Hello again, fellow comic readers!
When people look back at 2012, what will they think of? The Year of the Dragon? Election Year?
Not comic book fans.
They will remember this as the year Marvel pits the Avengers against the X-Men - "A vs X." It kicks off with this week’s pick, Marvel Comics “Avengers VS. X-Men #1.”
Recent events in both books are converging, and grievances between the two teams going back decades are about to be aired in the form of a rumble that will put the Mike Tyson vs. Buster Douglas fight to shame.
Marvel's premier franchises are going toe-to-toe in the name of an ultimate prize: the galaxy not exploding and the rebirth of an entire race.
SPOILER ALERT: The rest of this review has spoilers. Not many, but it has some, so if you don’t want to know what happens before you read the book, stop now and skip to the end.
The over-arching story of "A vs. X" deals with the Phoenix Force, a ludicrously powerful alien entity, which has the power to wipe out civilizations, and has in the past. Previously, it inhabited Jean Grey, a member of the X-Men. Now, it returns to take possession - presumably - of Hope Summers, the so-called mutant messiah, also a member of the X-Men.
On one side of this titanic battle stands Cyclops' band of the mutant X-Men, consisting of heavy hitters like Storm, Magneto and Namor, looking to Hope as a way to preserve the dying race of mutants. On the other side, Captain America’s gang of superheros, the Avengers, want that kind of power contained or eliminated for Earth's own safety. (Fan-favorite Wolverine is somehow a member of both teams. That should make this series interesting.)
This story and its timing couldn't be better. Marvel has gotten tired of DC getting all the press for the last year or so with the New 52. Marvel has been bending over backward to ensure every copy of "A vs. X" gets to comic shops, and that every avenue of press within the industry has been explored, from house ads to Previews ads. As you read this, comic stores all over the country are no doubt selling this book like hotcakes.
Marvel and the comics retailers are so banking on "A vs. X" that hundreds of stores opened early on Tuesday just to meet the demand that much earlier. Marvel began even earlier, by whetting appetites with last week's prequel, "Avengers vs. X-Men #0."
"A vs. X" is a 13-issue event series that runs from now through the end of September, with several tie-ins and crossover issues along the way. A veritable who’s who of all-star writers and artists - each one with a pedigree so good I could fill this column lauding their accomplishments - relays the story.
Daniel Dean from Titan Games and Comics in Smyrna, Georgia, is particularly looking forward to the issues of "A vs. X" written by Kieron Gillen.
“It all adds up to a story unlike anything Marvel's ever published," Dean said, "except for the other times the Avengers fought the X-Men."
"Who will win the battle, and will Earth survive the war? Unless the Phoenix is behind the whole Mayan thing, probably! I mean they want to publish comics in January next year. Right?”
The AR app is truly like the director’s cuts for the comic - you launch the app and hold your smartphone over the comic book, open to a page that has an AR logo in the corner. The smartphone essentially reads the comic book page and overlays, on the window of your phone, special features like what you would see in the extras of a DVD.
In the "A vs. X" AR experience, you can see the time lapse of certain pages being drawn, get commentary about the story at different plot points from the writers, and see a character bio of Hope.
The Marvel Infinite version of the digital comic forces a perspective on each frame that tailors the reading experience to whatever device you're using. In theory, the experience of Marvel Infinite is different on an iPad than it is on an iPhone. The rhythm of reading a comic is then intrinsically tied to the digital device you're reading it on. This is not a motion comic. This is the first time I've seen an attempt to reimagine how comic books communicate through different platforms.
The Marvel AR app and the updated Marvel Comic app are both available for iOS and Android. Every issue of “A vs. X” will include a code for a free digital copy, and issue #1 code will also get you the Marvel Infinite version.
New to the Avenger or X-Men world? You don’t have to read up on the back stories of both comic book titles before jumping in with "A vs. X," but if you want more context, there are great places to start.
“If Marvel does their job properly, then anyone should be able to pick up 'Avengers vs. X-Men #1' and enjoy the story without any background information," said Conor Kilpatrick, editor of iFanboy.com. "At this point, just about everyone knows who the most prominent members of The Avengers and the X-Men are, right? Because of the films, even my mom knows about Hawkeye and Cyclops.”
But if you wanted to go back and find out how the Avengers and the X-Men got into this particular fight, he recommends "Avengers: The Children's Crusade #1-9."
In the "Children's Crusade" series, “The Scarlet Witch, the former Avenger and daughter of Magneto, has resurfaced after she used her reality-bending powers to rid the world of most of its mutants. The Avengers, the X-Men, and the Young Avengers are all trying to find her, but for vastly different reasons,” Kilpatrick said.
