Comicscape: Avengers vs X-men comes to a close (Mania.com)

By:Joel Rickenbach
Date: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Source: Mania.com

From the humble beginnings of this new Comicscape we have now come full circle. My first article under that banner was about the hopes and expectations we all had for Marvel's newest event book. Should we, as the readers, welcome another big crossover book into our hearts and out of our wallets? Would it wash the taste of some recent crossover failures out of our mouths? Could the story it told actually end up mattering when the dust settled? Or were we in for the same old same old? The premise was good- Pit the publisher's two different character flavors against each other- Avengers (superheroes) vs X-Men (Mutants). The set-up was years in the making- when Wanda Maximoff (the Scarlet Witch) went certifiable (Avengers: Disassembled) and erased all but 200 or so mutants from the planet (House of M), the Marvel universe definitely shifted. The Avengers books became the crux of Marvel, and the X-books were now truly outcasts. A lot has happened since that shift- The Marvel universe became divided over the Superhero Registration Act, and fought a War over it (Civil War). The Hulk, deemed too dangerous for Earth, was shot into space, only to return stronger, smarter and really angry (World War Hulk). The Skrulls infiltrated almost every part of human society, and damn near took over the world (Secret Invasion). Where the Skrulls failed, Norman Osborn tried his own brand of world domination, causing much havoc in the process (Siege). Norman's actions linked to an even greater threat- the Norse god of fear, The Serpent, unleashing his fury on the human race (Fear Itself). That's quite a roller coaster of events, and like those rides of twisting steel- they have their share of ups and downs. However, somewhere in the backs of our minds we always knew it would have to culminate in addressing the problem that started it all- Wanda Maximoff, and her proclamation of "no more mutants." Below I'm going to take a look at the good, the bad, the ugly and the end of Avengers vs X-men, and try to determine if the journey was one worth taking. There will be spoilers, and probably a few jokes at Namor's expense (dude still gets around in a seaweed speedo), but know this- Regardless of the quality, they are making good on one promise- an era is coming to a close, this does mark another shift in the Marvel universe. For better, or for worse. 

 
The Good: Things really are coming full circle. From the Scarlet Witch returning to the fold, and the mutants making a stand for their place in the world, Marvel is closing a big chapter that began with Brian Michael Bendis' Avengers: Disassembled. Whether they had some of this planned all along, or they just picked up the threads now to tie things up, it's definitely nice to connect the dots over the last decade and feel like you were witness to progress. 
 
The Scott and Emma era is over (Probably). I have to give credit to Marvel editorial- the Cyclops/White Queen pairing didn't look long for this world, yet it's survived all the hullabaloo over the years, and was refreshing that a publisher would let something ride for so long. What could have been a flash in the pan is now a defining relationship for the stable of X-books. I'm guessing it's over, but it lasted more than enough time to leave it's mark in the Marvel encyclopedia.
 
 
K'un-L'un. It was nice to see this corner of the Marvel U get some love in a big event. Danny Rand/Iron Fist is one of the more interesting characters to emerge in this era, and fleshing out his world in the event book was a welcome sight.
 
AvX: VS. I've mentioned it before, but it bears repeating- This book was a blast to read.
 
 
The Bad: Missed opportunities. Lots of them. Comic writers seem to be under the impression that if you're doing a crossover it has to involve every character ever to grace the page. If we don't know what the Falcon is up to during AvX, how will we get any perspective? Wait, where's the Hulk? We need the Hulk! Someone get me the Hulk!! It's thoughts like those that dilute a story to the point where it feels like the issues are just character updates, instead of making real progress. It's very clear early on that AvX is really about a handful of characters- Cyclops, Hope, Scarlet Witch, Professor X, Wolverine, and to a much lesser degree- Captain America and Iron Fist. However, through most of the crossover we get pages and pages of Tony Stark trying and failing to contain the Phoenix force with technology, or Thor charging at a giant flaming cosmic bird only to get his ass handed to him yet again. By the time we get to issue #12, one has to wonder what the hell the Avengers actually mean to the story. Sure, they try and keep Hope away from the X-men, but beyond that... If you go back to the prologue stories in AvX #0, the intertwined lives of Hope and Scarlet Witch are front and center, but it then takes almost 10 issues for that to come back around, and by then it's unfortunately too late to matter, even if the writers try to make them the focus at the 11th hour. Wouldn't it make for a better, more compelling, story if we spent a good deal of time seeing Hope and Wanda getting past their differences and learning from each other while the world goes crazy around them? And instead of Tony Stark getting an obtuse, faith-based theory, and shoe-horning in a petty fight between Hope and Wanda, we would get to see these two women naturally end their arcs by joining forces to defeat Cyclops. Instead we get issues that read more like shopping lists then epic storytelling. If there were 100 characters in the book, only 10 really needed to be there consistently. Sure, give us some spectacle, give us the scale, but focus on who is important, and leave all the rest for the Avenger, X-Men and VS books.
 

