Yesterday, I discussed three things that Marvel Comics did right to make 2012’s summer event Avengers VS X-Men the commercial and critical success it’s turned out to be. With the dramatic finale of #12 releasing this week, let’s take a look back at two other decisions by Marvel which paid off in a big way, before concluding with a look ahead at the future – is AvX an end, or a beginning?
4. Choosing three artists who can bring the epic
When I first heard that John Romita, Jr. would be one of the three artists involved in this epic, I was naturally concerned. Having had to endure his horrendously inept work on Avengers over the past two years (which I dare say threatened to overshadow his entire body of work and permanently ruin his otherwise stellar reputation), I was very much relieved to see him return to form in spectacular fashion on AvX. It is well known in the industry that, when you want epic, you look for Romita, and he delivered in droves, his unique style gracing all the issues that called for blockbuster-level action between the warring teams.
Oliver Coipel was the artist for Siege, the storyline that transitioned the Dark Reign and Heroic Age periods back in early 2010, so he’s no stranger to big events. Yet, compared to the other two comic art veterans, Coipel is still a relative newcomer, even with over a decade of work in the industry. Despite this, he held his own and delivered some of the best moments of the series, including the attack by Namor on Wakanda at the end of #7 and the alliance between the Avengers and X-Men against the Phoenix Force in #11. As revealed on MTV Geek, he was also responsible for designing the Phoenix Five costumes, which are some of the most dramatic and majestic designs for these characters (who have had only had the most subtle of changes to their costume over the past couple of decades).
The real star of the show, in my opinion anyway, was Adam Kubert. A second-generation veteran with a career spanning three decades like Romita, Kubert was balancing action and emotion, transiting between intense dramatic moments and vast location shots with ease, most notably in #8-#10. Kubert has really knocked it out of the park and hopefully we’ll see him once again as the main artist on an ongoing title at Marvel before long.
What Marvel has always done right in these big summer events, is calling on established veteran creators who are not intimidated by big blockbuster type splash pages or having characters in intimate dialogue. However, the experiment to get multiple artists on a single storyline paid off, mainly because these professionals never try to outdo each other but instead chose collectively to deliver a stunning body of work that never drops the ball and always keeps the action going.
5. Leading into Marvel NOW
I think one of the main problems with last year’s big summer event Fear Itself is that it did not seem to have long-reaching consequences. Civil War ended with the Fifty State Initiative being launched and the presumed death of Captain America. Secret Invasion ended with Norman Osborn in charge of the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. Fear Itself despite its apocalyptic devastation, hardly caused any ripples in its aftermath on the Marvel Universe – almost as if there was a conscious editorial decision to bury that storyline as soon as possible.
Avengers VS X-Men, on the other hand, is full of promise, with a reboot (that is not a reboot) for the Marvel Universe, called Marvel NOW!. In the wake of the battle between heroes and the Phoenix Force comes a deeper understanding between Avengers and X-Men, leading to new titles like Uncanny Avengers (above), by Rick Remender and John Cassaday, which teams up classic Avengers Cap, Thor and Scarlet Witch, with classic X-Men Wolverine, Rogue and Havok. The premise of the title is clear – the Avengers’ label of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” should include all superheroes, not just non-mutants. Also, over in Avengers, new writer Jonathan Hickman has added original New Mutants Cannonball and Sunspot to the roster.
If it wasn’t obvious already, this is huge, and truly redefines the Marvel Universe for a new generation. New team dynamics, new conflicts, new romances are bound to occur when the lines between Avengers and X-Men blur and hopefully this is just the first of many steps to truly integrate the Marvel Universe even further. What this means for the future is yet uncertain, but one thing’s for sure – it’ll be hard to top the success that is Avengers VS X-men, and I can’t wait to introduce a new legion of fans to Marvel Comics.