Thursday, June 28, 2012

AVENGERS vs. X-MEN: dripping with crossover saturation

I’m using my five-star rating system for these titles in order to help you determine what will get you the most value for your time and money and what may not matter as much.  These secondary titles are  all addendum, elaboration and background information and truthfully could all be considered non-essential (some being even more so).  I’m glad Marvel is doing things this way rather than placing major developments outside of the main mini-series.

AVX: VS #3  (August 2012)  The Thing vs. Colossus by writer Jeph Loeb; penciller Ed McGuinness; inker Dexter Vines; colorist Morry Hollowell; and letterer Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne.  Black Widow vs. Magik by writer Christopher Yost; penciller Terry Dodson; inker Rachel Dodson; colors by Guru eFX; and letterer VC’s Joe Caramagna. 

AVX 3

Events in this issue take place during AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #5 as part of the fight on the Moon.

This series is absolutely non-essential to the AVENGERS VS. X-MEN storyline, but it’s mostly a fun read.  It elaborates upon the one-on-one battles that would take up too many pages in the regular mini-series. It’s slam-bang action.  It’s very well illustrated.  The script is brief but vibrant.  It’s fun and entertaining. 

And, after three issues I am starting to get bored.  I don’t need to read another issue of AVX: VS but I probably will - - not because I  need the whole set but because I believe and hope that another pairing of writer/artist will excite me more than is happening with this issue.   My favorite pair-up as well as story so far has been the Captain America vs. Gambit fight.

After getting pounded on by The Red Hulk in a previous battle, Colossus gets an opportunity to come out on top against the Thing.  It’s clobbering time and what ensues are a series of punching trade-offs.  Visually exciting but I was patiently waiting for the last panel.   Black Widow versus Magik is more mentally-stimulating with more script  (although quite a bit of it is in Russian) but I found myself anxious to reach the ending as well.   Ho-hum.

RATING FOR AVX: VS #3 - - - - -  2  STARS  (art and stand-alone story value)

wolv xmen 11          wolv xmen 12

WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #11 (July 2012)  Jason Aaron, writer.  Nick Bradshaw, penciler.  Walden Wong, Nick Bradshaw & Norman Lee, inkers.  Justin Ponsor, colorist.  Chris Eliopoulos, letterer.

Events in this issue occur during AVENGERS VERSUS X-MEN #4  while the Avengers and X-Men are searching for Hope in several locations, and during Wolverine’s meeting and alliance with her. 

There are many short sequences in this issue that jump back and forth and feature all sorts of characters within the main AVENGERS VERSUS X-MEN mini-series - - and many who are not regulars in this title.  Among the relevant moments are a fight with Wolverine and Hope together against the Shi’Ar Imperium Death Commandos and the fight between Ice Man and Red Hulk.

Regular artist Chris Bachalo gets a break this issue with interesting fill-in from Nick Bradshaw, whose style is much closer to John Romita Jr’s than Bachalo’s. One positive benefit was it was easier to discern what was occurring during the action/fight sequences. 

RATING FOR WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN #11 - - 3 STARS (art, story, stand-alone value)

WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #12  (August 2012)  Jason Aaron, writer. Chris Bachalo, penciler/colorist.  Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza, Al Vey & Victor Olazaba, inkers.  Chris Eliopoulos, letterer. 

Events in this issue occur following AVENGERS VERSUS X-MEN #6 with Hope now under the protective custody of the Avengers. 

Rachel Grey, the telekinetic, telepathic teacher at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning has now jumped sides and reverted to her mutant-chasing Hunter persona (from a previous life in the future!).   She  is assisting Cyclops and the Phoenix Five sniff out the place where the Avengers are hiding Hope.  Many characters get panel time in this issue but I sense that the main focus is on Rachel, revealing more of her character, values, and decision making.  I enjoyed this and the way Aaron worked it into the story and handled it - - and this makes me want to continue to the next issue (one star earned).  Rachel makes an important choice.  (I don’t want to say more without spoiling it.)

There is a beautiful double page spread by Bachalo of the Avengers assembling that is some of his best work, and it’s unblemished by captions or dialogue.  There’s a lot to admire during the battle between the X-Men and the Avengers, both for artistic interpretation as well as the revealing and sometimes amusing dialogue between the protagonists .  As Cyclops interrogates Rachel at issue end and tries to get her explanation of how things concluded, the Shi’Ar attack again, this time with King Gladiator at the helm who want to get his son safely away from the Phoenix Force on Earth.  Yes, that also makes me want to return here.

