Avengers vs X-Men #1
Story: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman and Matt Fraction
Script: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inks: Scott Hanna
Welcome aboard Marvel’s 2012 summer event which, as the title suggests, pits the Avengers against the X-Men.
What does the new reader need to know?
This is loaded with both X- and Avengers history.
The Scarlet Witch long ago uttered the words “No more mutants!” and used magick to remove the powers of the overwhelming majority of mutants: only 198 retained their powers. The event is referred to as DeciMation. The X-Men made an island they named Utopia, off the coast of San Francisco, their home and invited all remaining mutants to join them. Magneto, the X-Men’s arch-nemesis, joined them there and recognised Cyclops as his leader. The Scarlet Witch disappeared after the events of DeciMation and was recently found in Eastern Europe by the Young Avengers.
Hope is a red-headed mutant whose powers manifested at birth, the first such mutant to do so since DeciMation. Her emergence launched the events of the Messiah CompleX storyline. The X-Man Bishop, who came to our time from the future, recognised her as one who was going to cause the deaths of millions and bring about an era of persecution for mutants. The X-Man Cable (Cyclops’ son), who also came to our time from the future, recognised her as the Mutant Messiah who will save both humans and mutants. Cable kidnapped Hope and took her into the future, where he trained her and returned her to our time as a teenager. Bishop’s views and subsequent actions drove a wedge between him and the X-Men. A question mark remains as to whether or not Hope is the Mutant Messiah. She currently resides on Utopia with Cyclops’ X-Men. Cyclops and others hope that Hope will be able to reverse the actions of the Scarlet Witch so that new mutants can start to emerge again – there is a fear that with to few mutants existing they are on the brink of extinction.
Cyclops and Wolverine recently had a prolonged argument over the direction Cyclops was taking the X-Men in, resulting in a schism. Wolverine now leads a splinter team of X-Men based in the X-Mansion in New York State, including many of the youngest mutants whom they are training in the use of their powers. Wolverine is also a member of the Avengers. Beast, one of the original X-Men, is now a member of the Avengers.
The Phoenix is a cosmic avatar of psionic power that represents passion, life and creation and can me corrupted into the Dark Phoenix, which hungers for destruction. The Phoenix is one of the most feared entities – it has the power to destroy (prune) or grow universes, to burn away that which is deemed obsolete. It is unpredictable and immensely powerful and consequently feared. The first ‘host’ of the Phoenix force was Jean Grey, Cyclops’ long-since departed and possibly deceased red-headed wife, one of the original X-Men. The Phoenix Force appears to have a penchant for redheads.
Now that we’re all caught up …
Avengers vs X-Men #1 plot summary
Nova crashlands on Earth, barely conscious. The Avengers find him and tests show he recently survived an encounter with the Phoenix Force, which is headed to Earth. Captain America & Iron Man discuss how destructive a force it is and that it latches on to a host and uses it to destroy the environment. A computer alert goes off – Iron Man had set it to alert them if an energy signature similar to the Phoenix Force “flares up anywhere on the globe.”
Cyclops is training Hope to fight without using their powers. He’s rough on her. She rears up against him and a blast of psionic power emerges, knocking him off his feet. It’s accompanied by a Phoenix-like manifestation.
Captain America visits Wolverine at the X-Mansion School. He asks if he can rely on Wolverine and the school – Wolverine notes that he founded the school to keep the young mutants away from the fighting. Cap asks if he can rely on Wolverine personally – his reply is not depicted.
Cyclops ponders if the Phoenix Force as manifested by Hope might be the game-changer they need to restore mutants. He notes that as well as death and destruction the Phoenix Force always brings rebirth. He proposes training Hope, body and mind, to deal with the Phoenix Force. Emma Frost advises that it has to be Hope’s choice.
Captain America arrives on Utopia and tells Cyclops this isn’t a mutant problem and the Avengers need to take care of this, if Hope “is the Phoenix’s vessel.” Cyclops argues that Hope is a mutant and this is a mutant problem and that she might be mankind’s last, best hope of a rebirth. Cap says he’s too close to it and that Cyclops needs to trust him. Cyclops retorts that Cap is too far away from it – “as you always have been. Where were you for us? For the mutants? Except now when you need something.” Cap says if they want to have that discussion they can, fine, another day, but right now the Phoenix Force is headed for Earth and they have to figure a way to stop it. Cyclops tells Cap to “get the hell off my island.” Cap replies that he wasn’t asking. Cyclops fires an option blast at Cap, knocking him into the sea. Cap says “Avengers Assemble” and a huge airship appears with a large contingent of Avengers on deck.
Cyclops mentally tells Emma to get Hope and protect her at all costs, as Hope’s eyes flash with the Phoenix motif.
