Tag Archives: Avengers Vs X-Men

Review: Wolverine and the X-Men #10 – Cyclops Comes Calling

Wolverine and the X-Men #10
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Chris Bachalo [Penciler/Colorist]; Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza, Al Vey, and Victor Olazaba [Inkers]

The events of Avengers Vs. X-Men had to hit home at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning sooner or later, and when Cyclops comes calling, boy do they ever.

Taking place between Avengers Vs. X-Men #2 and 3, Wolverine and the X-Men #10 provides some additional insight into what happened between the storming of Utopia and Captain America organizing teams of Avengers to search the planet for Hope Summers (and ultimately betraying Wolverine by throwing him out of a Quinjet).

To sum it up, Cyclops, Emma Frost, and Magik show up at the Jean Grey School and insult everyone there so they can recruit additional X-Men to their side.

Perhaps more interesting than the main plot, Genesis finally figures out who Apocalypse is (but remains unaware that he is a clone/reincarnation of the villain) and Angel finally realizes that he isn’t an angel, but a mutant who used to be known as Warren Worthington.  Genesis and Angel are also quickly forming a bond, which will be interesting to see play out in the months to come considering Angel was once Apocalypse’s Horseman of Death and replacement prior to losing his memory and gaining his new abilities.

With this issue, Jason Aaron has crafted a tie-in issue that doesn’t exist solely as an extension of the event it’s a part of and continues to develop stand-alone plot threads.  Additionally, some of these plot threads are likely to have an impact on the event as a whole–namely the entry of Gladiator and the Shi’ar Death Commandoes, who have dealt with the Phoenix and the X-Men before, into the fray.

Chris Bachalo’s art in this issue also transitions much more smoothly between panels, feeling much more in line with his earlier work on the book and his stellar art on the 2010 Amazing Spider-Man “Shed” arc.

This isn’t a perfect issue, but it’s still a damn fun ride.

STORY: 8/10
ART: 8/10 

Wolverine and the X-Men #9 – Cap Comes Calling

Wolverine and the X-Men #9
Writer:  Jason Aaron
Art:  Chris Bachalo [Penciler/Colorist]; Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza, and Al Vey [Inkers]

As you’re probably aware (based on the banner on this issue’s cover), Wolverine and the X-Men #9 is an Avengers Vs. X-Men tie-in issue.  As such, it provides a micro-level look at the macro-level events taking place in the event’s main book.

This issue in particular takes place during the events of Avengers Vs. X-Men #1, detailing Captain America’s visit to the Jean Grey School for intel from Wolverine.

Having dealt with the Phoenix before–namely when it possessed Jean Grey and turned her into a force of destruction before she killed herself to stop it–it’s only natural that Beast would be monitoring deep space in the event that it returned.  Thus, we find out here that Beast and Wolverine were well aware of its impending return far before Steve Rogers came to tell them.

Jason Aaron also delves into the internal conflict going on with Logan, as well as that potentially brewing within the school, regarding the potential of going to war with Cyclops’ group of X-Men on Utopia.  Those X-Men, after all, are people that Wolverine and others in his school called family for years.  Unfortunately, they pretty much all–Cyclops especially–believe that Hope Summers is the “Mutant Messiah” and that the Phoenix possessing her will bring about a reawakening of the mutant species, which was mostly de-powered by the Scarlet Witch during “House of M.”

As Logan says to Captain America, “Think of Utopia as a compound full of heavily armed religious fanatics.  And you’re the feds butting in, telling them what to believe and how to live.  It won’t go well.”  Wolverine knows it’s going to come to blows and is wary about siding against the X-Men, and Captain America only convinces him to side with the Avengers by putting it in terms of saving the world.

Logan’s decision is shaky, at best.

Meanwhile, the Phoenix Force’s approach lays out two telepaths with previous connections to it–Rachel Grey and Quentin Quire–and alarms the Shi’ar Emperor Gladiator, whose son, Kid Gladiator, is a student at Logan’s school.  Gladiator and the Shi’ar are also familiar with the destructive nature of the Phoenix, and while it remains to be seen if they’ll come into play in the main series, it’s only natural that they should show up in one of the X-book tie-ins.

Chris Bachalo’s art remains hit or miss for me.  While I enjoy it here for the most part, there are a few panels, such as the psychic disturbance with Grey and Quire on page 15, that were a little confusing at first, but made sense on second viewing.  My main art gripe here is that Rachel Grey is seen standing behind Wolverine in the faculty meeting near the end of the issue after being laid up in the school’s medical facility on the previous page.

