by Brian Michael Bendis & Jason Aaron (writers), Frank Cho (art), Jason Keith (colors), and Chris Eliopoulos (letters)

The Story: The Scarlet Witch is back in action and Hope becomes a crime-fighter.

The Review: How much you enjoy AvX #0 is largely contingent on what you expect to get out of this issue.  In many ways, this is somewhat falsely advertised as a prelude to the big Avengers vs. X-Men event and, as such, both Brian Bendis and Jason Aaron’s stories kind of fail in this regard.  Barring a final page in Aaron’s story that doesn’t reveal anything we didn’t already know, this issue doesn’t particularly set up any significant story beats or give us too much of an idea of what that story is going to be.

Instead, what you get with this issue are two character sketches, one of the Scarlet Witch and the other of Hope.  It gives readers new and old to get a little better acquainted with both characters and where they’re at in their lives right now.

Bendis’ story with Wands is no doubt the stronger of the two.  The action scenes are fantastic and really play to Frank Cho’s strengths, at times quite literally leaping off the page.  And hey, it’s MODOK.  Not just that, but particularly with Cho’s illustrations, Wanda’s powers are really cool to see in action and they make for one hell of an entrance.  Really, that’s what this is all about: Wanda’s return to the stage; Bendis succeeds in ensuring that she makes one hell of an impression.

I can also tell that Bendis worked harder than usual on this one.  The dialogue never falls prey to Bendis-speak or out of character voices.  Instead, the dialogue is brimming with emotion and sincerity.  Ms. Marvel’s dynamic with Wanda is a lot of fun, with Carol clearly being well-intentioned but overly optimistic, and all the more lovable for it.  The real meat comes with Wanda’s meeting with Vision.  Bendis manages to make Vision ice-cold, but brutally truthful and, nonetheless, also makes Wanda a sympathetic figure.  It’s a conversation that’s been a long time coming, and it delivers, scars and all.

It’s in this half that Frank Cho’s artwork also excels.  Not only is the action great, but he does an amazing job drawing Wanda.  Visually, she draws all the attention and is real visual anchor, or centre-point, just as it should be.

Sadly, Jason Aaron’s Hope story drags quite a bit.  There’s a lot of cliché, teenaged navel-gazing about not really knowing who she is and rebellion against authority figures.  It’s the same old, same old, and doesn’t make for the most exciting read.  It’s really cut and dry, stereotypical stuff, all the worse given how dialogue heavy it is at some points.

That said, once Hope gets in on some action and beats down some C-list bad guys, there is some fun and, dare I say comedy to be had.  It’s not overly intellectual, but seeing Hope play the badass does carry some fun.

I also loved Hope’s comments to Scott at the end of the issue, which were just brutal.  Much like X-Men Schism, it’s guaranteed to make you wince.

Really, it’s a shame that the first 2/3 or so of Aaron’s story is such slow, derivative hand-wringing, because it picks up in the last couple of pages to be sure.

Conclusion: Well, it really did nothing at all to set up AVX, so this issue didn’t really do what it was meant to and may, to some, even feel pointless as a result.  Aaron’s Hope story is also a bit dull, even if it picks up at the end.  That said, the art is gorgeous and Bendis’ Scarlet Witch story is absolute dynamite, delivering in spades in action, bombasity, and soap opera drama.

Grade: B-

-Alex Evans

 

Grade

Conclusion


  • Patrick

    It’s amazing that the guy who brought us Ultimate Aunt May and ALIAS is so increasingly terrible at writing Avengers women. And it’s true, he writes them like weak teenage women. The sorority hug that brought Wanda to a completely predictable shunning at the mansion (If it wasn’t Vision, it would have been one of the mutants) was cringe-worthy, pandering to a readership seemingly with zero experience with the opposite sex.

    It was an embarrassing first half of that comic. Embarrassing to read and embarrassing that so many would turn a blind eye to it.

