Wow. We keep on rolling with three weeks of coverage!
For all of you accidental readers, here's the deal:
I read Marvel's event-based comics (in this case, Avengers vs. X-Men) and then I write them up in varying degrees of detail. I'll give you a brief summary (the Nutshell), then blow that up into a bullet points on what happened in the comic, and finally, I'll get as detailed as possible, breaking down events and giving as many references to how it relates to the Marvel Universe as possible.
In short: I read the comics and then write about them.
And that's pretty much it. This ain't my first rodeo. I've been covering Marvel events since Secret Invasion, back when I was a wide-eyed young fanboy with hope for the future. :) You can read about it all in the massive Super Reads section on the site.
Here are the important things to think about when reading Avengers vs. X-Men and it's many tie-in comics.
Let's talk about the reason for the fight. It turns out that something called the Phoenix Force is a'comin' to Earth, destroying (and bringing new life) to everything in it's galactic path. It's not the first time the Phoenix has come to Earth. The galactic entity has inhabited or replaced a number of people in the Marvel Universe, usually redheads, and caused all sorts of mischief and mayhem in the process. For example: causing a star to super-nova, killing all the inhabitants of an orbiting planet.
At the same time, it's used its powers to do truly good and heroic things. During one incident, the Phoenix used its powers to fix the broken M'Kraan Crystal, which was kind of a big deal because it prevented reality itself from shattering.
So it's capable of blowing stars up and also saving everything that exists. Quite the conundrum on how to respond. I suggest great caution.
Which is exactly where the Avengers are coming from. After realizing that the mutant messiah, Hope, is pretty much going to be the next Phoenix host, the Avengers move to put her in protective custody and keep a look out for her accidentally going evil and killing everyone. Unfortunately, Captain America seriously botches this whole plan by showing up on the mutant island-nation of Utopia and trying to boss the leader of the mutant race, Cyclops, into putting the entire thing into the Avengers' hands.
Cyclops is coming at this from the opposite point of view. Instead of thinking of the Phoenix as a destroyer, he believes that the Phoenix holds the key to reigniting the mutant race (after it was prematurely stunted, decimated, and put on the endangered species list by the crazy magic of the Scarlet Witch). The potential Phoenix host, Hope, has already used her power to bring five new mutants into the world. It's very possible that more are on their way with a little boost from the Phoenix. Add to that the fact that Hope is Cyclops' granddaughter and his son made Scott promise to protect Hope from the Avengers... and you've got a majorly charged situation.
And that is how fights break out in the Marvel Universe.
The New Avengers #24
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Mike Deodato & Will Conrad
Editor: Tom Brevoort
The issue in a nutshell:
Avengers unload from the Helicarrier over Utopia but then we step back a day to fill in some blanks. Captain America assembles his Avengers to get them ready to fight the X-Men. Luke Cage chooses the Avengers over his wife and baby.
This issue by bullet points:
• After Cyclops blasts Captain America (as seen in Avengers vs. X-Men #1!), the Avengers unload from the Helicarrier.
• We take a trip back one day to before this conflict. The New Avengers are eating and discussing recent events. One of these events is a bunch of protesters outside their mansion.
• Another is Luke Cage and Jessica Jones going missing.
• Iron Fist goes outside to talk to the press only to find Luke Cage already doing just that. Cage is using the media to send a message to his wife.
• Instead of getting that message, Jessica shows up at the gates with her baby and the baby's nanny Squirrel Girl. After a small reunion, everyone heads back inside.
• Jessica Jones is still set to leave the Mansion because she finds it more dangerous than... I guess her life BEFORE living in the mansion when she was getting mind-controlled by the Purple Man. She's leaving with the baby and wants Luke to come with.
• This whole family conversation is interrupted when Captain America calls a meeting with every Avenger. The subject, of course, is the Phoenix Force.
• When hearing that magic word, Storm takes off.
