Avengers vs. X-Men kicked off this month with the first two issues. While this event had an easy hook and an ambitious creative team (five writers and three artist across three acts). I still had my doubts. Despite some good moments and some great tie-ins (Youth in Revolt being my personal favorite) Fear Itself was probably the worst event comic I’ve ever read. It felt unnecessary in almost every way and came out at a time where the comic book landscape was being properly tested with DC’s New 52. It didn’t help that Marvel tried to milk the series for all it was worth with it was worth with three epilogues and two post-Fear Itself miniseries.
The good news is that Avengers vs. X-Men is off to such a promising start that it almost makes me forget about FI. The first two issues had a real emotional core with Hope Summers, the mutant messiah and possible Phoenix host caught between two warring factions who have legitimate concerns for what her fate will mean for everyone else. John Romita Jr. is producing some of his best work on this series, and with a book that will also feature Oliver Coipel and Andy Kubert, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Bendis on issue one really sets the stage, gathering all the necessary players in the calm before the storm. Aaron on issue two handles his sizable cast flawlessly in the battles, accompanying banter, and moves the story along at a brisk pace. The biweekly schedule for this book helps keep the momentum on the up and up, but it remains to be seen if the remaining ten issues can keep it going to its inevitable conclusion.
I wish Marvel had done more with Fear Itself in the long run (in terms of story and aftermath) but I don’t feel cheated (so far) with Avengers vs. X-Men. Unlike FI, this feels like a story that needs to be told; it feels like years worth of storylines have been building towards this, and the amount of polish shows. I do hope Marvel gives the whole “yearly event” thing a much-needed rest after this is all said and done, but so far this feels like an event worth reading for the story, as well as the spectacle.
(I’ll be back next month to share my thoughts on the next two issues of Avengers vs. X-Men)