  • Steven R. Stahl

    I can also tell that Bendis worked harder than usual on this one. The dialogue never falls prey to Bendis-speak or out of character voices. Instead, the dialogue is brimming with emotion and sincerity.

    Those assertions make it hard to believe you’ve read the Vision and Wanda written by anyone else. Bendis’s dialogue for the Vision was, unsurprisingly, terrible. I believe that’s because his abnormally small vocabulary prevents him from varying tone, word selection, sentence structure, etc. Instead, he tried for a robotic tone, and failed miserably, as far as writing the Vision in character was concerned. What he had the Vision say had nothing to do with the actual “Avengers Disassembled” situation, much less their relationship.

    Addressing her as his wife, although they haven’t been a couple since 1989? Driving her away and then feeling bad about it, as Kurt Busiek had him do in his AVENGERS? Bendis having Wanda recover from a bout of insanity yet again, as if the aftermath of Byrne’s AVENGERS WEST COAST storyline wasn’t more than enough for anyone.

    If someone had never read any stories featuring the Vision and Wanda besides “Avengers Disassembled,” he might think that Bendis’s stuff was dramatic, but then that’s what the stuff makes me think about both Bendis and Brevoort. If they know nothing about what they’re doing, why are they being paid for doing it?

    Hope might be worth discussing, if growing up zippity-zip in “the future” hadn’t made her totally unbelievable. When n alternate/nonexistent futures are more solid than the present that produces them, there are crippling editorial problems.

    SRS

    • paladinking

      What can I say? I frankly just don’t agree with you. That’s about it.

      That said, it’s clear that you and I have very different notions of what makes for a good superhero comic.

      Put simply, I think this was a stronger performance from Bendis. It lacked the Bendis-speak, it was new reader friendly, and had a good, healthy mix of drama and action. If that comes at the cost of playing fast and lose with the continuity of 20+ year old comics, I confess to not particularly caring. Comics are inaccessible enough as is.

      Also, I think Bendis tried to give Vision a distinct voice, but I don’t think he was going whole-hog for a “robotic tone.”

      • I think the “new reader friendly” here is more important. Readers don’t have to know everything that happened between Wanda and Vision, certainly not going back to 1989, but enough to know she used and hurt him badly.

        I have a class on comics starting next week, and, after they read Messiah Complex, they’ll be reading AvX as it comes out. This 0 issue is perfect for them. It’s a nice bridge and sets up just enough of the tone.

        • Patrick

          Is this a college class? Honestly if would have burned an elective in a millisecond for a class that involved a group discussion about Stryfe.

          • It is college class. For Drexel University. The cool thing is, it counts as required English class for the student. For their English 103, they have the opportunity to take any kind of analytic reading/writing class the school is offering. I offered Comics–it filled up within an hour.

            • Patrick

              Amazing! I would love to hear audio of a classroom discussion on Messiah War. Any way you could record it? I loved your review on the hardcover and would love to listen you leading a class about it.

              Do you have a blog or website you could upload it to?

              • I do not–but if my students actually seem to get into it, I might post some of their discussions. And a lot of what I’m using are from those reviews, lol. So far, one prompt they have to fulfill, is to argue for the position of any group besides the X-Men–The Purifiers, Marauders, Cable. Even Predator X.

                • Patrick

                  That sounds really great and I would have loved to have that for an assignment.

      • Steven R. Stahl

        It lacked the Bendis-speak

        Bendis-speak being dialogue with tones, word choices, stilted cadences, and usage errors which make the dialogue unlike anything other professional writers produce, that’s exactly what the Vision’s dialogue was. The Vision’s “millions of choices” sentence is a perfect example of Bendis-speak.

        If that comes at the cost of playing fast and lose with the continuity of 20+ year old comics, I confess to not particularly caring.

        What do you think the words “continuity,” “creativity,” and “originality” mean?

        Given the “millions of choices and variables” Bendis had, he manages only to repeat major plotlines and character treatments from decades-old comics, and your excuse is that continuity doesn’t matter?

