Sunday, April 8, 2012

Comic Review -- Avengers vs. X-Men #1 / Brian Michael Bendis, John Romita, Jr., Scott Hanna, and Laura Martin

The cover for this issue is decently drawn, but suffers from two things.  First and foremost, it's crowded as hell, which I understand.  Some covers are simply going to look like this, especially when you have a story covering two large super-hero teams.  That doesn't stop it from looking primarily like a bunch of angry heads on one page.  There's no real opportunity for action or dynamism.  The second problem is exposure: this image has been promoted for months, so we knew this was coming.  Still, it sets up the story and gives us an idea of who will be fighting who.

The plot, which has also been known for months, is that the Phoenix Force is on its way back to Earth, this time seeking out Hope Summers, the apparent mutant messiah, as its host.  The Avengers are intent on taking Hope into protective custody, while Cyclops and the X-Men are intent on keeping her on Utopia and dealing with the problem themselves.  Cyclops seems to be of the opinion that the Phoenix, though a destructive force, always brings rebirth, and that part of the equation could be the key to somehow resurrecting the mutant people, who were all but obliterated by the Scarlet Witch on M-Day.

The only thing Scott will ever have in common with Han
Solo?  He shot first.  This issue makes the X-Men--or at
least their leader, Scott--look like the aggressors.
The actual issue itself doesn't reveal too much that isn't already known, it just gets the game started.  Cap and company come to Utopia, hoping to peacefully retrieve Hope, and Scott, who's already been obsessively--one might almost say brutally--training Hope, brashly refuses to turn her over, to Cap's--and apparently Emma Frost's--disappointment.  He basically acts like a complete and total ass during this issue, which doesn't make me optimistic for the X-Men at this point.  Not only are the Avengers a larger team, but where Cap went diplomatically, with a good head on his shoulders, Scott is shooting from the hip, casting insults, and basically acting like a child.  I know being leader of a mutant team isn't easy, but he needs to get his head on straight, and quickly.

I'm guessing this has something to do with the fact that Bendis has been an Avengers-centric writer for a while, and either has to do with an unfamiliarity with or contempt for the X-Men.  That's fine--write what you know, I say--but I am hoping we'll get a more balanced view of both teams as the story arc widens.  I'm sure we will, as other writers and artists get involved, but with this kickoff issue as the only AvX title this week, it leaves things looking a little one-sided in terms of who has the moral high ground with this struggle.

It fulfills the sense of anticipation, and reads pretty well once the primary conflict is brought into play, but the lead-up does drag on a little bit--and for me to say that is a rare thing.  It consists primarily of material that was included in the previews, and some material involving Nova that seems contrived to provide action where there otherwise would be none.  I'm hoping things will be considerably tighter as this goes on.

Speaking of art, I have to say that I'm not a big fan of John Romita, Jr.'s work in this issue.  I've said it in the past, and I'll say it again: he does pretty well in more intimate, less wide-ranging stories, but when you have something as grand and sprawling as the Avengers versus the X-Men, his pencils really become distracting, to where I notice the style all the time, to its detriment.  It's something about the line work, the faces... I don't know if they just look overly cartoony, but something is making notice it, and not in a good way.

Overall, I'd say this issue suffers primarily from overexposure, and while I'm not too thrilled with the introduction, the actual start of the conflict brings things up to a more interesting level.  My issues with the artwork, I'm sure, are simply my own, but I just have issues with Romita's depictions of multiple characters over a wide-ranging group.  Nevertheless, as the start of the Marvel's premier summer event, it's a must-read for anyone who wants to get involved.  Recommended.

No comments:

Post a Comment