The war is here! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and back up a bit.
Avengers vs X-Men is Marvel’s latest comic book event of the year. Since its announcement back in December 2011, Marvel has hyped the mini-series event like no other. Unlike other events, this is plotted by 5 writers (Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, Jason Aaron, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman), each taking a turn writing an issue and penciled by three artists (John Romita Jr., Oliver Coipel, Adam Kubert).
Brian Bendis and Romita Jr. take the ‘first round’.
The first issue of course is your basic set up. It shows you what each of the teams are up to before the craziness begins. The best part of the issue is the sweet, incredible art of John Romita Jr; always turning in talented work and it shows more than ever here. The story itself isn’t bad, but because it’s just setting things up, it’s not as exciting as what’s coming up with issue #2 and onwards. It’s kind of like setting up the chess board before one of the players makes a move. Granted, chess is a slow, thinking-based game, but that’s beside the point. Once all your pieces are in place, the fun begins. Issue #1 is the pieces being placed on the board. The end of the issue is the first pawn being moved.
WARNING: SPOILERS DO FOLLOW.
The deal is this:
The Phoenix entity is coming back to Earth to find a new host after leaving some time ago. Some view this as bad news (Avengers), yet for others, good news (X-Men). Why do the Avengers find it bad? The thing about the Phoenix for those who don’t know (the two or three of you out there) is that the Phoenix kills and destroys. But then it revives. That’s the good news the X-Men see; the hope that it will bring life back to the mutant race. So let’s get to why exactly the two teams are going at each other.
The opening shot shows some farm, but no location is given. What you’re supposed to know, but not told, is that this is an alien planet. A little creature, probably a boy looks to his father, as he calls him out in his native language, about the weird occurrence in the sky. As the father goes to hug the boy, all life on the world is destroyed. The Phoenix has claimed it for its own. It then continues to travel into space.
Romita Jr. does great work with this scene, showing the little boy’s fear with just his eyes, as he has no mouth, nose, nothing else to help indicate his feeling.
Now it’s on to the Avengers Tower as Iron Man is having some meaningless argument with Protector (Noh-Varr). Nova comes crashing to Earth giving them the warning about the Phoenix, though they don’t know that, yet. Eventually, as Iron Man and Captain America explain to the President of the U.S. and his cabinet, they figure out it’s the Phoenix and something must be done to stop it before it destroys the planet. That’s also when they notice a similar signature to the Phoenix show up on Earth. It’s actually coming from Hope who was training with Cyclops back on Utopia.
Before anything else happens, Captain America has a talk with Wolverine at the Jean Grey School. He asks Wolverine if he can count on him to help deal with the situation. But does Wolverine agree? That’s a separate story for one of the tie-in series!
Meanwhile on Utopia, Cyclops has a talk with his team, sans Storm, about the Phoenix. In one of the panels is where Bendis shows his “Bendis-y side” with the dialogue. What that means is that Bendis is known to take two sentences and repeat them over and over. That’s just terrible writing, any way you slice it.
Typical “Bendis dialogue”
Captain America soon arrives and tells Cyclops he’s taking Hope with him to “protect her” from the Phoenix force that will soon be upon them. Cyclops, as any alpha male would do, puffs his chest and “politely” says no. After both Cap and Cyclops stop beating around the bush, Cyclops attacks Captain America with a blast and tells Emma Frost to protect Hope at any cost. Captain America calls the Avengers to Assemble and a helipad appears above the island of Utopia with all the different Avengers teams on board including…. uh-oh, Wolverine! Has Wolverine chosen a side? Is he with the Avengers or will he betray one of his many teams and side with Cyclops? We’ll see what’s answered with #2 in two weeks time.
– Luis Casiano