Avengers vs. X-Men: the battle begins

Lines are being drawn in comics as Marvel's crossover event for 2012 erupts. CJ sorts the heroes from the mutants...

Avengers vs X-Men AvX #0 Marvel comics


Marvel is marketing Avengers vs. X-Men as “the biggest comic book event in history”. Those are the exact, sensational words on their website.

Yes, forget DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths from 1985 and this summer’s Before Watchmen, or even Marvel’s own Secret Wars, Onslaught, House of M, Dark Reign, Siege and Fear Itself crossovers in years gone by. Despite the 1987 limited series The X-Men vs. The Avengers pitting the two teams at odds a quarter of a century ago, Marvel are certain this new miniseries will shatter your world in half like a interstellar chainsaw to a pan-galactic walnut.

The biggest comic book event in history

There’s been a slow build-up to this event recently, although its origins lie in 2004’s Avengers: Disassembled. Still, the first issue advertised as ‘Avengers vs. X-Men’ was 1968’s Avengers #53.

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2010’s Avengers: The Children’s Crusade brought back the supposedly crazy and dangerous mutant daughter of Magneto, Scarlet Witch, who tore the classic Avengers team apart in Disassembled. Wanda Maximoff has returned, years after House of M saw her create an alternate reality where mutants ruled Earth.

At House of M‘s climax Maximoff decimated-and-then-some the world’s mutants. Scarlet Witch is set to be a major player in the AvX event according to writer Brian Bendis.

Superpowered humans and mutants have been fighting a war of attrition for a while in Marvel’s labyrinthine alternate timelines and realities, which have steadily contributed to the current crescendo in the main universe, the 616. Mutant freedom-fighter-from-the-future Cable took a pre-emptive strike against the Avengers over a four-issue lead-in series, Avengers: X-Sanction, which ended last week.

AvX: round one

Avengers vs. X-Men #0 hit Wednesday, a prelude to what’s now officially the most hyped event of all time. Written by Bendis and Jason Aaron and drawn by Frank Cho, you can probably expect to pick up AvX #0 at your local comic shop for a reduced price, free, or with complementary goodies.

AvX #1 follows next Wednesday, 4 April, and starts the 12-issue, biweekly series at the core of the event. A companion series showcasing throwdowns between big damn heroes, Avengers vs. X-Men: VS, launches on 25 April.

Don’t get us wrong – we’re what can only be described as ‘stoked’, even though the final issue of Fear Itself: The Fearless isn’t out until next week.

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That might be just the event addiction kicking in, but let’s go with it for now. X-Men assemble! Wait, that’s not right. No more Avengers!? Oh dear.

Phoenix fans the flames

Or is that flames the fans? The Avengers vs. X-Men crossover centres on the Phoenix Force’s imminent arrival at Earth. 

Hope Summers – mutant messiah, teen favourite and Cable’s ward – appears to be the latest intended host of that particular cosmic macguffin, and the Avengers want to keep her under watch. The X-Men differ in opinion even though they know the tremendous danger the Phoenix poses. And, scene!

Now that the former reality-altering Avenger Scarlet Witch is back, and semi-cleared for Avengers: Disassembled and Decimation, you can kind of see the mutants’ objection. They’re protecting their own. You’d think that after the persecution non-mutant heroes experienced through Civil War and Dark Reign they wouldn’t act like such noobs.

Crossing over with digital, AR and cinema

Every issue of AvX will include a code for a free digital copy on Marvel’s digital comics reader.

That’s a great move for readers, and Marvel are going to be pleased as it encourages uptake of their app. Another tie-in app from the company, developed by visual-browser specialists Aurasma, will allow readers access to behind-the-scenes augmented-reality content. How Wanda Maximoff of them.

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Anyone who doesn’t have their homepage set to take them to the Justin Bieber, One Direction or Lady Gaga sites knows that late April and early May sees the release of Joss Whedon’s long-awaited Avengers – or Avengers Assemble – movie. The Amazing Spider-Man is out in summer.

Linking those two with the X-Men through this crossover neatly involves Marvel’s mutants in the company’s biggest year in film so far. Will Avengers vs. X-Men attract film fans as well as comics crossover veterans?

Share your take on Avengers vs. X-Men #0 in the comments or on Twitter: #AvX.

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