• When all the talking is over, Jessica Jones leaves with the baby and Luke Cage stays to fight the X-Men with the Avengers.
• Back in the present, Cage drops out of a Helicarrier, looking like hitting something would feel REALLY good.
This issue in EXTREME detail:
Among the MANY squads of Avengers, the New Avengers team is the most independant, even if that's only in theory. The New Avengers consists of Luke Cage (the leader), Ms. Marvel, the Thing, Iron Fist, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Dr. Strange, Mockingbird, Jessica Jones, and Daredevil. Yeah, it's a big team.
Operating out of Avengers Mansion, the New Avengers enjoy some autonomy from Commander Steve Rogers' government Avengers but Cage looks up to Captain America so much that he'll agree to whatever America's Top Cop says. The team is only part-time, which is why most of the group are members since all of them have a more-than-full-plate. Further connecting them to the Avengers military machine is Ms. Victoria Hand, the team's liason to Commander Rogers and the former deputy commander of HAMMER under Norman Osborn way back during the Dark Reign.
But you're not here for the back story. You're here for the AVENGERS VS. X-MEN ACTION ACTION ACTION!!
(Don't build yourself up too much... it doesn't actually happen).
The first scene takes place towards the end of the first issue of Avengers versus X-Men. On the beach of the mutant island of Utopia, Cyclops and Captain America are already engaged in their less-than-friendly chat. Up in the skies and cloaked from view, the SHIELD Helicarrier and its inhabitants (the Avengers) wait to see how this plays out. Some small talk is attempted but the four Avengers watching the monitors demand silence.
Those Avengers are Red Hulk, Wolverine, Black Widow, and Iron Man. Logan knows how this is going to go down but Tony and Natasha seem hopeful that this isn't leading straight into a mega-event.
They should all know better.
Cyclops eyebeams Captain America right in the shield (admittedly, that's not the most fatal of shots). Cap shouts "Avengers Assemble!" Red Hulk gets the troops ready for war.
That's right. Rulk. Since he is really General "Thunderbolt" Ross, this makes a lot of sense and shows everyone that this isn't just another Hulk. The Avengers burst out of the Helicarrier and we head right into...
We join many of the New Avengers at Avengers Mansion as they eat a good meal and discuss pertinent issues. Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones are not present. More on the last two later... though we'll just assume Daredevil has other stuff to do. First up is some fallout from the last storyline. That one dealt with Norman Osborn's attempt at taking down both main Avengers teams in a vain power grab. One of Ozzy's tactics was to turn public opinion against Earth's Mightiest Heroes and this was kind of successful. Protesters are occupying the street right outside of the Mansion.
The New Avengers wonder what to do about this. Ms. Hand tells them to leave it alone because Captain America doesn't want anyone engaging the angry public.
After some jabs at Wolverine's expense about the Canucklehead running a school (which should make all of you laugh), the conversation moves on to Luke and Jessica. During Osborn's escapades, the former Green Goblin ended up spooking the hell out of Jessica and she vacated the Mansion with her and Luke's baby daughter, Danielle. Luke has been out looking for his family ever since they left.
No one knows where Luke OR Jessica are at the moment.
Well, with that conversation out of the way, Iron Fist decides to flout Cap's request and go talk to the crowds. When he gets there, Danny finds Luke has already engaged Occupy Avengers Mansion.
Cage just wants to get a televised message out to his wife to beg her to come home but all the media and protesters want to talk about is Norman Osborn. After simplifying all the protesters' concerns down to having an unhappy home life, Luke begs his wife to return to the Mansion or at least contact him. So, he might be projecting a little.
After his speech gets to the point of rambling on (I've been there a lot), Jessica shows up with the baby and nanny (Squirrel Girl), wondering what's going on. The family heads inside. Iron Fist decides enough media damage has been done for one day and joins them. Who knows what the protesters are going to do?
Luke, Jessica, and baby Daniell hit their bedroom for a family talk. Squirrel Girl leaves them alone.
