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Thursday, September 01, 2022 

Valdosta Daily Times fluff-coats Avengers vs. X-Men and its regurgitation of the Phoenix saga

The Valdosta Daily Times published a superficial take on one of the most overrated Marvel events of the past decade, which has since been reprinted in trades and on digital sales:
Avengers vs. X-Men" is one of those massive comic books events.

Collected, the storyline is more than 600 pages of action, but even though this is one of those big-tent mega-series where a who's who roster of comic book characters and comic book creators comes together to battle a world-threatening event and create a knockout storyline, it doesn't live up to the anticipated hype.

And granted that's possibly because I finally got around to reading it a decade after its release, thanks to a recent sale on the Marvel digital app. Still, "Avengers vs. X-Men" feels contrived as a sales event – both now and likely then – than a story that must be told.
Despite this, the paper's writer goes on at the article's end to approve the story, more or less, and won't question whether the repetitive resort to universe-wide crossovers has hurt mainstream comicdom. He continues:
For starters, the title is misleading.

It's really not so much the Avengers against the X-Men as it is the Avengers, and eventually the X-Men, against five Marvel mutants who have harnessed the cosmic powers of the Phoenix.

The disagreement starts over Hope, a mutant meant to inherit the Phoenix powers that corrupted founding X-Men member Jean Grey and led her to destroy a world. The Avengers, led by Captain America, consider Hope a security threat and want to contain her. The X-Men, led by Scott Summers, refuse to turn her over to the Avengers and want to continue training her so she will be able to handle the Phoenix powers when the time comes.
If it sounds vaguely similar to Civil War, I have no doubt the editorial and writing staff drew more than a bit from the approach used in that similarly overrated embarrassment from the late 2000s. At worst, what this tale does is make the Avengers look like a hysterical team of moralists, rather than admirable heroes who'd like to help Hope as much as the X-Men. There was a story in Marvel Two-in-One #42 from the late 1970s where Captain America was observing research at Project Pegasus on Wundarr, a humanoid boy befriended by the Thing, and when Ben Grimm came busting in to oppose that, Cap had to convince ol' Benjy everything would turn out okay. But here, Cap and company are portrayed viewing a metahuman girl as far more dangerous in every way than a boy? Well, I guess that's telling something.
It's a solid crux for conflict between the two superhero groups, especially since some Avengers, circa 2012, are former X-Men – Wolverine and the Beast, for example, with potential for divided loyalties.

But early in the saga, Cyclops and four other X-Men – including Namor the Sub-Mariner – end up dividing the powers of the Phoenix between them. So, the majority of the story is really the Avengers vs. five X-Men, then four, three, etc. As the Avengers defeat one Phoenix-imbued X-Man, the Phoenix power moves into the ones remaining ... until only one X-Man has all of Phoenix power which leads to the Avengers and the X-Men vs. the Phoenix.

There are plenty of fun moments here, such as the Avengers battle with the Phoenix-Namor. So, "Avengers vs. X-Men" is a good read, filled with solid art, but it's not the earth-shattering title some may expect.
Well as it so happens, I don't think the premise is appealing. At worst, it's grating, how a story like the Phoenix Saga has been dredged up ad nauseam, even if later iterations didn't rely on the kind of mass slaughter the alien entity later established as having committed against an otherworldly colony was depicted doing around 1980. Alien entity replacing Jean Grey, or none, it wound up becoming an embarrassing stain on the first X-girl's publication history, much like the whole Hank Pym-as-spousal-abuser tale from 1981 boomeranged back at least a few times and stained that hero too. These type of story premises have been horribly overused in mainstream superhero tales, and any modern writer willing to almost immediately draw "inspiration" from such a premise is just confirming - and compounding - the creative bankruptcy of modern writers-for-hire, just like the news columnists fluff-coating the tales have no ability to admit they're poor sources of "inspiration" for storytelling.

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