Minor art gripes aside, Aaron does with this issue what any good tie-in should do–add depth to the main story.  By adding more detail to the events of the first round of AVX and throwing in additional plot threads that allow for a stand-alone story arc.

STORY:  9/10
ART:  7/10 

Avengers Vs. X-Men #2 – Cyclops has lost his mind

Avengers Vs. X-Men #2
Writer:  Jason Aaron
Art:  John Romita Jr. [Pencils], Scott Hanna [Inks], Laura Martin [Colors]

[We’ve tried our best to be as spoiler-free as possible here, but nobody’s perfect.  Read at your own risk.]

Defying Captain America’s request to take Hope Summers into custody last issue, Cyclops fired the first shot in the X-Men’s war on the Avengers against the Star-Spangled Hero himself.

As the Avengers take Utopia’s beach, Emma Frost moves Hope inside–assuming the girl, with more questions than answers regarding the Phoenix and what its return means regarding her, will stay put.  In short order, the most epic battle in comics since the end of 2008’s Secret Invasion or 2006’s Civil War commences.

Jason Aaron sets up several of the fights to take place in the accompanying Avengers Vs. X-Men: Versus mini-series beginning next week, with several moments in this issue hinting at the outcomes of those fights.  He brings Quicksilver into the fray, revealing where the son of Magneto stands in the fight (HINT:  There isn’t going to be a reunion of the original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants anytime soon), and teases the entrance of Magneto’s daughter, the Scarlet Witch, with no hint of who she’ll side with.

The highlight of this issue is arguably Aaron’s insights into the match-ups, like calling Emma Frost’s organic diamond form punching Tony Stark’s multi-billion dollar armor the “most expensive punch in history,” playing up the marital dramatics in a fight between Storm and the Black Panther, or pointing out that Wolverine is fighting against an island of characters he once called family.

This initial battle is all for naught, but it does skirt on the idea that Cyclops might potentially become a villain.  Much of what he says in this issue sounds like things reformed X-Men über-villain Magneto would say, and he does have his own Juggernaut now in Colossus.  With 10 issues to go, the only things that are certain are that several characters are bound to switch sides, Civil War-style, (Hell, it’s even teased in the Cap vs. Wolverine cover for AVX #3) and that things will spiral further out of control.

At this point, my biggest hope (aside from wanting a Cyclops villain turn) is that we at least get a Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 video game out of this in a year or two.

– Roger Riddell

Follow me on Twitter @RRiddell3 

Mike DeVivo’s take forthcoming

Alright Roger Ive Assembled here!

So, two issues into Avengers Vs. X-Men and I can say I’m underwhelmed. What I thought was largely going to be a collaborative effort in bringing two different teams and their vantage points to light has thus far turned into “Cyclops is crazy and the Avengers aren’t.” I don’t buy the angle that Cyclops is losing his mind, or that he’s taking things too far. It paints every X-Man and woman as blind sheep fighting for the cause of a crazy man. Maybe I’m rooting for the little guys, in which case i feel the X-Men are warranted to protect one of their own. The characterization feels off, especially with Cyclops and Wolverine. Again, maybe it’s because I’m in Cyclops’ camp here, but I can’t help but feel like this story feels off.

I do love John Romita Jr.’s work in this series so far. His facial work with females has improved very much. His pencils give all of the energy and intensity you’d expect between a battle of the two most recognizable factions in Marvel.  Aaron’s script does provide great narration as Avengers and X-Men beat the hell out of each other. Also, kudos for him creating the Magnetic Fastball Special. Those moments are what I’ve enjoyed about this series so far. He also gave Emma the best line in this issue reflecting the tone I think most X-Men have towards their Avenger counterparts. After Iron Man refers to Hope as “the girl,” Emma responds by telling him that the girl’s name is Hope and that they never requested help in the first place.

We get quick glimpses of Quicksilver and Wanda ,with Quicksilver rushing to join his Avengers team and Wanda walking away from her journal not joining the fight just yet. The journal by the way is called “Wanda’s Dream Journal” (slap forehead with hand) there are more than a few of these moments in this issue that make you cringe. As I said in my opinion this book hasn’t delivered the goods just yet with the story. It’s a pain to see characters like Quicksilver, who was actually  insane (anyone remember House of M?), fighting along side Avenger’s while Cyclops is characterized as a mad man losing touch with his reality.

I’m hoping next issue improves a bit and makes the reason for this fight a bit less one-sided. With the cover to issue #3 showing Cap fighting Wolverine, it will be interesting to see why he defends the X-Men after dropping down and beating up the same students he defended during Schism.  As I said, as a fight book this is fun. As an event that is supposed to change Marvel’s landscape for the next year…not so much.

