Greetings from the Odinson,
Recently Marvel made a Big Announcement. The House of Ideas is going to settle the argument about who is the mightiest super team in the Marvel Universe once and for all, and they are going to do it with a mega event titled AVENGERS VS. X-MEN. There are so many aspects about this announcement that get the Odinson excited it’s hard to know where to begin.
It all starts this December in the pages of Avengers: X-Sanction. The super human freedom fighter Cable comes back from the future to present time in order to stop a major catastrophe involving the Avengers. And as Marvel fans know, this man of tomorrow is not going to let a little thing like Earth’s Mightiest Heroes stop him from accomplishing his mission. What event could possibly cause a man inspired by the Avengers to want to dismantle them? Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this one out. Just pick up Marvel Point One, a 1-shot setting up next year’s major plot points, and you will see the return of arguably the greatest threat/miracle the Marvel Universe has ever known – the Phoenix Force. The issue also includes a 2-page ad depicting a fiery bird with the ominous warning “It’s coming.” So the Phoenix Force is headed for Earth and you can imagine this would make the heroes of our planet a bit nervous. So, decisions are made, a line is drawn in the sand, and the battle is joined, as the Children of the Atom face off with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to decide the fate of mankind. I’m getting giddy just writing those words down.
Now this isn’t the first time these mutant heroes and Marvel’s premiere super team have butted heads. Way back in Uncanny X-Men #9 the Avengers arrive to take down the villainous Lucifer, but if they succeed the world is doomed and the only ones that can stop them from making this mistake are the students of Xavier’s School for the Gifted. In Avengers (1963-1996 1st Series) #53, a misunderstanding sets these two mighty teams against each other yet again. Back in the 80s, during Marvel’s 25th Anniversary celebration, back when Wolverine still walked around with a chip on his shoulder bigger than the Hulk’s, Wolverine and Captain America traded blows (see Captain America Annual #8). But things really got heated between the Avengers and X-Men in the now classic X-Men vs. Avengers. The X-Men were harboring Magneto, a known terrorist, and the Avengers set out to bring him to justice. Throw the Soviet Super Soldiers into the mix and let the fun begin!
The difference between these previous encounters, and most hero vs. hero throw downs for that matter, is that while all these battles usually ended in the obligatory stalemate with both sides working together in the end, AVENGERS VS. X-MEN will have a decisive winner. So once and for all the world will know who would win if the X-Men and the Avengers battled for the heavyweight championship belt. This is absolutely one area where Marvel really has it over on DC. There is a legitimate debate between who is mightier, the X-Men or Avengers? In the DCU, there’s the Justice League and everyone else. The Teen Titans certainly aren’t a challenge to the JLA’s premiere status. Who else? The Outsiders, Doom Patrol, the Secret Six? Give me a break. Superman could defeat all those teams single-handedly. I could possibly make a case for JLA vs. the Legion of Super-Heroes, but that would just involve a lot of time travel and that’s just a headache all its own. So nobody debates the Justice League’s place in the DCU. But there seems to be a real split amongst Marvel fans who is the strongest super team in their universe is – the Avengers or the X-Men.
Well, my friends, we are finally about to find out.
Now before I go on, let me address the question “why are super heroes fighting super heroes?” I am one who thinks heroes shouldn’t fight heroes, but it doesn’t stop me from enjoying the drama. These are age old questions that have been asked for centuries. Who is stronger – Hercules or Samson? Who would win? Achilles vs. Hector. Human Torch vs. Sub-Mariner. Hulk vs. Thing. These are the debates that have driven countless conversations between fanboys and girls since the beginning. And I, for one, am excited to finally have the debate settled.
Heavyweight fights are all about the match ups and this one provides so many delicious recipes. Along with their many other recently acquired assets (Danger, Namor, and the Colossus/Juggernaut hybrid), the X-Men also have (pardon the pun) a huge X-Factor in Magneto. This guy is easily one of the most powerful beings to ever walk the earth. Anyone that can single-handedly defeat Proteus in battle is promoted to instant Alpha Class. And with the mighty Thor apparently pushing up daisies right now, I just don’t know who the Avengers have that can counter what the Master of Magnetism brings to the table. They will have to come up with something since a lot of their assets (Iron Man’s armor, Cap’s shield, Thor’s hammer, Hawkeye’s arrows, etc.) are made of metal. Iron Man did one time produce a “de-magnetized” version of his armor (comic book logic at play once again) to take on Magneto in Avengers West Coast #60.
So right off the bat, the Avengers have two major obstacles to overcome – Magneto and the seemingly endless supply of telepaths the X-Men have. Physically Earth’s Mightiest Heroes can go toe-to-toe with anybody. They proved that in JLA/Avengers. But the X-Men bring an array of skills and power sets that are very different from the norm. However, the Avengers do have Doctor Strange the Sorcerer Supreme on their side and the X-Men don’t really have anything to counter that (No, Magik can’t beat the Master of the Mystic Arts).
Another delicious aspect of this match up is where will loyalties lie? Wolverine just had a big falling out with Cyclops in Schism. He’s an Avenger, but he was an X-Man for years and years before that. Throw in the fact that this tussle is about the return of the Phoenix Force and he is definitely a character to keep an eye on during this event. Storm, a perennial member of the X-Men, is now also a member of the Avengers and married to the Black Panther, a longtime Avenger and loyal friend to Captain America. How about a character like the Beast? This bouncing blue hero is just as easily identified with the Avengers as he is with the X-Men (Beast was a valued member of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes for most of the 70s and into the early 80s). And don’t forget that Magneto’s own children, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, will probably fall in line with their Avengers teammates. Drama!
Hands down the most interesting showdown I'm looking forward to is Captain America vs. Cyclops. Cap has a way to block Scott's power but Scott can also block Cap's shield throw with his power. It will be so fun watching these two strategic masterminds go at it. I just don’t understand why there always seems to be friction between these two. I envision a future where we see Steve and Scott meeting once a month for a game of chess and discussing strategies on how to take down Doctor Doom and the Brood. Here’s a question. Cyclops’ power is force and Cap’s shield absorbs kinetic energy (it’s made of vibranium). If Cyclops blasts Cap’s shield and then Cap throws it, would his shield hit with the force of Thor’s hammer? I don’t know if this comic book logic adds up, but that would be a cool scenario.
AVENGERS VS. X-MEN is going to be 12 issues released bi-weekly. One of the best features about this event as compared to others is that it will be contained in the main series and only encompass the X-Men and Avengers titles. So a fan does not have to buy 20 comics each week in order to follow the story. On Marvel’s website there is a wonderful 40-minute interview with a round table of the writers and editors responsible for this event (check it out HERE). Speaking of which, the creative team assembled for this book is incredible. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Jason Aaron, Jonathan Hickman, Ed Brubaker, and Matt Fraction and with art by John Romita Jr., Olivier Coipel and Adam Kubert, AVENGERS VS. X-MEN promises to be something really special.
Anyone who knows me or has followed my columns for any length of time obviously knows on which side the Odinson’s loyalties are going to fall when this goes down. Captain America and Thor are my all time favorite heroes and the Avengers is my all time favorite comic book. Before I go, I’m going to leave you with a list of recommended reading to prepare yourself for this coming event. You will not have to read these in order to enjoy the story but as a longtime Marvel fan, I know these will provide some wonderful back story leading into AVENGERS VS. X-MEN.
Oh, one more thing…
The Odinson’s Recommended Reading before AVENGERS VS. X-MEN hits stands in April:
X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga
Uncanny X-Men #150 and 200
X-Men vs. Avengers
House of M
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade
Marvel Point One
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell