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Avengers vs X-Men

I love both the Avengers and the X-Men- but who will come out on top in this epic battle?!

I have been meaning to read this collected edition since last year when I read Uncanny X-Men: Revolution that followed this event book. I kept picking up this series but putting it back down when other graphic novels caught my eye. But when I recently read Mr. and Mrs. X, and I had forgotten that a certain character was dead because of this storyline, I knew I needed to finally make the commitment to finish it.

This story follows House of M, when Scarlet Witch utters “No more mutants!”, thus no mutants have been born in years. When the first mutant child, Hope, is born who has the ability to psychically manipulate and mimic the powers of other mutants, current mutants divide as what to do. When it is discovered that Phoenix, the powerful being that killed Jean Grey, is headed to Earth to possibly consume Hope, the heroes are torn as what to do. What it comes down to is Cyclops, the leader of the X-Men, feels that Hope is strong enough to control the Pheonix and will use its power to reignite mutantdom vs Captain America, the Avengers leader, who feels that Hope will become a threat and destroy humanity, thus she needs to be taken down.

So begins the battles- many many of them, as this graphic novel collects twelve chapters to tell the story. When you have such a large cast not everyone can properly get featured and this book follows suit. Some heroes receive small cameos, with one bit of dialogue and then they are just part of the large fighting scenes. But I was pleasantly surprised that Iron Fist had such a large role, plus Nova got a nice part too.

As I don’t wish to spoil the narrative too much, I will limit my summary. When Pheonix arrives, five mutants- Cyclops, Emma Frost, Namor, Colossus, and Magik- take Hope’s place and all get considerable new powers that they use for improving the world. But we all know that’s not the end of the story. The Pheonix wants Hope and it is she and Scarlet Witch that finally subdue the Pheonix’s dark powers, but not before there is a lot of death and destruction.

There are powerful moments found within the story and some insightful and sometimes snappy dialogue, but it can be a slog to find them. Just as I found Captain Marvel unsufferable in Civil War II, so I found Cyclops. He has some extremely valid points, as mutants really have been persecuted, but I was really hating on him, plus…he’s the one who ends up getting briefly consumed by the Pheonix and doing something terrible.

Overall, the art was strong despite many different artists. While there are some style shifts in the different chapters, there is enough visual consistency when the various stories were pulled together in this collected edition. Although Hope sometimes varies between looking like a teen (which she was) and an older typical female hero hottie. I always enjoyed the crowd or battle scenes as its fun to see how the artists choose to portray everyone in mid-action.

In the large collected edition, there are also some tie-ins:

A vs X: This volume showcases personal battles amidst the war and has a whole slew of authors and artists detail how two connected heroes (or villains) duke it out. There is – Iron Man vs Magneto, Things vs Namor, Captain America vs Gambit, Spider-Man vs Colossus, Black Widow vs Magik, Daredevil vs Psylocke, Thor vs Emma Frost, Hawkeye vs Angel, Black Panther vs Storm, Hope vs Scarlet Witch, Cyclops vs Captain America, AvX: Science Battle, Captain America vs Havok, Red Hulk vs Domino, Toad vs Jarvis, Spider-Woman vs (several) X-Women, Iron Fist vs and Iceman and Squirrel Girl vs Pixie.

This is a motley grouping of short stories (some are only a page long), as some of the fights tie in with the preceding narrative, while others are just for laughs. The only one that I found truly memorable was the poignant Storm vs Black Panther battle because there is no winner as their marriage sadly crumbles because of their differences.

A-Babies vs X-Babies:  Skottie Young is well known for his variant covers of Marvel heroes, so this one-off is funny and good for a single read. On the corner of Fury Dr and Xavier Way is the peaceful neighborhood of Marvelous Meadows. Being tucked into bed is little Steve (Captain America) who is surrounded by his army themed stuffed bears. Wait- Bucky Bear is missing! Peering out the window he sees his neighbor Scott (Cyclops) taunting him with his beloved bear. Steve calls out “Avengers Assemble!” and quickly his team of baby friends has joined him. Scott calls for back up but laments he has no catchy phrase to get them there. Instead, he yells that there is an ice cream truck nearby, and the X-Men babies show up. A battle ensues for the bear between the two teams. There is a cuteness overload as baby representations of all famous Avengers & X-Men duke it out.

Putting this entire book down several times should have been my clue that it wasn’t for me. While I am typically a sucker for these crossover event books, I have reached a fatigue level with the fighting among team members trope. While I found Civil War fresh, this and Civil War II were anything but.

