Thursday, 1 November 2012

A+X #1 review

After several months of Avengers vs X-Men split book AvsX, Marvel flips the formula to reflect the friendlier relationship between the two teams. And decent sales.

So here's another $3.99 series featuring two stories spread over a stingy 21pp, but it's team-ups rather than tussles. First up is Captain America and Bucky in the Second World War, joined by Cable for a spot of prototype Sentinel-bashing. Cable's not the only time traveller on hand in a thoroughly enjoyable yarn - I never knew I wanted to see an Iron Giant-style Sentinel operated by punch cards, but apparently I did.

Dan Slott's script is assured, pacy and throws in pleasant nods to continuity without getting bogged down by Marvel's larger universe. Ron Garney's pencils are brilliantly bombastic, as one of Cap's best artists revisits the character (his take on the classic costume totally shows up the clunky new version). The art's not at all hurt by having three inkers - Danny Miki, Cam Smith and Mark Morales - while Wil Quintana's colours are perfect for the scenario. Clayton Cowles letters, and does a generally decent job ...

... there's an error that really shouldn't make it into a comic book, though - Adolph Hitler. I don't wish to specifically blame Cowles, because someone higher up the production chain - Slott, or editors Jordan D White or Nick Lowe - should have caught such a clunker.

More time travelling fuels the second story, which sees the Hulk and Wolverine smash and slash future versions of themselves - Maestro and Days of Future Past Logan. The latter pair pop up in Avengers Tower looking to kill the Red Hulk, but he's not in the house. The shamelessly slight 'story' ends with a paradox and the promise/threat of more to come. Jeph Loeb's script is fine for what it is, a two-minute fight scene, but a bit of ambition would be appreciated. It's great, though, to see another classic penciler return to a character with whom they're heavily identified, as Dale Keown pencils the Hulk once more. The jade giant has rarely looked more formidable, while his Wolverines are proper little spitfires. Danny Miki inks, Frank D'armata colours and Albert Deschesne letters this good-looking trifle.

I can't see this book surviving a year. Sure, it's an Avengers title, it's an X-Men title, but unlike AvsX, it's not tied to a crossover, and even fan favourite creators have a hard time selling books which continuity-is-all Marvel Zombies consider inessential. And this one wears its throwaway nature on its contents page sleeve. It's certainly a fun diversion, and I'd love to see it continue at $2.99, but the current price point is going to hobble it something rotten. Yes, Marvel gets away with overpricing on some books, but this won't prove to be one of them.

12 comments:

  1. Hi there!

    Apologies for just commending on a random page on your site but I couldn't find an email address for you. I'm sure you get a lot of emails, probably quite a lot like this too, but I'd really appreciate you taking time out of your insane schedule to hear me out :)

    My name is Ryan Brain, I'm a game designer and avid comics fan, but that's not what I'm writing about. I'm writing to ask for help. I'm trying to get my own web comic/graphic novel off the ground, and thought you might be sympathetic to my cause. If you could just take 5 minutes to watch my Kickstarter video at www.unlikelyjedi.com and if it's an idea you're into, if you could tell people about it it would mean the absolute world to me! As I'm sure you can imagine, this project will live or die on word of mouth, so to have someone established and successful like yourself saying positive things about it could make all the difference.

    Either way, thanks for reading to the end of this message :)

    Take care.

    Ryan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ryan, I wish you huge success, it looks to be a worthwhile project, but Kickstarter's outside the blog's remit. I shall leave the link here, though, as a one-off!

      Delete
  2. I think this issue was worth reading just to finally Red Hulk with the mustache he should always have.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know Mac, I've never read a Red Hulk story. I must Wiki to see how old Thunderbolt Ross became a Hulk - does he hunt himself down, I wonder?

      Delete
    2. They really aren't worth reading. The idea of a Hulk who emits more radiation as he gets angrier was his only interesting point, but it gets forgotten entirely early on.

      Also, I pretty much believe the rumors that Rulk was Glen Talbot, until the internet figured it out, so he was changed to Ross halfway through. And it just makes for a bad twist.

      Delete
    3. Glen Talbot was what I was hearing all along in reviews, so you're likely right. They did a Captain Atom, eh?

      Delete
  3. Martin, I'm quite pleased myself that I don't think I've read a story centering on the Red Hulk.

    Am I the only person that used to like and enjoy Wolverine, finding him to be a rich character to mine stories from, but now simply can't stand him due to his massive overexposure and fawning treatment by fans and writers alike? That deposit has been tapped out...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't say I've ever been a Wolvie fan - I never liked him as a bad-tempered All-New X-Men, and then when Chris Claremont started telling us how honourable he was, as he slashed people to death, well, pull the other one. But I do like him in Wolverine and the X-Men, as an uncle figure.

      Delete
  4. It's a shame this is a $3.99 book; if it were $2.99, it would almost certainly get me to pick up an issue or two every now and then. When I buy a Marvel book, I look for a finite story at a finite price, and a book like this would be perfect for me to touch base with the Marvel U every now and then.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed. I hate Marvel's pricing attitude of 'let's see what the market can stand'.

      Delete
  5. Is this an ongoing title? I thought it was a miniseries?

    In any case, I really enjoyed the team-up between Cap, Bucky, and Cable during WWII. A fun, exciting story by Dan Slott, and fantastic artwork by Ron Garney (who I'd love to see draw the ongoing Cap series again). I would have been very happy if this could have been a full issue story.

    As for the Wolverine/Hulk tale, it had very nice artwork by Dale Keown. But Jeph Loeb's story was nothing more than an apparent set-up for a something else further down the road, instead of being more self-contained. And it was just too quick a read.

    I'll be picking up A+X #2 and seeing how that is before I decide to continue following the book for however long it is supposed to last.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm pretty sure this is ongoing Ben, unlike the Vs mini it's modelled on.

      And I agree with everything you say. Everything!

      I bet we never see a continuation of Loeb's set-up.

      Delete