The legendary crossover limited series JLA/Avengers is finally being reprinted after years of unavailability. There's just one catch, though; the new edition, released through the Hero Initiative on Wednesday, March 16 in cooperation with DC and Marvel Comics to honor its artist George Pérez, will be limited to 7,000 copies.
In a February 16 announcement provided to the press by DC, the Hero Initiative states that the new printing is taking place specifically to honor "one of George Pérez's seminal bodies of work and his long-time support of [Hero Initiative]."
Pérez recently shared that he was diagnosed with terminal cancer with the comic book community and subsequently announced his plans to live out his remaining days celebrating comic books with his friends, co-creators, and fans.
Pérez is a founding member of the Hero Initiative, and a familiar face at fundraising events for the organization, at one time its single biggest fundraiser. The Hero Initiative is a charity dedicated to helping comic book creators in medical or financial need; more information can be found at www.heroinitiative.org.
"The Hero Initiative is one of my greatest sources of pride," Pérez recently told Newsarama following the announcement of his diagnosis and his retirement from the charity's board.
"I am stepping down with absolutely the greatest feeling of accomplishment. We've helped so many of my peers, and Hero Initiative has helped me. I'm grateful to them, and it's a nice legacy to have."
In addition to his work with the charity, Pérez is also the most definitive superhero artist of all time and JLA/Avengers remains the crowning achievement in his career of crowning achievements.
The new collected edition of JLA/Avengers will be distributed through Diamond Comic Distributors and available in participating comic shops Wednesday, March 16. Interestingly, due to it being distributed by Diamond, it will be released on a Wednesday, the traditional new comic book day still used by Marvel Comics and most other publishers, as opposed to DC's new release day of Tuesday, which the publisher adopted in the first half of 2020.
The new volume will reprint all four issues of the original limited series in a softcover format with an additional 60 pages of material, including reprinted introductions from the late Stan Lee (co-creator of the Avengers) and Julius Schwarz (the DC editor-in-chief during the creation of the Justice League), as well as a new afterword from JLA/Avengers writer Kurt Busiek.
"I'm absolutely thrilled, of course — that Marvel and DC were able to come together to bring the book out again, that we're able to honor George like this, and that we're doing it in a way that benefits the Hero Initiative, which has been so helpful to creators in need, and which George has been such a strong supporter of for years," Busiek tells Newsarama."
"I can't wait to see the actual book."
In many ways, 2003-04's JLA/Avengers represents the culmination of a story that took almost 30 years to tell. Back in the late '70s, when he was working on both Marvel's Avengers and DC's Justice League, Pérez begin illustrating a crossover between the two super-teams - the biggest joint story Marvel and DC had ever attempted.
Unfortunately, due to the vagaries of big market publishing, the project was never published and the near-miss gained near-legendary status. But Marvel and DC did find some occasions to have individual characters meet in smaller crossovers.
1996's Marvel Vs. DC seemed to fulfill some of the promise of the planned JLA/Avengers crossover, but it took several more years for the real deal version to come together with Pérez and Kurt Busiek, his longtime creative partner on Avengers, taking the reins.
The result was a four-issue tour de force around both the Marvel and DC Universes, roping in dozens of heroes, villains, and other classic concepts for a story that follows the classic 'heroes meet and fight over a misunderstanding before teaming up to take on the bad guy" formula, but in a way that hits all the right notes for fans of both franchises who waited decades to see the teams come together.
Its long journey still makes JLA/Avengers one of the most unlikely comic book crossovers ever.
JLA/Avengers also marked the last real crossover between Marvel and DC, and the collection has been out of print for some years - at least, until this announcement. But with only 7,000 copies up for sale through Diamond Comic Distributors, fans will need to be early birds to snag this particularly juicy worm.
The announcement did not indicate the new edition will be made available on digital platforms.
While limited in quantity, that it's being newly reprinted in any quantity in a joint effort by Marvel and DC (any interaction between the publishers is rare these days) is a testament to Pérez's stature and standing in the industry and community.
Sometimes relationships are rekindled by extraordinary circumstances and small efforts and it'll be interesting to watch if JLA/Avengers is a one-time exception to honor a community legend or a new beginning for the onetime rivals-sometimes partners.