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The big matchup: JLA vs. Avengers

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The impossible has always been possible in the fantasy world of comic books.

And now, too, the impossible has been made possible in the real-world comic-book business: Rival companies Marvel and DC have joined forces with the premiere of "JLA-Avengers."

This four-part, 192-page series pits The Avengers (Thor, Captain America, Iron Man and others) against The Justice League of America (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and others). The first issue, now on sale, is worth the $5.95 price tag. The artwork by George Perez is terrific as is the writing by Kurt Busiek. Issue No. 2 debuts Oct. 22.

The Avengers, which populate the same universe as X-Men, has been a popular Marvel title for years, while DC's JLA has also grown in popularity with its own series on Cartoon Network (The second season premieres Oct. 4).

"JLA-Avengers" is being billed as the "first" meeting between the two groups, though that isn't the case. "Marvel vs. DC," a 1995-96 series, pitted many of the same characters against each other. In the end, Marvel won that contest by the narrowest of margins.

In that series, Superman knocked out the Hulk and Batman defeated Captain America, but Storm zapped Wonder Woman, Spider-Man subdued Superboy and Wolverine bested Lobo.

In the new series, the two super teams believe the others to be evil, setting up several battles that many comic fans have fantasized about, such as Superman vs. Thor. In future issues, the groups will join forces and take on a cosmic-scale evil.

The first issue handles the large cast of characters well. Previews for issue No. 2, however, boast that every member of the super teams will be featured.

E-MAIL: lynn@desnews.com