RATING FOR WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN #12 - - 4 STARS  (art, story, stand-alone, want more - - just still non-essential to the main series understanding)

NEW AVENGERS #27  (August 2012)  Brian Michael Bendis, writer.  Mike Deodato, Artist. Rain Beredo, color art.  VC’s Joe Caramagna, letters. 

new avengers 27

Events in this issue also occur after AVENGERS VERSUS X-MEN #6 with the well-traveled Hope now being “trained” at the mystical city of K’un Lun under the tutelage of Master Yu Ti and various others.

The issue begins with a flashback to an earlier time long ago (unspecified) when the Phoenix Force clashed with another young red-headed mistress of the martial arts at K’un Lun.  And therein may lie the answer to how to deal with the Phoenix in the present time.  That confirms an earlier suspicion of mine (see previous blogs) and makes this a pivotal issue that is tied directly to the main AVENGERS VERSUS X-MEN storyline  (earning it another coveted rating star).

Of all the A vs. X-related books NEW AVENGERS wins my vote for the best art.  Deodato  maintains the consistency of greatness from earlier issues.  This is truly a gorgeous book to look at and admire.

In that earlier encounter, some of the details remain intentionally vague  so the reader is never sure who or what is victorious.  “There are always two paths”.  It appears that the Phoenix merges with the girl Fongji and transforms her before departing for an unknown destination while sparing the Earth. “This world isn’t ready.” 

This piece of vague information is shared with Hope in the present day, and Iron First, Yu Ti and later Spider-Man try to advise her.  Spidey is his normal goofy self but may inadvertently blurt out some useful philosophy to help guide Hope, who clearly acts like a confused, impatient and somewhat impetuous teenager here  (nice detailing by Bendis).  “I train and I train and now it’s here.  An now The Phoenix is on Earth and I’m here instead of there and I’m not even sure what I’m supposed to do when I get there.” 

My favorite scene is with Hope and Yu-Ti at the scrying vessel of Bo-Ling which requires observers to sit, empty their mind and wait for insights to be revealed.   In awesome panels that look like paintings (especially the larger backdrop) Hope tries her best to close her eyes and focus.  She is clearly squirming and having difficulty with this, as finally revealed in the panel where she sneakily opens one eye to take a peek.

My favorite line is spoken by Yu-Ti as Spider-Man struggles to figure out what exactly he should be training Hope for - - -  “I wonder if you are to teach her self-loathing.”  Spidey responds: “Well, it is what I have my doctorate in.”  (My favorite response this issue).    Obviously, nothing gets resolved this issue in order to reserve the conclusions for the main mini-series to explain. 

Rating for NEW AVENGERS #27 - -  4 STARS  (art, story, want more, linked to the main story - - but not a stand-alone story)

Avengers Versus X-Men (Round Five + Six)with spoiler control

 

I’ve been away from the comics world for two weeks and have a lot of catching up to do, so here we go . . .

If you haven’t been reading this saga and are still debating whether to jump in or not - - I say read this now and then go for it!  I’ll try to clue you in on what you’re missing without spoiling it too much.  The primary result of your getting onboard will be that you will be entertained first and foremost.  You will also be amused and most likely become engaged enough in the storyline to explore some of the cross-over titles.  However, none of that is mandatory and you can still enjoy this storyline in bits and pieces.  I feel it will deserve a place among the Top Five of 21st Century Marvel sagas but haven’t decided yet whether it will have a significant impact on the Marvel universe the way some of the other events have.  My favorite of these remains THE CIVIL WAR followed closely by AVENGERS DISSASSEMBLED.  I don’t yet rank AVENGERS VS X-MEN near my #3 choice, SECRET INVASION.  That may be just because it doesn’t involve as much mystery and guessing.  It surely is just as entertaining.

A vs X 5

AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #5  (August 2012)  Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman: Story.  Matt Fraction: Script.  John Romita, Jr.: Pencils.  Scott Hanna: Inks.  Laura Martin: Colors.  Chris Eliopoulos: Letters.

This is a high intensity key issue in the story and a lot happens that will impact on events yet to come.  I don’t won’t to reveal too much.  I just want to stress that this is an important issue that you should read. 

