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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

Uncanny X-Men: Revolution

The X-Men regroup after the devastating Phoenix event in Avengers vs X-Men, with Cyclops taking the lead of his outlaw band of mutants and establishes the New Charles Xavier School. He, Emma Frost, Magik and Magneto collect new students from around the world, as new cases of teens gaining abilities out of nowhere are popping up all over.

The Avengers hear of Cyclops’ mission and try to stop him. Being partial to the X-Men, I feel that the Avengers came off as pricks with a holier than thou vibe. They got shown up when one of the new mutants used her powers to trap them, and the X-Men made their escape. The team head to the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning where they meet up with Kitty Pride, Wolverine and Havok who are leading a second school for mutants. Their differences are established, and it is sad to see such divisions among the former teammates, but a few students there switch over to Cyclops’ new school.

In the midst of this, we learn of a mole in the Uncanny team, and later are unsure if this team member is being truthful, or if there will be further double or triple crosses. Cyclops is torn about what he did to Professor X, and his culpability level as his, Emma’s and Magneto’s powers were compromised by the Phoenix. They need new mutants as much as the new students need their guidance. The last chapter concentrates on Magik and her connection to Darkchild and the demon world. A cliff hanger is set up and this new team has their work cut out for them.

Right off, I was at a disadvantage as surprisingly I have not read A vs X (edit, now I have!), so I struggled with my background knowledge. Most comics, including this one, try to fill the reader in on past events through dialogue between characters but I had to search some Marvel Wiki pages for info to fill in my knowledge gaps. What I probably should have done, is set this book aside until I read the other book, but I was on a time crunch and soldiered on.

Artist Chris Bachalo illustrates chapters one through four, while Frazer Irving takes over for chapter five. As the style changes dramatically in the last chapter, and not for the better, I was not happy. I liked Frazer’s backgrounds better with his swirling colors, but Bachalo’s illustrations of the heroes were far superior. If I am to read further into the series, first I must read A vs X, and then see if the art holds up in future volumes.

-Nancy

Related image
Bendis, Brian Michael, Chris Bacalo & Frazer Irving. Uncanny X-Men: Revolution. 2014.

You’re Fired Ex-Men (final edition)

Pete Holmes is a wickedly funny comedian, and he had some spot-on videos about the weaknesses of the X-Men team.  For his now defunct late night show, Holmes did a series of skits on the failings of many of the X-Men heroes, and how their vulnerabilities made them a threat to the team. He portrayed Professor X in eleven hilarious but vulgar video clips. I previously spotlighted Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Gambit, Jubilee, Rogue, Storm and Jean Grey. That leaves my last four to get their walking papers! (For mature audiences only)

Angel: What can Angel do besides fly? Does he truly have any other power? Nope.

Iceman: What does the song Kiss From A Rose by Seal have to do with Iceman’s firing? Watch to find out.

Cyclops: What is keeping Cyclops laser beams from killing everyone? His glasses. The glasses that could fall off his head at any time!

Magneto: Professor X insults his arch-nemesis, and their disrespectful quips back and forth are hilarious. Their insults are evenly balanced until the end, when the Professor gets one last dig in.

Thus concludes my months in the making series of these X-Men spoofs. Make sure you enjoy all eleven videos when no tender ears are nearby!

-Nancy

X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills

Graphic Novelty²  would like to introduce our first guest to post on our blog, Nancy’s husband, Cliff!

So, final exams week for Nancy. I volunteered to do a guest post to give her a break, then remembered I really haven’t kept up with the comics world for many years (besides ElfQuest). Nancy’s already done a review of the elves, so I figured we’d go back to school; the Old School, that is…

I read The Uncanny X-Men for awhile in the mid 80’s, and this is the book that drew me in (I picked it up several years after it had originally been published). I’ve read that it wasn’t considered part of the overall X-Men canon for many years, but the story is a doozy nonetheless. Religious extremism bordering on fascism, an unlikely alliance between the X-men and Magneto, innocent mutant children being hunted and killed, torture and deception, a lot of suspense wondering about the fates of several key characters, and a final showdown at a Madison Square Garden crusade. The artwork has a dark and rough around the edges quality that fits the mood of the tale.

Looking back, I remember thinking that Wolverine was the coolest thing ever (I was in my early teens when I read this, ’nuff said) and wishing that he’d had a more prominent role (although he did play a significant part in the story); nonetheless, this graphic novel has a good overall balance. The character development is spread pretty evenly (with the notable exception of Storm), and two things in particular stood out when I re-read it: at the end, Cyclops/Scott confronts the evil William Stryker on the podium and makes an eloquent plea for acceptance and tolerance. I also was impressed with the way Kitty Pryde’s character was written. I remember her not being very well developed in the monthly comics; here, she shows a lot of backbone, standing up for herself and her fellow mutants, and she isn’t afraid to get angry. She also shows of some pretty cool survival skills that help her to outwit her opponents.

A few negatives: too many characters with huge thought balloons or those talking-out-loud explanations of what they’re doing that would never cut it in real time (think of those movies where James Bond has only 30 seconds to defeat an enemy and disarm a bomb, but the scene takes more than two minutes); however, this being a graphic novel that was sold in bookstores to the general public, maybe the author went in with the idea of placing a lot of character info in the story for those who were not familiar with the X-Men or their history. Also, while I’m no fan of fundamentalist religious beliefs, the bad guys felt a little too cookie cutter and one dimensional, though I did find Rev. Stryker’s background story pretty interesting.

Overall, I’d give this one a solid B. It was fun re-reading it all these years later. Maybe the costumes haven’t aged well, but the universal themes behind the story remain timeless. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone, comics fan or not.

School is now dismissed!

godlovesmankills2
Claremont, Christopher and Brent Eric Anderson. God Loves, Man Hates. 1982.

Bit of trivia: What is wrong with this picture???

 

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