 

Establish your rules. How powerful are the Phoenix Five? Who the hell knows? What exactly can Hope do? Who the hell knows? Can a random dragon from Iron Fist's corner of the world really compete with Uber-Cyclops? Who the hell knows? What can we expect when they all have it out with Scarlet Witch thrown in for good measure? Seriously, who the hell knows? I don't need the super-nerd satisfaction of trading cards with the character's power levels on the back, but it would be nice to know the writers have a grasp of who can do what, and aren't just telling the artists to draw flames everywhere.
Some of the best moments happened outside of the main book. This goes back to what I was saying originally about focusing on the right characters. I said this in my mid-crossover article, and it still true at the end- the scene between Spider-Man and Hope in New Avengers #27 is the best moment of AvX. Why wasn't this in the main book? Particularly since Hope and Captain America start to have a similar one in issue #12. 
 
The Ugly: Sloppiness. AvX #12 is a bit of a mess. I love Adam Kubert's art, but issue #12 feels incredibly rushed, and makes AvX feel like it goes out with a whimper instead of a bang. The layouts don't make much sense, and do not capture the look or scale of the crossover's final showdown. The last few pages are literally just a few vertical panels that don't even fill up the page. I have a hard time believing there's a deep artistic choice behind those pages, they just feel, well, rushed. There's also some serious continuity problems. At the end of issue #11, Hulk throws Wolverine at Cyclops, who seems to obliterate the hairy Canuck, yet at the beginning of issue #12 we see Wolverine attacking Cyclops again as if issue #11 never happened. Not to mention at the end of issue #11, Captain America is on the ground, but at the beginning of issue #12 he's in a jet. Huh? I do understand the Kubert family did not have an easy summer, and it's definitely not just the artist's fault, but AvX #12 does not meet the quality set by the previous books.

 

Havok. Yup, going back to all that talk of "character" from earlier- where the hell is the scene between Havok and Cyclops? Was it in a tertiary issue that I missed? After reading the dialogue between Charles Xavier and Scott Summers it only seemed fitting that Scott's brother would be there to talk him down as well, but alas, baby brother is nowhere to be found. Seems like a good idea to have Alex Summers front and center, particularly since he's a member of the book that's a result of all this madness.
The End: So, Cyclops is imprisoned much like Magneto over the years- cuffed and powers dampened. He believes it was all worth it, as new mutants are popping up all over the earth. Charles Xavier is dead (resurrecting in 3...2...), the Phoenix force is no more (Returning in 3...2...), and the Marvel universe is shifting to Marvel Now! It obviously remains to be seen if the new reshuffle of Marvel's core books are worthy, but the talent involved pretty much makes that a given. However, the question that should be asked before it's forgotten in the back issue bin is- was this last era a successful journey? From Avengers: Disassembled on there was an attempt to give the core universe a continuity on a scale it never had before. You can argue that some events were more enjoyable than others, but they were pretty diverse, no? Heroes emerged- Spider Woman, Red Hulk, and heroes died- Sentry, Goliath, Spider-Man's marriage. So I ask you- are we better for it? Is this past era of Marvel one for the history books, or will it crumble in time? Personally, I think I enjoyed the last decade, despite many things not delivering. I like a cohesive universe, I like a world full of characters interacting and steering the fate of their universe, I just hope the next era has more room for the characters themselves.

 

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Heroes And Heroines Japanese Video Game And Animation Illustration SC, $29.95

PS ARTBOOKS
American Comics Group Collected Works Volume 1 Out Of The Night HC, $47.99
American Comics Group Collected Works Volume 2 Adventures Into The Unknown HC, $47.99
Tomorrow Revisited A Celebration Of The Life And Art Of Frank Hampson HC (not verified by Diamond), $47.99

QUIRK BOOKS
Tales From Lovecraft Middle School Volume 1 Professor Gargoyle HC, $13.99
Bond On Bond Reflections On 50 Years Of James Bond Movies HC, $29.95
U.S. Army Zombie Training Manual SC, $14.95

RANDOM HOUSE BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS
City Of Ember HC, $18.99
City Of Ember SC, $9.99

