The X-Men vs. The Avengers: A Review (Yes, I've Read the Whole Thing)

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By Todd Allen

You may have witnessed some out of control hyperbole about Marvel’s recently announced Avengers Vs. X-Men.  My personal favorite, courtesy of Newsarama’s recap:

Pre-taped words from all five writers. “There’s never been an Avengers vs. X-Men super-blowout, so it’s like, we have to do it,” Bendis says.

Never been one?  Seems like I own copies of something answering that description…

X Men Vs. Avengers The X Men vs. The Avengers: A Review (Yes, I've Read the Whole Thing)

1987: The X-Men Vs. The Avengers
2012: Avengers Vs. X-Men

1987:  The Russians want to ambush Magneto and kill him.  The Avengers want to capture Magneto and put him on trial.  The X-Men want to protect Magneto.  A lot of fighting ensues.
2012:  As I’m interpreting the hype, the Phoenix Force is returning and everybody is assuming some character introduced in the X-Men since I stopped reading it called “Hope” is going to be the host for said Phoenix Force.  The Avengers want to lay hands on Hope, possibly to do something drastic.  The X-Men want to protect her.  Fighting ensues.  It’s probably more nuanced than that, but the initial premises aren’t that far off.

Now maybe Brian doesn’t think The X-Men Vs. The Avengers qualifies as a “super-blowout.”  (Or maybe someone from marketing fed him that line.) In the interests of documenting what has gone before vs. current hype, let’s take a look at the original The X-Men Vs. The Avengers mini-series.

The original mini-series goes back to 1987, so your Avengers team is Captain America, Thor, Captain Marvel, Black Knight and Dr. Druid.  Your X-Men are Wolverine, Storm, Rogue, Havok and Magneto.  Your first 3 issues are written by Roger Stern with art by Marc Silvestri and Josef Rubinstein.  The last issue of the 4-issue series is co-plotted by Jim Shooter and Tom DeFalco with breakdowns by Keith Pollard and finishes by Rubinstein (and a few assistants).  Perhaps Jim Shooter will tell the story of that last issue on his blog?

This story takes place during the first period where Magneto has reformed and joined the X-Men.  In Uncanny X-Men #200, Magneto was tried before the World Court and then disappeared from the court room.

An asteroid splits in two and crashes to Earth.  One half will hit in the U.S. and one in Cambodia.  As the Avengers clear up the meteor shower, they discover the asteroid is actually part of Asteroid M, Magneto’s old orbital HQ.  The U.S. government leaks this to the Russians.  The Russians are (justifiably) angry with Magneto for sinking one of their submarines (killing the crew) and creating a volcano in and destroying one of their cities.  They want to lure Magneto to the wreckage of the second fragment and kill him in an ambush.

The Avengers get wind of this and decide, while nobody would shed many tears at the thought of Magneto getting killed, it’s a better idea to grab him themselves and make him finish standing trial.  (If he gets executed then, eh… ok.)  Magneto is looking for some tech from his old satellite, so we set up a three-conflict.  The Avengers;  the Russians in the form of the Soviet Super Soldiers and (the KGB-backed) Crimson Dynamo; and the X-Men.  For three issues, the Avengers and Soviet Super Soldiers struggle with the ethics of an assassination.  The Crimson Dynamo tries his level best to snuff or at least nab Magneto (well… he’s KGB).  The X-Men try to decide how far they want to push it while protecting a fellow mutant they’re not completely sure has reformed.  Magneto agonizes over whether to use some mind-control-based tech salvaged from Asteroid M to eradicate prejudice against mutants.  But mostly the three groups fight with each other.

Yeah, we’re not talking intricate plotting here.  There’s a little bit of subtext in the form of due process, but it’s mostly just “fight and team up” without that much teaming up.

Issue #4 is a major seismic shift.  Magneto is compelled/convinced to stand trial with the issues of court jurisdiction and who’s actually prejudiced against mutants taking center stage as plot devices.  The ethical issue of mind control is explored a bit more, but it truly feels like a different book.

The X-Men vs. The Avengers is not the best work from any of the parties involved with it.  It’s the comic equivalent of b-movie with lots of things blowing up… at least for three issues.  You can get this in a couple of collected editions.

I’m not saying that Avengers vs. X-Men won’t be better than The X-Men vs. The Avengers.  It wouldn’t be that hard.  I do think the hype machine has gotten ridiculous.  The last time they had a “super-blowout,” the teams were merely inverted in the title.

Comments

  1. I enjoyed this series as a kid and I found it still held up the last time I read it.

    Roger Stern had originally planned to turn Magneto back to a classic super villain in the last issue. This was nixed by Editors who were interested in letting Claremont continue with the reformed Magneto. That’s why there was such a major shift in the last issue.

  2. Loved the X-Men VS Avengers series from the 80’s. When they made the announcement about the new event I went back and reread it. Still great stuff.

  3. Loved the X-Men VS Avengers limited series from the 80’s. When they made the announcement about the new event I went back and reread it. Still great stuff.

  4. I remember nearly completely freaking out when ten year od me saw this title on gas station newsstands. Wow. So excited.

    Also released at basically the same time: FANTASTIC FOUR VS THE X-MEN, which I think was a more emotionally compelling mini-series, but at the time I was nuts for both.

  5. Louis Lane says:

    Marvel occasionally forgets their own history (or appears to). Recently they stated the current Venom title was his first regular series. Shortly later they published a trade paperback collection of his true first regular series.

    LL

  6. Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it?

  7. Comic Book Legends Revealed goes into greater detail on the creative team switch for the original X-Men vs. Avengers.

    http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2010/03/11/comic-book-legends-revealed-251/

  8. Isn’t this whole “we should kill her / no, leave her alone” business kind of the storyline of anything Scarlet Witch related these days, including the recent Young Avengers thing?

    …Let’s make Scarlet Witch the Phoenix and watch heads explode.

  9. Mo Walker says:

    Marvel (or at least the marketing people) seem to have forgotten the company’s recent history. We are currently getting a super-Avengers/X-Men blowout fight in Avengers: The Children’s Crusade. Something tells me when Avengers: The Children’s Crusade is collected it may be branded “The Road to Avengers vs. X-Men Book I. Obviously Book II will be Avengers: X-Sanction.

  10. Snikt Snakt says:

    that original X-Men vs Avengers mini is one of my faves, its too bad the last issue drives it off the rails, story & art-wise…

  11. I stopped reading the Avengers 8 years ago. Why are they fighting the X-Men this time? Is it to wrap up that Children’s Crusade mini that seems to come out annually? I can never remember what happened in the previous issue — why is Wanda marrying Doctor Doom?

  12. Huge fan of X-Men, not so much of the Avengers. I think this is either (A) a plot to make as much money as possible from two movie franchises that are doing really well at the box office or (B) the prelude to a future film where X-Men go at it with the Avengers. It would fit right in with how the film X3 ended up, and quite frankly I would enjoy watching thus film. It could also be a combination of both A & B. Regardless, it’s all entertainment, and I do agree that they shouldn’t make such a big deal about it since the X universe and the Avengers world are constantly crossing over all the time.

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