Here's the conflict. Jessica apologizes for running off. It's not the first time she's done this so Cage is justifiably pissed. It's always because of concern over the baby, which is admirable, but in this case, kind of stupid.
Her claim is that being an Avenger puts their daughter at risk and she's NOT WRONG... but she's missing the actual CAUSE. Luke Cage's life has been a roller caster from almost day ONE... well before he stumbled into his super-powers and started getting all heroic. Jessica's story is similar. These two have already MADE their enemies and these are people who will hunt them down regardless of whether or not they live in a fully-stocked Mansion surrounded by fellow heroes. They could be hermits living in quiet seclusion and their enemies would find them.
Being an Avengers puts their baby at risk but that child will be in just as MUCH danger if the two quit the team. That is the kid's life, now. Even giving the kid up for adoption isn't a guarantee of safety.
None of this is mentioned here because we're dealing with two characters in a story who have their own opinions and might not realize that they are living in the pages of a comic book where you're only as safe as the writer will allow. What IS said is the ultimatum: Jessica is leaving and taking the baby with her. She wants Luke to come with them. Before Cage can answer, they're all called to an emergency Avengers meeting.
Present is pretty much every current roster Avenger. Plus Black Panther. I don't see Beast but I bet he's somewhere in the back. This is where Cap tells them all about the threat of the Phoenix.
At the very mention of the Phoenix, Storm stands up and flies away. There's no question about where she sides on this and I guess she's not sticking around to change anyone's mind. Not even her husband's.
After Ororo is gone, the meeting continues. The Phoenix Force is explained in the same way it was in AvX #1. Cap goes over his plans for Hope (the potential Phoenix host) which runs like this: they will take custody of the mutant messiah and take her off-planet.
THAT'S the plan!? Off-planet? So the Phoenix Force can arrive on Earth, rip the place to shreds looking for Hope, and then continue on it's way? Brilliant, Captain America.
I know, I know. The plan is probably to alter the Phoenix Force's course before it reaches Earth but it just seems to be a poor gamble to me that could EASILY lead to even more trouble. Odds are likely that the Phoenix is COMING to Earth FOR Hope. That means it'll probably hit the planet hard, looking for the Phoenix host and things will get doomed right quick.
Ms. Marvel (who has a history with the X-Men-- some of it good), Thing, and Spider-Woman all have reservations about this plan. Carol (Ms. Marvel) is pretty sure this plan is going to get Cap blasted with eye beams. Steve assures the team that he'll do everything he can to avoid a violent confrontations.
Anyway, Red Hulk takes over, giving a pep talk and preparing everyone for a fight they all wish to avoid. Thor gets ready to lead his team into space in an attempt to head off the Phoenix Force. Commander Rogers asks for volunteers for his ride to Utopia.
Jessica holds the baby up and Luke Cage gives Danielle a kiss on the forehead. Decisions have been made that will have LASTING CONSEQUENCES. Jessica and her baby daughter exit, stage left.
We return to our opening scene just as we left it, with Avengers piling out of a Helicarrier to fight Cyclops and his X-Men. Luke is at the front of the team. He really needs to hit something.
The panel turns red as Cage gets closer to the ground. Maybe Cyke needed to hit something, too.
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Jack Kirby
Inker: Chic Stone
Editor: Stan Lee
The issue in a nutshell:
Xavier has a showdown with Lucifer, the man who took away his ability to walk. The X-Men face off against the Avengers to prevent Earth's Mightiest Heroes from interfering and possibly setting off a massive bomb!
The issue by bullet points:
• The X-Men take a passenger ship to the Balkans to assist their leader, Professor X, in his fight against the malevolent Lucifer!
• To complicate things, the Avengers show up after Thor detects Lucifer's evil aura or something.
• The X-Men are forced into battle with the Avengers to prevent the other super-team from harming Lucifer and dooming the world (Lucy's connected to a bomb that's monitoring his brain and heart).
