The Marvel Comics Universe is about to explode into an all-out War of the Realms, a conflict so large that not even the Avengers can stop it. Thankfully, the Justice League of America is joining the fight. Well, the Marvel version of the DC heroes, anyway.
What began as a joke has now reached a new level of parody, shade, or shameless imitation, depending on how readers view the return of Marvel's Squadron Supreme. The team has been quiet since they emerged as Agent Coulson's new squad in Avengers #700, looking even more like knockoff Marvel versions of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Flash than usual. But now, Marvel has given up any appearance of subtlety at all, hyping up fans for the chance to see the "the greatest heroes of D.C. in action." Meaning Washington, D.C. (obviously).
For those unfamiliar with the heroes known as the 'Squadron Supreme,' their comic history begins in the days when the DC/Marvel feud was still handled playfully, more often than viciously. Created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema, the Squadron Supreme was first introduced as a team of villain clearly modeled after DC's competing Justice League. Superman was re-imagined as Hyperion, Batman became Nighthawk, Wonder Woman was now Power Princess, The Flash was the speedster Whizzer, and Green Lantern was shifted into the multi-colored Doctor Spectrum. But after being used to fight Marvel's Avengers, the team took on a life of their own.
Villains became heroes, and were re-imagined as variations not-so-blatantly ripping off the Justice League roster. But the newest team to carry the name--the trio of heroes seen fighting alongside the Avengers in the War of the Realms--well, it's a good thing DC has apparently decided they're not going to sue. Take a look for yourselves:
The spirit of fun is alive and well in Marvel's latest version of the team, from their new name--the "Squadron Supreme of America"--right down to the "D.C" tagline used to promote their appearance. Even so, this cover and, presumably, the Squadron's role in the coming war will be an interesting test. A test of where the line is drawn between a playful, tongue-in-cheek parody, and where Power Princess is simply being drawn as Wonder Woman, sword and shield included. Not to mention the new Whizzer looking exactly like a version of Johnny Quick, evil speedster of DC's own Crime Syndicate.
But then again, maybe it makes sense that DC publishers and comic book fans tolerate or even invite such imitation. After all, if Marvel wants to show that their event is so big and so out of control they need the Justice League to help... we doubt DC would turn down the free publicity. Or D.C., for that matter.
WAR OF THE REALMS TIE-IN! See the greatest heroes of Washington, D.C., in action as the War of the Realms comes to the nation’s capital. Who needs the Avengers when you’ve got the all-new Squadron Supreme of America? But who are these mysterious new heroes, and where did they come from? Only Agent Coulson knows.
The all-new Squadron Supreme of America a.k.a. "the greatest heroes of D.C." will leap into the fight in Avengers #18, available at your local comic book store on April 24th, or direct from Marvel Comics.