What If… Avengers vs X-Men #1 Review
By: Rob Neil Gruszecki
Last year in the 616 universe, the devastating force known of the Phoenix plummeted to Earth in search of a host body. That host body was one Hope Summers, believed to be the saviour of the Mutant race as one of the first mutants born since the Scarlet Witch’s machinations in House of M. The Phoenix’s last visit to Earth resulted in the death of Marvel Girl Jean Grey, a massive blow right to the heart of mutant kind. What followed was a cataclysmic story lasting twelve chapters and exploding into what is the Marvel Now! Continuity. A world where Avengers and X-Men have joined together to become Uncanny Avengers. A world where Cyclops is a war criminal and fugitive, leading a revolution of mutants and recruiting as many new occurrences of the gene as they can find. A world where X-Men from five years ago have been brought to their future, our present, in an attempt to save a lost and angry Cyclops. But what if the events of Avengers vs X-Men happened differently, even in the slightest way? Age of Ultron and many of the other books from the Marvel Now! line have continued to prove that time is a force not to be tampered with, however in the majority of titles these days it looks like time is a play thing for superheroes and super-villains alike.
Jimmy Palmiotti (All-Star Western, Creator-Owned Heroes, Power Girl, Queen Crab) scripts this alternate take on the huge Marvel event last year and tweaks things slightly to reveal an outrageously different outcome in issue number one. The majority of the book however reads like an abridged version of AvX, quickly and awkwardly throwing plot points at the audience in an attempt to get to the reveal at the end that the whole book is aiming at. Obviously there was a lot of posturing needed in order for the twist to have any weight but reading this issue felt more like seeing a clunky edit of a film for TV to compensate for time. Most of the characters seemed hollow and like a faint echo of themselves from the original series and I found the first few steps in this four issue mini to be choppy and uncomfortable.
However, that all being said, this book had some good stuff to it as well that made it worth the time. Ultimately, What if… books are always fun and this first issue was that. At the end when the turn is finally taken and the new time stream presents itself it is both shocking and exciting. Seeing the characters of AvX being taken on a separate journey after the set up is a good time and speculating throughout what the change will be and when it will come is great. It’s also fun to see someone other than Scott Summers be at the centre of all the commotion and be the catalyst for the war between the Avengers and the X-Men. Without any spoilers I’ll simply say it makes perfect sense who is the instigator and the splash page displaying the explosive twist is really awesome to see.
Artistically the book has its ups and downs with occasionally awkward facial expressions and some X-Men suffering from Jay Leno syndrome, but over all the pencils by Jorge Molina were well done. I like the Saturday-morning cartoon style Molina’s pencils have and they are put to good use with a lot of the costumes and designs of Mutants and other Super powered alike. His take on the Guardians of the Galaxy at the beginning of the book were a highlight and his first double page spread of the Phoenix blasting through the cosmos is excellent.
Despite a monotonous beginning due to necessary set up that had to be told in order for the actual ‘what if?’ to have any weight, Palmiotti and Molina create a cool spin on the massive milestone in the Marvel universe and I am certain that the subsequent three issues will be far better as by then they will have their new direction in place and their path paved out in front of them.
Rob Neil Gruszecki is a writer, musician, podcaster and Wednesday Warrior
Dear Ghost Factory. What Should I Read? Comic Reviews & Weekly Comics Round-Up Podcast at www.Geekstampede.com