While it doesn’t help that the story is laden with so much history, the plot does a good job of focusing the argument on a specific point: the fate of Hope. However, what Captain America would do with Hope is unclear and that makes it hard to sympathise with him here. It’s almost as if he wants to take Hope into custody. He also fails to recognise that the X-Men are the Earth’s permier authorities on dealing with the Phoenix Force – better to offer to work with them than to be so combatative.
I thought this better than I expected. I do have concerns about a book the title of which boasts that it’s purpose is to pitch two famous teams against each other but the dialogue between Captain America and Cyclops was reassuring. John Romita Jr.’s art is no longer up to the job – the panel on which Captain America tells Cyclops “You do understand I wasn’t asking.” has him look drowsy instead of focused.
There are moments when the writing is typical Bendis super-hero fare, such as Namor’s aside to Magneto that “The gauntlet has been thrown. He is going to force Rogers’ hand.” – it’s unnecessary and a trite distraction. If we lifted that panel out of the issue the plot would flow just as smoothly. It’s careless over-writing.
This summer blockbuster story has five writers covering eight issues. The jury is out as to how that will play out – will they equal more than the sum of their parts, or less?
It’s an intriguing start.
Discuss this issue here on the HAIRcomics forums.
Warning: Long-ish blog post, because I wanted to put in some pictures.
So, we (Adam and Heather) have a bit of a confession. We LOVE Legos around here. Adam had a few sets when he was a kid, and when we got married, we expanded. A lot. We have around 150 sets, so we’re talking several thousand actual bricks. We’ve become somewhat aficionados on the subject.
The children get into them, too, but for now are more into playing with the sets once they’re built. To tell you a little more about our brood, Primrose is 5, and the oldest, and the boys go down in age from there. (No multiples) So, Primrose and Peepers are still a little lacking in the dexterity needed to build them, but Primrose especially is improving. In fact, just this week, she followed the instructions all by herself to build the little house that was part of her Pink Brick Box. (We’re planning to get her this set for her birthday this summer. How adorable are these new “Girl Legos”? And seriously, why did it take Lego so long for such marketing BRILLIANCE?) And I’ve been very impressed with the creations that Peepers and Primrose (and even 19 month old Catman’s towers) have come up with using the Duplos we were recently given.
But I digress. Point is, we love Legos, we love the Lego games, and we love comics, so you can imagine how excited we were about the recent announcement combining all of the above.
Batman Legos have been around for several years, (and we have the Batcave, Arkham Asylum, Joker’s ice cream truck, and more) but at Comicon last year, DC, Marvel and Lego announced the new line of LEGO super-heroes. So far, there’s this awesome set that we plan to get, and in May the Marvel characters will be added. Three of the franchises will be spotlighted: Avengers, X-Men, and Spider-man characters. Did I mention we’re really excited about this? And there’s a Super-heroes Lego game slated for release this summer! And with that, I leave you with these incredible custom Lego figs made by Julian Fong. I wish these were for sale…
Any other Lego fans out there? What are your favorite sets?
Just finished reading the first issue of Saga: Chapter 1. It’s very modern, normal speaking (as in, they speak like the general public), but VERY fantastic/science fiction. The book is narrated by a girl named Hazel who is telling the story of her parents: star-crossed lovers in a galactic battle who are running from BOTH sides (for being in love, and for procreating) in a war that has encompassed practically every known planet. There is a lot of interesting character development of the parents as well as some members of the ruling class. It is obviously a very well planned universe of characters, and it will be interesting to see what happens.
I was really looking forward to this, just because I love, Love, LOVE the Mystique that Brian K Vaughn did, and I wasn’t disappointed, although I felt like some of the more adult parts didn’t have much point to them besides being “adult”. I loved the author’s note at the end, it made me feel a real connection to the piece, being asked to write specifically to him, and about story ideas for it, etc. I was very intrigued by the way the note was written.
It was a refreshingly long issue, as well. My biggest frustration with the comic book format is the tiny bits that the story is told in; I lack patience. I HATE waiting for the next book in a trilogy, much less the micro stories that are in issues. Does anyone else have this frustration? I love the stories, and the art, but tend to collect in trades so that I have more story to devour at a time. The nice thing about issues (especially first issues) is that you can inexpensively try a story to see if you’re going to like it, but I don’t actually follow issues long-term.
This is a series I intend to follow; it’s off to a very compelling start.
Talk about Saga on our forum HERE.
Just writing in to let everyone know that we’re doing some back-end work on the shop site, so don’t be alarmed when you discover that it isn’t running at the moment. We’re aware of it and working on it.
(And no, Magnus, it wasn’t Adam’s fault.)
