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Tag Archive: Avengers vs. X-Men


Now at Round 7 of the ongoing battle, Avengers vs. X-Men has caught up with the plot foreseen in Avengers vs. X-Men Issue #0 reviewed here 100 days ago.  When you think of a title like Avengers vs. X-Men, you think of panel after panel of the Hulk vs. Colossus, Iron Man vs. Emma Frost or Cyclops vs. Captain America and everyone else.  It’s what you’d expect for an event series like this, and for the most part it is what has been delivered.  But Avengers vs. X-Men Issue #0 was unexpected, a story about the return of the exiled Scarlet Witch and the coming of age of a mutant youngster named Hope, both characters whose paths are in a state of flux.  With Issue #7, AvX is now honing in on this initial focus again, raising questions like “How will Scarlet Witch fit back into the Marvel Universe?”  “Is Hope really the key to the fate of the Phoenix?”  “Is Jean Grey gone for good, or is this all leading up to some kind of return?”

If you haven’t been reading the series, a lot has happened, yet nothing substantial or Earth-shattering to alter any key characters for their own ongoing stories, except the death of Hawkeye (more on that later).  The strange, classical, fiery, mythical Phoenix slams into Earth from beyond the stars.  This Phoenix Force was supposedly destined for the girl Hope, who is being over-trained for her destiny at the Utopia coastal base by Cyclops’s Scott Summers, doing his best Jillian Michaels impersonation.  But you press a kid too far and what do you expect as a result?

The Avengers–including X-Man Wolverine–believe that they must take Hope into their protective custody, thinking that no one entity can be trusted to harness this Phoenix Force and use it for the good of mankind.  But Summers won’t hear of it.  More and more over the series it seems that his feelings for Jean Grey, killed by the Phoenix years before, are causing him to make poor decisions.  He is a poor leader.  His actions take all the superheroes farther away from a solution.  Ultimately Wolverine’s inside knowledge allows the Avengers to track down Hope.  The conflict ends with a face-off on the “blue side” of the Moon.

Iron Man Tony Stark builds powerful “Phoenix Killer” armor that is somehow both effective and a failure in the attempt to ward off the Phoenix Force.  Stark’s suit divides the force, and instead of it being absorbed by Hope, five X-Men take it on: Cyclops, Colossus, Magik, Prince Namor and Emma Frost.  Now armed with this strange new power, they’re determined to alter the world for the better–at least as they see it.  We’re left with Cyclops’s unsettling declaration, “No more Avengers!”  He believes the mutants will never be safe without their elimination.  And the pursuit continues.  The battle is the same as found in countless other stories, fiction and non-fiction–seemingly unlimited power in the possession of a single being or a handful of beings cannot be allowed to continue because it always ends badly.

The frustration that must be felt by readers is that all of these powerful beings, including geniuses like the Beast and Iron Man, cannot sit down and work out a plan.  Of course we don’t pull a Marvel Comic to read about mediation of disputes.  And so with Issue #7 battle after battle ensues on all parts of the globe.  A smoke and mirrors, cat and mouse global chase occurs, hiding Hope, hiding the Scarlet Witch.  This includes the Avengers using amulets that allow several people to pose as the Scarlet Witch, in turn causing the X-Men to be unable to find the real Wanda Maximoff.   There is also a scene where Hawkeye is fried by the power of the Phoenix and he is dead, and you finally think some stakes have been raised, then Cyclops brings him back to life and it was all a bit of a tease.  The story is choppy here–Tony Stark seems out of character, not the typical tough guy but a bit wimpy, including a scene where Black Panther slaps him.  It just seems out-of-place (but still a bit funny).  The Scarlet Witch’s presence saves the day again–the X-Men really fear her and so we see some real conflict as they back away from her, leaving an opening for Namor to move in to strike.

