Here's What You Need to Know about Avengers vs. X-Men #0 and #1.
Interested in Avengers vs. X-Men but don't know where to start? Luckily, the Outhouse is here to give you all the knowledge you need to jump into AvX without any prior reading.
1) It all ties back to House of M.
House of M was the last major event to prominently feature both the X-Men and the Avengers and led to the mass depowering of the mutant community, turning them into a functionally extinct species. At the center of House of M was the Scarlet Witch, who erased the mutant race from the world mainly to spite her father and brother, who had both tried to manipulate her for their own goals. While Scarlet Witch was off the map for several years after the event, she recently returned in Avengers: The Children's Crusade, and seems to be sane now, although both the Avengers and the X-Men seem rather leery of her.
2) The Mutants Have Militarized
Since House of M, the mutant race has largely militarized and formed its own nation, Utopia, off the shores of San Francisco. Cyclops, the de facto leader of the X-Men, is under a constant pressure to guide the mutants through their most trying time, a fact made worse by the defection of Wolverine, who disagreed with Cyclops' decision to use children in battle. Wolverine and a group of prominent X-Men (Rogue, Shadowcat, and Iceman among them) took most of the children to Westchester and founded the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, where they have zany adventures and try to avoid Cyclops' militant ways.
3) The Phoenix is Coming
In case you missed one of the gabazillion promotional campaigns leading up to the event, the Phoenix Force is returning to Earth, destroying several galaxies in its wake. Since Jean Grey's death, the Phoenix Force has occasionally popped up, mainly connected to the mutant Hope Summers. Hope, the Mutant Messiah who first popped up in Messiah Complex, is a feisty seventeen year old girl who's able to copy the powers of other mutants. Since her birth, she's been linked to the Phoenix Force multiple times and has even briefly used its powers on several occasions, leading the Avengers to see her as the reason why the Phoenix Force is coming to Earth.
4) Why Hope is Important
While Captain America and the Avengers see Hope as a threat to the planet due to her connection to the Phoenix Force, Cyclops sees Hope as mutantkind's salvation. Prior to Hope's arrival, both Beast and Magneto researched how to reverse the Scarlet Witch's erasing of the mutant gene. While Magneto was able to get his own power back with the help of the High Evolutionary, Beast learned that not even Reed Richards or the other top minds of the Marvel Universe were able to restore the X-Gene that had been taken from most of the world's mutants.
However, when Hope first returned to the present after being raised in the future (let's not really get into that), five mutants' X-Genes were suddenly activated, leading to the first mutant discoveries since House of M. Since then, two more mutants have been discovered, although one was a baby and the second committed suicide. Cyclops believe that these new mutants are somehow connected to Hope and the Phoenix Force, although there's been no definitive proof to confirm that notion.
5) Don't Expect a Lot of Thinking in This Comic
If you really want to enjoy this event, it's best not to do a lot of thinking about character motivations or the feasibility of plot. As with most big events, the plot of Avengers vs. X-Men can be easily picked apart in less than five minutes, leaving hardcore fans of comics upset and angry. In particular, fans of Cyclops and Captain America are sure to be disappointed with the actions of the characters, although Cyclops' rush to action is at least partially explained in the opening issue.
It's really easy to take sides in this event; in fact, Marvel is encouraging you to do so. The event is casually painting the X-Men as the villains of the event, due to the presence of long-time antagonists Emma Frost, Magneto, Namor and the Juggernaut appearing on the side of the mutants and popular characters Spider-Man and Wolverine siding with the Avengers. However, there's sure to be at least some defections on both sides and the Marvel writers have tried to give both sides some room to stand on (something they failed to do in Civil War). In addition, Hope's adoptive father, Cable, discovered that the Avengers caused something to happen to Hope in the future that somehow predicated the end of the world, which led to him trying to preemptively kill the Avengers to prevent that from happening.
All in all, this looks to be a bunch of fun "Who Would Win?" matchups guzzied up by some pretty art and a tolerable story. Just enjoy the cool fights and try not to think about things too much.
Be sure to check back next week as the Outhouse continues its coverage of Avengers vs. X-Men with reviews, features and more!
Written or Contributed by: Christian Hoffer