Just one of those things I’d love to see in my lifetime, and not just read about it.
Dark Horse Comics has released issue #1 of Conan the Barbarian. Instead of doing anything with his origin, they jump you right in with him jumping on to a boat that’s casting off to escape some soldiers. He then acquaints himself with the captain of the ship, named Tito, who is now also in trouble with the authorities of that city for harboring Conan. So, Conan shows his gratitude by promising his protection to the captain.
Enter skanky possibly demonic pirate captain woman that everyone’s afraid of. Conan vows to defeat her so that his new friend, Captain Tito can sail safely wherever he wants. However, Conan’s also attracted to the stories of her, (of course, since she’s his match in power and warrior-ness…) And, pretty much that’s where we leave off in this episode, with a mysterious, tantalizing encounter with her.
I’m pretty fond of vikings, and willing to forgive a lot (Forsooth, Thor, anyone?) for them, and I pretty much put barbarians in the same category, but I was disappointed by this, all in all. The art was pretty lacking, and the plot line towards the end was pretty unclear. That being said, Conan was a very likeable character, and you’re rooting for him to do some quality conquering.
Discuss Conan the Barbarian here on the HAIRcomics forums.
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Butch Guice
Colours: Bettie Breitweiser
Captain America’s sidekick James ‘Bucky’ Buchanan died in World War II. It’s a fact, a cornerstone of the Marvel Universe.
Except that a few years ago that ‘fact’ was revealed by writer Ed Brubaker to be false – his body was found by the Soviets, who nursed him back to physical health and brainwashed him into becoming their deadliest ‘sleeper’ agent and assassin – Winter Soldier. When Captain America learned of this he was able to break the brainwashing and for the period of time in which Captain America was thought dead, Bucky took on his mantle and, in a slightly different costume, served as a Captain America.
However, Captain America is ‘back from the dead’ and in costume, so Bucky needs a new role. He recently learned that he wasn’t the only Sleeper agent and he’s reclaimed the Winter Soldier identity in order to locate and disarm them. He’s enlisted the help of his girlfriend, the defected Soviet super spy and sometime Avenger, Black Widow, in the first issue of his new solo series.
“One agent, in the right place, at the right time … with the right skills … could be more effective than an army.”
Bucky & BW track a financier and follow the money to try to learn who sold/bought the details of the remaining sleeper agents. They find an empty stasis tube – someone woke one of the sleepers. They follow the trail to Minnesota and see a stasis tube being loaded up on a truck. A gorilla with a machine gun fires on them.
Red Ghost & Lucia Von Bordas, a cyborg former PM of Latveria, chat. She hopes the sleeper agents are as effective as he said they’d be because “I’ll have spent Doctor Doom’s own money to destroy him”. Cut to a sleeper agent firing on the Latverian embassy.
I enjoyed this – less for the unexceptional but acceptable espionage fare and more for the remarkable art. Butch Guice knocked this out of the park, echoing the best of Michael Lark, Sean Phillips and Gene Colan. The plot needs to kick into first gear but there’s time for that – and with art this good I’ll be giving the plot time to catch fire.
Discuss Winter Soldier here on the HAIRcomics forums.
A few months back, DC Comics relaunched their entire line of comics. The fan reaction to this relaunch was overwhelmingly positive and a few books, such as Superman, were starting to see the kind of sales numbers that we thought impossible. One of the biggest shockers was Aquaman #1.
Aquaman had never been, well, “cool”; and the story openly acknowledged the fact. However, the real brilliance was in how it was spun in such a way that Aquaman became the underdog champion that you were rooting for on the final page. He was the fish-man out of water, dedicated to protecting mankind, and we felt like we’d be seeing more of him on land, and not saddling 20 foot seahorses. The arc concluded with issue #4 satisfactorily.
Aquaman #5 ought to have been a very important issue. The character was finally getting some positive buzz, and positioning himself for an unforeseen comeback. The short answer is: it did not deliver.
From the first page, I felt like something tremendous had happened. We find Aquaman wandering the desert, near death, with a large metal shard protruding from his leg. He passes out, and gets knocked unconscious by a wandering flashback.
I was appalled at how much of the issue was just setup. The flashbacks all dealt with an Atlantean relic discovered by the military, which matches the one on Aquaman’s belt. They bring in the hero for a consultation, and he confirms the fact. Other flashbacks came up, probably for the purpose of solidifying what his origin story will be from henceforth; which dealt with his father, but really didn’t convey much.
Hopefully, this lolloping start doesn’t spell another end for Aquaman. With what you’ve read of the new run, what do you think? Do we all hold onto hope for Aquaman?
(We also discuss Aquaman on our forums here.)