        You’ve managed to destroy your credibility as a reviewer.

        SRS

        • paladinking

          As I said, you and I clearly have very different views on what constitutes a good superhero comic.

          You prize continuity quite a bit, whereas I don’t care as much. I enjoy much of Bendis’ work, whereas you clearly see him as nothing but a hack. To me, these are subjective matters, but for you, they seem to be objective.

          Given the fundamentally different viewpoints that we have, I would be frankly surprised if I could ever have “credibility” in your eyes and, to be blunt, my not having “credibility” in the eyes of you or the sort of reader you represent…well, I won’t be losing sleep over it.

          Hopefully, you can find a reviewer who better accords with your opinions and perspective.

        • Read “They Buy Pile.” He credits slavish continuity over great storytelling.

          • paladinking

            lol I remember when he completely dismissed Rucka’s Punisher because, apparently, any story involving Frank collaborating with a female vigilante is completely derivative of a one-shot that came out 10 years ago. Never mind that it was a freaking one-shot or that there are basically zero similarities between the two characters. Both are female and have red hair. Good enough to bitch about.

            I had a good laugh at that one.

            • Yeah. Red-haired vigilantes can only be used once. So, Black Widow, Hope, Scarlet Witch, Rachel Grey, Typhoid Mary, and Jean Grey, are going to have to battle for their existence.

              • paladinking

                and yet month in and month out….Eric Wallace’s Mister Terrific remains on his “buy” list.

                • That’s just…isn’t that title already canceled?

  • Timothy

    My brother and I agree almost word for word with your general assessment, but I liked this issue while he didn’t, because he wanted more of an actual set-up for AvsX while I took it as a story in and of itself (two stories actually) and appreciated it at that. When you think about this as an issue #0, it really doesn’t count for the actual story anyway seeing as how zero is not a real number… It’s just a marketing ploy…

  • Another thing I noticed in Cho’s art, with the Vision scene, was the reactions of the characters around him–especially Beast and Wolverine. At the the start, both are glaring at Wanda, but the more Vision goes on, they slowly turn towards him with shock. Like “okay, we’re pissed at her for endangering our species, but dude…calm down.”

    • paladinking

      I didn’t mention that, but I quite enjoyed that aspect of Cho’s artwork as well. Honestly, I get the feeling that he had more fun drawing the first story than the second.

  • uniwitch

    I wasn’t really feeling this one. These are two of my favorite characters and it just seemed more than a little out of place. The characters just didn’t seem as interesting as usual, very mopey loners. I don’t know, it felt like this was just a thrown together issue when it could of been more.

    Two questions:

    1. If Cyclops is immune to Havok’s energy blasts, his body just reabsorbs the energy, wouldn’t that stand to reason that he would be immune to his own?

    2. What exactly is the stance on Scarlet Witch’s powers after Children’s Crusade? I understood that she was weakened, but is her magic aspect just gone completely? That seems a bit of a stretch.

    I also hate it enough when heroes just stumble upon a crime accidently, but this happened 3 different times. There was no reference to why SpW, MM, or Scarlet Witch were doing in Washington DC nor how Hope found her random situation. Couldn’t they have found something a bit more dangerous and exciting than out of the blue C-Listers?

    I was really excited for this, cause I LOVE these characters, but even leaving my personal distaste for the style of art aside, I still feel like this was a bit of a let down.

    • Hope’s situation wasn’t random–it came on her police scanner. As for Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman, they came in a quinjet, so they were probably responding to an emergency. Scarlet Witch…yeah, that one I’m not sure about.

      • paladinking

        I think it’s assumed that Wanda was on patrol. It’s clear that this was part of her trying to get back into the swing of things in being a superhero.

        And really, I think if anyone is going to be a mopey loner right now, it’d be Wanda. And Hope is basically a mopey loner by definition at this point, given her circumstances. It’s not at all illogical or out of character.