By: Skottie Young (Writer), Gurihiru (Artist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
The Review: “One last thing,” I asked, pausing to check that the comic shop was indeed empty of customers as I stood at the counter, “I’ll take a copy of the, uh… y’know, the baby book?” “Oh, I see,” came the response from Dean, local vendor of high-grade literary substances, “Something for the wife, eh sir?” “Haha, yes, of course, the wife! That’s it, it’s a surprise,” I exclaimed, blushing awkwardly as the kindly fellow reached into a nearby shadowy long box, a knowing smile daubed across his comely visage. Flustered, I paid the good man and hurriedly exited the premises. There was, of course, no surprise for the wife; hell, I’m not even married. Shame was at the heart of my subterfuge that day my friends, shame and embarrassment – the most mortifying $2.99 I’ve ever spent.
But wait, is buying a copy of A-Babies vs X-Babies really so bad? There’s been enough frivolous insanity put out by Marvel in the last few decades – Marvel Zombies, Marvel Apes, The Clone Saga – that now the idea of a block war fought by a huge ensemble cast of super-powered babies is, I suppose, barely enough to raise an eyebrow. When you to take into account the quite unexpected fact that this book actually makes more sense in certain paces than the hugely successful crossover event that it seeks to parody, you begin to wonder: wait, is this book actually awesome? Yes, comes the answer, it most certainly is.
So what are these babies spitting out their dummies for in the first place? After being put to bed, l’il Steve Rogers notices that his favourite plushy, Bucky Bear, has gone missing. It doesn’t take long to clear this mystery up – that nogoodnik Scott Summers from across the street has kidnapped him! This calls for the cutest “Avengers Assemble!” battle cry in the history of comics, and soon the corner of Fury Drive and Xavier Way is awash with telekinetic toddlers and gamma-irradiated infants all vying for control of Baby Cap’s favourite playmate. This is actually more believable than the idea the real AvX is built off, so kudos for that.
The fisticuffs themselves are rendered in all their disproportionately-bodied glory by art team Gurihiru (comprised of Sasaki on pencils/inks and Kawano on colors) and what a beautiful job they do. A lot of love and ingenuity has been applied to the tiniest of details; guns are replaced with water pistols, fleecy baby-grows are subbed for Spandex and I think just about everybody gets hit in the head with one of Hawkeye’s sucker-tipped plastic arrows! Easter eggs run rampant as well with the likes of the Power Pack, Howard the Duck and Spider-Ham making neat little footnote appearances throughout. In fact, I’d say near everyone’s favourite characters are present and correct, even the ones who were unavailable for the real AvX. I saw Banshee, Beta Ray Bill and Nightcrawler crop up here and there, but I’m sure ya’ll will undoubtedly notice some other absentee heroes hidden away amidst the chaos.
After all, there’s a lot of cute to take in and it’s definitely a book you’ll want to flick through more than once and show off to your friends. A good thing too, as though Skottie Young’s Script is heavy on the funny (best moment has to be Kid Magneto’s “Come to me bear. I will bring this futile battle to its end.”) it’s also pretty bare bones, smartly letting the art do the talking; as such, you can probably read the whole thing in well under 5 minutes. Still this is a straight up brawlin’ book – you want a deconstruction of the infant super-hero phenomenon, you can always go read Watchmen Babies fella…
Conclusion: While I’d be happy to see the concept of A-Babies vs X-Babies left here without the need for a toddler-themed ongoing or mini-series etc., I’d definitely welcome this team back for the odd Holiday Special or the like. This is without a doubt a truly funny and disarmingly sweet comic book, with high production values that make it an enjoyable read for big kids and actual kids alike. Brothers, sisters, heed my words: march into your local comic shop, slam your $2.99 down on the counter, and, with pride in your heart, demand a copy of A-Babies vs X-Babies as soon as humanly possible. Just, y’know, maybe make sure the store’s pretty much empty when you do.
Filed under: Marvel Comics