Romita does a highly effective job of communicating the intensity through his great art.  It’s one of my favorite issues with his work in it.  I am also impressed by Fraction’s turn at the script this issue.  He uses captions throughout the issue to share with us what is going through Hope’s mind during the conflict. There is a nice framing sequence which open the first page with Hope comparing her situation to a pivotal moment in World War II and wondering if she is the bomb or the bombardier.  She is surprised by the evident answer on the final page, just as you will be. 

The Phoenix Force makes it’s way to the Moon and gets exactly what it wanted in spite of the Avengers efforts to thwart it and the X-Men’s attempts to manipulate/control it.  The familiar-by-now roster page seems to include a little teaser as to who will be joining the fray and further separates the divisions within each group.  Avengers team facial icons are bordered in blue while X-Men icons are bordered in yellow.  Straddling the line between them in black borders are the pivotal character Hope and accompanying her (in a strange alliance) is Wolverine (which you know why if you have been reading—they have an agreement).   Within the Avengers section and bordered in red are icons for Scarlet Witch and Lei Kung - - two characters who I predicted would be playing a role in the proceedings (kudos to me!) .  The red color may indicate their allegiance is still uncertain and subject to change, as may also be the case with the green icons of Professor X and Legion within the X-Men section.

Some highlights include yet another effort by Wolverine to kill Hope, and a high-tech weapon that Tony Stark and Henry Pym developed to stop or alter the impact of the all-powerful Phoenix force (they should have asked Reed Richards to assist).   Hope has the best lines this issue, including these:  “At some point they stop treating me like a ball they’re all trying to carry downfield . . . and just start trying to kill each other.”  . . . and  . . . “There was a plan, but now there’s chaos.  I failed.  And now, where there was hope, there’s just hate.”

a vs x 6

AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #6  (August 2012)  Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, and Jonathan Hickman: Story.  Jonathan Hickman: Script. Olivier Coipel: Pencils. Mark Morales: Inks.  Laura Martin: Colors.  Chris Eliopoulos: Letters.

Readers following a mega-storyline like this one will always speculate and attempt to predict the eventual outcome.  It’s just a natural tendency and also enhances the enjoyment of the story.  All bets are now off, as I have no idea where this is going.  Things take a dramatic and unexpected turn here.  You now need the pair of issues published this month - - both #5 and #6 - - absolutely essential.  My job of trying to give you some idea of what is occurring without spoiling the story is getting harder and harder.  Still, I’ll try. 

Romita and Hanna get a break from the art chores this issue.  Coipel and Morales take over and do a dynamite job.  You’ll love it.  

The very important roster page is again very telling, with the separate icons on the Avengers side of Scarlet Witch remaining red (perhaps to indicate action this issue?) while the one for Lei Kung is green (perhaps a holding or waiting pattern?).  The X-Men side of the page is further divided with the orange border for members of The Phoenix Five (who, you ask?)  and the other X-Men in yellow border. Their ranks now include Professor X and some additions from the teen teams/schools.

Just a little tease, now:  The Phoenix Five have used their great powers to change the world and seemingly make it better.  Naturally, as Professor X explains “ . . it unnerves the world.  People are afraid”  of the “New Day”.  The Avengers are suspicious and “plan for the worst” while doubt enters the mind of some members who either decline to participate further or walk away from their membership. There’s some great dialogue/opinion from many, including Beast who wraps it up with a comment to Wolverine:  “More and more each day it looks like you and I have no place to call home. “   I am also suspicious.  Obviously, if everything was grand the story would end sooner rather than later. A comments from Cyclops to Hope also gets me nervous:  “And now I know that you don’t deserve it” as well as his concluding remarks/intentions on the final page/final panel of the issue.  (He says “no more” this and “no more” that a lot this issue.)

There is a two-page sequence which is not clear whether it is a flashback or a prophecy/forecast because the characters in this vision(?) are not as they appear today. It occurs to the Scarlet Witch and it makes her sweat to consider the implications. (Me, too!)   Not content to sit on their hands, the Avengers attempt an  ill-planned/ill-advised mission - - although there may be a positive outcome thanks to another’s intervention.  Time will tell.  Remember these words of Scott/Cyclops:  “Men know that regardless of their endless sins against mutants, their heroes will protect them.  They will do what their leaders think needs to be done.”  Don’t miss this!  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bleeding Cool is Bloody Good - - - in new print format

Just when you might think that limited-interest specialty genre magazines were a species facing extinction - - - a new one pops up! Since I'm among the hold-outs who still like to be able to physically handle their reading materials - - I love it! Later this month yet another website enters the magazine world as THE NAMELESS splashes it's beautifully horrific visions onto glossy paper. Love it to pieces!





BLEEDING COOL magazine doesn't officially launch until it goes bi-monthly in October 2012. But you can read a smaller sized version this month for $1.49 with Issue #0 from Avatar Press. I pre-ordered my copy from Captain Blue Hen (Newark, DE), so they may have some extra copies at the store. I would also expect to find copies at The Comic Book Shop (Wilmington, DE) since they are listed in the BLEEDING COOL retailer list as a supporter of the magazine launch. You won't regret seeking this appetizer out and having a taste for yourself. I know I will surely return for the main course in October.

This 40-page sampler/teaser is jammed with informative articles and previews, including a look at the latest revival of Valiant Comics and a preview of Brian Wood's THE MASSIVE. My favorite stories are the interview with Len Wein on BEFORE WATCHMEN and the cool capsule history of BOOM! STUDIO's accomplishments.

-- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Return Of Stan - - - - -

Baltimore Comic-Con 2012 logo

from the official press release . . . . . .

Stan "The Man" Returns to Baltimore as 2012 Guest of Honor!

Stan Lee pictureBALTIMORE, MARYLAND - May 30, 2012 - The Baltimore Comic-Con is honored to officially announce that Stan "The Man" Lee will be the returning as the Guest of Honor for the second year in a row at this year's convention. The show will be taking place at the Baltimore Convention Center the weekend of September 8-9, 2012.

Lee will only be making public appearances on Saturday, September 8, 2012, signing autographs and posing for photographs with guests in attendance of the show.

"Stan's first appearance at the Baltimore Comic-Con was an unmitigated success last year," said Marc Nathan, show promoter of the Baltimore Comic-Con. "Having him return for a second go-around is simply amazing and a great opportunity for those who missed him last year to meet a living legend in the comic industry!"

Known the world over as the architect of the Marvel Universe, Lee-along with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko-co-created some of the most iconic characters of the Silver Age, including the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the Avengers, the X-Men, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, Daredevil, Iron Man, and Doctor Strange.

Lee began his career in comics in 1939 at the age of 16, working for Martin Goodman at Timely Comics. He made his writing debut in 1941 with a text filler story in Captain America Comics #3 and wrote his first back-up story for the title two issues later. Lee continued to write for the publisher and, at the age of 19, was installed as interim editor. With a head for business and an eye for comics, Lee graduated to become editor-in-chief and art director of the comics division.

Throughout his illustrious career, which has spanned more than 70 years, Lee has been a writer, editor, publisher, President, and Chairman at Marvel Comics. He's made cameo appearances in 15 films based on his creations-including this summer's record-breaking blockbuster, The Avengers.

In October of 2011, Lee joined with 1821 Comics to the start "Stan Lee's Kids Universe," a multimedia comic imprint whose purpose is to produce new kids material. Most recently, he co-wrote the graphic novel, Romeo and Juliet: The War - a reimagining of the classic Shakespeare tale with a sci-fi twist-which debuted at No. 7 on the New York Times best-seller list for both the hardcover and trade paperback.

"We couldn't be happier to welcome back the biggest star in all of comics," said Nathan. "Not only is this a real treat for us, but one for the fans planning to attend the show as well!"

In addition to his Baltimore Comic-Con appearance on Saturday, Stan will participate in the Harvey Awards on Saturday evening. Details regarding ticket pricing for autographs, photographs, and VIP packages will be released over the next few weeks. To receive the latest information about Stan Lee and all of the Baltimore Comic-Con news, sign up for the mailing list at baltimorecomiccom.com.

