Wednesday, 25 April 2012

AVX: Vs #1 review

The Phoenix is coming. Blah blah blah.

While the Avengers Vs X-Men 12-issue series focuses on the different attitudes of the teams to this event, this six-parter provides close-ups of individual bouts limited to just a few panels in the mother book. I wasn't expecting much.

I got Christmas.

Seriously, this comic shows just how great old-fashioned Marvel slam-bang action can be, something I'd forgotten over the past few years of super-extended, would-be cerebral storylines. We get two short features starring four of Marvel's classic characters - Iron Man vs Magneto, and the Thing vs the Sub-Mariner.

The first tussle showcases the resourcefulness of the combatants as they try to gain the upper hand: Iron Man faces Magneto in carbon armour. Magneto lands a building on him. And so on. Each man shows just how much power they can grasp when necessary, tapping into cosmic forces. And when one wins, it's not really because the other has defeated him, leaving room for a foreboding thought that ties back into Avengers Vs X-Men.

The second fight is more a matter of  ferocity, with Namor and Ben Grimm using everything they can find undersea to win the day. And while they've fought dozens of times, I can't remember any more entertaining encounters. Every other image could probably win a Panel of the Week nomination, with my favourite seeing Namor discover just what the phrase 'hard cash' can mean (click on image to enlarge).
 Still, in for a penny ...

As with the issue's other fight, who comes out on top is more a matter of accident than design, but a win is called regardless. I hope these results don't set a pattern for the series - I don't mind if the victories are shared evenly, but a clean win for one fighter on the day is what I want. The other guy can always prevail next time.

Niggle apart, the creative teams deserve lots of cake. Jason Aaron perfectly captures a Downey-esque Tony Stark and dignified, weary Magneto, while the appallingly underrated Kathryn Immonen supplies the Thing with the best quips he's had since the heyday of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby - it's such a shame that being underwater means Namor can't hear them ... if it were a banter contest Subby would go down on the first page. Mind, while Namor's dialogue is strictly arrogance and bluster, he makes a splendid straight man. And there's no denying his sea-born strength.

Both writers embrace the device of the 'AvX Fun Fact', wry commentaries on the action that remind us we're here for a good time. What's more, they are educational - never mind the distance of Jupiter from Earth, who knew about Magneto's secret talent?
Adam Kubert illustrates Aaron's story, eschewing showy layouts but always nailing the money shots - and there are many, from Tony assailing Magneto with a 'super-magnet swarm' to Magneto and Iron Man swapping punches in space. The latter scene gives Morry Hollowell room to show off his intelligent eye for colour, with the twinkling stars against the blue of space, the sun reflected off Magneto's impromptu armour and the flame of Iron Man's boot jets making for the proverbial visual feast.

So far as the second tale goes, Stuart Immonen pencils, Wade Von Grawbadger inks, Jim Charalampidis colours and if Marvel isn't deluged with requests for a revival of Ben's old Marvel Two-in-One book I'd be amazed - this is big, beautiful work, with Ben the powerhouse he's meant to be. And their Namor is magnificently imperious. Then there's this big guy who turns up near the end ...

The lettering is by Joe Caramagna throughout, and it's pacy, good-looking work. Given how often I moan about editors (and rightly so!), a tip of the hat to Nick Lowe amd Jordan D White for overseeing a tremendous series opener. OK, it's $3.99 for 20 pages, but that's not their fault. Oh, and the cover is a tad event-generic, a waste given the layout is perfect to spotlight the two fights behind it.

Next issue it's Colossus vs Spider-Man and Captain America vs Gambit. I don't know who the creative teams are, but they've a lot to live up to - even the intro page here is a hoot.

16 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great comic!

    I won't be buying it, since I'm not made of money, but it'll be one to seek out in cheap back issues a year or so from now.

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    1. Hey, no need to be made of money, this comic shows that if you dive into a random spot of sea, you'll find a chest full of dubloons!

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  2. Great review. I enjoyed the issue, it was fun. But (SPOILERS) I am sick to death of Iron Man pulling deus ex machina suit functions out of nowhere to win fights. His powerset is so ill defined, that a writer can make him win anything and not have b.s. called on it. And Thing beating Namor in an underwater fight? Really. It's underwater. Seems like that would be Namor's sweet spot. I swear if Spidey beats Juggerlossus next issue, I am going to lose it.

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    1. Cheers Lazer - love the name, it sounds like a British war comic character. I see your point about Iron Man, but given that he has nanotech (er, so far as I understand it, I've not read his book in years), he likely can do anything. Certainly, I can certainly see him prepping for Magneto, given how long the Mutant Master of Etc has been around.

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  3. Your review just turned me around. I'd been planning to pass, but a comic of all fighting? I'm in!

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    1. Good, Timbo, now I can look forward to your review over at Comic Per Day Reviews!

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  4. Wait... Iron Man's powerset is ill defined? Pick any random X-Man, and they'll have half a dozen special abilities that are just waiting to manifest at the most opportune moment. Iron Man is an established powerhouse, and one of Marvel's smartest characters. There's a lot more to him than repulsors and bootjets.

    This was a fun comic, and I was pleased with the results. I just wish the fights would have matched continuity a little better.

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    1. Hi RM, and indeed, hmm - what do you mean about the fights matching continuity?

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  5. I just hope the fights aren't to one sided in the Avenger's favor! I just cannot see Marvel letting Spider Man or Cap lose....so whats that leave us Avengers 4 Xmen 0. Although I guess anything can happen, if Thing can beat Namor under water!?! By the way how did Namor end up down in the first place...I felt like I missed a panel or something! I just wish we would have a more defined winner in these battles, and Marvel would stop feeling like they have to "save face" for the loser!!

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    1. I agree, but can't see all the fights going the Avengers' way. I suspect Marvel had one team 'win' both fights in the first issue so we don't presume we'll get an even split each issue.

      Wasn't Namor spat out by the sea monster? That might wind him for a second or two.

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  6. Yes I bet your right, makes sense, other wise we would presume an even split. Don't get me wrong I was happy to see Thing get a win, I fell like sometimes his power is overlooked and he gets kinda walked on any more, just never thought in a million years he would beat Namor in water. I thought he went down after swinging him by the tail at Thing. Anyways whats your felling on the Gambit vs Cap match up Martin?

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    1. Gambit vs Cap? Hmm, I'm not a Gambit fan (awful outfit, unconvincing accent, daft mask, silly card gimmick) but if he charges Cap's shield while it's boomeranging back, Mr Rogers could be in trouble.

      What do you reckon, Steve?

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  7. LOL, Yeah I feel the same way about Gambit, but i was kinda thinking the same thing...charges cap's shield and maybe sneaks out an upset win. I don't see spider-man losing, so the X-men have to get on the board somewhere. Although Cap did just have a rough go with Wolverine (needed some Avenger help)....they may not want him to have another bad go of it. Did you notice the tension between Iron Man and Cap in round 3?? Pretty interesting...Civil War part 2?? LOL All in all I went into this "event" with out to much expectations, and I've ben pretty impressed with the main story and the Versus issue, besides some spotty art work here an there.

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    1. I've not got Round 3 read yet, Steve. Am so ashamed ...

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  8. I was really surprised by the quality of this issue. The match-ups harken back to classic Marvel, and in some instances further the plot better than AvX! I just wrapped up may review for this one, as well as the second, and I gave them both fairly high marks.

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    1. I popped across for a look but didn't spot the review. I will find it, though ... I'm just useless with Google Blogger Dynamic Views!

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