Avengers vs X-Men. Issue 0. Comic Book Review

AvX 0!
(Aaron. Bendis. Cho. Keith)

Two guns, Witch!

In 2004, Marvel called in Brian Bendis to ‘fix’ The Avengers. Many didn’t consider they needed fixing, but clearly Marvel felt that Bendis would be able to make the book ‘A-List.’ He began fixing it by killing off characters he didn’t like, throwing other characters onto a ‘one-way’ bus, and turning Scarlet Witch even more insane than she already was.

Some twenty years before this, Jean Grey was infected by ‘The Phoenix’ and became evil. This story was then repeated every few years until Marvel killed Jean off for good so that Cyclops and Emma Frost could make whoopee without it coming across as creepier than Cyclops sleeping with Jean’s clone.

And so we hit the present. To cut a long story short, Scarlet Witch is responsible for the lack of mutants on Earth. The mutant messiah, a girl named Hope, is their only… hope (sorry for the pun) of restoring the mutant numbers. As a result, Scott is hoping to use her as a host for the Phoenix… which is an alien entity that grants the host various levels of power depending on their pre-existing levels of power.

Yes, it’s a very dumb idea.

But that’s the gist of the Avengers vs. X-Men story. It’s background to lots and lots of cool fights between characters who have decades of history. And in this zero issue, we get set-up for the event itself.

And it’s great set-up.

I’m a critic of Bendis’ Avengers stuff. He’s not a bad writer, but I don’t think he quite gets the difference between ‘street’ heroes and superheroes. Throw him a Daredevil or a Spider-Man and he’s world-class, but throw him a Captain America and he struggles. So it’s good for us that this story, while dealing with the fantastical, feels very character specific.

This comic is split into two-parts.

The first part deals with The Avengers trying to bring Scarlet Witch back into the fray. Long-term readers of The Avengers know how important this is. It’s well-written for the most part, even if it seems like something that should’ve been slowly set-up months ago. This is a prologue to AvX, but from a continuity standpoint deserved more than a ‘oh, I guess we have to reintroduce this’ angle. Course, I say that as someone who’s not been enamoured with the last Norman Osborne story in The Avengers/New Avengers.

On the merits of this comic alone, Bendis does a good a job as he could have bringing Scarlet Witch back into the fray. He’s setting her up as a big-player in all of this, as she (more than any other character) bridges the Avengers/X-Men gap. And from a personal standpoint, it’s nice to see the core Avengers sharing page-time again. Bendis deconstructed them, and now it feels like he’s bringing his story-arc full circle by having everyone (mostly) back on board.

The second part deals with Hope’s rage issues, playing violent vigilante and genuinely showing classic signs that she’s in no way capable of hosting an entity like The Phoenix. But, at the same time, Scott’s so far down the rabbit hole that he doesn’t see another way out. He’s made so many mistakes that, for him, this is his chance to fix everything. The road to Hell is marked with good intentions, and showing Cyclops torn apart by this contrasts nicely with Wolverine focusing on the smaller picture of ‘is Vision my friend’ okay?’

Written by Jason Aaron, it’s an effective look at the big, and small, implications of the event.

If you go into AvX #0 expecting fireworks or revelations, you’ll be disappointed. This is a prologue through and through, designed to help new readers catch up, and on that level it works fantastically. This is something I’d give to someone who’d want to get into reading comics before The Avengers film is released. It’s simple, well told, and to the untrained eye doesn’t violate continuity. If you dig deeper it does fall apart a little, but it’s a nice way of saying ‘our story starts here, and tells you the relevant’ information.

Grade: A-

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