Stephen Schleicher, executive producer of Major Spoilers, recommended "X-Men: Dark Phoenix Saga TP" for further context of "A vs. X."
“This trade paperback sets up the back story for the events of 'X-Men versus Avengers.' Telling the story of Jean Grey's temptation and eventual corruption, 'Dark Phoenix Saga' provides the basis of why the Avengers are so concerned and why the X-Men, primarily Scott Summers, is so hopeful with the entity's return," Schleicher said.
“Considered a classic and widely regarded as one of the best X-Men stories ever told, DPS is a must read for anyone wanting additional background on the events of 'A vs. X.'”
"X-Force/Cable Messiah War TP" is another place to begin, suggested Mike Loewnau, manager of Georgia's Titan Games and Comics locations.
“The fate of the savior child, Hope, has been handed over to Cable. On the run through time, pursued by a former ally, Cable attempts to train Hope to defend and protect herself while trying to get her back safely,” Loewnau said.
“Cyclops, convinced that she will foster in the rebirth of the mutant race, sends his strike team into the future to help safeguard her and bring her home."
So, until next week, go forth and read, my people. And the reading will be good!
What did you think of "Avengers Vs. X-Men #1"? Let us know in the comments. We’re always looking for tips on good comics!
Here are some of the comics scheduled to hit the shelves on Wednesday, April 4. Your local retailer will probably have these and others, so make sure to check with them for more details.
AGE OF APOCALYPSE #2 $2.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #683 ENDS $3.99
AVENGERS ACADEMY #28 $2.99
AVENGERS HAWKEYE SOLO TP $16.99
AVENGERS LEGION OF UNLIVING TP $29.99
AVENGERS MYTHOS HC $24.99
AVENGERS WEST COAST AVENGERS ASSEMBLE TP $24.99
BRILLIANT #3 (MR) $3.95
CASANOVA AVARITIA #3 (OF 4) (MR) $4.99
DAREDEVIL #10.1 $2.99
FEAR ITSELF FEARLESS #12 (OF 12) $2.99
HULK #50 $3.99
MARVELS AVENGERS PRELUDE FURYS BIG WEEK #3 (OF 4) $2.99
MU AVENGERS EARTHS HEROES COMIC READER TP #1 $3.99
MU AVENGERS EARTHS HEROES COMIC READER TP #2 $3.99
NEW MUTANTS #40 $2.99
SECRET AVENGERS #24 $3.99
SPIDER-MAN RETURN OF ANTI-VENOM TP $15.99
THUNDERBOLTS #172 $2.99
TOY STORY #2 (OF 4) $2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #9 $3.99
VENOM #15 $2.99
WOLVERINE AND X-MEN #8 $3.99
WOLVERINE AND X-MEN ALPHA AND OMEGA #4 (OF 5) $3.99
X-CLUB #5 (OF 5) $2.99
Amazing Spider-Man #683
Age of Apocalypse #2
Avengers Academy #28
Avengers Vs. X-Men #1
Avengers Vs. X-Men #1 Infinite
Fear Itself: The Fearless #12
New Mutants 340
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #9
Wolverine & The X-Men #8
Wolverine & The X-Men: Alpha And Omega #4
ACTION COMICS #8 $3.99
ACTION COMICS #8 COMBO PACK $4.99
AMERICAN VAMPIRE #25 (MR) $2.99
ANIMAL MAN #8 $2.99
BATMAN BEYOND UNLIMITED #1 2ND PTG $3.99
BATMAN GOTHAM SHALL BE JUDGED TP $19.99
BATWING #8 $2.99
DETECTIVE COMICS #8 $3.99
DETECTIVE COMICS #8 COMBO PACK $4.99
EPIC MAD TP $12.99
FAIREST #2 (MR) $2.99
FLASH OMNIBUS BY GEOFF JOHNS HC VOL 02 $75.00
FLEX MENTALLO MAN OF MUSCLE MYSTERY DLX HC (MR) $22.99
