Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Review: Avengers Vs X-Men #2

Avengers VS X-Men #2 By Aaron / Romita

I swore I wouldn't do this anymore...

Avengers VS X-Men is the latest event book to come out of the House of Ideas, following the moderate success of last summer's 'epic', Fear Itself. Thankfully AVX looks to be a much more successful proposition than that largely failed production. Fear Itself - ominously enough - also began fairly well before collapsing under the weight of its own expectations and lack of real ideas, not to mention some really poor storytelling. AVX at least promises to tell a story with a real impact. Whereas Fear Itself dealt with the more obscure Asgardian corner of the Marvel Universe, this series sees two of Marvel's biggest properties - the Avengers and the X-Men - trading blows, not to mention the return of the Phoenix, star of one of the most critically acclaimed Marvel storylines of all time, the Dark Phoenix Saga.

Does it work? Not entirely. Jason Aaron takes over writing duties from Brian Michael Bendis and in truth, has little to work with. After issue #1's status as an exercise in setting the scene, the plot of this issue feels a lot more by the numbers, and features a knock down brawl between the two teams, intercut with brief scenes featuring the Phoenix force journeying to Earth. Aaron's script is fairly forgettable, and lacks the humour and edge that has defined his superb run on Wolverine and the X-Men. Some of his dialogue is fairly hackneyed but it is mostly adequate and sets the tone of the story well. Aided by the interlude scenes, he does a good job of getting the threat of the Phoenix force across, although as a seasoned veteran of Marvel's event titles it is hard to get excited about yet another potential world ending force. The Phoenix does carry rather a larger presence than the antagonists from previous stories though, so it manages to just about work.

The actual action is fairly bog standard, and hampered by the fact that the script keeps jumping from scene to scene. The individual match ups could have been interesting, not to mention visually spectacular, but none of them are really given much of a chance to shine. Romita Jr's artwork is a mixed bag too, as often seems to be the case lately. He gets across the scale of the battle as well as anyone could, but his style lacks the fluidity and dynamism that would have made the battle more interesting to read.

Avengers VS X-Men #2 is a minor step down from the previous issue, largely by virtue of not doing anything particularly interesting. The fight is rather listlessly portrayed, what characterisation there is, is skipped over, and while the plot is advanced a little, there are few shocks. The titles bi-weekly schedule will help with all of these concerns, but taken on its own merits this is little more than an average issue - albeit one that promises more for the rest of the series.


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