Avengers vs. X-Men: Don’t Read This Book!

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Marvel’s big summer event, Avengers vs. X-Men, is more than halfway over now, so I thought it about time I chimed in on the title. Having read it from the start, and having purchased several tie-in titles, and having followed most of the characters involved for 2 decades, I can stand by my decision to tell you DON’T READ THIS BOOK. AvX is one of the worst company crossovers I’ve ever had the chance to read, and I’ve read Atlantis Attacks and Reign of the Supermen.

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Everything about this crossover just screams “Give us your money!” I know, I know, Marvel is a big corporation owned by an even bigger corporation, and they need to make money, blah, blah, blah. I’m not one of the 99 percenters. I get it. But do I really need to read a 12 issue, bi-weekly limited series, plus all the tie-in titles in (deep breath) Avengers Academy, Secret Avengers, Avengers, New Avengers, Uncanny X-Men, Wolverine and the X-Men, X-Men Legacy, and Avengers vs. X-Men: Infinite. Oh, and AvX: Versus. And the prologue to the whole thing, X-Sanction, which did literally nothing to add to the story or even provide a meaningful set-up.

So yeah, I know that Marvel is the king of the crossover, but the quality of these books and tie-ins is criminally awful. The first Avengers tie-in didn’t even connect to the main storyline until the last page. I don’t typically read The Avengers because aside from the big characters, it’s typically filled with lame B-listers and the art is usually sub-par for a Marvel book. I went out on a limb with the book, though, just to see how it tied in with the main AvX story, and was sorely disappointed. The same goes for Secret Avengers. All the tie-ins seem either rushed, with not enough explanation about what is happening, or they feel shoe-horned into the story, being forced to add events and details that are totally unnecessary to the growth of the main storyline.

And let’s not forget AvX: Versus, a title I haven’t yet stooped low enough to buy. That said, I won’t make a critique on the title, but I will let you know what the book is all about. Marvel is billing it as “the fight book.” Every issue is filled with the extended versions of the fights seen in the main storyline. Magneto versus Iron Man, Red Hulk versus Colossus, etc. And that’s it. 22 pages of illustrated people punching each other on ways that doesn’t further the plot, because we’ve already witnessed the impact of each fight in the main titles. AvX: Versus is a book that would have made Rob Liefield proud: all flash and no substance.

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The main story isn’t even good enough to compensate for the poor tie-ins. Starting with issue one, the story and characterizations have been laughably bad. The Avengers go to Utopia to take Hope Summers away from The X-Men because they believe her to be an avatar of the Phoenix Force and are trying to protect the world. The X-Men don’t want her to leave because they believe her to be the salvation for the mutant race. Stupid stuff happens. As of right now, the entire plot of the story hinges on the idea that ex-super villains (or is that super ex-villains?) with nigh-unlimited cosmic powers wouldn’t simply kill a character who stands in the way of their master plans.

The whole story revolves around two beliefs that cannot possible be true. The first is that The Avengers somehow have data about the capabilities of the Phoenix Force, which they can’t possibly have, because no one does. No one knows what this particular cosmic entity can do, because no one involved in this story has seen the upper limits of its power. At this point, The Avengers are attempting to make fail-safes and contingency plans against something with unknown capabilities. Not really the sort of plan I’d expect from a team filled with super-geniuses.

On the other side, the X-Men are convinced the Phoenix will restore the mutant race from its near-extinction levels. Why? Probably because Cyclops had a dream or something. Seriously. The X-Men have dealt with the Phoenix on several occasions, and none of them would be described as particularly pleasant. The Phoenix has eaten a star system, killed the woman he loves two or three times, nearly killed his daughter – the thing has been nothing but bad news to people with red hair and those who love them. His belief in the benevolence of the Phoenix is completely unwarranted, and is likely an extension of his desire to see his ex again, or at least a desire to have his girlfriend wear more clothing.

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So, no, I don’t like this crossover. I like it even less knowing that it’s leading to this fall’s Marvel Now! event, which seems to be a re-launching for the company meant to bring the comics more in line with the movie universe and provide a jumping-on point for new readers. That’s a topic for a different post, though. However, I will leave you with a little math to show you why this crossover is an especially expensive slap in the face to comic fans. If I were to buy every issue of AvX, plus all the tie-in titles so I can get the whole story, I would be spending $269. For a story that Marvel has basically already given away the ending to. “Excelsior!” indeed.

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