The various writers and artists at Marvel have put a lot into this series so far and it shows.  It’s hard for a reader to get his/her arms around all that’s happening with so many characters in each issue, yet various scenes work well and keep you hanging in there and coming back for more.  But there are a number of threads that will need to be tied up in the remaining issues and it continues to be interesting finding out where the story is heading.  Is there too much going on?  Yes.  Too many characters?  Yes, the opening pages show a roster of so many and most don’t have any real presence.  For all the action occurring, the story is moving pretty slowly forward, and you can only hope the payoff is not saved for the last issue as often happens with highly promoted mini-series.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Last week we reported on the early release of eagerly awaited new series Avengers vs. X-Men.  With the first issue upon us of Avengers vs X-Men we get to see Round One of the twelve rounds to be featured over 24 weeks in the main series, with 19 main issues, and 20 other Marvel Comics titles tying in to this AvX event.  Here are two checklists to help you keep track (click to enlarge):

        

Spoilers ahead!

Issue #1 starts out with a bang, a big bang, as the Phoenix Force is launched from far away on a trajectory toward Earth.  In front of that force hurtling toward our planet is Nova, a character long-feared dead who ends up causing the destruction of the Empire State Building in New York City as he plunges to the Earth’s surface, taking an airliner down with him.  The status of any lives taken is unknown, but the Avengers, including Ms. Marvel, Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Hawkeye, Protector, Black Widow, Beast, Captain Britain, Valkyrie and a few others, do their best to quickly mitigate the losses.

Meanwhile we learn that Cyclops is busy training Hope, who was the focus of the prologue for Avengers vs. X-Men in Issue #0.  Hope is understandably frustrated, believing that the Phoenix Force is somehow targeting her, and the X-Men will not help her adequately with answers.  Hope carries an energy signature similar to that of the Phoenix Force, and when she gets angry she sets this off, and the blast that is caused tips off the Avengers that they need to take some kind of action.

Captain America and Iron Man meet with the President and the joint chiefs in Washington, DC and explain the nature of the threat.

Captain America enlists the support of Wolverine and heads to the island of Utopia to take Hope into protective custody, but Cyclops has other plans.  Cyclops was once in love with Jean Grey, who became part of Phoenix and killed herself trying to contain the immense power of the Phoenix Force years ago.  So Cyclops thinks there is some special meaning in the arrival of the Phoenix Force, like it might be a good thing.  And there is no way he will release Hope to the Avengers.

The X-Men, including Emma Frost, Magneto, Colossus, and Namor, stand behind Cyclops’s effort to keep Captain America from taking Hope away.  Captain America is thrown back by Cyclops’s rays, but he has brought with him a ship full of the Avengers, and as this first issue concludes the first battle is upon us–a fight between the Avengers and the X-Men, over Hope.

This first chapter scripted by Brian Michael Bendis, but created by all the “Marvel Architects”–Jason Aaron, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman, and Matt Fraction–is well-paced.  The steps that occur are not complicated so there is no confusion and the story is easy to follow.  Despite the volume of characters, they, too, are easy to keep track of.  I wasn’t dazzled by John Romita, Jr.’s artwork in this issue–everything seems to “just happen” visually with little stylization, and there are no memorable single images that stand out.  But neither does the art stand in the way of the story, which has a lot to cram into the single issue page count.  All-in-all, so far, so good.  I’m reminded of the Marvel Superheroes Secret Wars limited series from decades ago, where readers get the pleasure of seeing the whole cast of characters in the Marvel Universe all as part of a common cause.

The crazy stand-out of this first issue are the several versions printed, including all these variants, some selling for $175 and up for the 1 in 200 exclusives.  Hopefully the hype settles and the coming issues simply take readers on a good ride.

Here is a checklist of the Avengers vs X-Men Issue #1 cover variations for all you completists out there:

Regular cover by Jim Cheung - Price $3.99

Avengers Team Common Variant - Price $3.99

X-Men Team Common Variant - Price $3.99

Sketch Cover Common Variant - $3.99

Midtown Comics Exclusive Wraparound Cover Side 1 - Price $8.00

Midtown Comics Exclusive Wraparound Cover Side 2 - Price $8.00

Ryan Stegman Incentive Variant Cover - Price $85

Hastings Stores Variant Cover - Price $8.00

Ryan Stegman Rare 1:200 Incentive Sketch Variant Cover - Price $175

John Romita, Jr. 1:25 Incentive Variant Cover - Price $15.00

Dynamic Forces Exclusive Variant Signed by Stan Lee (image may vary) - Price $399

