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.
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.