REBELLION
2000 AD #1800, $5.25
2000 AD #1801, $5.25
Judge Dredd Digest Dark Judges TP (not verified by Diamond), $11.00
Judge Dredd Megazine #328 (not verified by Diamond), $12.25

SCREEN POWER PUBLISHING
Scream Magazine #13 (not verified by Diamond), $9.50

SECRET ACRES
Understanding Monster Volume 1 GN, $21.95

SEVEN SEAS ENTERTAINMENT
Dance In The Vampire Bund Volume 13 GN (not verified by Diamond), $11.99
Dracula Everlasting Volume 2 GN (not verified by Diamond), $11.99
Girl Friends The Complete Collection Volume 1 TP (not verified by Diamond), $17.99
Jack The Ripper Hell Blade Volume 2 GN, $11.99
Venus Versus Virus Omnibus Edition Volume 3 GN (Of 3)(not verified by Diamond), $15.99
Witch Hunter Collection Volume 2 Books 3-4 TP (not verified by Diamond), $16.99

SEVEN STORIES PRESS
Graphic Canon Volume 2 TP, $34.95

SLG PUBLISHING
Pinocchio Vampire Slayer Volume 4 Of Wood And Blood Part 2 GN (not verified by Diamond), $10.95

SPHEREWERX
Cinefantastique Presents Ultimate Guide To Zombies (not verified by Diamond), $8.99

STERLING PUBLISHING
Playboy's Greatest Covers HC, $35.00

TH3RD WORLD STUDIOS
Stuff Of Legend The Toy Collector #1 (Of 5), $3.99

TITAN PUBLISHING
Alien The Illustrated Story TP (Facsimile Edition), $14.95
Art And Making Of Hotel Transylvania HC, $34.95
Beetle Bailey The Daily And Sunday Strips 1966 HC, $19.95
Hagar The Horrible The Epic Chronicles The Dailies 1977-1978 HC, $19.95
Star Wars The Clone Wars Magazine #13, $4.99
Star Wars The Clone Wars Magazine #14, $4.99

TOHAN CORPORATION
Newtype August 2012, $16.00

TOON BOOKS
Trip To The Bottom Of The World HC, $12.95

UNDERCOVER FISH BOOKS
Hot Donut Salad GN, $17.95

UNITED PLANKTON PICTURES
Spongebob Comics #13, $2.99

VALIANT ENTERTAINMENT
Archer And Armstrong #3 (David Aja Character Design Cover), $3.99
Archer And Armstrong #3 (Arturo Lozzi Cover), $3.99
Bloodshot #4 (David Aja Character Design Cover), $3.99
Bloodshot #4 (Arturo Lozzi Cover), $3.99

VERTICAL
Drops Of God Volume 5 GN, $14.95
GTO 14 Days In Shonan Volume 5 GN, $10.95
Paradise Kiss Volume 1 TP (Vertical Edition), $16.95

VIZ MEDIA
Bakuman Volume 15 TP, $9.99
Bleach Volume 48 TP, $9.99
Bleach Volume 49 TP, $9.99
Case Closed Volume 44 GN, $9.99
Dawn Of The Arcana Volume 6 TP, $9.99
Devil And Her Love Song Volume 5 GN, $9.99
Jiu Jiu Volume 2 GN, $9.99
Kekkaishi Volume 34 GN, $9.99
Little Miss Daredevil The Incredible Race GN, $6.99
Loveless 2-In-1 Edition Volume 1 TP, $14.99
Nura Rise Of The Yokai Clan Volume 11 GN, $9.99
Pokemon Adventures Diamond And Pearl Platinum Volume 6 GN, $7.99
Redakai Conquer The Kairu Volume 1 Invasion Of The Gilfreem GN, $7.99
Skip Beat Volume 29 TP, $9.99
Slam Dunk Volume 24 GN, $9.99
Stepping On Roses Volume 8 GN, $9.99
Story Of Saiunkoku Volume 8 GN, $9.99
Toriko Volume 12 GN, $9.99
Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds Volume 3 GN, $9.99

ZENESCOPE ENTERTAINMENT
Grimm Universe #1 (Neptune Angel)(Cover A Giusseppe Cafaro), $3.99
Grimm Universe #1 (Neptune Angel)(Cover B Pasquale Qualano), $3.99

Joel Rickenbach is a curator of cult cinema at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA, and can be heard every week talking film, TV and other geekery on the You’ve got GEEK podcast. Follow him on Twitter and hilarity will no doubt ensue.



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