Dynamic Forces John Romita, Sr. Signed Cover Edition (image may vary) - Price $69.99

Which version did I buy?  I got the first issue that Jason Aaron signed, with a note by Jason on the sketch cover version…

OVERLAND PARK, KANSAS–Although last night there were more than 1,000 scheduled launch parties across the country for the premiere Issue #1 of Avengers vs X-Men, four main parties were held in select comic shops featuring Marvel Comics AvX creators.  Artist Adam Kubert with editors Axel Alonso, Tom Brevoort and Nick Lowe were at Midtown Comics in New York City.  Writer Ed Brubaker appeared at Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles, and writer Matt Fraction and editor C.B. Cebulski appeared at Excalibur Comics in Portland.  Writer Jason Aaron appeared at Elite Comics in Overland Park, Kansas, with friends and store regulars–dozens of visitors arrived to get an early look at AvX Issue #1 and chat with Jason.

Jason shared thoughts on his writing process and working with the other Marvel Comics writers on this series, which will feature 12 issues, each new issue released every two weeks.

Several variants were available–from rare to ultra rare variant covers, common issues, an X-Men cover, an Avengers cover and a sketch cover issue.

The AvX Issue #1 is expected to be the best selling issue for 2012 for Marvel Comics and possibly the single best seller for all comic book publishers.

Here Jason Aaron checks out his own first look at the new AvX issue #1:

And signing his first issue of the series:

And it wouldn’t be a party without cake.  Here Elite Comics owner William Binderup shows how it’s done:

Look back here soon for a review of Issue #1.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

Review by C.J. Bunce

The world needs more Frank Cho.  Frank Cho got me interested in Ms. Marvel and The Mighty Avengers when I hadn’t bought a Marvel comic book in years.  And now Frank Cho has caused me to want to read more about the Scarlet Witch, Spider Woman, and a more recent X-Woman named Hope (actually they call her an X-Man, but that doesn’t quite work for me).

I was immediately surprised and pleased when I saw the display for the new prologue to Avengers vs. X-Men, Issue #0, because it is reminiscent of one of Frank Cho’s all-time best covers, that of the Scarlet Witch in the trade edition of Ultimates 3; Who Killed the Scarlet Witch, which I have not managed to pick up yet to read from the back issue stack.

So what I hope is that Avengers vs. X-Men will focus heavily on the focus of this prologue–equal parts redemption of the Scarlet Witch, who betrayed her husband Vision when we last saw her and devastated the mutant community, and the rest about a girl named Hope Summers, the so-called Mutant Messiah, whose story here follows a coming of age, breakaway from the status quo that feels very similar to Batgirl’s journey in DC Comics’ New 52 line-up.

What I thought this issue would cover is a lot of over-the-top brawling between Thor and Hulk and Iron Man and Wolverine, etc.  I was very happily surprised that wasn’t the case.  Since it does not appear that Frank Cho will be doing all the interiors for the actual AvX series, I just hope I am not disappointed in what comes next.

AvX #0 sold out practically instantly Wednesday across the country but no doubt the reprints will follow soon enough if you missed it.  It is a nice standalone issue, and can go firmly on the shelf next to the best of Cho’s Marvel pages.  You hear that writers write to the strength of the artists that they partner with, and it seems unlikely that Brian Michael Bendis and Jason Aaron didn’t also follow suit here.   This book is chock full of what Cho draws best–not just voluptuous women, but superhero females in action, acting smart, acting tough, being cool in every way.  As I mentioned above, that means Scarlet Witch, Hope Summer, and Spider Woman, but it also means Ms. Marvel and Emma Frost make a solid appearance.  It also means that Bendis sent Cho a few lay-ups, with some dinosaur-tipped rockets fired at the Scarlet Witch courtesy of M.O.D.O.K. (that’s Mobile Organism Designed Only for Killing).  I think only Cho could pull that off, and he did it here.  If this work is what partially delayed Cho’s Guns & Dinos series, there was a great reason for the diversion, and his fans will be pleased with this latest entry.

