Wednesday, April 4, 2012


STORY: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman, and Matt Fraction
SCRIPTS: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTWORK: John Romita Jr. and Scott Hanna

It's finally here: the Marvel event fans have been demanding for years. Avengers Vs. X-Men signifies a major shift in the way Marvel is looking to structure their comic book universe. Pitting it's two most popular franchises against one another is a bold move, one that could make or break Marvel's financial year. If this crossover event isn't a hit, the House of Ideas has some problems.

So it's no surprise when Marvel announced the writer lineup for Avengers Vs. X-Men. All the big names are here to lend a hand, but Brian Michael Bendis takes the reigns with scripts that the others work from. Bendis' style is very prominent, but shades of Jason Aaron, Ed Brubaker, John Hickman and Matt Fraction are evident throughout the book. Similarly, John Romita Jr. has been brought in as the ringer on artwork. Romita Jr. has a very specific style that works for a variety of comic book fans. A few years ago, his work on Eternals and Kick-Ass were simply breathtaking, and he brings the same thick lines, sharp corners and gruff look from those series over to AvX.

Aaron and Bendis have done a fantastic job making Avengers Vs. X-Men attractive to new readers, and it's no coincidence that this crossover event will overlap with the nationwide release of Marvel's summer blockbuster, The Avengers. Unlike many (many) of their events over the past eight years, Marvel didn't release much 'build-up material'; the conflict between the Avengers and X-Men has been organically brewing for years in the pages of Marvel's many titles, and AvX is the natural endgame.

In this seminal first issue, good ol' Nova returns to Earth! Unfortunately, he's brought omens of the returning Phoenix force, the interstellar entity that possessed Jean Grey years ago. Meanwhile, Cyclops is going a little Mommy, Dearest on poor Hope Summers, the supposed 'Mutant Messiah'. After badgering her one too many times, Cyclops gets a face full of Phoenix. Hope's just as surprised as the rest of them before Bendis & Co. take us back to the Avengers (meeting with the President on Capitol Hill) who immediately sense the Phoenix energy signature.

The disagreement between Marvel's two most popular teams boils down to a lack of respect. The Avengers want to take Hope under their custody - especially after Nova's warning - while the X-Men believe that Hope's situation falls under their responsibility as leaders of mutantkind. Both parties have pushed the other around quite a bit in recent Marvel U history, so it makes sense that a fundamental issue like jurisdiction could be the catalyst to a massive conflict.

Being disappointed by Marvel events has left a sour taste in my mouth. Last year's Fear Itself was so lackluster I stopped reading after two months. Even 2010's Siege was half-baked at a measly four-issue main series. Apparently, Marvel took note with Avengers Vs. X-Men, giving readers a perfect-sized 12-issue main run, a six-issue VS. series dedicated to fights, fights, and more fights, as well as multiple tie-ins throughout the imprint.


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