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Ed McGuinness

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

Spider-Man/Deadpool: Isn’t It Bromantic

I have a habit of being enthusiastic about things. My family and friends know that if I like something, I will not shut up. I will mention it again and again and again. For example, do you know how many times my cameo in the graphic novel Revival (volume 8) can be brought up? Quite a lot in fact. Quite a lot indeed. It all started in college when I fell in love with Star Trek TNG. I could not stop talking about the episodes and characters. This is when I truly outed myself as the geek I am. My sweet husband has many of my interests, but I often want to talk about bookish things more at length than he does.  That reason was the genesis of this blog, as I wanted to find a community of like minded individuals. So what does this long introduction have to do with this Spider-Man/Deadpool book?

As I stated above, I get enthusiastic about books I like, and when I discovered and fell in love with the horror graphic novel series Locke & Key written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez I mentioned it several times in this blog, and was eventually able to hound Michael, my friend who writes the awesome blog  My Comic Relief to read and review it. He felt the review would have a better audience match on his beloved Kalie’s blog Just Dread-full. His response after completing the six book series was to say “Nancy knows what she’s talking about and I should just read everything she suggests.” Damn straight- more people should do what I say (especially my three children)! Anyhoo- to finally get to this book review, I agreed to read a book of Michael’s choosing since he read mine. This book was his choice, as he is a huge Deadpool fan (he wrote a guest post for our blog this summer on guess who?) and although I am a Marvel fan, our blog’s lone Spider-Man review is Kathleen’s.

Both Spider-Man and Deadpool are known for their snappy banter, but it is Deadpool’s endless musings that get real raunchy. That’s why he’s known as the merc with a mouth and he has an obvious crush on the webbed wonder. The book starts out with the two entwined in villain’s Dormammu’s grasp, but of course the two escape after much verbal sparring. 

Spider-Man is up to here with Deadpool’s shenanigans, but Deadpool is trying valiantly to impress him and has turned over a new leaf (kind of) since he is now supposedly on the Avenger’s team.  However, he’s still a mercenary at heart and isn’t above accepting a kill contract on Peter Parker by another mysterious villian, as he he has been tricked into thinking Parker is evil and deserves to die. Deadpool justifies the contract, not understanding that he has sentenced Spider-Man to die if he goes through with the killing of Spidey’s alter ego.

In the meantime, Spider-Man and Deadpool have crazy bromantic adventures together, with Spidey softening towards Deadpool. A funny dance off between the two men ensue after Lady Thor and a cousin of Deadpool’s wife battle, and the women decide the men must dance for their pleasure to end the fight. During another segment we are introduced to Deadpool’s daughter, and while I wanted more backstory on that, that want will push me to read more stories about her origin and their daddy/daughter relationship.

But hanging over all this, is knowing that Deadpool is planning on killing Peter Parker. While I do want to avoid spoiling what happens, let’s just say nothing goes smoothly for these two heroes to establish a bromance. Knowing that Deadpool’s wife is Shiklah, Queen of the Undead, might give you some clues as to what happens next, but you didn’t hear it from me…

Is the book’s tagline “hijinks and hilarity ensue!” true? Definitely yes! Did the story always make sense? Definitely not! Taken in small doses, I think the dysfunctional “friendship” between these two men is hilarious. I loved the Deadpool movie, and like the cinematic’s most recent Spider-Man, but in the movies the age difference would stand in the way of a bromance. So it’s in print form that their team-ups should continue, for they just make such a cute couple!

My mind is so expanded after reading this story for now I know where to look for inappropriate jokes should I ever need them. Thank you Michael for this suggestion! This book helped me understand you a bit more, and your unique sense of humor. Now if I can just get you (and others!) to read the Revival series next. Don’t forget your own words, when I give you that suggestion 😉

-Nancy

Kelly, Joe & Ed McGuinness. Isn’t It Bromantic. 2016.

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