SPOILER ALERT: This article discusses events from Avengers vs. X-Men #12
SPOILER ALERT: This article discusses events from Avengers vs. X-Men #12
Major comic book events from the big 2 these days seem to be an annual marketing drive to boost sales, bring in new readers, and provide an excuse to bring sweeping changes to the comic line. Both Marvel and DC have excelled at this for the last few years, with each company bringing us 3-5 massive events in a short span, whereas years earlier you had maybe one big event every 5 years. DC generally monopolized this strategy early with their numerous Crises, and while Marvel was moving a bit slower in the early years, we now see a new event almost every year like clockwork, if not sooner.
Not to confuse either of the companies’ events with each other, but no sooner was DC’s New 52 released and making a substantial sales boost to a ton of DC titles (most notably the Batman family), Marvel decided to roll out with its own. If you haven’t heard yet, which I find to be nearly impossible, Marvel will be tackling the New 52 with its (almost) company wide Marvel NOW! rebranding and renumbering.
While DC went full on reboot (for the most part), Marvel is shying away from the term and doing nothing to muck up the long running history of the Marvel Universe. This is one decision Marvel has never sided on DC with, as Marvel’s continuity is wholly intact while DC has had a number of reboots and retcons. So while Marvel is leaving their history untouched, that doesn’t mean there aren’t big changes coming to the Marvel U.
At the climax of Avengers vs. X-Men, Marvel’s latest event that pitted the two sides of the heroic world against each other, a monumental shift has happened. Wanda (Scarlet Witch) and Hope (the destroyer of the mutant race alongside the savior), teamed up and with three words they brought a close to an entire chapter of both the Avengers and the X-Men.
“No. More. Phoenix.”
As Wanda and Hope delivered this final sentence to the Phoenix Force, it swept across the earth, re-powering mutants and starting the next step of evolution once again. The ramifications of this action are a story that has yet to be told, but what it means to the direction of the Marvel Universe is already apparent.
First of all, it effectively closes the Bendis chapter. This statement brings us full circle to the start of Brian Michael Bendis’ takeover of the Avengers line of comics, where Scarlet Witch wiped out the majority of mutant kind, putting the entire race near the extinction level. With him leaving the Avengers books, it seems like the downturn of the Marvel U. has apparently halted, opening up brand new doors and new stories to tell. No longer is the world slowly heading in a downward spiral, plagued by Civil War and Secret Invasions, Dark Reigns, or Fear Itself. Marvel NOW! is being hyped as the end of that era, with a new driving force taking over the Avengers in the forms of Jonathan Hickman and Rick Remender.
Secondly, it brings about a new status quo to the Marvel Universe. This is something that is always promised by every major event but rarely follows through. I don’t think this will be the case with Marvel NOW!, as it’s taking down a major hurdle that has been a key theme since the beginning of Marvel continuity. Marvel has always had two sides to any story they told. On one side you had the mutants. The X-Men were the poster children obviously, always kept separate from the rest of the Marvel U. with the occasional crossover or team-up. On the other side was pretty much everyone else; The Avengers, Spider-Man, and the street level heroes like Daredevil and Moon Knight. While there was always interaction between the two camps there was still that dividing line. If you picked up an X-Men comic it was rare to expect anything but or to even feature a character not in their wheelhouse.
Erasing the line between mutant kind and the rest of the Marvel U. is no easy task, especially with the re-emergence of the mutant population. We’ve been teased with members of the X-Men joining the Avengers for a while now, with Wolverine becoming an integral part of the team, and Storm joining not too long ago. Beast has been a valued member of the Avengers since the ’80s, and Avenger Ms. Marvel has spent some time with Xavier’s team. But a team of Avengers comprised of equal parts Avengers and X-Men seemed unheard of. A few titles coming out of Marvel NOW! are looking to do just that.
The first of the issues will begin to roll out today, with the new Marvel flagship title Uncanny Avengers by Rick Remender and John Cassaday. Captain America, inspired by some damaging wrods from Cyclops, sees that they have been dealing with the mutant population all wrong and sets about forming a team of Avengers to help continue the fight for Xavier’s dream. Since Cyclops, the former herald of the dream, is locked up and held responsible for the consequences of AvX, Captain America has to turn to the next logical successor of both Xavier’s dream and Cyclops’ legacy; Alex Summers (Havok). The team will be led by Havok and feature Rogue, Thor, Captain America, Wolverine, and Scarlet Witch, and will basically be the X-team of the Avengers. Final lineup will include 9-10 members, and you can get a lowdown from the author here on the tone of the book.
Marvel is putting a lot behind this book. First of all, you have a great artist in John Cassaday. His work on Astonishing X-Men made that book what it was (not to take away from writer Joss Whedon but that was some glorious art), and I really can’t wait to see what he does with Uncanny. Likewise Rick Remender has steadily been working his way up the ladder with great runs on Secret Avengers and Venom, and I’ve been waiting for him to take the reins of Avengers for a while now. And the marketing of the book is huge, with 19 variant covers being produced. That’s crazy. Really, I’m just looking forward to seeing my boy Havok as an Avenger.
That is what’s really great about this new direction, and why I continue to get more excited. Characters you never thought would be an Avenger finally get that chance to shine and be a part of the elite. With Jonathon Hickman’s Avengers, we see a huge roster of over 18 characters (so far) including the movie Avengers (Cap, Thor , Iron Man, Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow) mixed with some uneXpected faces. Joining the team will be former New Mutants Cannonball and Sunspot, marking a huge promotion for both these characters and further erasing the gap between mutants and the superhero community.
Details are still sketchy on some of the other members joining the roster, but as the inclusion of the New Mutants into the Avengers shows, the doors are wide open for any and all heroes to show up. The New Avengers would be a logical step for more X-members to join up, but that title will be following the Illuminati (With Black Panther replacing Xavier) of the Marvel U. as the series Bendis started takes a dramatically different turn. You can read more about New Avengers here.
While these might not seem like huge changes, the ramifications of this merger will carry the Marvel U. into its newest Heroic Age and promises a change to the past 50+ years of Marvel continuity, without losing any of it. It seems silly to compare a momentous event in human history like the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War to a comic book event, but that just might be the most comparable subject. This just may be the end of Marvel’s Cold War and the uniting of the east and the west; the mutants and the heroes.
This is the fall of the Marvel wall. I can’t wait to see what comes next.