And we’ve come to the end of our journey (or at least, the end of this particular limited-series-that-gives-way-to-more-limited-series-and-also-by-the-way-go-buy-these-relaunches). Six months ago I decided to make an effort and review my first superhero event comic as it happened (I’ve reviewed more than a few retroactively, reading them all at once), and it’s been an interesting ride. Regular readers of these reviews will know that I’ve been largely impressed with the events of Avengers vs. X-Men. I’ve even defended some decisions that my fellow comics fans couldn’t stand (see issue #11). So now the tale is told, issue #12 is out, and I have to lay out my final verdict. As much as I’d like to launch into another strong defense of the book, though, I have to admit, for the first time, that for all its promise, AvX #12 ended with much more of a whimper than a bang.
Spoilers are something we’ve all had to contend with from time to time. Not seeing the latest blockbuster opening weekend? Don’t check Facebook ’cause your nephew will have likely given a plot point by plot point review in his status. Didn’t catch the season finale of your favorite TV show when it aired? Don’t go on Twitter, everyone you follow will have live-tweeted every moment. These are the realities of the world we live in where any information is ready at a moment’s notice. But what happened today with the climactic issue of the summer long, comic book event, Avengers vs X-Men is unprecedented. At least is my recent memory, and please, feel free to correct me.
Today saw the release of issue #11 of AvX and as expected, big, BIG things go down. Now, I haven’t been reading AvX but I’ve had a passing interest and even more so in fans’ reactions. It’s reminded me of how all us DC fans lost our shit during Flashpoint and the subsequent reboot. Anyway, since the book only hit shelves today you’d expect there to be a polite moratorium on discussing what the BIG event of AvX #11 was, right? WRONG! And you couldn’t be more wrong!
(I’d like to note I won’t be spoiling what happens in AvX #11, because I’m not a douchebag.)
I first read on Bleeding Cool that the New York Daily News spoiled the big news, which happens to be a character death, in a headline for an article that went live at 12am today. Yes, at midnight, meaning I’m pretty sure no one would have had the chance to read the book yet. Then again, maybe there’s little crossover between Marvel fans and diligent readers of the NYDN online, but still! It’s midnight and you’re already spoiling a comic book most fans won’t have the chance to read for another 10 hours! And believe it or not, it gets worse. Turns out this article was part of a “publicity agreement” with Marvel, meaning they officially sanctioned the spoilage. And just to pour salt on this spoilery wound the article comes with the pages of the comic where the death scene occurs. So yes, if you’d like to know what goes down in AvX #11 without buying the book by all means click on that NYDN link, they’ve got the WHOLE scoop.
And because, apparently, Marvel wanted EVERYONE to know what happened in AvX #11 before reading, I’ve been informed by reviewers who receive advanced copies of Marvel comics by email that this character’s death was spoiled for them in the email’s subject line. Really, Marvel!?! The subject line! You couldn’t even wait until they opened the email to unleash the news?
Like I mentioned above, I’m not reading AvX, but even I’m outraged at this blatant disrespect of readers who’d like to enjoy the story without having the climax ruined for them. I mean, is that really too much to ask? It’s not like this was a comic that’s been out for over a month and tough luck if you hadn’t read it yet. This book only came out today and now everyone knows what happens before even cracking the cover. And I’m disgusted to learn this didn’t come from some asshole trolls on the internet, but Marvel itself.
Do you think Marvel screwed up by revealing what happened in AvX #11? Or should we just get over it and realize such spoilers are a way of life, no warning required? Sound off in the comments!
For months now I’ve been touting Avengers vs. X-Men as an ambitious comic that stands to be something more than another predictable event comic, a merging of superhero badassery and truly big ideas that could have truly big consequences in the Marvel Universe. Clearly that’s what Marvel’s hoping everyone will think, but it’s up to the book to deliver on the promise, and honestly I keep waiting for something to underwhelm me. I keep waiting for the ambition to level off, for the elements to fall into a predictable place. But then the Marvel Architects deliver a comic like issue 10, and I’m even more convinced we’re heading for a truly heavy conclusion.
I was thinking today after reading Avengers vs. X-Men #9 about how important character moments are to really good event comics. I think we’ve already established that I’m not cynical about these things. I like superheroes and explosions and big displays of superpower awesome, so I can still enjoy an event just fine if it’s shallow and spangly. But those moments that tell you who these heroes are put things over the top and make good events great. I’m not ready to say yet if Avengers vs. X-Men is a great event (we still have three issues to go after all), but this week’s issue definitely packed a serious character punch.
Last issue, Avengers vs. X-Men ended on a huge act of destruction. This issue is where we have to reckon with it. As The Avengers continue to try to find a way to tame the Phoenix Five while protecting Hope Summers, the stakes are raised once again, and though issue #8 doesn’t pack the same kind of dramatic pivots that some previous issues do, it definitely keeps up the tension.
We’re now officially more than halfway through Avengers vs. X-Men, and that means the endgame’s going to start shaping up any day now. But just as the Marvel architects behind this event haven’t been content to keep this story to a simple clash between two superhero teams, they don’t seem content yet to let everything fall into place. There are new challenges to be explored, new story threads to run out. Avengers vs. X-Men #7 is proof of this kind of continued ambition.
The Marvel “architects” that masterminded Avengers vs. X-Men have been promising for a while now that they’ll deliver us big, unpredictable things in this story, and with the first third of this 12-part event complete, it’s about time they started delivering. By the end of Round 5, the story has taken a new shape, the stakes have been raised, and it’s confirmed for all of us that this is most definitely not just a Civil War rehash.
At some point Marvel was going to have to address how exactly Avengers vs. X-Men isn’t just another Civil War, and they were going to have to do it in a way that wasn’t just a self-assured press release. The only way they’re really going to convince us that they’ve done something new here is to do their convincing in-story. I’ve been pleased with the story so far, but Avengers vs. X-Men #3 is where the event really starts to become something more than a superhero vs. superhero bloodfest. It’s an important turning point, but does it pay off?
“Wow. Avengers vs. X-Men. So this is really happening.” – Spider-Man
Yes it is. After a prelude and a first issue that was basically just more prelude, the much-hyped battle between the Avengers and the X-Men has finally come to blows. Cyclops threw down the gauntlet last issue and now the two greatest superteams in the Marvel Universe have stopped talking and started punching. So how does this action-heavy issue stand up to all those high expectations?
So, last week we established that Avengers vs. X-Men #0 was good enough to be approached without cynicism. Not a masterpiece, but a solid, stylish prelude to an event book. But now we’ve reached the moment of truth for the event itself. No more preludes, no more teases, no more promos. It’s Avengers vs. X-Men time.