Written by Robert J. Baden, Fanboy Comics Contributor
Wednesday, 17 October 2012 04:04
I’m not the biggest fan of crossovers, especially when it becomes a company-wide event such as Marvel’s previous Secret Invasion, Fear Itself, or Siege storylines, because it tends to require me to read a lot of titles that I normally have no interest in, and don’t know the full background of, just in order to get the entire experience of the storyline. However, considering I already read Avengers and X-Men titles, it was harder for me to ignore the AvX event, and so I took on the task of reading it all for review purposes.
Sadly, I wasn’t surprised by the majority of the storyline—it was pretty easy to see where certain characters would fall in regards to the division amongst the heroes—but there were a couple of surprises that really threw me for a loop, and the consequences of the event will forever change the Marvel Universe (or at least that’s what Marvel NOW! proponents keep saying).
Summary (Covering Avengers: X-Sanction, AvX, AvX VS, Avengers, Uncanny X-Men, New Avengers, X-Men Legacy, Secret Avengers, Wolverine and the X-Men, and Avengers Academy)
Considering the length of the main series, and the vast number of titles that the event crosses over into, I’m keeping the summery very brief with just the main aspects of the storyline. For full details, please read the comics—you won’t be disappointed (even though you won’t be that surprised).
The ancient power of the Phoenix Force is headed to Earth once again, and Hope—the “Mutant Messiah”—is believed to be the intended host. Because of the destructive powers that the Phoenix has shown before, most of the non-mutant heroes, specifically Captain America and the Avengers believe that it would be best to keep Hope in protective custody while they work out a way to stave off the cosmic entity; Cyclops, however, has other plans, and a war between the two best known teams in superhero history begins.
During the fighting, Hope sneaks away in an effort to investigate the Phoenix on her own. Wolverine eventually tracks her down, but as an Avenger, and keeps Cap appraised of their whereabouts. Eventually, the two sides meet on the Blue Area of the Moon, and the Avengers fire a weapon in the hopes of disrupting the Phoenix Force, but instead fracture it, fusing it to five mutants instead: Cyclops, Emma Frost, Magik, Colossus, and Namor. Shortly after the showdown with the Avengers, the “Phoenix Five” change the world to be a more accepting place, until the innate, omnipotent powers of the Phoenix begin to change them into power-hungry individuals.
Towards the end, only Cyclops remains in possession of the Phoenix Force, and the combined might of the Avengers and the X-Men fight for the survival of Earth. Hope and the Scarlet Witch end up smacking down Cyclops, knocking him out so that he can face the world with what he’s done. The immediate aftermath of the conflict leaves many around the world wondering if mutants are to be trusted at all, putting in jeopardy all the gains made over the years, but the Phoenix Force also creates more mutants, rising the number to more than the post-Decimation figures. Despite all his horrors, Cyclops is still happy because of the increase of mutants and the survival of his species.
The best part I really liked about the entire series is the increase of mutants at the end. The whole House of M/Decimation event was really too much, in my opinion; I know that there were a lot of mutants in the world, but there wasn’t a need to nearly destroy the entire species as a way of keeping the characters manageable. It’s always been something I didn’t agree with, and I’m glad that it has been resolved to an extent.
I’m also glad that the Scarlet Witch has come back into more mainstream storytelling. She’s a very complex character, and I’ve wanted to know what’s been going on with her since her departure—well, now I do. Granted, she’s a little moody, but she has reason to be; a lot of people hate her for what she’s done, but at least she’s been willing to show that she’ll stand up for what she thinks is right. Thankfully, this time it isn’t the destruction of all the mutants just to get back at her father.
A great addition to the story was the inclusion of the “Infinite” stories in Issues #1, #6, and #10 after the actual comic itself. I’m not sure how to describe it, but the use of static images with new images overtop from page-to-page really drew me in, especially showing the very subtle—yet important—facial expression and head movements.
The aftermath of the series also creates a lot of opportunities for the future of Marvel, to be further explored in the upcoming Marvel NOW! line. I really hope that they’re able to change things around for the better and that it won’t slide back into old patterns, but with writers like Frank Cho and Brian Michael Bendis on the playbill, things have a decent chance of starting with fresh material.
Some of the artwork I wasn’t too keen on, specifically Issue #25 of Avengers and Issues #26-28 of Secret Avengers; they just didn’t draw me in, and I was really disappointed in how they looked compared to the rest of the crossover event. I can forgive art styles when it is in regards to a superior storytelling, but in the case of Secret Avengers, no, because, in my opinion, the subplot of the Secret Avengers portion of the story wasn’t needed for the overall success of the main event.
Likewise, I wasn’t entirely happy about some of the seemingly unconnected aspects of the company-wide event. Some of the issues had no real relevance to what went on between the Avengers and the X-Men, aside from the most minimal of aspects. I believe that they were just inserted as filler, because there was nothing else to tell, and that greatly disappointed me.
The aftermath of the event left the Marvel world with more mutants and the need for closer ties amongst the heroic teams, especially the X-Men and the Avengers. Cap puts together a new team to answer the call, and the island home of Utopia seems to have been mothballed by the government. Cyclops and the other former “Phoenix Five” mutants are either incarcerated or at large, while the world tries to rebuild in the wake of one of its most devastating conflicts in recent years. The need for a stronger heroic team is evident, and the world around them seems to be shifting to answer that call.
What exactly will this mean for the future? What will happen in the Marvel world as we know it? Well, that’s what Marvel NOW! hopes to answer; let’s just hope that it is something that we’ll be satisfied with.