No new comic series of the week – my finals are this week, and I bought 14 comics anyway. As such, I’m only writing two full reviews and summing up my thoughts on the rest. Besides, there is a lot to say about Avengers vs. X-Men 2.
The real fight between the two superhero teams begins here. This entire issue is one giant brawl between the X-Men and the Avengers on Utopia (home of Cyclops’ X-men). But is it any good? Yes and no.
This might as well start with the good parts of the comic. Despite that this is an issue-long fight, the plot still moves forward. There’s the suggestion that a lot will happen in this event, and that much less time will be devoted to build up (compared to Fear Itself – the entire first half was build-up). Only two issues into this 12-issue event and the action is already in full swing. Here, we already see a couple betrayals, people who don’t know what side they want to fight for, and tie-in set ups.
If you shut off your brain, this issue is fun. Not much time is spent on each of the fights, but the overall issue is packed with chaos. It shows plenty of potential for this event. Also, Wolverine’s stance in this issue makes perfect sense for his character, as does Hope’s. The quick conversation between Storm and Black Panther regarding their marriage was a nice touch as well. The issue ends on a high note, although I won’t spoil it even if others have.
It’s time to talk about this issue’s problems. Most obviously, the artwork is kind of weak. You’d think Marvel would hire its best artists for an event like this but no; this artwork is nothing special at all. Most panels have either bland backgrounds or hardly any background at all. Characters usually have little detail – Emma Frost’s diamond form looks nothing like diamond. It’s not horrible artwork, but it’s far from good.
A bigger problem is that neither side feels in the right. With the X-Men, Cyclops attacked Captain America out of nowhere, without trying to negotiate or discuss anything. On the flip side, Captain America didn’t give much of a chance to negotiate with Cyclops and simply showed up on Utopia with a full team of Avengers, “prepared” to take all the X-Men down. The Avengers should have instead asked to help the X-Men take on the phoenix. After all, the X-Men have successfully protected earth from the cosmic force on several occasions in the past, without help from the Avengers. At the very least, Captain America should have let Dr. Strange say something about the phoenix force – Strange would know much more than the Cap would.
Take the Civil War and the Schism events for comparison. In Civil War, the pro-registration side had some good points, as did the anti-registration side. Of course, they ruined that after the pro-registration side started imprisoning superheroes in the negative zone without due process and sort-of cloning Thor. In Schism, both sides had a perfectly valid argument and their actions were never extreme or out of character. The X-Men fan base was even divided on who they thought was right. So far, nobody seems right in this event, save for the team that is directly trying to stop the phoenix force (Secret Avengers starting next week).
This issue’s biggest problem is the most obvious one however. There is no way that the Avengers should have a chance in this fight. There’s 16 Avengers (Thor isn’t among them) vs. an island with around 100 mutants on it – several of which should be able to take on all the Avengers on their own. Not to mention that these X-Men have always been better team fighters than the Avengers. No matter what kind of magnetic shielding Iron Man has, he shouldn’t stand a chance against Magneto. His abilities are far too vast for half of the Avengers even – he could simply launch all the street level fighters into space if he wanted, or hold their positions by controlling the iron in their blood. Storm could bust half the Avengers on her own for that matter. Quicksilver shouldn’t be able to penetrate Magneto’s shields when Iron Man can’t.
Wolverine (fighting for the Avengers) shouldn’t be able to hold back both Sunspot and Magma considering Sunspot has super strength and Magma can fry all of his organic material. Psylock’s TK is a serious threat, as is her psi-sword that can penetrate any psychic defenses. The Thing and Luke Cage shouldn’t stand a chance against Namor under water, especially the Thing, who would sink since he’s made of rock – he’s beaten the Hulk under water. Magma, Sunspot, Danger, Psylocke, Storm and dozen other mutants vs. Daredevil, Black Panther, Hawkeye, Spider Woman and Mockingbird – how is this remotely close to a fair fight?
Even the heavy hitting duels are unfair. Red Hulk, while powerful, shouldn’t stand a chance against Colossus, who is now the Juggernaut by the way. Dr. Strange might be very skilled in the mystic arts, but he doesn’t stand against Magik in the Limbo Underworld. Magik is the queen of Limbo and has complete control of that dimension, all of its beasts, and thousands of years of dark magic fighting experience. That’s not to say that there aren’t some even matches between the team, but this group of Avengers attacking Utopia is a suicide run.