– Mike DeVivo

Follow me on Twitter @pandasandrobots


 

Review: Avengers Vs. X-Men #1 – ‘Nuff Said

Avengers Vs. X-Men #1
Writer:  Brian Michael Bendis
Art:  John Romita Jr. [Pencils], Scott Hanna [Inks], Laura Martin [Colors]

After what has felt like an eternity of build-up (but was really more like just over six months), the event to end all Marvel events has finally arrived on shelves–but was all of the hype worth it?

So far, it’s a toss-up.

The premise, in case you’ve been living under a rock or reading some other company’s books, is that the Phoenix is coming to Earth and has chosen the would-be-mutant-messiah Hope Summers as its host.  Hey, she looks like Jean Grey, so who else is it gonna pick, right?  Anyhow, the Phoenix is a cosmic firebird that leaves devastation in its wake on a planetary scale wherever it goes in the Universe.  It chose Jean Grey as its host once and she almost destroyed Earth, but that’s “The Dark Phoenix” saga and you can read about that elsewhere.

Avengers Vs. X-Men #1 opens with the Avengers hanging around Avengers Tower doing the sorts of things you’d expect powerful people in tights to do (but not those things, sicko!) when all of a sudden, the intergalactic superhero Nova conveniently crashlands in New York City after falling from space.  He warns the Avengers that “it’s coming,” and Iron Man deduces that he’s referring to the Phoenix.  He and Captain America then brief the President on the danger.

Meanwhile, Cyclops–who has known all along that the Phoenix was on its way back–is training Hope and trying to prepare her in the hope that she’ll be able to control its power when it does return.  This entire conflict centers around the Avengers’ belief that the Phoenix will use Hope Summers as its vessel to try to destroy the world again versus Scott’s belief that if Hope can somehow control the Phoenix’s power, then she can undo the “no more mutants” spell that Scarlet Witch decimated the mutant population with.

Scott believes that Hope is the savior of the mutant race, and he’ll stop at nothing to see her fulfill that destiny–perhaps to the point of taking things too far during his particularly ruthless training sessions.  During the time that has passed since he joined the X-Men, Magneto has pointed out that Scott is growing more and more like him than his mentor, Charles Xavier.  This trend continues here, as Magneto–watching the training from a distance–comments to Emma Frost regarding the difference between “taking it seriously” and “compulsion,” perhaps foreshadowing things to come.

Anyhow, Hope is finally pushed far enough and releases a flare of Phoenix-like energy strong enough that the Avengers notice it.  Traveling to Utopia to see about taking Hope into Avengers custody until the Phoenix situation is figured out, Captain America is greeted by a particularly hostile Cyclops.

Thus, the first shots in the battle are fired, so to speak.

Over all, this is a solid start to the event, but it is by no means perfect.  Despite being packed with action, the dialogue pulled me out of the story on a few occasions, most notably during the conversation Captain America has with Wolverine regarding the Phoenix.  Given Wolverine’s history with Jean Grey and how he felt about her, I have a hard time believing that he wouldn’t just refer to her by her first name.  Using her entire name felt a little unnatural, especially after the previous scene already established her history.

Aside from that, though, anything else I noticed here would just be nitpicking.  Bendis’ first chapter draws you in and gives new readers a primer on what’s going on, and the art here is phenomenal.  The facial expressions of everyone standing in the vicinity when the first blow of this battle is landed were perhaps the highlight of the entire issue.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, especially when your bluff is being called, and that panel alone sells that idea absolutely.

After event fatigue had fully set in following last year’s Fear Itself (which, no offense to Matt Fraction, fell short of expectations), I swore I’d never drop $3.99 an issue on another “event” book again.  Despite being highly skeptical of the idea of Avengers Vs. X-Men, I have to say I’m impressed so far and actually looking forward to where this goes from here.

STORY:  8/10
ART:  9.5/10 

Review: Avenging Spider-Man #5 – Captain America, Art School Student

Avenging Spider-Man #5
Writer: Zeb Wells
Art: Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan [Inker], Sunny Gho [Color Art]

The latest issue of Zeb Wells’ Spider-Man team-up book sees Spider-Man pairing off with Captain America–because, well, they’re both Avengers and that’s kind of the point of this book.  Also, both characters have movies coming out in the next few months.

