Avengers vs X-Men #1
Avengers vs. X-Men #1
Publisher: Marvel
Plotters: Bendis, Aaron, Hickman, Brubaker, Fraction
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: John Romita Jr.

Here it is. The main event. The spectacle to end all spectacles until the next spectacle. The book that will get your fanboy heart racing and make you say "The New Fifty what now?" The heat of summer comes early in the form of the first issue of Avengers vs X-Men and while the opening chapter didn't necessarily blow me away, it didn't diminish my excitement for what's to come either.

The debut issue largely sets to the task of table setting. The Avengers become aware of a coming threat thanks to the crash landing of Nova in New York City. The Phoenix, a nigh omnipotent force of destruction and rebirth is headed for earth, most likely to claim Hope Summers, the Mutant Messiah as it's host. This is an outcome the X-Men have suspected for some time now, and as both groups move to prepare for the arrival of the Phoenix, battle lines are drawn in the sand.

What bothered me about this issue was how quickly things escalated. I was fine with the breakneck pace for the scenes that established Hope's current status on Utopia, and how the X-Men, particularly Cyclops view her, and the Avengers' encounter with Nova in New York, but as soon as both sides become aware of the Phoenix's impending arrival, both Cap and Cyclops seem almost too quick to jump to combat. These are two great leaders, and exceptional strategists.

I can buy that they would be resolute and uncompromising when it came to a threat so monumental, but having worked together in the past, both should have enough respect for the other to know that both are acting out of the best intentions, and that exhausting every opportunity to avoid violence is not only the proper action deemed by respect and maturity, but also strategy, especially on Cyclops' side, as buying some time wouldn't exactly hurt the X-Men's chances here.

John Romita Jr. will pencil the first four issues of this event, and with this issue he sets the bar high for the artists who are to follow. He nails every big action set piece, whether is is the Phoenix razing an entire world, or Nova's impact with the Chrysler Building. Romita's style has a timeless quality that evokes the big bold fun of the stories of yesteryear but employs a more modern sensibility in terms to storytelling and action choreography. The angles are well chosen, the action is easy to follow, and the characters look larger than life.

I downloaded and experimented with the new Marvel Augmented Reality App on my second read through. The extra content was neat, but I'm not sure if it was enough to get me diving for my phone every time that little AR icon pops up on the page (which I actually found kind of distracting, they can't make that thing smaller?)

I solid first issue, but I must confess to being a little disappointed how much time was given over to set-up and taking readers through the paces of what anyone who knew the premise of the series or read a solicitation already knew would happen. Yes, these beats were necessary but they were presented in a way that felt like the story was just going through the motions in order to get to the good stuff. There should be a lot more emotional weight behind the decision of two of the big three Marvel super teams going to war, and at least in this chapter, that weight was sacrificed to speed in an effort to start the fireworks as quickly as possible.

Grade: B

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