• After Xavier renders Lucifer unconscious, he telepathically explains the situation to Thor and the fight with the Avengers is ended.
• The X-Men disarm the bomb and then they... let Lucifer go. Yay?
The issue in EXTREME detail:
It was January 1965 and the X-Men and Avengers were finally going to have their first full on meet and greet. We're talking classic line-ups here, too. The X-Men was populated by the original cast. Cyclops, Angel, Marvel Girl, Beast, and Iceman. A few issues earlier, their teacher and mentor, Professor Xavier, had left the team in Cyclops' hands in order to deal with a personal mission. This issue was the pay-off for the Professor's time away. The Avengers were composed of Thor, Iron Man, Giant-Man, Wasp, and Captain America. This was one powerful line-up of super-heroes who were definitely out of the X-Men's league.
But we'll get to their fateful first meeting in time. First, we visit the North Atlantic ocean and watch a passenger ship do its best Titanic impression. That would mean hitting the iceberg that is STRAIGHT AHEAD! Before the ship can strike its icy doom, twin concussive beams strike the iceberg, breaking it down to less impactful bits. The day is saved, even though the source of the ship's salvation will remain unknown to most of its passengers and crew. Only we and the X-Men will ever know that it was Cyclops that played the hero, saving lives with the highest intensity beam he could muster.
The strain of this attack has wiped out Scott Summers; so his companion, Angel, takes him back to their room to rest. Once Cyke is behind closed doors, the rest of the team display their own mutant abilities while helping him recover. While everyone is gathered, Scott explains exactly WHY they are travelling to Europe.
A couple weeks ago, Professor X contacted him and told him to make this trans-Atlantic sojourn. Now, they await the Professor's next message.
And here it comes. Prof X contacts his team and tells them that they are joining him in the Balkans for a battle against a terrible villain named Lucifer. This is the very same man who cost Xavier the use of his legs in a past during an adventure that Xavier had yet to share with his students. Even now, Professor X is heading on down into Lucifer's underground lair in order to end the threat of this foe.
Charles cuts off his psionic phone call to concentrate on his subterranean trek. What is very cool about this sequence is that Xavier has traded in his wheelchair for a seat with tank treads that is brimming with self-made gadgets. This wheelchair-tank helps Xavier escape at least one or Lucifer's traps. The final trap, however, is something Professor X hadn't prepared for. Lucifer sends out a whirling cyclone that lifts the Professor out of his chair and returns him to Lucifer's chamber. Once there, the whirlwind becomes a cage around the X-Men leader.
This, then, is Lucifer. One glance at our villain should give you a hint where Magneto gets his fashion sense. Lucifer wears a red and purple costume that matches up pretty well with Magnus's clothes. The suit ITSELF is different but the colors are all in the same place. Lucifer's origins would remain untold for now but later on we'd learn that he was actually an alien, a Quist, sent as an advance guard for planetary take over. Guys like Xavier stood in his way. Yes, I notice the pun I'm setting up there and I'm completely avoiding it for decency's sake.
While stuck in a bubble, Xavier has come prepared for dealing with the alien who made him a cripple. Pulling out a gun, Professor X blasts free of his prison and prepares to bust a cap in Lucifer. Our villain recommends holding off on that plan...
And we head back up to the surface to find that the X-Men have docked at a Balkan port and now wander around, waiting for their boss to make contact once again. As they walk off-panel, Thor drops to the ground. The god of thunder finds himself the current chairman of the Avengers (at this point, they all take turns). His hammer, Mjolnir has picked up the emanations of a great evil so he and his team have hit Europe to investigate.
When we're caught up to speed on that, an American tourist drives his car right up the the Avengers to ask directions. Since the team isn't a household name just yet, the tourist is freaked the hell out and speeds off in a panic. His next stop? Right into the X-Men's party. The mutants are dressed in their civvies so the motorist feels like he's in good company. After the tourist explains all the crazy things he's seen, Cyclops orders Angel into the air for recon duty. Again, the tourist is terrified and motors away. No-one tries too hard to stop him. Things are about to become dangerous.
