Company wide crossovers are starting to be an annual thing at Marvel. Some have been phenomenal, like ‘Civil War’, and others have been not so great, like ‘Fear Itself’. Since they’re fairly commonplace in this day and age, we’ve come to realize that the first issue means everything. I remember picking up ‘Fear Itself’ last year and ended up just being uninterested. It was underwhelming and I didn’t have the urge to pick up the rest of the series.
Luckily, the first issue of this year’s huge crossover, ‘Avengers Vs. X-men’, didn’t make the same mistakes as it’s predecessor because it had a strong mixture of exposition, action, character, and story, despite not having a whole lot going on.
This issue spent the majority of the time reintroducing us to the key players in the story and reminding us what sort of damage the Phoenix Force can cause. While that may not sound like much, writer Brian Michael Bendis keeps us interested by keeping the action coming. Someone is constantly in action to move the story along, whether it’s The Avengers saving New York from a threat, Cyclops training with Hope, or Captain America visiting Wolverine. We even see the first shots get fired, which was surprising to me because of how long the series is. I wasn’t expecting things to escalate until the next issue, but I’m not complaining about jumping right into the action.
In addition to the constant action, Bendis manages to capture the characters pretty well and makes each side easy to empathize with, unlike in ‘Civil War’, where most were immediately on Captain America’s side of the issue from the get go. Neither side is taking the bad guy role at this point because both Cap and Cyclops have justifiable stances on the issue at hand, even though the two may be taking what may be seen as extreme measures to get their way. But if it weren’t for the leaders’ extreme measures, then these teams wouldn’t really have a problem and we wouldn’t have a story to read, would we?
The artwork for the book is pretty solid, which is what one would expect from an all-star like John Romita Jr. The artist tends to divide comic fans because of his style, but I found it to be effective here, especially when it came to his characters’ eyes. I noticed that he did a great job of conveying emotion through the eyes, which isn’t always an easy thing to do. For the most part, I enjoy Romita’s cover work more often than I do his work inside a book, but this is some of his better work that I’ve come across. Part of the praise should also go to colorist Laura Martin, who really makes JRJ’s work pop.
This was a great first issue of what’s sure to be an epic story. Hopefully, the rest of the 12-issue series keeps up with this level of quality. But let’s be honest here, with names like Bendis, Ed Brubaker, and Matt Fraction, plus Jason Aaron and Jonathan Hickman, on the creative team, there will be some quality stuff coming up as we see Cyclops and his X-men go head to head with Cap and his Avengers as they both try to save the world.
AVENGERS VS X-MEN #1
Written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS
Art by JOHN ROMITA JR., SCOTT HANNA, & LAURA MARTIN
Cover by JIM CHEUNG & JUSTIN PONSOR