At the beginning of the issue, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hawkeye, and Spider-Woman are in Avengers Mansion reading a reprint of an old comic strip in the Daily Bugle.  The comic strip, it turns out, was drawn by a pre-super soldier serum Captain America, who, as it turns out, wasn’t just scrawny and weak–he was an art school kid.  The Avengers are all joking around about the comic having “liberty bonds” in every sentence (Hey, it was World War II, you know?) and Cap himself walks in right as Spider-Man sticks his foot in his mouth.

Captain America tells the Avengers that they’re going to round up the rest of the Serpent Society, who were causing trouble in the last issue of Avenging Spider-Man (and who also caused trouble this week in Avengers vs. X-Men #0, because they are omnipresent or something).

Anyways, realizing that both he and Captain America were nerds, Spider-Man calls dibs on teaming with Captain America and then annoys him with his trademark banter.  Ultimately, the two have a bonding experience later in the issue, which I guess is different from when they were pretty close friends during Spider-Man’s time living in Avengers Tower prior to 2006’s “Civil War” story.  Back then (during Straczynski’s “The Other” storyline in Amazing Spider-Man), they were sparring partners and Captain America taught Spider-Man how to catch a bullet with his bare hands instead of just dodging it, because Captain America can do that, too.  For the record, neither of them ever really spend much time catching bullets with their bare hands, but that’s beside the point.

Wells does a great job here of furthering the idea that Spider-Man can’t help but be a pain in the ass to his fellow heroes, as has been the case since he first became a member of the Avengers.  Unlike other writers who handle Spider-Man in an Avengers setting, though, Spider-Man isn’t just written as a wise-cracking idiot here.  As much as he annoys the others, you an see that they acknowledge what he contributes to the team and that there’s a certain level of respect for him–although in the case of characters like Wolverine and Captain America, their respect has long been established).  That Wells also manages to add something more to the Captain America mythos with the art school comic strip is icing on the cake.

The art in this issue strikes a nice balance between realistic and traditional, and I wouldn’t mind seeing Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Sunny Gho on more books.  My only real complaint here would be that Spider-Man seems to have gotten a bit shorter, only coming up to Captain America’s shoulder in one panel (Spider-Woman, by comparison, appears just a few inches shorter than Cap on the same page).  It just kind of makes Spider-Man look like a little kid by comparison, when he’s actually around his mid-20s–not to mention it makes me wonder just how short Wolverine is supposed to be, since he’s shorter than Spider-Man.

Regardless, Avenging Spider-Man continues to be fun and, so far, offers a lot of easy jumping-on points for new readers who might be uncomfortable just diving right into the character’s flagship book.

STORY: 9/10
ART: 9/10 

 

Interview with Avengers Academy Writer Christos Gage


One of the best books consistently has been Christos Gage’s Avengers Academy. He has taken a group of new characters that he created, and has made it one of my can’t miss reads. If you aren’t reading this book get on it, immediately not sooner. I had the chance to sit down and chat with him recently, and here is what transpired. (Note: This interview contains spoilers so if you haven’t read these issues yet, NUFF SAID!)

CV NICK: I love Avengers Academy, it has been one of the most consistently well done books at Marvel for the past year, and I’ve really enjoyed the plots and the growth of the students and teachers at the Academy. With the events of Fear Itself ending, and the new team members and staff joining the team, what can you tell us about what you have planned?

GAGE: Thanks so much! #21 was intended to be a good jumping on point for new readers, as the team moved out to the West Coast and added new members. As you’ve seen in recent issues, we have a lot of intrigue going on with the death of Jocasta, and some hidden threats at the Academy, such as future Reptil possessing his younger body, as well as the monster called Hybrid – an old Rom villain I’ve always loved. Following that, in #27, we see the Runaways show up for a meeting fans have been requesting for a long, long time. And beginning with #29, we jump feet-first into the Avengers vs. X-Men crossover! It’s a great time to jump on board!

CV NICK: With the death of Jocasta at the end of AA21, it is implied with the reveal of Reptil being possessed by his future self? that he maybe has something to do with her death? That maybe in the future some of his team members go “bad”? Intriguing as well that the page is labeled as “Somewhere in Time”.

GAGE: There are indeed a lot of questions being raised by those pages. Some have been answered in #23 – for instance, that is indeed Reptil’s future self inhabiting his younger body. As for his involvement with Jocasta, stay tuned…I promise answers are coming soon! And “bad” is relative depending on your perspective. Our story is, in large part, about how far a man is willing to go to protect those he loves, even at the expense of others.

CV NICK: What can we expect the new students to bring to the team? Who is your favorite of the new students to write?

