By the time 2012 rolled around, yearly events have become standard affair for Marvel. At least by now, they’ve gotten the formula down after listening to fan feedback. Events had become less about the happenings, than the new status quo it was creating. AvX was billed as an all out war between the two sides due to a difference of ideals. While there were certainly some good ideas and fun moments, 12 issues might have been a little much.
Typically, comics come out monthly. With Marvel double shipping nearly ever book, that standard is a thing of the past. AvX ran from April to October of 2012, releasing every 2 – 3 weeks. Again, this shows how the company is more focused on the means to the end rather than story. Written by the “Marvel Architects” comprised of Brian Michael Bendis, Jason Aaron, Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker, and Jonathan Hickman, the five rotated writing duties. The 12 issues were broken down into three acts, with three different artist, John Romita Jr., Olivier Coipel, and Adam Kubert handing the different acts. For the record, the acts didn’t fall into 4 issues blocks.
The first act, “It’s Coming”, lived up to the title of Avengers vs. X-Men. The Phoenix Force was heading towards Earth. The Avengers looked at it as a force of destruction that would destroy the planet, needing to be contained or destroyed. Cyclops thought it represented life and rebirth, with the power to help fix the mutant population that has been decimated since House of M. Lines were drawn in the sand and epic fight poses were struck as the two sides clashed. Everyone was sure the Phoenix was heading for Hope, the first and only mutant born since House of M.
In issue 5 the Phoenix arrived. Iron Man had a device that attempted to contain it, but failed. Instead, it split into 5, possessing Cyclops, Emma Frost, Namor, Magik, and Colossus. They became the Phoenix Five. I thought it was an incredibly inspired idea, showing the purpose of the series. The conceit of the two teams fighting was already beginning to lose steam. This shift reinvigorated the book. Sadly, it was stretched way to thin.
In the next two act, “No More Avengers” and “There Can Be Only One”, the Five set about fixing the world, and the Avengers were convinced they still needed to be stopped, too much power and such. First they took down Namor, and his share of power divided into the other four. This imbalance was too much for them to handle, driving them insane. The Avengers brought Hope to the mystical kung-fu city of K’un-L’un (where Iron Fist trained) for tutelage. They thought she was the only one who could stop the Phoenix. The book went on, and on, and on. Magic and Colossus fell, Emma and Cyclops became crazier.
The final showdown picked up the pace. Professor X was attacking Cyclops psychically. To defeat him, Cyclops took out Emma to absorb her power. With the Phoenix whole, he became Dark Phoenix, and killed Professor X. Hope and Scarlet Witch stepped up, taking the Phoenix from him. Before wishing it away, the two used its powers to restore mutants across the globe. The Phoenix was gone, mutants had been restored, Cyclops was in jail.
I really liked the beats here, with the Phoenix Five, the death of Professor X, etc, but this was entirely bloated at 12 issues. It needed to be 6, max, possibly 8. More importantly it set up the major creator musical chairs that is Marvel NOW! Marvel hasn’t had this many good books simultaneously in years. The X-Men line has been completely reinvigorated thanks to Bendis, with the fallout of the event (Cyclops and co. on the run with broken powers) still present.
All modern event books have tie-ins, and this is no different. While AvX derailed a few books (Wolverine and the X-Men), they didn’t obnoxiously overtake every book (like X-Factor). One tie-in was a complete cash in, AvX: Vs. A 6-issue mini that featured 2 bouts per issue, pairing up different Avengers and X-Men in an all out brawl. No story, hardly any word bubbles, all art. They admitted straight up what this was. It still sold like crazy.
How do you evaluate something like this? As a story it was long, bloated, and slow. As a means to an end, it was fantastic. The status quo set after this is the best the company’s been in years, or decades. Everything is firing on all cylinders. Marvel NOW! was designed to be a launching point for new readers, which they were pretty successful at achieving, making AvX as a lead-in a little pointless. There’s nothing you haven’t seen here before if you’ve been a long time reader, but if it’s new to you, you’ll love it.
What was your favorite moment from AvX? Think it was too long? Comment below!
Good guy vs. good guy is getting old.