Brian Michael Bendis, John Romita Jr. & Various
Marvel's big crossover event of 2012 started with a bang last week when Avengers vs. X-Men #1 hit the stands, pitting the two big teams of the Marvel Universe against one another, promising battles between characters that fans will love to see. The first act of this twelve issue mini-series was written by Bendis, but the overall story, which carries through various Avengers and X-Men titles, was laid out by Bendis, Jason Aaron, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman and Matt Fraction collectively. There will also be a Vs. book that features some of the big fights that won't be seen in the main mini-series.
So how was the first issue? Really solid, I'd say. I usually look forward to these events warily, and am usually disappointed by the first issue, while the crossover as a whole drags down the quality of a ton of titles in the Marvel U that are attached to it, but this is a pretty basic premise that can easily carry throughout other titles without feeling forced. And one of the big issues I have with previous events is that they cram a lot of stuff into the story so you don't really get those great character moments or really care about what's occurring, but with this event, the spill-over into the Vs. mini-series and various mini-battles speckled throughout other books takes off that pressure to make this main series have so much in it, so it can breathe a bit and just be a well-crafted story in its own right. I like the thought that's gone into this, which shows not only in the technical roll out of the event over several titles, but in the story itself. Using the phoenix entity as the rift between the teams was a smart idea, and it doesn't seem forced, like a lot of the things that spark these events do. It's a disagreement where I can understand the position of both sides of the issue here. The Avengers have seen the devastation and destruction that the cosmic entity known as the phoenix has caused before, and wish to avert it at all costs. They want to take the mutant Hope, the phoenix's potential host, into custody to ensure that the phoenix does not get the chance to cause more tragedy. The X-Men, on the other hand, see Hope as a messiah. And while the phoenix force has been a destructive force in the past, it also represents resurrection and rebirth. The mutant population, since Wanda made the mutant race an endangered one years ago, has been hanging on by a thread, with any number of factions trying to take advantage of their small numbers to wipe them out completely. The phoenix could represent the one chance they have of regaining a foothold in the world, to not become extinct, and they are desperate for it.
The first shot was fired by Cyclops as Captain America came to Utopia to collect Hope, and while the main story is a strong one in its own right, this entire event has the potential for some awesome battles, and I'm excited to see what it will produce.