Out this week in comic shops is the 378-page throwdown between the two biggest non-mutant teams at Marvel. Fantastic Four vs. Avengers features stories printed from 1964 all the way to 2011 and collects all the times these two teams tussled. If you are to take anything from this collection it’s this: These teams really didn’t fight much!
This book opens with a two-part Fantastic Four tale by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee which reads like the very first crossover in comics history. It isn’t of course, but it’s quite an epic as Hulk attempts to find the Avengers and fight them, but for multiple pages ends up fighting Thing instead. It’s fight comics to the nth degree and while Hulk isn’t technically an Avenger in this story he apparently counts as one so as to fit into this book. Some of Kirby’s most epic Thing/Hulk punches take place here and it’s actually quite a success as Lee keeps your interest with all the twists and turns.
Following this story is another collaboration between the teams as they attempt to stop Ultron-7 from ruining Quicksilver and Crystal’s wedding. Again, the teams don’t really fight but team-up. Steve Englehart writes and Sal Buscema and Joe Staton draw this story which lays on the Inhuman melodrama well. These events lead to an Annihilus adventure by John Byrne that’s out of this world good. It could be argued the point of origin for The Maker or the idea of him is laid out here and it’s nice to see the Fantastic Four saving the universe once again.
This leads to a Skrulls story by Roger Stern with art by John Byrne which is as classic as they come. One might say Reed argues a bit as he’s certain of himself, but no fighting takes place. In the following story, the Fantastic Four become Avengers (again nobody is fighting) and everyone joins forces to take on Super-Nova. This one is by Ralph Macchio, Bob Hall, and Don Heck. The big space opera of it all is captured well similar to the Skrulls story but with more punching and it’s set on Earth.
The last two stories are much more modern and tales you might have read. The first is by Brian Michael Bendis and Dan Jurgens (with finishes by Sandu Florea) and has the two teams team up to uncover a secret alien ship that has been buried on Earth for 2,500 years. It’s a far-out concept and a fun ride. Once again, there’s squabbling from Mr. Fantastic with Avengers leaders rather than any real fighting.
The final story is written by Dan Slott with art by Stephen Segovia and in this two-issue tale the teams actually do fight! The “Avengers” lineup isn’t your typical one, but it’s fun to see Hank Pym calling the shots on his own team. I actually missed this story back in 2011 and it’s a nice one to read if you’ve been reading Dan Slott’s Tony Stark: Iron Man series since Tony is fighting Hank in the current story arc. Characters like Jocasta, Amadeus Cho, Hercules, and Reed Richards are all written very well. One of the strongest scenes has Reed Richards tell Hank Pym, “I know more about Pym Particles than you.” Low blow man! Reed’s ego mixed with his stubbornness plays well and there’s a heist feel to the story as it crescendos to its climax. Segovia certainly draws outrageous proportions on the female characters, but if you can ignore that it’s a fun tale.
This is quite an interesting collection that serves as proof these two teams need to fight more. That’s partly because any tension seen in these stories is possibly the most entertaining and Dan Slott with Stephen Segovia wrap the book up with a tale that’ll make you want more superhero team vs. superhero team action.