ComicsAlliance Vs. AvX Round Two: Stop Talking, Start Punching
Welcome back to ComicsAlliance Vs. AvX, our unofficial scorecard for Marvel’s big summer publishing event, Avengers Vs. X-Men. The scores as we left them last issue look about that one-sided. The Avengers have a thirteen point lead, five points to the X-Men’s negative-eight thanks to a foul ball/act of genocide by the mutants. Can the X-Men drag themselves back as Jason Aaron takes over scripting duties from Brian Michael Bendis?
The story so far: The Avengers discovered that the planet-destroying Phoenix Force is coming back to Earth, with the X-Men’s Hope Summers as the likely host. Cyclops is determined to protect Hope from the Avengers because he believes she might restore the mutant race. Because Cyclops and Captain America are two of the great tactical minds in the Marvel Universe they determine that the only way to resolve this issue is to shake the contents of a large helicopter over the inhabitants of a small island.
Round two! Fight!Avengers Vs. X-Men #2
Story: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman and Matt Fraction
Script: Jason Aaron
Artists: John Romita Jr, Scott Hanna, Laura Martin
Opening Score: Avengers 5 / X-Men -8
We’re here for the punching, so of course the second issue starts with… a rush of words to the head. This panel is a masterpiece of mutant verbosity, and in the middle of it all there’s Namor saying, “The time for talk has passed.”
Good one, Namor! But all this chit-chat serves a purpose. Last issue the blame was on Cyclops for starting a fight; this issue he makes the very good point that the Avengers have come loaded for bear. A weather-controlling telepathic organic steel bear, with ruby quartz luck powers and a great big gun.
So the sides are lined up and the honor of the opening volley goes to Colossus. Usually he pitches fastball specials, but this time he gets to be the fastball he wants to see in the world. It’s a pretty awesome move; there aren’t many X-Men who could get thrown at a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier and come out of it better than the helicarrier. The X-Men score four points for a bold open, but that still leaves them lagging behind.
Current Score: Avengers 5 / X-Men -4
Unfortunately Colossus’s chrome-bull-in-a-giant-flying-china-shop routine leads to a titanic tussle with Rulk, aka the Red Hulk, aka General Hulkderbolt Rouge, and one of the most awkward panels in comics history.
Marvel would like to remind readers that no donkeys were punched in the making of this comic.
Moving swiftly on; the damage to the Helicarrier drops a bunch of Avengers in the drink. This will be the basis for Marvel’s new Wet Avengers comic, starring Wet Black Widow, Wet Daredevil, Wet Mockingbird and the ominously named Wet Thing.
Actually it’s the basis for one of the many iconic face-offs that form the real justification for this event. I’m speaking, of course, of a meeting between an Avenger and an X-Men that goes to the very core of the two teams’ rich histories. I’m talking… Namor versus The Thing. Because when you think X-Men, you think Namor, and when you think Avengers, you think The Thing. This is really the comic where you would expect these two to meet. It’s fantastic. Right?
This fight is also where Jason Aaron really starts to enjoy himself in the captions. Throughout this comic he has his inner Stan Lee turned up to 11, perhaps to prove that there is still a reason to pay the writer in a comic that’s mostly fights. This is how he describes Namor punching the Thing: “Hand that has touched the floor of the Marianas Trench meets a jaw made of living stone.” Amazing!
Current Score: Avengers 5 / Fantastic 4
Meanwhile, back at Utopia, Emma Frost entrusts the care of Hope Summers to the kids from her own cancelled comic. Too soon, Emma, too soon. Then Emma goes outside to end the fight with hitherto undreamt of levels of telepathic power, claiming she can bring it to a half in 30 seconds. If the X-Men’s #4 seed telepath can theoretically take out all of the Avengers in 30 seconds, Hope Summers may not be their biggest concern.
Emma scores points for ambition, but her plan fails because she goes outside. Those telepathic powers are mighty, but apparently they just can’t penetrate windows. Emma is shut down by Iron Man’s “microscopic telepathic tasers.” Oh, Tony, not those again! And then…
That’s what you think, Jason Aaron. You haven’t tried my black truffle platinum grape Kool-Aid. Oh yeah.
Current Score: Avengers 6 / X-Men -2
The action goes into tag team mode as Emma vs. Iron Man becomes Iron Man vs. Magneto and then Magneto vs. Quicksilver, and in a brief aside we get a glimpse inside Scarlet Witch’s dream diary. “Dear diary; dreamed that my robot husband impregnated me with two shards of the devil’s soul while I was eating a giant marshmallow. When I woke up my pillow was gone. And my children were reincarnated as teenagers.”
And because we’ve already had father against son, the next course must be a feuding married couple. No, not Thor and Gambit — they’re only married in my fan fiction, and in six states and the District of Columbia — but Storm and Black Panther. This match-up was inevitable, but it could break the book. These are intelligent, level-headed characters with good cause to be reasonable. I want an issue of the AvX Versus fight comic devoted to these guys having a frosty date night at a favorite restaurant and then not speaking to each other on the cab ride home.
Their confrontation only get three panels, but Storm gets the better lines, so her score drags the X-Men out of the red.
Current Score: Avengers 6 / X-Men 0
Meanwhile, Cyclops and Captain America keep on keeping on, and Cyke gets a good dig in at Wolverine, but their best moment comes when they dispatch their magical surrogates, Magik and Dr. Strange, for a fight in Limbo. Forget those boy scouts in blue; show me the pompous sorcerer waggling his fingers at the crazy demon teenager! That’s gold! That’s superheroes! The teams gets ten points apiece just for how good that is in my head!
Current Score: Avengers 16 / X-Men 10
The final face-off in the issue is Wolverine versus Hope. Maybe I’m misreading this, but it looks a lot like Wolverine’s plan here is… well, see what you think.
Stabbing, right? He’s going to go with stabbing. Well, he is the best there is at what he does, and what he does is not very imaginative. But stabbing a teenage girl whose only sin is that she might become the Phoenix seems a bit rough. This scene may be evoking Uncanny X-Men #207, when Wolverine stabbed another teenage Phoenix host, Rachel Summers. But Rachel was about to murder someone. This isn’t the same thing at all. This is just Wolverine being stab-happy!
Fortunately Hope is the future host of the Phoenix Force, so she fries him. Wolverine loses a point for being a jackass, and Hope gains two points for taking him down. But she loses one point for taking down the Generation Hope kids as well. They only just got cancelled, Hope! Too soon! Too soon!
Final Score: Avengers 17 / X-Men 13
MVP: Colossus beat up a helicarrier. Did anyone else beat up a helicarrier? No, they did not. So Colossus gets this issue’s MVP because Colossus beat up a helicarrier. And when you beat up a helicarrier, you can be MVP, and Ororo and T’Challa will take you out for ice cream.
Analysis: This bout went solidly for the X-Men, who gained a lot of lost ground thanks to their chutzpah, their zingers, and their not having Wolverine on the team. (Yet.) Also, they didn’t fall out of a helicopter. The Avengers have surrendered the high ground, but they have a chance to make an impressive stand in two weeks when Ed Brubaker steps up to the plate and the Space Avengers deal with this big batch of crazy:
Look, there’s Thor!
And if you think he’s Thor, you should see Colossus.
Graphics by Dylan Todd.