In addition to Guest of Honor Stan Lee, other confirmed guests for the show including: Laura & Michael Allred (Madman, iZombie); Brian Bolland (Dial H, Cover Story: The DC Comics Art of Brian Bolland); Greg Capullo (Batman, Spawn); Tommy Castillo (Grimm Fairy Tales); Cliff Chiang (Wonder Woman); Frank Cho (Avengers vs. X-Men, Liberty Meadows); Steve Conley (Bloop webcomic www.bloopstree.com); Amanda Conner (Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre); Lar deSouza (Looking For Group, Least I Could Do); Dan Didio (O.M.A.C.); Garth Ennis (The Shadow, Hellblazer, Preacher, The Boys); Rich Faber (Roboy Red); David Finch (Batman: The Dark Knight); John Gallagher (Buzzboy); Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman); Keith Giffen (Superman, O.M.A.C., Green Arrow); Gene Ha (Justice League); Larry Hama (G.I. Joe, Wolverine, The 'Nam); Cully Hamner (Action Comics); Dean Haspiel (Billy Dogma, ACT-I-VATE, Trip City); Jamal Igle (KISS, Supergirl, The Ray); J.G. Jones (Wanted, Doc Savage); Barry Kitson (Captain America, Iron Man, Fantastic Four); Joe Kubert (Before Watchmen: Nightowl); Scott Kurtz (PvPonline.com); David Mack (Kabuki); Ron Marz (Artifacts, Voodoo); Bob McLeod (DC Comics Presents: Wonder Woman); Mark Morales (Avengers vs. X-Men); Jimmy Palmiotti (All-Star Western); David Petersen (Mouse Guard); Brian Pulido (Lady Death); Frank Quitely (All Star Superman, Batman & Robin); John Romita, Jr. (Avengers Vs. X-Men); Don Rosa (Uncle Scrooge); Stuart Sayger (Infestation 2: 30 Days of Night One-Shot); Walter Simonson (Thor, Legion of Super-Heroes, Avengers); Ryan Sohmer (Looking For Group, Least I Could Do); Scott Snyder (Batman, Severed, Swamp Thing); Brian Stelfreeze (ICE); Karl Story (Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9); Peter Tomasi (Batman and Robin); Billy Tucci (A Child Is Born, Shi); Matt Wagner (Tower Chronicles, Mage, Grendel); Mark Waid (Daredevil, Incorruptible, Irredeemable); and Bernie Wrightson (Frankenstein).

This year's Baltimore Comic-Con will be held September 8-9, 2012. Convention hours are Saturday 10 AM to 6 PM and Sunday 10 AM to 5 PM. The ceremony and banquet for the Harvey Awards will be held Saturday night, September 8th.

About The Baltimore Comic-Con

The Baltimore Comic-Con is celebrating its 13th year of bringing the comic book industry to the Baltimore and Washington D.C. area. With a guest list unequaled in the industry, the Baltimore Comic-Con will be held September 8-9, 2012. For more information, please visit www.baltimorecomiccon.com.

About The Harvey Awards


The Harvey Awards are one of the comic book industry's oldest and most respected awards. With a history of over 20 years, the last 7 in conjunction with the Baltimore Comic-Con, the Harveys recognize outstanding achievements in over 20 categories. They are the only industry awards nominated and selected by the full body of comic book professionals.

Friday, June 1, 2012

AVENGERS VS. X-MEN - - - ROUND FOUR - - - with spoilers

 

AVENGERS VERSUS X-MEN - - - ROUND FOUR - - - with spoilers

AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #4 (Marvel, July 2012) Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman, story. Jonathan Hickman, script. John Romita Jr., pencils. Scott Hanna, inks. Laura Martin, colors. Chris Eliopoulos, letters.

a vs x #4

So far, the creative team on this series has been pulling off what I did not think was possible at Marvel. Four issues in (plus side journeys) and this story continues to engage, continues to entertain, and continues to amuse. It’s a carefully-crafted blend and a nice and deft balance of humor and seriousness. The light hearted nature is controlled and far removed from coming off as silly (always a danger when too much fun gets introduced). The serious nature of these events is properly conveyed, and done so without traces of heavy-handedness or pomposity. I’m impressed - - and I don’t think it’s simply because I haven’t been wrapped up in a Marvel event for so long that this seems fresh and new to me.

There are a variety of things to appreciate in the Round 4 issue, including:

1) I like the continued inclusion of the logo page with the head-shot icons of each character and which team they are siding with. The surprise this issue is Quicksilver on an Avengers team and Iceman and Angel moving from Wolverine’s school and siding with the X-Men. A nice touch this issue is to show what place/location each character is based. It’s helping to keep track of everybody involved in the current search for Hope and the outer space away mission, etc.

2) In the last issue, Hope escaped from Utopia while the Avengers and X-Men weren’t looking (they were too busy fighting). Research then determines that she is in one of five possible locations and teams from both sides are dispatched to ferret out the true hiding spot. It turns out that all five locations are falsifications. In an earlier time, Marvel might have played out these searches in the main title --- extending the length and number of issues. This time instead they let those five searches play out in the secondary titles for any readers that want to follow it that way. It’s simply not included in the main series, since it just doesn’t impact much on the bigger story. Nowhere in the books does Marvel insist that these side investigations are essential and must be read. They just seem to be providing that option. I appreciate that. I would be remiss if I failed to mention that many of those secondary stories are pretty good reading also.

