Review: AVENGERS vs. X-MEN #1: Don't Make Me Regret This

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‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

It has five writers and a scripter listed in the credits…. a special preview copy arrived in the mail with a letter by Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso (addressed to me, by name!) printed on the inside front cover. And it’s Round 1 of a title bout between Marvel’s current flagship group of characters – the Avengers – against their one-time flagship group of characters – the X-Men.

Clearly, this is what Marvel Comics – as of last month once again the undisputed industry leader – wants comic book readers new, old, and lapsed invested in beginning today and throughout the summer. This year’s comic book event of the century.

 

So does issue #1 succeed in meeting the hype and seeding interest to carry two limited series and the requisite dozens of tie-in issues throughout related titles (which these day, is most of Marvel’s publishing line)?

Eh…

Avengers vs. X-Men #1 (Round 1) is a perfectly competent comic book mind you. The art by John Romita Jr., Scott Hanna, and Laura Martin is exactly what you’d expect from this veteran trio. The script by gang-of-5 co-writer Brian Bendis is perfectly professional. But like many first issues in events of these kinds, issue #1 reads almost like a graphic rendering of all the interviews about the event so far – .i.e. it's all set-up. If there are any surprise moments in issue #1 – something we didn’t know about “AvX" – it escaped this reviewer’s attention.

I’m not sure any details from here on in technically qualify as spoilers, but if you’ve successfully avoided any and all advance press about the event, then considered yourself spoiler-warned.

The Phoenix Force is headed to Earth. Due to a crashing-landing of Nova in New York City (with the Chrysler Building serving as his crash pad), and some nifty cosmic C.S.I. Avengers work from Iron Man and Thor, the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes figure out exactly what’s on its way, and a little intel from Wolverine wises them up to where – or to whom – its most likely headed (is anyone but me thinking it can’t be this obvious in the end?)

Cut to Captain America showing up on a beach on Utopia, home of Cyclops’s X-faction. Cap rather ominously informs Cyclops he’s there for Hope (to do what with her exactly isn’t articulated). Cyclops, who sees Hope/the Phoenix Force as perhaps a harbinger of “rebirth” for the Mutant race decimated by the events of House of M, doesn’t exactly take to kindly to Cap’s ultimatum (“You understand I wasn’t asking,” the Sentinel of Liberty somewhat ironically declares), throws the first “punch,” Cap calls in his back-up, and then it’s… “to be continued in two weeks”

..but really next week and the week after that, and the week after that...

Again, the issue is a perfectly competent piece of graphic fiction. It probably plays best with those who haven’t followed all the advance publicity and thus don’t know all the story beats already, which is maybe the point.

 

For those who already know the set-up, Avengers vs. X-Men #1 touches base either directly (House of M and Secret Invasion) or indirectly (Civil War) with Marvel events of the past to give this added heft. Marvel successfully positions this storyline almost as a culmination of all those other previous events, and whether that was the plan all along, or just some nifty after-the-fact editorial slight of hand, it works. Avengers vs. X-Men #1 makes those other events feel like prologue.

So while the debut issue probably won’t make any year-end lists of the best-crafted comic books of 2012, it does the job it was supposed to do…

…it got me looking forward to reading issue #2.

But Marvel, if this is indeed to event to end-all-events, you better really mean it this time. Avengers vs. X-Men can’t just serve as prologue for 2013’s even 'bigger and badder' comic book event of the century. You got me. I’m genuinely expecting sometime big and bold at the end of all this. The weight of the ramifications cannot be in dispute next year at this time.

No fooling around this time.

Consider yourselves on notice… 

Stay tuned for much more Avengers Vs. X-Men including fresh interviews with the editors and reviews from our regular Best Shots team of reviewers! 

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