Marvel marketed their Avengers vs. X-Men event to ridiculous proportions, but the payoff was substantial for the Walt Disney subsidiary. After a quarter million issues sold the quality of the comic is all but moot. Whether it is the most God awful comic ever created or an Eisner contender…Marvel wins. With sales yawning in the black no reviewer, or comic book of the moment can detract, except for maybe the Walking Dead TPBs but that is an entire article on its own—perhaps several.
Avengers vs. X-Men #1 lands smack dab in the midst of middling in tone, plot, and artwork. The first issue credits pretty much all of the heavy hitters for Marvel Comics (Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman, and Matt Fraction) as composers of the script. The premise for Avengers vs. X-Men needs to stay firmly grounded in brawl territory. It is not the coup de grâce of plotlines. At this juncture I am not pining for a deep political adventure that wades me through satire and intrigue—I am looking to read a brains off, all out skirmish between Marvel’s toughest. I want a no-holds-barred slugfest between Cap and Cyclops, Iron Man and Magneto, and Wolverine and…well, everyone else. The issue takes it self too seriously. There is absolutely no reason to gather the heavies to compose a script that anyone one of them could have completed on their own. A slugfest with a sprinkle of comic history is all that was necessary.
Critiques aside, and holistically speaking, the plot was cohesive as well as solid. It progressed naturally, peaked at the appropriate moments, and wrapped up with an ‘oh snap’ moment, so even with my distaste for the story’s more complex origins I have to admit that the plot was executed properly.
The art by John Romita, Jr. should be top notch; he is a superb artist who is consistently excellent. However, there are several panels where it is fairly obvious that an unaccredited, touch-up artist filled in where he left off (probably to make deadlines). This inevitably twists the unity and consistency of the art. There are several panels that are very twists—eye candy all the way—but then there are other panels that looked rushed and awkward. The opening of the issue begins with Iron Man and several other Avengers conversing at the Avengers Tower. Iron Man’s stance, during this scene, is effeminate. Later, towards the end of the issue, Cyclops has a very similar stance whilst conversing with Captain America on the shores of Utopia. Personally the effeminate nature of the pose is not what bothers me it is that the stance is uncharacteristic of these two characters, which in turn distracts from artwork and credibility of the artist. Many characters also have either odd or very bland facial expressions; this is very contrary to Romita’s style and lends more credence to an unaccredited fill-in artist. On the flipside of that there are several panels, such as the introduction of Nova that are absolutely stunning and match the tone of the story perfectly. Overall, the artwork is riddled with gems of excellence as well as lumps of coal.
With their larger and newer runs, Marvel Comics has been providing digital copies of their issues for the past several months, and Avengers vs. X-Men #1 is no exception. The oddity that presents itself though is that two editions are not identical as you might think. The UK’s Bleeding Cool ran an interesting article pointing out the main difference between the two editions of Avengers vs. X-Men #1. Plainly, the digital copy is in error, but it begs the simple questions: Why?
Check out Bleeding Cool’s more in depth article on the subject by clicking here.
Also, one of the other gimmicks that Marvel employed with Avengers vs. X-Men was the use of an Apple/Android app marvelously titled the, “Marvel Augmented Reality App.” Essentially, you use your camera-enabled phone to view specially marked ‘AR’ pages. The nifty part is that the app provides you with character bios, sketches, and voice commentary to the issues that directly matches to what you’re reading. At first I thought the Augmented Reality App was going to be trivial at best, but in all actuality it is a fun way to go back through the issue and see a little bit of the creative process as you read. It is definitely a cool idea to foster more interaction between the readers and the creators, and it completely came out of left field for me.
At the end of the day, I rate Avengers vs. X-Men #1 three-and-half stars out of five. It lies directly between fair and excellent, but readers definitely deserved a better quality product for the price and the hype.