It all begins here. Probably one of the most epic superhero matchups of all time, the Avengers vs. the X-men, Marvel’s huge comic book event of the summer, starts right here with this book collecting a story from each side of the battle. Representing the Avengers side, we get a heartbreaking story about The Scarlett Witch from Brian Michael Bendis. And in the X-men corner, we have a tale of the Mutant Messiah, Hope Summers, from Jason Aaron. The very talented Frank Cho draws both stories.

When I said that the Bendis story was heartbreaking, I really meant it. It starts out with The Scarlett Witch engaging in battle for the first time since returning to the Marvel Universe since the events of Children’s Crusade. She holds her own against M.O.D.O.K. for the most part, but towards the end, she gets a little help from a couple of Avengers, who invite her over to the mansion. After she reluctantly accepts the invite, she comes face to face with her estranged husband, The Vision, and it isn’t exactly the storybook meeting that one would hope for. There’s one panel in particular that was pulling at my heartstrings. It’s an extreme close-up of Wanda’s face during her encounter with Vision. Frank Cho depicted some great emotions here. This story alone was worth the book.

The second story was basically a recap of who Hope Summers is. The whole time Hope was fighting with Cyclops verbally or with the Serpent Society physically. It was really just an outlet to reacquaint everyone with who Hope is and what her character is like. Instead of an interesting bit of exposition like the Bendis story, Aaron’s story just showed off Hope’s badassery, while giving a very small glimpse of exposition. Something that I noticed about the art here is that Cho made some questionable character decisions. Hope is supposed to be a teenager of about 15, but she doesn’t look like any high schooler I’ve ever seen. Cho is known for drawing his women very voluptuous, but I think he could’ve toned it back for Hope. Cho also makes Cyclops look really gaunt. Scott is supposed to be skinny, but not emaciated. I normally like Cho’s style, especially during his run on ‘Mighty Avengers’, but these two characters were a miss for me.

Overall, this book acted as a nice setup for the upcoming event. Even though I enjoyed the first half a bit more than the second half, the dramatic build up to Avengers vs. X-men was there throughout the issue. If you were looking to get into the major crossover when it starts, it would be good if you picked this up too.

Verdict: Buy