GREEN ARROW #8 $2.99
HAWK AND DOVE #8 $2.99
IZOMBIE #24 (MR) $2.99
JACK KIRBYS FOURTH WORLD OMNIBUS TP VOL 02 $29.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL #8 $2.99
LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT JIM APARO HC $49.99
LOONEY TUNES #206 $2.99
MEN OF WAR #8 $3.99
NIGHT FORCE #2 (OF 6) $2.99
OMAC #8 $2.99
RED LANTERNS #8 $2.99
SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING TP BOOK 01 (MR) $19.99
SCOOBY DOO WHERE ARE YOU #20 $2.99
STATIC SHOCK #8 $2.99
STORMWATCH #8 $2.99
SWAMP THING #8 $2.99
SWEET TOOTH #32 (MR) $2.99
Action Comics #8
Animal Man #8
Detective Comics #8
Green Arrow #8
Hawk & Dove #8
Justice League International 8
Men of War #8
Night Force #2
Red Lanterns #8
Static Shock #8
Swamp Thing #8
Sweet Tooth 32
DC Comics Digital Sneak Peeks
Justice League Beyond #5
Beyond the Fringe (5B) #5
30 DAYS OF NIGHT ONGOING #6 $3.99
30 DAYS OF NIGHT ONGOING TP VOL 01 $17.99
COLD WAR TP VOL 01 $19.99
GI JOE COBRA ONGOING TP VOL 02 COBRA CIVIL WAR $17.99
GI JOE VOL 2 ONGOING #12 $3.99
HOW TO DRAW TRANSFORMERS SC $4.99
INFESTATION 2 30 DAYS OF NIGHT ONE SHOT $3.99
30 Days of Night: Ongoing #6
GI Joe Vol. 2: Ongoing #12
30 Days of Night: Infestation II one-shot
Transformers: How to Draw Transformers
CARBON GREY ORIGINS #2 (OF 2) CVR B EVANS & LOH (MR) $3.99
CHEW #25 (MR) $2.99
DANGER CLUB #1 $2.99
FATALE #4 (MR) $3.50
HELL YEAH #2 $2.99
INVINCIBLE #90 $2.99
MUDMAN #3 $3.50
SAVAGE DRAGON #179 $3.50
SKULLKICKERS #13 $3.50
SKULLKICKERS TREASURE TROVE HC VOL 01 (MR) $34.99
SPAWN #218 $2.99
SUPREME #63 HAMSCHER VAR CVR $2.99
SUPREME #63 LARSEN CVR $2.99
SUPREME #63 LIEFELD VAR CVR $2.99
WHISPERS #2 $2.99
Danger Club #1
Hell Yeah #2
Savage Dragon #179
Skullkickers Treasure Trove HC Vol 01
Strange Talent Of Luther Strode TP Vol 01
CLASSIC MARVEL CHARACTERS #5 DR. STRANGE $49.95
CLASSIC MARVEL CHARACTERS FF #2 INVISIBLE GIRL $49.95
CLASSIC MARVEL CHARACTERS SPIDER MAN NYCC EXC $49.95
CLASSIC MARVEL CHARACTERS SPIDER MAN SDCC EXC $49.95
CREEPY COMICS #8 $4.99
CRIMINAL MACABRE DIE DIE MY DARLING $3.50
JEREMIAH OMNIBUS HC VOL 01 $24.99
BOYS #65 (MR) (NOTE PRICE) $4.99
DEJAH THORIS & WHITE APES OF MARS #1 (MR) $3.99
KIRBY GENESIS #6 $3.99
QUEEN SONJA #28 $3.99
RED SONJA WITCHBLADE #2 $3.99
ROBERT JORDAN WHEEL OF TIME EYE O/T WORLD #23 $3.99
THE LONE RANGER #4 $3.99
VOLTRON YEAR ONE #1 $3.99
WAREHOUSE 13 #5 $3.99
Dejah Thoris And The White Apes Of Mars #1
Jennifer Blood #11
Kirby: Genesis #6
Lone Ranger #4
Queen Sonja #28
The Boys #65
Voltron Year One #1
Warehouse 13 #5
Witchblade/Red Sonja #2
Wheel Of Time #23
FANBOYS VS ZOMBIES #1 MAIN CVRS $1.00
HELLRAISER MASTERPIECES #11 (MR) $3.99
INCORRUPTIBLE #28 $3.99
SUPURBIA #2 (OF 4) $3.99
VALEN OUTCAST #5 MAIN CVRS $3.99
Fanboys vs. Zombies #1
ARCHIE MEETS KISS COLLECTORS ED HC $29.99
ARCHIE MEETS KISS TP $12.99
SONIC THE HEDGEHOG #235 $2.99
Sonic the Hedgehog #235
GFT APRIL FOOLS SPECIAL 2012 (MR) $3.99
GRIMM FAIRY TALES #71 A CVR BONK (MR) $2.99
GRIMM FAIRY TALES #71 B CVR SPAY (MR) $2.99
GRIMM FAIRY TALES THE LIBRARY #5 A CVR MYCHAELS $2.99
GRIMM FAIRY TALES THE LIBRARY #5 B CVR PEKAR $2.99
GFT The Library 05
Dead or Alive #3