It’s one of the great unfinished symphonies in the history of comics. After having successfully teamed up Superman and Spider-Man twice, Batman and the Incredible Hulk, and the X-Men and the New Teen Titans, in 1983 Marvel and DC were prepared to release JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA VS THE AVENGERS, uniting their two flagship teams in a single crossover book. Of the greatest excitement was the fact that this book was being illustrated by George Perez, who was not only just about the most popular artist in the business but who also had a history of working on both groups. In the end, the project was troubled and it never came to fruition–I don’t have enough time here to give chapter-and-verse on it, something that I may cover at some later date. But the key mistake made was that DC, who were producing the book, gave a green light to George to start drawing writer Gerry Conway’s plot before it had officially been approved by Marvel. This led to in-fighting among the two companies, as Marvel’s team didn’t feel that the plot worked as written. Eventually, Roy Thomas was brought in to revise the plot in an attempt to get the project back on track (and to use the 21 pages that George had already penciled.) But it was all for nothing–the window of Perez’ s availability had closed, and the book was never finished.
So the question remains: was Gerry’s plot so awful, so unusable, that the Marvel team was right to ask for extensive revisions? If you speak to those involved–Jim Shooter, Tom DeFalco, the late Mark Gruenwald, Roger Stern–the answer is undeniably yes. And in any event, it was a massive breach of protocol for DC editor Len Wein to have Perez proceed on drawing it before Marvel had signed off. Still, the proof is in the pudding–and I happen to have a copy of that original plot, which I will now share with all of you. It definitely has some problems in it, some stupid or ill-considered moments. But it also looks to my eye like the sort of thing that could have easily been corrected with a simple revision. Then again, I wasn’t there, and I don’t know all of the ins-and-outs of who said and who did what when. All I know is that everybody was deprived the pleasure of this book existing because two groups of people couldn’t come together and agree on something. And if there’s anything more 2022 than that, I don’t know what it is.