Sunday, April 15, 2012
Comic Review -- Avengers vs. X-Men #0 / Brian Michael Bendis, Jason Aaron, Frank Cho, and Jason Keith
I like the cover, though the Scarlet Witch and Hope Summers don't really appear together in this issue. Instead, they have separate stories that feature each of them. Still, the image is very evocative, and does a good job of selling the notion that these two will play some kind of prominent role in the coming saga. Hope's apparent role is already pretty obvious, but Wanda's is a little harder to divine. Still, we only know what's been written up to this point, so anything goes. Did anyone notice the barely visible greyscale Ms. Marvel and Iron Man also on the cover?
In the first story, the Scarlet Witch makes a reappearance on the superhero scene by foiling as assassination attempt by M.O.D.O.K. and A.I.M. on one of their former scientists who tried to leave them. While she isn't able to hold them off on her own, she keeps them occupied long enough for Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman to arrive and help her finish the job. They are happy to see Wanda, and insist on bringing her back to Avengers Mansion, but she is highly reluctant to go. When they get there, she is greeted by Vision, her husband, who coldly rejects her and tells her she has no home among the Avengers. Ms. Marvel flies a crying Wanda off the scene, while Vision silently weeps for his loss.
Hope's story features her flying off Utopia with Cyclops's jetpack. Apparently she's been taking it upon herself to play solo vigilante to blow off steam. Cyclops confronts her about it, and she uses the opportunity to ask him about the Phoenix Force. When he's less than forthcoming, she leaves the island and goes to break up a late-night bank burglary underway by the Serpent Society. By the time Scott and Emma find her, she's taken down their members and is beating Cottonmouth to a pulp. She tells Scott that she's not afraid of the Phoenix Force, and that she's ready for it and wants it to come. Emma expresses that this is all too much pressure for Hope, and Scott replies that either way, for good or bad, Hope is special, and will find a way to handle it.
I really enjoyed the Scarlet Witch's story. I'm not terribly familiar with Wanda as a character, but I know she has a long, deep history with the Avengers. It's also not hard to imagine that she's something of a pariah, as she nearly obliterated the entire mutant race with the phrase, "No more mutants" a few years ago to spite her father Magneto. She's very aware of all of this, and even though she's trying to do better by playing the hero again, she knows she can't go home again, at least not yet. When Vision rejects her, you can see the fear realized in her face as she tearfully apologizes for her past actions. Clearly there are a range of opinions about her return: Wolverine and Beast seemed less than thrilled to see her--probably in light of the mutant issue--but Thor and Iron Man, long-time comrades in arms of hers, seemed sympathetic, and even sad to see her go away at Vision's behest. It makes me more interested in Wanda's backstory up to this point, and I will have to endeavor to read all the Avengers Disassembled, House of M, and Decimation stories where she features so prominently.
I was not so keen on Hope's story. Again, I'm not terribly familiar with her character either, but all the depictions I've seen of her haven't painted a very good picture. She comes off as an overpowered, petulant teenager whose sense of self-importance is a little too confident for her age. She openly defies Scott, blows off his concerns and attempts to discipline her, and barely seems moved by the impending events concerning her. While she's ostensibly resorting to her vigilante activities as a form of coping with it, I'm still not feeling any real sense of fear, or trepidation, or uncertainty from her. That would go a long way towards making her portrayal more sympathetic.
The art in both stories is very good. I like Frank Cho's pencils, and while I have some issues with how old Hope looks if she's supposed to be an actual teenager, I have nothing but praise for how his adult heroes look. Wanda looks beautiful and almost lost in her apprehension. Iron Man and Beast looked a little off during their brief appearances, but I'm perfectly willing to forgive that, since they were little more than talking heads with up-or-down thumbs in that story. Very enjoyable to behold.
Overall, it's difficult at this juncture to see how relevant these stories are to the upcoming AvX arc. Each is intriguing in its way, and I will be keeping an eye on these two characters throughout the story, but there's little that's conveyed that directly ties in to the main arc. It informs it more than anything else. Still, they're good reads--I obviously think the Scarlet Witch feature is better than Hope's--with good art, and worth a glimpse, at the very least. Recommended.