaker Power: Most of the items that the Avengers and the Justice League were seeking in the first and second issues have the power to completely derail the story. The Grandmaster knows this, and took caution to prevent them from being able to use them. They were contained in energy spheres, and disappeared when either team captured and secured it. Darkseid broke the energy sphere around The Infinity Gauntlet, but it turned out to be conveniently useless in the DC universe. When Batman tries to use the Cosmic Cube, it disappears, Grandmaster saying the players can't use their power.
  • The Stoic: Metron, who else? His reaction to the JLA and Avengers vowing to take down Krona after a Rousing Speech? "Hmmm."
  • Strong as They Need to Be: Superman and Thor are as strong as the plot requires. Thor can take on Superman and the Martian Manhunter simultaneously in the first fight (actually he was overpowered), but Superman alone can knock him out (even so, Thor claims in the last issue that he has a good idea of how powerful Superman is and could possibly beat him in another fight). In the final battle, Superman defeats Count Nefaria, a villain who can take on Thor and the entire Avengers team at once (at least we see Superman confront the Count, so for all we know he could have had help). Rising to the challenge, Thor defeats Doomsday, who is famous for killing Superman. Word of God is that Thor only knocked Doomsday off the panel, not that he was actually defeated.
  • Take That!: George Perez hated Vibe, so when it came time to draw every Justice Leaguer and Avenger in the final battle, all that can be seen of Vibe is his legs as he falls off-panel.
  • Take Up My Sword:
    • First Captain America gives Supes his shield, then Thor tosses him his hammer at a critical moment.
    • When Hawkeye is apparently killed, Green Arrow grabs the fallen quiver of arrows, and promises to make each of the fallen archer's arrows count.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: One of the artifacts the heroes seek is at the bottom of an incredibly deep pool of water at Odin's tomb. Aquaman, who is getting beaten up by She-Hulk, realizes he doesn't need to beat her and recovers the artifact. Later that issue when a group of Avengers are beating up Superman in the Savage Land, Aquaman summons a giant sea-monster, knocking them all away.
    • Later he uses his control of marine life to shut down the minds of Atlanteans guarding Krona's citadel.
  • Took a Level in Badass
    • Yes, Scarlet Witch, the DC Universe has Chaos Magic, too, but it's a little different there. Let's just point out The Lords of Chaos are an organization of disembodied God-like beings capable of wielding nearly infinite power. Zatanna even states that Witch is freaking the Lords out.
    • Iron Man gets a significant power boost after interfacing a Mother Box with his armor. His sensors gain range and sensitivity, which allows him to detect and stun a surprised Wally West. Iron Man's repulsor blasts become strong enough to overpower Captain Atom, whose body was still smoking minutes after the battle. Even Superman cannot withstand their power, as a full blast to the chest leaves the Man of Steel helpless while the Avengers swarm him.
  • Trial by Friendly Fire: Towards the end of #4 when both worlds are close to collapse, the heroes are fighting Attuma and his Atlanteans, however Aquaman is able to shut all their minds down, despite the Atlantean Avengers Namor and his wife Marrina being among those fighting the Atlanteans. The half-Atlantean Namor withstands this, though is left with a headache. However Marrina is left with her mind out. Aquaman apologizes to Namor, saying it was the only way.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The fact that the Marvel Universe citizens are these while the DCU citizens are very much not, gets played for laughs. Praise of the DC heroes in the news and overt friendliness and respect from the curious DCU civilians come as a big shock to the Avengers. Quicksilver is pissed off at the fact that The Flash has an entire museum dedicated to him, while Quicksilver has been hounded by anti-mutant prejudice all his life, and Cap (being Not Himself at the time) even says the DC heroes must be tyrants who force the human race to worship them. Conversely, when Superman sees a broken and vandalized Hank Pym statue, he gets angry because the Marvel Universe's citizens have no respect for their heroes, which to him must mean that they aren't doing enough.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe
    • The Wasp goes to the extreme by having a different costume in every panel she appears in during the final battle. This is a Mythology Gag — the Wasp has had more different costumes than any other superhero ever (somewhat justified by the fact that she's a fashion designer in her civilian life).
    • The Atom, as well.
    • In both cases this was caused by the time-warping effect. And it applies to the other characters as well (Superman even appears in his blue energy form).
  • Villain Team-Up: In #3 a group of DC villains enthralled by Krona attack the Vision and Aquaman in Metropolis, but are beaten by the other heroes. In #4 Krona summons up many of the villains both teams have faced to defend his fortress, the fight with them taking up most of the issue.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Makes you wish for a Green Arrow/Hawkeye crossover someday.
  • We Are "Team Cannon Fodder": Just about everyone in the final battle, especially those brought in by waves of chronal chaos.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Wonder Woman and The Wasp have both had enough of Superman and Captain America's animosity by issue #3.
    • Plastic Man chews out Batman after the latter's off screen fight with The Punisher.
  • Win-Win Ending: In a way, this is how things turned out. The heroes of Marvel and DC managed to save their universes, restoring order. The Grandmaster managed to save his universe from being destroyed, winning his wager with Krona. Krona gets to be part of a new universe being born, meaning he finally gets the knowledge he always wanted. And Metron gets Krona out of their universe which is what he wanted, along with being able to know that no universes were sacrificed in doing so. Even the Grandmaster admitted he'd never played a game in which every player won.
  • "With Our Swords" Scene: The comic ends with one of these Captain America giving his shield to Superman to fight the Big Bad. Thor catches on to this and goes so far to hand over Mjolnir to Supes. The way it's illustrated on the cover of the final issue might count as one of the most awesome things ever done in comics.
  • The Worf Effect:
    • Terminus manages to briefly incapacitate Superman. Starro turns Thor into a brainwashed slave. After this, Superman and Thor spend most of the story giving each other the Worf Effect.
    • Captain America and Batman each take down one of their counterpart's most troublesome foes. During the final battle, Captain America defeats Prometheus note . On the next page, Batman is seen taking down Taskmaster note , right after having beaten Batroc, whom Bats commends as being fast and skillful. Notably, Taskmaster wasn't the only one who showed up to fight the Bat at that moment: he was with people like Crossbones, Titania, Zaran, Razorfist, Libra and others. Could the Dark Knight take them all alone? Maybe, maybe not. But then…
      Black Panther: Good day, Batman. Could you perhaps use an extra hand?
      Huntress: (showing up along with Black Widow) Or maybe six?
      Batman: If you've got nothing better to do…
      (off-scene bad guy smackdown ensues)
  • Xanatos Gambit: At the story's end, Metron notes that everybody won this one, in one way or another. Even Krona, in a manner of speaking.
  • Your Magic's No Good Here:
    • The Speed Force doesn't exist on the Marvel Universe's Earth, so The Flash's Super-Speed doesn't work.
    • Darkseid gets ahold of the Infinity Gauntlet, which would normally fall under the category of worst thing that could ever happen, but its vast power to manipulate reality is attuned to a different reality so it's useless to him.note  It's also a Continuity Nod in that it had been established that Infinity Gauntlets from different dimensions were useless outside their home realm.