Here we go – Round 2 of the big Avengers vs. X-Men fight… although, technically, since Round 1 only started with the end of the last issue, this is still just Round 1, but you know, cleverness is crucial with these things. Will this start to seem more believable, or will it remain necessary to turn your brain off to enjoy this clash of Marvel's titans?
Well, if your brain doesn't shut off so easy, you'll at least have to keep it in neutral.
Jason Aaron picks up Avengers vs. X-Men #2 right after Cyclops blasted Captain America into the drink, forcing the Avengers to come pouring out of the Helicarrier above, which Cyclops then uses to illustrate that the Avengers planned to pick a fight all along. "Ugly stepchildren. That's all we've ever been to them," he says while his actions are being questioned by his fellow X-Men, and if that's the kind of inferiority complex you're okay with a longtime leader like Cyclops having, then his hair-trigger eyeballs start to make a little more sense. His paranoia seems to be ratcheted to the moon, believing this is the kind of event that will lead to mutant extinction. That's a fair fear to have when there's less than 200 of your kind left, but when he starts fighting friends, it also comes off as a sort of MINE! MINE! whining. It's MY Messiah! GO 'WAY!
The Avengers' motivations of 'take Hope Summers into custody' seem equally ill-advised. "Give us your Messiah, we know what's best." That doesn't seem like the kind of obnoxious hardline stance Captain America would take, but maybe now that he's also what Nick Fury used to be, he's more inclined to be over-officious. As we see in Avengers #25, he's not comfortable in that job. But still, the master tactician's plan seems poorly thought out. His "take the beach" moment is supposed to invoke feelings of Normandy, but it feels more sad than badass.
So Magneto hurls Juggernautovich Rasputin into the Helicarrier to bring the ship crashing down. Red Hulk then fights Juggernautovich. Namor vs. Thing & Luke Cage underwater. Emma Frost and Magneto vs. Iron Man. Wolverine fights his friends and gets called a traitor. Black Panther quarrels with Storm. Magik vs. Dr. Strange. The fight is on.
Captain America and Cyclops have another conversation in the midst of it, while Cyke is trying to blast through Cap's shield. Cap says Cyke is foolish. Cyke says Cap is fascist, and thus Godwin's Law is invoked right away. Cap says the situation is grave, Cyke says he knows more about the Phoenix than Cap does, and seems pissy that Cap consulted Wolverine instead of him. A tad more clarity, but still feels forced.
But that doesn't matter that much. The people want to see moments like Cyclops blasting away a constant eyebeam stream at Cap, and he just holds his shield up, walks through it and smacks Cyke in the face with it. They want to see moments like "Man in a metal suit versus the Mutant Master of Magnetism. If you think this is no contest, you've never met Tony Stark." They want to see the kind of badassery that's going to be in the Avengers vs. X-Men VS. sister series, where all these fight set-ups are blown out. Whatever it takes to get to that point, let's do it.
Brain off! Let's have some fun!
Well… but then, you get little moments like Quicksilver jumping into the fray to fight his father, while his sister the Scarlet Witch sits back and has dream journals about the world ending via Phoenix. Then, at the end, we reveal that Wolverine's agenda the whole time was to find Hope and actually kill her. On one hand, maybe we can understand that he thinks that's the only hope – end it before the Big Flaming Space Bird gets here. On the other hand, isn't his whole schtick now supposed to be 'protect the kids from all this mess?' Running a school and everything? And are we officially ignoring the Warsong/Endsong stuff where he tried this kind of thing and it didn't work? Probably, and I should learn to stop trying to bring up canon when talking about event stories.
That's the thing. It's hard to turn the brain completely off in the face of, shall we say, curious characterization choices, especially when these characters are at their best when they engage our minds as much as possible. Marvel seems to be trying for the summer blockbuster notion with their comic events – the freewheeling fun cinematic experience where you just woo-hoo along with the action. Tha's all well and good, and we all love a good slam-bang action flick. The trouble with that idea in comics, though, is that these iffy calls have ramifications that have to be dealt with when we return to writing more in-depth and personal stories. As I've mentioned before, in movies, you can do that because there are clear lines of demarcation. The characters in The Descendants don't have to deal with plot elements from The Twilight Saga and try to figure out a way to make them make any kind of realistic sense, but that's what serialized comic book characters have to do all the time, and that's why these nitpicky motivation questions are hard to ignore.
Some may say I have no sense of fun, and to that, I say he hates these cans. It's just hard to get into all the crazy action when you don't quite buy the motivations behind it. And Avengers vs. X-Men #2 is almost all action. Each panel is packed full of good guys fighting good guys, and John Romita Jr. has a herculean task to capture it all, but he keeps this massive cast busy and moving all the time – although, again, it's mostly a lot of fight set-ups for the VS. series.
Anyway, regardless of my twitchiness, you'll likely find things to enjoy about AvX #2 – if not the big moments, then the little ones will spark some imagnation. It's certainly not as painful as Fear Itself was, and I'll count my blessings while I can. In the meantime, if you want to see a really cool, intense action movie, check out The Raid if it's playing anywhere near you. The friend I saw it with said he worked up a sweat just watching it.