Monday, April 16, 2012

Review: Avengers vs. X-Men #1

This is a comic that in one way is a cool idea and in another way a completely superfluous concept. On paper a comic that puts the X-Men against the Avengers seems awesome. What plot device could possibly force these two teams against each other? Well decades ago when the X-Men battled the Avengers it was over Magneto (And in the 60s every superhero pretty much would fight any other at the drop of a hat; no reason necessary). This time it’s over the Phoenix Force. And also, you know, Cyclops being a dick. Because it’s 2012 and Cyclops hasn’t been a nice guy since 2007. For a little bit of background on the Phoenix click here.

Anyway Avengers vs. X-Men, or AVX for some reason, is a twelve issue maxi-series that obviously pits Marvel Comic's two premier superhero team against each other. At this point the X-Men are pretty much where we left off in X-Men: Schism; the team is still split between Utopia, where Cyclops continues to run the mutant race like an army, and Xavier’s Mansion, where Professor Logan imparts his wisdom on the next generation of X-Men (God help them). Meanwhile the Avengers, after lengthy period of overly dark storytelling, have pretty much finally gotten back to their status quo from before Civil War meaning that Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor are all alive and back to being friends again and the team is unabashedly a force for good. This series is set to be more of a slugfest between the two sides rather than a complex series of story events…and I’m strangely okay with this.

Anyway this book was written by Brian Michael Bendis, the man responsible for revamping the Avengers into the darker, less fun team they became during the 2000s and also Ultimate Spider-Man. Artwork was done by John Romita, Jr. with inks by Scott Hanna and colors by Laura Martin. With my well-publicized disappointment over X-Men: Schism on the table did AVX do anything to win me back to Marvel’s side?

Click below to find out.


You'd think I'd be happier seeing two of my favorite heroes together
The Phoenix Force has returned and is heading straight for Earth. The Avengers are alerted to this by Nova (Who I thought was dead) and come to the conclusion that it must be stopped at any cost before it puts the planet at risk. Meanwhile on Utopia during a harsh training session with Cyclops Hope Summers accidentally unleashes the power of the Phoenix. Convinced that this could be a boon to the mutant race Cyclops declares that the X-Men will prepare Hope for her new role. However this soon puts them in a direct conflict with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

Truth be told not all that much happens in this comic, save the very end. It’s mostly just set up for the conflict to come. Considering that Marvel’s recent Big Event Comic strategy has been to start issue one with a huge badass and exciting situation only to flounder for the rest of the series it may not be a bad idea to start kind of low and work your way up. Still nothing happens in this comic that Marvel didn’t spoil in interviews and promos. Still there are plenty of comics to go so I’m not too worried yet

The artwork is pretty good here, though I’ve had a complicated relationship with Romita’s style for fourteen years as I can never seem to decide if I like his character designs or can just barely stand it. I find it mostly good here though. But to be perfectly frank there isn’t much else that I actively enjoyed about this comic. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad or anything but it’s all pretty much all set-up so there isn’t anything to really enjoy here. Not to say there isn’t anything to hate. Oh God. First and foremost Cyclops is terrible in this book. Am I surprised? Of course not. In their own recent event Cyclops, despite having the higher moral ground nearly the entire series, always came off like a huge asshole. So of course he’s going to be a monster here but just because I knew it was coming doesn’t mean I like it. Specifically Cyclops’ point of view doesn’t make any sense, not even to his own people. He seems convinced, for no real reason that he shares, that the Phoenix Force can save mutant-kind. Now maybe there have been some instances in previous comics that would support that but if there are Scott doesn’t bring it up. He also doesn’t seem to care if Hope wants to be the host of a genocidal cosmic entity or not which is usually a sign of someone being the “evil stepfather” type. Combined with the fact that he treats Captain America as an enemy for the flimsiest of reasons makes this version of Cyclops hard to like. Hell, he outright attacks Cap whose only crime was that he wanted to protect the Earth from a legitimately dangerous threat. As much as I love Cyclops he’s absolutely wrong here and probably needs to be stopped. Which I hate.

Damn it Cyclops, you've lost your goddamn mind
Going back to the Phoenix I’m more than a little annoyed by Captain America’s conversation with Wolverine about the subject matter for two reasons: One) Wolverine contradicts the idea that the original Phoenix wasn’t actually Jean Grey. He mentions that Jean killed herself but we now know and have known for decades that the real Jean was sitting in the ocean during that entire storyline. I know writers keep retconing the retcon so maybe they’ve changed it again but as far as I know this is a plot hole. Two) Wolverine says Cyclops will have a personal agenda over this because “this thing” killed his wife and thus killed “any chance he had at any sort of happiness”. Are you kidding me? Let’s pretend that Jean Grey was in fact the Phoenix during the Dark Phoenix Saga. Jean’s most recent death wasn’t because she committed suicide to contain it but that she was murdered by Xorn pretending to be Magneto pretending to be Xorn during the Planet X storyline moments after becoming the Phoenix again and saving a lot of people. So I wouldn’t see why he’d blame the entity for her death. Not to mention fact that Scott has indeed achieved a measure of happiness since Jean’s death. During the final issues of Joss Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-Men Cyclops finally admitted to new girlfriend Emma Frost that he indeed was in love with her and that she wasn’t just a replacement for his dead wife. It was a huge moment in the development for both characters and basically brought the sketchy nature of their relationship to a head. Really I figure the main reason Cyclops would have a personal stake in the return of the Phoenix would be the possibility of the return of Jean Grey, which is a pretty reasonable assumption, but that never even gets hinted at in this issue. Oh well.

I know this has turned into a rant but by now you should be aware that I’m a big fan of continuity and it really bothers me when writers seem to ignore it rather than work around it or with it. It makes me feel like I’m being punished for having a long memory which was my biggest issue with the Great DC Reboot of 2011. But that’s also y only real complaint about the comic and while it makes me really annoyed it’s not a deal breaker. This is a fairly by-the-numbers first issue for an event but there’s also nothing here that would make me uninterested in getting Issue #2. 

Friends, when this happens to your kids CALL THE DAMN AVENGERS!
I’ll give Avengers vs. X-Men #1 3 out of 5 Adorable Pandas.


Pro 

-The art is pretty good 

Cons 

-Weird continuity issues 

-Not much happens


@JasonBetaMagnus

3 comments:

  1. the review is pretty spot on but I havn't bought or looked at another issue of AvX at all. Matter of fact Ive almost dropped marvel comics altogether because T'Challa has been MIA since Doom War. I tried to conversate with you over at your Bronze Tiger post about that guy. So what do you think about the down grade and absence of the Black Panther?

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  2. I'm fairly sure the down grade is mostly due to the fact that Black Panther's most recent series wasn't selling that well. Which is a damn shame because Black Panther should be a lot more iconic than he currently is. I haven't been keeping up with Marvel lately so I don't know too much about what T'Challa has been doing the last year or so but he certainly shows up at the end in the background of this issue. Doing nothing.

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    1. Doing nothing as usual when Doom War should have been a coming out party showing off the new power set that he got after Doom almost killed him at the end of the Black Panther series. the Black Panther and Dr.Doom battle should have been epic. If you get a chance come thru thebronzetiger.blogspot.com

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