Saturday, April 14, 2012

Avengers vs X-Men #2 of 12

Writers: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman, & Matt Fraction
Artist: John Romita Jr.
Company: Marvel Comics

Where the first issue set the story up, this battle for the safety of humanity that hinges on one mutant girl, this second issue get down and dirty with the smackdowns between our fellow heroes. And it's exactly what fans want to see. That's not to say that this issue is devoid of heart or story and is instead just a testosterone fueled explosion of muscles and Repulsor blasts and shaved metallic heads, because it isn't. Writer Jason Aaron, the man who's name falls into the Script By seat this time out does a great job of juggling it all. With Wolverine and the X-Men, he's shown that he can handle large casts in ways that some writers can't, and he definitely puts that skill on full display with this issue.

At no point are you lost during the battles. There are plenty of transitions from conflict to conflict, and while there is a sense of frenetic intensity (as there should be in a battle with these kinds of amped up combatants), each one feels smooth and easy. There are also two other things that Aaron highlights that really stand out. The first one is the copious amounts of thought that has gone into these match-ups. Aaron and the rest of the writing crew acknowledge that these are not dumb people or people who simply bash each other with their fists. Okay, that does happen when you're talking about Colossus and Red Hulk, but all of the battles highlight who these people are and what they can do with both their brain and their brawn. This is the kind of thing that should go into every issue of any comic, but sometimes it gets glossed over or forgotten about and it adds so much to the enjoyment factor.

The second thing that stands out is the narration that occurs during the fights themselves. The language that Aaron uses is definitely larger than life and borders on the comical. Imagine a boxing announcer who is chronicling the exploits, using descriptions like "Rock the Heavens" or The Blow was Heard 'Round the World". It sounds like it would be cheesy or something that would immediately take you out of the story, but it doesn't. It fits and makes sense and again, adds another layer on to the enjoyment of the book. Beyond the action, the script definitely continues the Phoenix Threat and moves a little deeper on the Hope Summers front and what exactly she thinks about these two teams fighting over her.

On the art side, Romita Jr. continues to provide a more than solid landscape and depiction of the chaos that is ensuing. Every once in awhile there's a wide shot with a whole host of smaller characters that look a little rough or were rushed, but like the story, Romita's own storytelling abilities are smooth as well. I especially love the weight that he can give an important and exciting scene. Seeing Colossus fight Red Hulk should be a big deal and you can feel the blows as they land and the repercussions of two uber powerful men fighting it out on the decks of a S.H.I.E.L.D. Hellicarrier. It all looks classic, like it's a visual portal that transports you to a place that's filled with nostalgia and a plethora of cool.

So, to sum it up, the second issue of Avengers vs X-Men doesn't disappoint. This is the first summer blockbuster crossover for awhile that feels thought out and has a believable premise behind it that holds it all together. I hope it can keep it up.

 This is an advance review. Avengers vs X-Men #2 hits shelves this Wednesday, 4/18/12.

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