Avengers vs. X-Men #1 hits stands today and by golly the battle has begun! This issue safely explains all the players and what each side is fighting for. The previous issue, #0, set up two of the major characters on each side of the battle; those being Hope and Scarlet Witch. That was a lull before the storm type of story. Issue #1 is focused on setting up the sides and doesn’t have any straight up battles, they have 11 more issues to do that, but it does have a lot to whet the readers appetite. But is it good?

Avengers vs. X-Men #1 (Marvel)

It’s a simple setup, and actually a relief this isn’t your run-of-the-mill “the heroes are just having a misunderstanding and will team up at the end” story. Of course, it might degenerate to that over the course of the event. Captain America wants to protect the Earth from an Omega threat. Cyclops sees the Phoenix as mutantkind’s last hope for survival. From a purely bad guys versus good guys point of view, Cyclops appears to be taking the side of the bad. Risk the entire planet in order to help the mutant race? Pretty irrational.

Ah, now it all makes sense.

Considering this could happen to the Earth, I’m pretty sure Cyclops isn’t thinking clearly:

Brian Michael Bendis writes the script for this issue (here’s hoping writing duties switch to other writers over the course of the event), and his typical banter is instilled early on. That’s not to say he’s a bad writer, but sharing the event between writers will keep things fresh. Things do get a little wordy from time to time in this issue, but seeing as it is an event book there’s many splash pages to oggle. He does a good job for the most part, as the writing feels balanced and gets the message across nicely. Nothing feels rushed or out of place as the pace keeps things moving and articulates each character’s emotion well. I do think some quieter moments, such as Captain America gaining intel from Wolverine on Cyclops, could have been fleshed out a bit more, but isn’t that what the tie-in books are for?

Spider-Man even gets a nice two panel appearance. Considering how he disapeared in FF for quite a few issues, it’s a welcomed thing.

The Avengers get a little more attention in this issue, speaking to the US government (anyone notice the President is shot from the back? Is this to avoid showing Obama’s face?) and stopping a plane from crashing in New York City.

He shakes, he bakes, he spins planes to safety!

The X-Men get a lot less airtime, mostly because Cyclops takes the center stage and his bad guy persona is being built. Why do I say “bad guy persona”? Well, for starters he beats up Hope and keeps screaming in her face “again!”

Scott seems to think he’s some kind of kung-fu teacher.

It’s pretty clear Cyclops is taking on the villain role, at least for the first few issues of this big event. No way a hero screams in a little girl’s face and makes the statement this guy is making. At very best he’s a hero that’s unhinged and losing his cool at the wrong moment. Even Magneto says, “you’re starting to sound like me Scott.” Possible warning sign? Yeah, I’d say so.

You mess with the bull and you get the…Phoenix.

John Romita Jr. is owning these panels, and true to his form his pencils give everything a weight. It’ll be interesting to see how the pencils hold up over the event. Typically the art gets a little more rushed and sketchier over these events, especially when they are this long. Here’s hoping he has a head start and is already on issue #3.

So it begins. Or, since the 80s is such a big deal now, “The Heat is On.”

Overall I enjoyed this book quite a bit. Check ComiX Weekly to see if this book can made our $10 budget. There’s plenty of worth in this $3.99 comic though, 34 pages to be exact, with an interesting booster issue for anyone purchasing the digital version detailing how Nova made it to Earth.

Can someone please tell me what those American Gladiator staffs are?

This Nova story is Marvel’s first digital “Infinite Comic” which appears to be adding motion and blur to the pages intending the reader to flip through quickly to add an new element to comic books. By any indication, it should be an exciting time for comics in the coming year.

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