-Nancy

Avengers: Endgame question extravaganza!

Your favorite blogging duo have teamed up for this post: one mega Avengers: Endgame post! We decided it would be more fun to come up with a set of questions that we both answer about the movie and extended universe rather than writing a standard movie review. Our questions come courtesy of Michael at My Comic Relief and Jesse at The Green Onion. Please enjoy!

***There are spoilers ahead for Endgame and the extended Marvel Cinematic Universe***

1) Avengers: Endgame serves as a complete, beautiful ending for the first generation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, there are many characters to go forward and many potential stories to tell in their next generation/phase. What character/story are you most excited about seeing be developed in the future?

Nancy- I have a few. I really liked Scarlet Witch but her storyline fell off once The Vision died. I’d like to see her developed in further movies, although I have always associated her more with the X-Men (and now Disney has rights to these characters!). I was excited to see Sam get Captain America’s shield, and as he was rather bland as the Falcon, this could be his time to shine. Plus, I want to see more of Black Panther and everyone in Wakanda. Add Storm from X-Men into the mix and we have a great story!

Kathleen – I’m not a huge Marvel fan, as most of you know. I haven’t even seen all the movies! But, there is potential for further growth here. Like Nancy, I am STRONGLY of the opinion that Black Panther, et al, need more screen time. Of the Marvel movies I’ve seen, Black Panther was by far one of the better ones, and I’d love to dive deeper into the lore and Wakandan country. I would also love to see more adventures of the people of Asgard under Valkyrie’s rule.

2) Alternately, are there any characters for whom development didn’t go as you expected, or were disappointed with?

Nancy- I was not pleased at all that Black Widow died. There is only one chick in the six core Avengers and they have her die. DC got ahead of Marvel by featuring Wonder Woman in a female stand alone movie, and finally Marvel got around to it, but choose Captain Marvel as their first heroine to get the spot light. Hey Marvel- what about Natasha? While a prequel about her has potential, they will need to digitally de-age her. While Black Widow’s death scene was certainly plaintive, Iron Man gets a huge funeral while she doesn’t. Again, not fair. And while I’m complaining, I wasn’t a big fan of the Bruce Banner/Hulk merge. While there was some comedic relief in his new persona, I was kinda creeped out by it.

Kathleen – I was not at all pleased with Thor’s character development. However, I was pleasantly surprised Wonder Woman ripoff Captain Marvel was not a part of Thor’s complete developmental nosedive. I was afraid such a powerful character’s introduction into the universe so late would undermine everyone else’s carefully crafted development over the past 10 years, Thor’s especially. But it seems he did that all on his own well enough, so I had nothing to worry about! I was very glad her role was confined to the barest minimum, except for her deus ex-machina moment during the big battle.

3) This was a film with a great many emotional moments. Yes, there were big action set pieces but there were also so many quiet, intimate, emotional moments. Of them all, what scene emotionally affected you the most? Why?

Nancy- I have been very vocal about my dislike for Iron Man, as I find him an arrogant ass. But to see him happy with Pepper and their daughter Morgan and his plea for her to remain in his timeline was very touching. I wanted him to be able to raise her, so it was heartbreaking for Morgan to survive but without him. I also really enjoyed Hawkeye’s interactions with his family as his deep love for them was evident. Thus, when he lost them his deep grief shaped him into vengeance seeking Ronin. As a mother myself, it comes as no surprise I found the family moments the most poignant.

Kathleen – I answer this question and the next below, as they are very closely related for me!

4) Which character’s arc in this film did you find the most satisfying (however you wish to define that term)? Why?

Nancy-  Captain America! He has always been so pure with a good heart, but the pain of losing Peggy was always with him. So the ending where he stays back in time with her made me so happy I teared up. And I’m about to reveal something big- Chris Evans might have for just a moment eclipsed Chris Pine for me in The Great Chris Debate! The joke about him being America’s ass was spot on. I very much enjoyed Evan’s ass.

Kathleen – Well, after my conversion during our Battle of the Chris’s, Evans and Pine are at least tied for me. While I’m not sure if Chris Evans will eclipse Chris Pine for me, it came very, VERY close here. The very end got me crying, when we see Steve and Peggy slow dancing in their living room to the radio. Part of it was because (as Nancy says above), he had finally gotten her back all this time, and the guilt about missing their date had finally been lifted. Part of it was, too, that my fiancé and I do that all the time and it was like glimpsing into our married life! Elderly Steve passing the Captain America mantle on to Sam, after finally living the life he’d always dreamed of, was a touching and satisfying wrap up for his character, and the best ending for me.

