Avengers vs X-Men. Issue One. Comic Book Review!

HERE. WE. GO!

AvX #1!

PREVIOUSLY:
The Vision shunned Scarlet Witch attempting to rejoin The Avengers. Cyclops and Hope discussed her being a vessel for The Phoenix.

In the words of everyone’s favourite clown…

Here.
We.
GO!

The big event of 2012 has started. I say big on the marketing factor, as this is a huge push by Marvel to drum up new readers and increased interest to ride all the momentum that Avengers Assemble (the British title, and personally better than merely The Avengers) has, and will, generate.

And before I start this review proper…

I’m on Team X-Men.

When it comes to Marvel, I tend to generate most sympathy towards the X-Men. Everyone talks about how Peter Parker has it bad, but he’s still a decent looking guy with charm. The X-Men, even the ‘sexy’ ones, are figures haunted by their abilities, and yet they keep fighting. This is particularly true of Cyclops, who is (for my money) by FAR the most powerful character in Marvel comics. If he loses control of his power, he could levy the entire planet. It’s only his ridiculous self-control that keeps that in check, and recently he’s been going through Hell to help HIS people after decades of neglect.

And that’s where this issue falls.

We’re clearly meant to view these sides as equal within the main narrative. But even Captain America, the voice of reason, comes across as just plain wrong in his perspective when he clashes with Cyclops. Like with Civil War this is open to a certain amount of interpretation given The Avengers are, essentially, world cops… and yet you only need to have read any X-Men title in the last forty years to note that they’re routinely screwed over by every single aspect of the Marvel universe. They’ve become an endangered species, and while Cyclops’s plan is flawed he’s absolutely right to not want any assistance from The Avengers.

The Avengers weren’t there to help when The Phoenix first emerged, they didn’t help stop Genosha from being destroyed, and their infighting allowed Norman Osborne to gain power. Now they FINALLY have decided that The Phoenix is their business? Unintentionally, they’ve geared too far towards Cyclops’ argument being the valid one. Why should he pay The Avengers heed when they, in point of fact, are the ones who let The Scarlet Witch get so out of control?

Normally you’d praise this sort of writing, but for this event to work there has to be a balance. And that isn’t here. Not in this issue, at least. Scott may be slightly irrational, but Cap didn’t come as a friend… he came as a cop. And the situation escalated.

Now that’s not to say this comic is bad. It’s a pacy first chapter in the story, setting up the dominoes that will soon fall. And it gets the battle-lines drawn immediately, leaving time for solid character moments like Wolverine realising he has to go to war. Captain America recruiting Wolverine is made sadder given both their backstories; the fact that they can’t outrun war is tragic at this point. Especially as Wolverine just wants to be left in peace to teach mutants that there’s a better way. The old Wolverine would’ve killed Hope to stop this, so the fact he won’t consider that is a GREAT character beat from the Millar days of ‘I’M GONNA KILL THE PRESIDENT.’

We also get some great artwork. The scenes of destruction and carnage as The Phoenix kicks the new Nova’s ass are hauntingly beautiful, and very explosive in a Michael Bay way.

The dialogue… I think at this stage I have to admit I’m just not a Bendis fan. He does well with the street stuff, but here… except for the Cyclops/Captain Ameria scene, very little feels like something the characters would organically say. Which jars given Spider-Man’s minimal dialogue is as good as ever.

So I don’t think this event has gotten off to the best start. It’s far from awful and there’s some great moments, but it feels like a mix of uninspired dialogue and too many cooks plotting has marred it. The problem with a bunch of people plotting is that there’s no guiding voice. We get bits of Bendis, bits of Aaron, bits of too many people that don’t mesh into a whole. I wasn’t a fan of Civil War, but I think that comic’s distinctive voice means at least it’s consistent in tone. Here… I’d wager that Aaron cooked up the Wolverine scene and Bendis did the brutal plane crash. Two good scenes, but scenes that don’t lead to each other in an organic fashion.

But it IS an effective start. And I can’t rate a comic where Cyclops and Captain America thrown down with a low score. So…

Grade: B-

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