GAGE: I hope they’ll bring unique personalities that evoke interesting emotions in our existing characters. Another thing they’ll bring is ties to the overall Marvel Universe that have been absent so far since all our characters were rookies: Lightspeed has years of experience as a hero, X-23 has been active for a long time and indeed, in many ways, lived out the fear these kids have of going bad (though it wasn’t really her fault), and White Tiger is carrying on the legacy of her brother Hector, so she is the Academy’s first legacy character. I can’t really say I have a favorite…I like them all. I am developing fondness for Julie Power, since she’s the only one of them I actually read when I was a kid myself.

CV NICK: What about the addition of Hawkeye to the staff? Besides his tumultuous past, what can we expect him to bring and how will it affect Hank and the other instructors?

GAGE: Hawkeye knows what it’s like to have a troubled childhood and be tempted down the wrong path. He also knows what it’s like to be redeemed and become a true hero. He feels like it’s his karmic duty to give these kids the opportunity he had. Of course, Hawkeye’s never been the type of guy to run his plans past others, so Hank and the other teaches might find that problematic!

CV NICK: Recently, online rumors have lead to certain Comic News sites suggesting that Avengers Academy potentially being on the chopping block, and you took to Twitter to vehemently deny and defend the book to the naysayers. What can you tell us about that, and how does having something like social media help or hinder you to get the news out about your book, and other projects?

GAGE: Well, the numbers speak for themselves. AVENGERS ACADEMY is not a huge seller as Marvel titles go, but what’s been positive is that it’s still profitable and our numbers have held very steady for quite a long time now. There are books that have been around for years selling consistently at this level…two that come to mind are X-FACTOR and THUNDERBOLTS. So AVENGERS ACADEMY is making money for Marvel and as long as it holds its numbers it will continue to stick around. The danger is that, when your sales are at this level, losing just a few hundred or a couple thousand orders – in essence, only one less copy at every comic shop in America – can push you into the danger zone. And rumors of a book being canceled can most definitely get readers to drop that book, because they feel it no longer “matters,” or they don’t want to continue to be invested in a storyline that might end prematurely. I’ve spoken to many, many retailers about this phenomenon, and they say they see it all the time – perception becoming reality when rumors of a book being canceled start to spread, readers drop it, and sales go down to the point where it does indeed get canceled. So I wanted to strongly and vocally make it clear that we are fine, as long as sales hold up at their current level. If you like the book, keep buying it. Pre-order if you don’t already. Tell your friends to check it out. I just heard that issue #21 is sold out at Diamond, and #22 might have been as well, I don’t recall…which is great, because it means readers are interested and retailers are re-ordering. We’ve had many wonderful retailers supporting us and recommending the book to their customers. So I just wanted to be proactive about getting the word out and hopefully preventing the rumor from going too far. As for social media, I love being able to communicate directly to readers and retailers. It can be a double-edged sword, in that it allows rumors to spread quickly as well, but that’s the world we live in. I definitely prefer it to not being able to communicate with the buying public at all, or in a delayed fashion.

CV NICK: With AA being in the news lately, it has also leaked that Striker will be revealed as a gay character, how long has this been planned, and how did you decide to make such a culturally significant decision?

GAGE: It’s been planned as far back as issue #5. If you look back at that issue there are hints, such as the flashback scene where Striker is surrounded by female groupies provided by Norman Osborn and he has no interest in them whatsoever. What made me want to go in this direction is that, while we have come a long way in having positive depictions of gay youth in popular culture, we have seen fewer examples of kids who are struggling with their sexual identity, and I wanted to explore that. I think there are still a lot of gay youths, especially in more rural areas where they might not personally know any out gay people, who feel conflicted and isolated, and I wanted to say, hey, you’re not alone in this.

CV NICK: How can we expect to see AA used in this summers big Avengers event, which rumor has it they are to feature prominently?

GAGE: You will definitely see Avengers Academy tie in to Avengers Vs. X-Men. Probably in such a way that the kids will come up against X-Men kids. I think it’ll be interesting to see how the kids on both sides react to this conflict that essentially their elders got them into.

CV NICK: Are there any future plans or projects you can let us know about?

GAGE: I’m taking over X-MEN: LEGACY with issue #260.1, which is out very soon! I also write ANGEL & FAITH monthly for Dark Horse, and I have a secret miniseries in the works from Marvel. My original graphic novel SUNSET comes out in the spring from Top Cow, and my wife Ruth and I are working on an original graphic novel for Oni called THE LION OF RORA, which is the true story of her ancestors, a historical epic in the vein of BRAVEHEART.

Thanks again to Christos Gage for his time. Visit him at his website Christosgage.com and follow him on Twitter @Christosgage

Follow Nick on Twitter @NicoSandila