In all my years of reading and reviewing comic books, I don’t think I’ve ever come across a series as straightforward in its intent than Avengers Vs. X-Men (well, aside from the 80s mini-series X-Men vs. Avengers and X-Men vs. Fantastic Four), as the main thrust of the series is right there in the title. This spin-off mini-series, the only actual spin-off mini-series to come out of Avengers vs. X-Men, is a very simple and narrowly focused mini-series, which expands some of the fight sequences that are only briefly set-up and mentioned in the main mini-series. There’s no real pretext here, all the reader needs to know is that the characters presented are throwing down in a big fight, and then strap in for the story that follows.
By establishing where these fights take place as well as the context that they occur within, there’s much less that the scripting actually has to do, as the two preselected characters take each other on. If you’re looking for a deep story, or some really strong characterization, this simply isn’t the book for you. If, however, you’re looking for an issue with big fight sequences, with no contrived plot elements to detract from the fight, then you’re in just the right place. The first match-up in this issue is that of Magneto vs. Iron Man, which definitely feels like a schoolyard argument given life in an actual published issue from Marvel Comics. Jason Aaron takes a page from Stan Lee’s playbook with this issue, as he scripted it in the traditional Marvel Method, by establishing a vague plotline for the artist, having the artist put together and illustrate the story, and then coming in at the end and scripting the issue. Illustrating this issue is Adam Kubert, who is perfectly suited to illustrating this epic throwdown. His style is very kinetic and energetic, and it explodes onto the page. The action is big and exciting, but the actual scripting fails to quite live up to the artwork on the page. The fight simply becomes too ridiculous too quickly, and although the internal narrations by the characters are actually quite solid and perfectly written, how the fight goes down, what’s utilized, as well as who wins, is just too cheesy for my tastes, and if it weren’t for the artwork the issue would have scored much lower.
The second story features Thing vs. Namor, and although it was definitely a great match-up to feature, considering the outcome of the fight I would have preferred it show up in another issue. In fact, one thing I’m really getting worried about as this crossover unfolds is how balanced the series is actually going to be between the two vying franchises. Of course the X-Men were traditionally the hot franchise, especially in the eighties and nineties, as major crossovers spilled out of the X-books, but over the past decade the Avengers have emerged as the franchise du jour, and with a major movie release it’s only becoming more apparent which franchise is receiving more support from Marvel these days. The Immonens put together a good fight sequence, and switch from using dialogue bubbles to vying thought bubbles to help move the fight along, and it did work fairly well. I wasn’t a huge fan of how the fight went, but that’s just the nature of the beast, ultimately, as this is a divisive concept, pitting franchise against franchise, and character against character.
Overall this a fairly enjoyable and engaging book, with some spectacular artwork putting up with fair-at-best writing. The big question is whether or not the book is worth the hefty $3.99 price tag, and although it’s a decent book, at that price tag it’s definitely pushing the limits of being acceptable.