I’m not completely sure what to think of this issue. In concept it’s great, and it’s kind of fun, but there are so many glaring problems. It feels rushed and poorly thought out. That said, it makes the rest of the event look promising. It’s hard to recommend, so I’ll just say wait and see for now.
Now this is how you kick off a major crossover. In previous issues, Batman has been fighting against the court of owls. The court has secretly been ruling Gotham City from the shadows for centuries – most people consider them a myth. Batman had trouble fighting against one of their talons for the first six issues of his series – now he’s fighting against dozens of them at once while all his allies are fighting against other talons across the city (once their tie-ins begin).
This issue is intense. Batman spends most of it running through his house trying to avoid the talons as much as possible. Meanwhile, Alfred faces one on his own. Eventually, they find out that the court plans to kill 40 of Gotham City’s biggest public figures that very night.
The action is great and the artwork compliments it perfectly. Batman’s new suit is awesome. If there are any complaints, it’s that we have to wait a full month to see what happens next. This issue is probably the best comic of the week and pretty much everything you need to know is explained within.
Other comics I read include Wolverine and the X-Men 9, Venom 16, Nightwing 8, Birds of Prey 8, The Walking Dead 96, Supergirl 8, Justice League 8, Amazing Spider-Man 684, Incredible Hulk 7, New Mutants 41 and Uncanny X-Force 24 – whew.
Wolverine and the X-Men 9 was great. Again Jason Aaron demonstrates how bleak the situation is while still maintaining a light-hearted feel. The danger room jokes were hilarious, and it expands on why Wolverine sides with the Avengers at first. There’s also a great joke about the space casino from a few issues back. If you’re reading Avengers vs. X-Men, or this series, this is definitely worth a read.
Venom 16 was good. The title character is escorting a super criminal who is targeted for an assassination. What follows is a three way battle between Venom, Hobgoblin, and the Human Fly on a moving train. It doesn’t get much more awesome than that.
Nightwing 8 is how you wright a tie-in. It fits perfectly with Batman 8 while it stands on its own. It also makes Night of Owls personal for Nightwing, although I won’t spoil how. Definitely worth reading, and it explains everything you need to know about what’s going on.
Birds of Prey 8 was, well … I’m not sure what to think of it. Maybe it would have made more sense if I had read the series from the beginning. I don’t know enough about what’s happening to say whether this is a good issue or not. The fight scenes were decent though.
The Walking Dead 96 was good. The book looks like it’s taking a different direction in the future, opening up a larger community. I can’t say for sure since this is my first story arc, but this issue was good.
Supergirl 8 was decent, but kind of weird. It’s a downtime issue for the most part, and Supergirl makes a human friend. At the same time, Supergirl seems too trusting to this new friend of hers. The cliff-hanger suggests that the next issue might be good, but it could also be really weird. Still, if you’ve been enjoying Supergirl’s series so far, this issue is worth checking out.
Justice League 8 was … alright. It shows that the Justice League doesn’t play well with others – not sure how I feel about that. This might be my last issue for the series.
Amazing Spider-Man 684 was awesome. The entire issue is Spider-Man, Black Widow and Sable against Sandman in the Sahara desert. Here, we learn something new about the villain and it makes perfect sense, as does Spider-Man’s solution. The focus on Sandman’s mental state was also a pleasant surprise – his goals are noble even if his methods are extreme. It’s almost a sad issue in that sense. Either way, this issue is strongly recommended.
Incredible Hulk 7 was alright. The Hulk has definitely gone through a serious change in the first 7 issues, and it will be interesting to see where it will go from here. It’s not great, but it’s satisfying.
New Mutants 41 was kind of weird, but still was pretty good. Blink takes the New Mutants to a party to cheer them up after the last story arc. Honestly though, I’m not sure why the ani-mator mission really bothered the team that much – they’ve been through much worse in “Fall of the New Mutants.” Still, this issue isn’t without its merits – there’s some good character development and it was fun. If I had any complaints, Doug (Cypher) looked a little weird in this issue.
Uncanny X-Force 24 was pure awesome. X-Force takes on Iceman from the Age of Apocalypse universe – someone who is insanely difficult to kill. The artwork is fantastic as well – Phil Noto usually is. The final fight between AOA Nightcrawler and AOA Iceman is brutally emotional as these former friends fight to the death. Meanwhile, there’s a funeral in the Otherworld for Psylocke’s brother (Psylocke had to kill him in the last issue to save all of reality). This issue is a great stand-alone issue that solves a dangling plot thread from the Dark Angel Saga storyline.