SCRIPTS: Jason Aaron
ART: John Romita Jr. and Scott Hanna
Marvel has a tendency to misjudge the length of it's major comic book events. 2006's Civil War seemed like a good length at seven issues, but spent the final three mulling around until reaching the final battle and standoff between Captain America and Iron Man that everyone wanted to see anyway. In 2010, Siege was a measly four issues when it should have been a more sprawling epic. And just last year, Fear Itself lasted seven issues, followed by a 12-issue aftermath series - Fear Itself: The Fearless - that only ended last month. Two weeks ago, Marvel proved us that the conflict between the Avengers and X-Men showed promise in terms of storytelling concept and execution. Unfortunately, Avengers Vs. X-Men #2 fails as both a follow-up issue and as a piece of the overall narrative.
I understand that the fundamental focus of AvX is supposed to be the fighting; Marvel has been advertising the hell out of the event on a platform of awesome one-on-one fights that stretch across the imprint. That being said, readers should still get quality storytelling from a premier event with issues at the four dollar price point. And that's where this issue falls flat. An omniscient narrator (I like to think Jason Aaron thinks in the same manner as he writes) explains the brawls happening throughout the issue in opaque and tritely metaphorical ways, attempting to seem dramatic when it only comes off as pretentious.
Now don't get me wrong: the fights are awesome. Colossus vs. Red Hulk; Namor vs. Luke Cage and The Thing; Iron Man vs. Emma Frost and Magneto - these are just a few of the bouts fleshed out in the pages of Avengers Vs. X-Men #2, but they all feel stunted, like there isn't enough space in the issue to fit in all the action. Of course, Marvel knew this going in and planned accordingly with Avengers Vs. X-Men: VS, the all-fight companion series that debuts next week.
Knowing about VS going into this event makes the scant storyline all the more obvious. I couldn't help feeling like a lot of the fighting in the main series could have been relegated to the pages of VS with little consequence. But then Marvel couldn't stretch this (somewhat inane) conflict between these teams out for a exhaustive 12 issues AND sell us the companion series, so...there's that. Hopefully the third issue can make up some time in the narrative department.