Below the ground, Lucifer explains to his arch-enemy why his death would be a bad thing. It seems that Lucy has connected himself to an array of machines. If his heart should fail... or beat too fast or too slow... it will trigger a massive bomb that will blow up... ANTARCTICA!
Yeah, I don't know why he'd have a bomb in the Balkans that would destroy the most southern continent but Xavier's later dream sequence about the concequences of this action is awesome. Whatever. The point is, exciting Lucifer with, I don't know, bullets to his chest, would be very, very bad. Xavier realizes his firearm would just make matters worse and that gives Lucifer the upper hand.
The villain tries to kill the X-Men (still on the surface) with an ionic ray but Xavier warns them out of danger with a psionic projection. After this narrow escape, the X-Men suit up for action. And action they'll get. Here come the Avengers!
Get ready for the most terrible reason for a fight ever. OK, we've got a villain who is capable of destroying all life on the planet if he gets too excited. Xavier explains this much to his students through his telepathy. While the Professor deals with the villain, the X-Men have to stop the Avengers from charging in and dooming the world. They COULD do this through talking but that wouldn't fill up five pages with action, would it?
No, no it wouldn't.
So Xavier orders his X-Men to attack the Avengers. They do this without hesitation. And yes, Cyclops fires his optic blasts to start things off even though Thor is getting pretty threatening with his hammer.
The blast hits Iron Man.
And that means it's on like Donkey Kong. Avenger versus X-Men!!! It's just like all ten fans at the time had dreamed it to be. That means that the X-Men were barely holding their own. This is how it should be. In fact, just for the teenagers to keep at it for as long as they do is a testament to their training to this point. They all get a LOT better but at this point, they are novices. Kids. The Avengers have all been at this game longer and they have a lot more power at their disposal. Still, the X-Men do very good considering the circumstances.
Below ground, Lucifer presses his advantage and prepares to end the life of Professor Charles Xavier. It is then that the X-Men's leader uses his mental abilities to put the villain straight to sleep. It's a lot more complicated than that because Xavier also needs to keep Lucy's heartbeat steady. That's why X is a master.
With Lucifer's threat temporarily abated, Xavier prepares to contact his X-Men again. That's good because the fight is starting to turn on the young heroes.
Thor is JUST about ready to do some permanent damage on Iceman when the thunder god recieves Xavier's telepathic call. The Professor expains the situation to the Avenger and Thor completely believes what he's being told. The god of thunder calls an end to the fighting and explains what is going on to his comrades. After taking a vote, the Avengers decide not to continue the hostilities and get ready to return to the United States. On their way out, Captain America begins his turn as Avengers chairman.
And that's how the first fight between the X-Men and Avengers ended in a tie.
With the other heroes out of the way, Xavier directs the X-Men down into Lucifer's underground lair. Things aren't over quite yet. Angel flies Xavier to the top of Lucy's bomb while Cyclops climbs up the side. Using his mental abilities, Professor X is able to locate the trigger to the device. Now, it's up to Cyclops to destroy the trigger with some precision aiming at full intensity. It's a couple of tense minutes where the bomb nearly goes off twice but in the end, the day is saved.
Once the bomb is disarmed, Charles uses his mental abilities to bring Lucifer back from the land of nod. And then he lets the villain go. With a warning. This is some great effort on Professor X's part because there's a good bit of him that just wants revenge for the past. Instead, Lucifer is allowed to depart with the knowledge that the X-Men will stop him again the next time he plans something.
For some weird reason, Lucifer hardly ever bothers the X-Men again. I guess that warning stuck.
And that's how you get through two comics in the nick of time. Woo! The first tie-in is out of the way! I wonder what's coming next...
Until next time: Have a great week!