There is some alpha and omega, yin and yang going on here, as Hope was the first mutant born after the Scarlet Witch turned all the mutants (except 198) into mere mortals.  Will these two get to deal with each other in the pages of AvX going forward?  I hope so.

In this issue, we had split writing duties, with Jason Aaron taking on the frustration of Hope against the always whiny and wimpy (and often annoying) Cyclops.  Brian Michael Bendis wrote the story of Scarlet Witch in her return to Marvel’s pages from a bit of a hiatus.  Both writers balance the story well and Cho’s art further keeps the issue cohesive.  It would be great if this trio took the reins for the entire series, but that is not the case.

What’s the coolest thing about Hope?  Along with having an interesting character voice, she has one of the best powers around–she can mimic the powers of others.  I remember thinking this was a great ability when I watched Peter use this power in the Heroes TV series.  Hope uses these powers to both use Cyclops’s rays against himself and to take out a motley group of baddies at the end of the book.  She also uses the classic head-butt maneuver to good effect in a classic scene found in this issue.  Aaron’s writing includes a number of funny and quirky moments for Hope–she is endearing.  And you instantly must side with Hope Summers against Scott Summers.  It’s the same style of writing that makes Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men successful.

Cho's original cover art is sadly partially obliterated by the AvX logo. Check out the angel in the background. Doesn't it look like the angel from the Fearless series?

Scarlet Witch–Wanda–never looked better (you just know she wears a Beltsville shirt in her down time).  She is back but wants to stay away from the Avengers.  But Carol Danvers aka Ms. Marvel insists she accompany her and Spider-Woman back to their friends.  The result is a long-and-coming encounter with her husband who turns her away, to the anger of Ms. Marvel, but the acceptance of Logan and Tony Stark.  Bendis is really good–you really feel bad for Wanda here in a short number of pages, both from the story and Cho’s visual portrayal.  And we are left with this prophecy that Hope will have to face the Phoenix… that she senses is coming toward her from far away.  Cho shows us that it is not just a prophecy but will be addressed in issues to come.

For AvX, this is a great start, using the powerhouse writing and art trio of Bendis/Aaron/Cho upfront.  Hopefully the rest of the creators at Marvel Comics will keep the momentum going as we will find out with the premiere of Issue #1 next week.  And more than anything this issue has made me want to catch up on past Cho trade books: Ultimate Comics New Ultimates: Thor Reborn, Fear Itself: The Fearless, and The New Avengers.

Yesterday Marvel Comics announced a 12-issue limited series coming in April 2012: Avengers vs. X-Men, pitting Marvel characters Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and Hulk, against Black Widow, Spider-Man, Cyclops, Storm, Magneto and others and who knows what side Avenger and mutant Wolverine will end up on.

Avengers vs. X-Men will be written by Marvel Architects Jason Aaron, Brian Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman.  The series artists are slated to be John Romita Jr., Olivier Coipel and Adam Kubert.  Unlike standard limited series, the 12 issues will release every two weeks over a six-month period.  And entering the digital fore alongside DC Comics, Marvel added a new marketing idea: releasing a code for a free digital copy with each issue.

Here is the advance poster promoting the series:

Avengers vs. X-Men follows on the heels of this year’s X-Men: Schism, Fear Itself and Fear Itself: The Fearless limited series and the coming X-Sanction series.

The following re-broadcast of a livestream introduction (44 minutes) with a few of the creators gives some insight into the creative process of the writers for the new limited series.

If you have ever wanted to know what thoughts are behind these guys’ story concepts you may like this.  In particular Jason Aaron’s rundown of the events involving the X-Men and Wolverine leading up to the coming superhero face-off really puts everything into perspective, as does Brian Bendis’s view of the Avengers role in the new series.  The video also includes some nice trash talk between the creators of each of the X-Men and Avengers franchises.

Axel Alonso, Editor in Chief, Marvel Entertainment commented that “We’ve brought together the biggest writers, biggest artists and biggest characters for the biggest story we’ve ever told.  This is the kind of high-octane action-packed story that fans demand while also having a profound effect on every character involved—and reshaping the Marvel Universe in its wake.”

More information is available at www.avx.marvel.com.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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