5) While we did have our great A-Force team-up shot at the end as they battled Thanos, the film still committed the classic MCU fault of sidelining/not knowing how to handle their female characters, leaving Captain Marvel, Okoye, and Valkyrie out of the Time Heist. If you could chose one of those women to be included on the Time Heist, who would it be? Why? Which team would you put them on and why?

Nancy- Reminding me of A-Force triggers me to remembering the convoluted WarZones Secret Wars mess I read a few years ago! There was the obvious female empowerment moment during the ending battle (which I appreciated) but I have to admit it didn’t register with me who was on what team for the Time Heist. I’d have to watch the movie again to ascertain if I felt some women were wrongly placed on certain teams, although I agree that the female characters deserved more characterization and action.

Kathleen – OKOYE!!! Valkyrie came very close (it would have made much more sense for her to go back to Asgard instead of the hot mess Thor became), but ultimately I think Wakandans were grossly and outrageously underrepresented in this movie. It makes absolutely NO sense for Okoye to sit back and let others save the world; she would want to save Wakanda, and serve her country and her king (queen? Did the queen die? I didn’t even know Shuri died before this movie so it’s possible she did, but even so). I am, however, stuck on which team she would work best on, because I feel she would have done well on either the space team or the New York team.

6) Did you prefer Infinity War or Endgame and why?

Nancy- They were both special in their own way- with a yin and yang balance. There was such a huge cast of characters to cover, so everyone beside the original six Avengers were just cameos. Having just seen Endgame it is fresher in my mind vs Infinity War, so I’m going to go with Endgame as my (slight) favorite just because it went to such pains to give everyone a chance to shine.

Kathleen – Infinity War. While Endgame was a stunning, marvelous (pun intended), and above all, satisfying and FITTING end for a cinematic story 10 years in the making, no doubt about it – Infinity War was the better movie for me. There was more urgency in Infinity War to stop Thanos before the snap, and it felt the stakes were higher. Endgame wasn’t as urgent for me in that respect. Everyone just wanted everything to go back to the way it was instead of trying to stop an immediate threat. Though they were both gigantic in scale and magnitude, Infinity War was more ambitious in the crossover aspects, while Endgame was (understandably) more scaled-down. Ultimately, they were two halves of the same story, but Infinity War was the better half in my opinion.

Nancy- Kathleen has swayed me in her statement above that Infinity War was better!

Thank you once again to our expert Marvel consultants, Michael and Jesse, for helping us craft our questions! We would both love to hear what you thought of Endgame as well, dear readers!

– Nancy & Kathleen

The Great Chris Debate! Part 2: Chris Evans

This week, Michael of My Comic Relief, Kalie of Just Dread-full, Nancy, and I are going head to head – trying to decide which cinematic superhero Chris is best!!! Yesterday, Michael posted a pretty good case for Chris Pratt. However, read on to see my case for the obvious choice, Chris Evans ;D

Wow. Just wow. I hardly have the words to start this post! I guess I just have to start out and say that they certainly cast well for Captain America.

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He just has that 1940’s look, doesn’t he? The classic blond-haired, green-eyed, chiseled cheekbones, strong chin, all-American look. Anyone could fall in love with him on looks alone. Personally, his lips and jawline are my weakness. I think very bad thoughts when I see his perfect jawline and those big, pouty lips! And as you can see from the picture above, they had to choose an actor who looks great in a uniform! Do you see any other of the Chrises looking as good in a uniform as they do in their superhero gear? Or any of the other Chrises STILL looking THIS good when they wake up from being asleep in the Arctic for 70 years???

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Didn’t think so! (He even looks adorable when he’s confused!)

As Steve Rogers/Captain America, Chris Evans is spot-on. He hates bullies and stands up for what he believes in. He’s persistent: he was recruited into the Super Soldier program after being rejected from the Armed Forces, but he kept going until he was in a place where he could make a difference! Of course, he’s also chivalrous. When he does wake up in the scene pictured above, his first worry is that he missed his date with Peggy Carter. If that’s not enough to break your heart!!!

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Adding to the ice cream sobfest (thanks, Emma Stone!) is, of course, Steve’s best friend Bucky disappearing and reappearing as the Winter Soldier. Steve is incredibly loyal to his friends – I mean, the Civil War started in part because Steve still saw the good in Bucky and wanted to protect him from the other superheroes who were hunting the Winter Soldier to bring him to justice. Steve knew the man behind the Winter Soldier was still there, too scared to come out. That’s powerful stuff.