3) It looks like Logan may be having a change of heart again. No, he doesn’t appear to be jumping over to the X-Men/Cyclops point of view. He still feels that Hope is a threat. He just seems to be softening his position/decision that she must be killed. Hope makes a good argument to persuade him that she may be right because as she says to him = “Well, you should. Because that’s what your school is all about, isn’t it? Making a better world?” . .... “I believe the Phoenix is a thing of destiny – its coming and it can’t be stopped. I believe I’m meant to have it so I can do all the wonderful things that rebirth implies. But just in case you’re right and I’m wrong – in case I can’t control it.. you’re the only person I trust to stop me. But I deserve a chance – I know deep down you do believe that.”

A Vs X Cover shot 4

4) It was this very blunt decision/position by Wolverine that got him into trouble/distrust with Captain America and led to his subsequent abandonment. But how did Hope know exactly where to find him? I also appreciate the very clever play on words and images with the “beer trap” that snares Logan. And, there is a nice touch at the end of the issue as Wolverine re-earns that trust with a tip-off that shows he is moving closer to the same opinions and decisions as Captain America.

5) There is an absolutely beautifully depicted conclusion to the outer space confrontation between the Avengers team dispatched there and the Phoenix Force. For three solid pages the outcome is told in images only with no text or captions and it’s a solid piece of work. The usually verbose Thor has no lines whatsoever for the entire issue, but his expressions and body language reveal so much.

6) Things end up on the Moon, and not because everyone wants to be closer to the stars. (Good background music CD while reading this issue - - - The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy performed by NADA SURF).

*****

I’m continuing to use my five-star scale to rate the spin-off and secondary titles in this series = one star for good writing; one star for good art; one star for a well-done stand-alone story that can be enjoyed as is; one star for effectively connecting to the bigger main storyline and either moving that along in an important way or revealing some important background information and/or insight; and one star for making me want to read further and return to this particular title.

*****

AVX: VS #2 of 6 (Marvel, July 2012) Captain America Vs. Gambit = Steve McNiven, writer/pencils. John Dell, inks. Morry Hollowell, colors. VC’s Joe Caramagna, letters & production. The Amazing Spider-Man Vs. Colossus = Kieron Gillen, writer. Salvador Larroca, art. Jim Charalampiois, colors. VC’s Joe Caramagna, letters & production.

If your primary purpose in picking up the Avengers VS. X-Men series is to be entertained by a rollicking good story, then know that AVX: VS is completely non-essential to the main story, but it is absolutely mandatory fun. When you feature two well-matched combatants, and pair that up with a writer/artist team equipped to fully depict/illustrate the ensuing battle - - we readers are in for a treat!

Gambit vs. Captain America pits arrogance versus determination - -and excessive showmanship and unwarranted confidence versus patience, timing and skills. There’s no need for an excess of dialogue here - - just bring us the action in big panels. No other panel is more satisfying than the concluding blow that determines a clear-cut winner - - I silently cheered! It’s my favorite battle of the AVX: VS mini-series so far.

AVX VS 2

I was a big fan of the Gambit monthly title in the early 2000’s and was sorry to see it discontinued. The character was fleshed out, developed further, and was depicted as both noble and admirable. After that, it seemed to me that none of the other X-writers were handling the character properly. I got discouraged with the X-books and quit following them as well as the exploits of Gambit.

As much as I like this story by McNiven (and his art is stupendous!) - - I don’t like his depiction of Gambit. Within the first three pages, he refers to Captain America as an “old man” and smugly and incorrectly pronounced “one living legend down for the . . .”   The Remy Lebeau I used to enjoy reading about would have respected Steve Rogers and treated the battle with the appropriate caution against an experienced veteran foe rather than the cock-sure off-handed approach he takes here. It’s just a minor complaint and doesn’t detract from the pure enjoyment to be had by reading this story.

The second story is very funny, although the battle is serious and treated as such. There are some great wise-cracks from Spider-Man / Peter Parker, who makes fun of everything and everybody including himself. The art carries everything forward and there are some great battle panels.

I think by the time we get to Issue #6 of this series, I will have had enough. But so far, I’m enjoying the ride immensely. Great fun here!

RATING FOR AVX: VS #2 - - - - - FOUR STARS (Good story, good art. Good stand-alone story. Very encouraging - - who wouldn’t want to read further?  But non-essential to the main story.)