Outside of acting, Chris Evans… well, he’s just adorable. Who hasn’t seen a picture of him laughing and started laughing in turn???

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I mean, who can resist that??? The way he crosses his hands over his chest and leans back really far – it’s too much! I’m cracking up as I write this X,D And if that wasn’t enough, here is video footage of him laughing too hard to continue an interview:

As you can see, Chris Hemsworth is also in this interview, but don’t pay attention to him. You can’t anyway. Go ahead and try! All your focus is on our boy Chris Evans totally losing it. He’s like a big ol’ golden retriever puppy whose happiness and joy is totally contagious. Your day is brightened in spite of yourself. Now, did you notice Chris Hemsworth at all during this video???

Don’t worry, I’ll wait =P

None of the other Chrises have this combination of seriousness and playfulness. Chris Pratt? He’s all fun and games! Pine? Dude! TOO serious!!! Hemsworth? I guess he would come the closest, but there really is no contest, as the video above shows. Chris Evans is your classic all-American man with the acting chops, great looks, and heart of gold. You can’t get much better than that! Who else is feeling the Chris Evans love???

– Kathleen

The Chris fun continues!  Check out the other compelling arguments in this series:

Michael’s post:  Chris Pratt

Kalie’s post: Chris Hemsworth

Nancy’s post: Chris Pine

JLA/ Avengers

When Universes Collide!

The DC  and Marvel Heroes go head to head when their two realities combine, putting both their universes in danger.  Kurt Busiek writes and George Pérez illustrates this fun crossover tale in which all your favorites have to work together to save the cosmos!

Evil super scientist Krona (from the DC universe) is desperate to understand how it all began- what came before the Big Bang? In his millennia of searching, he has destroyed planets and civilizations without a second thought, but comes up against his equal when he meets the Grandmaster (from the Marvel universe). The two of them devise a plan to pit the two teams of superheroes against one another, in a game within a game.

The two teams are initially unaware of one another, and are confused when they are tasked to retrieve twelve magical items, found in both universes. Once they move into each other’s universes, they meet, and the competition is on. Initially rivals, their retrieval of the icons is kept track of by Krona and Grandmaster in a competition of which team can find them first. Not surprisingly, the teams eventually forge an allegiance, but not before Galactus gets in on the action and several betrayals and twists and turns occur. This is a hard story to describe, you have to experience it yourself to truly appreciate it.

Look at Scarlet Witch’s hair! She is a permed 80’s goddess!

As a practical person who often struggles with a “suspension of disbelief”, I loved how Busiek explained the two different worlds and their contradictions to one another. The DC heroes are revered on their world, while the Avengers (and definitely the mutants) are met with hostility on theirs. Because of this differing opinion of the masses, they each accuse the other team of being out of touch with what their citizens need. How their powers work on each world is also explained in a plausible way. Plus, the way they touched on the possible future that they had a chance to witness, was handled better in a few pages than Civil War II did in a whole book.

Although released in 2004, this story has a Golden Age/retro feel to it, as Pérez expertly recreates the heroes. He absolutely captures their essence, and without giving away too many spoilers, he also has a chance to show the heroes in different costume eras. That was a hoot, as some of the heroes have had extreme makeovers over the years, or have had different people representing them.  The layout of the narrative had an easy flow, with impressive title pages and two page spreads. In fact, I am on a George Pérez kick right now, because of Kathleen’s recommendations. I bought some of his Wonder Woman books for my library, and have The Infinity Gauntlet on my TBR list.

This was a fun book to read, and I was extremely impressed with the Busiek/Pérez team up and how they wonderfully melded together two rich histories into one outstanding story.

Asides:

I HATE PLASTIC MAN! Not just dislike- I hate him! As a child he creeped me out, and I found his slap stick humor distasteful. Every time I saw him in a panel in this story (which was a lot) I cringed.

Why is Hawkeye such a ladies man? I found him ugly with his purple costume and ridiculous boots.

I enjoyed the rivalry between similarly powered heroes: Hawkeye/Green Arrow, Flash/Quicksilver, Superman/Thor, Batman/Captain America.

Aquaman is a buff, bearded blonde here, as he is in most recent incarnations, so I am anxious to see how the dark haired DC movie actor Jason Momoa handles the role. JM is mighty fine, so I am looking forward to seeing his interpretation of the role.

Avengers Assemble! has a much better ring to it than Justice League Lambaste!  Man, that was funny when Superman tried to come up with his own catch phrase.

-Nancy

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