Thursday, March 15, 2012

Storm Storms Off, Marvels Marvel, and other AvX Goodies

*UPDATED* Scroll to bottom for newest AvX teaser released today.
Like most things that I eagerly, feverishly anticipate (Hunger Games, Avengers) I try to take a break every now and then from the continuous marketing campaigns, which have an unfortunate tendency, if consumed indiscriminately, to increase in intensity far past the point of giggly delight until they crash on the sharp rocks of overexposure.

Which is to say, I haven't checked out any AvX news in several weeks. My excitement level is very high for this Spring/Summer's Marvel event, but I'm also a realist. Not only could the plot itself be disappointing, but it is a pretty ambitious length. A dozen chapters I think, multiple tie-ins, a total envelopment of the Marvel universe in this particular story. Month in, month out, that is bound to wear a body down. Hell I was sick of Fear Itself before the first issue came out, but the premise was much worse than AvX there, and one hopes the quality levels will be just as different.

The point is, there's a fair amount of teasers, previews, news releases, and solicitations to catch up on. And when you put them all together...well, you get a pretty clear view of what the first act of this violent, soapy, drama will look like. I'm just calling it a drama for now, but we should all expect a fair amount of tragedy in the coming months. Read on to see some pretty pictures and piece the impending plot points together.

OK so we've all seen preview pages from AvX #s 0 and 1, which are being printed pretty heavily as backups in current Marvel comics. In them we get a glimpse at what's going on in the two heroes' camps. On Utopia Hope is being slightly petulant, sneaking off the island to fight crime, while Cyclops, being overprotective and by no means handling it well, tries to stop her.  On the other side of the country, Iron Man and Captain America are briefing the President and his war/ready room after being told (by A Nova centurion, not necessarily Richard Rider much to me disappointment) that the Phoenix is coming to Earth.

Cap explains what the Phoenix is to the Pres, goes to talk to Logan, than pays a visit to Cyclops. For his part, Cyclops reveals what the crux of the conflict, at least at first, will be: he believes the Phoenix force, with Hope as host, may be exactly what the mutant race needs to restart their species. Ostensibly he intends for Hope to control it, and either re-active all mutants depowered by the Scarlet Witch a few years back, or else create new mutants. While he knows the destruction and terror of the Phoenix, he also knows she brings rebirth, and for a cosmic entity with limitless reach she seems awfully connected to a small group of Earthlings.

So that sets up the divide pretty neatly. The preview pages also tell us that an Avengers team is being sent into space, to try and stop the Phoenix before it arrives on Terra firma, which they know to be a suicide mission. The space-intercept team includes Thor, Ms. Marvel, The Protector (Noh-Varr), Beast, Captain Britain, and Valkyrie (there might be someone else I forget.) Point being, things don't go as planned, according to the solicits:

• Captain Marvel reborn to unite all Kree!
• Captain Marvel, The Protector and Ms. Marvel vs The Avengers!
• Who is Minister Marvel and why has he drawn the Phoenix to the Kree homeworld?

The "away" team confronts the Phoenix. The power is so awesome as to even dwarf the Thunder God. Somehow, Captain Marvel gets resurrected, probably due to the strong emotional ties to him opposing the Phoenix, Noh-Var and Carol Danvers. Both of whom instantly side with him against their teammates regardless of context, on account of legacy and love. But I can't imagine it's really him, or if it is, he sacrifices himself awful quick. And his allies have some destiny of their own to fulfill, which is clear in this recently released teaser, which was confirmed as true by writer Kelly Sue McCormick, who will be starting a monthly series featuring Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel, feminist title kicked to the curb:

I don't mind Carol, but honestly I wouldn't mind Mar-Vell back, even if it was one of the more believable, real deaths in comics history. Just imagine seeing him with his son Teddy/Hulking! (And his son's boyfriend.)Not to mention tracking down the most-likely-deceased Phylla-Vell, her fellow guardians, his other dead child, and Thanos in the now-destroyed Cancerverse, thus saving Nova and Star-Lord....OK, just an idea, but Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning should really go pitch that story asap.

All right, things in space get bad pretty fast, splitting the team up and focusing them on personal drama. Down on Earth, the teams assemble for war councils. And one of the bigger issues asked by fans--the role played by certain members with divided loyalties--gets cleared up fast for at least one character in New Avengers #24:

God bless you Storm. If I was undecided before, Storm's conviction is enough for me. Queen Ororo cuts off Cap, in what looks like mid-speech, and, being a woman of few words, takes her immediate leave. She even ditches her husband for god's sake, right before a war breaks out between their two teams and not knowing which side he will choose. She's amazing. And while Wolverine waffles, and Luke Cage works on his PC press bites, and Danny Rand deals with Jessica Jones' extreme jealousy since clearly Danny and Luke have a much stronger, more sexual, more legitimate love connection than her and Luke, Iron Man keeps debriefing the fine Avengers folks on the Phoenix.  Point is: Storm kicks ass, and I pick her side, every time.

Needless to say, the Phoenix gets through the space team. She arrives on Earth, and proceeds as expected, filling up Hope with some dangerous power and severe red-eye. Both teams split up to try and find her/Phoenix, and the battles begin, the scope going global (I'm sure all the civilians are pleased about that.)

Issue #3
• The Avengers and the X-Men scour the Earth searching for the host of the Phoenix!
• Hope takes matters into her own hands!
• And Captain America and Wolverine come to bitter blows!

Issue #4
• All across the globe—in the Savage Land, in Wakanda, in Tabula Rasa and more—Avenger battles X-Man for the fate of the world!
• Hope has a suicide mission to propose to Wolverine!

Not sure what Hope's plan is, though she's a resourceful genetic anomaly, but the solicits clearly reveal that Wolverine finally picks a side, and the meat of the violent Avenger versus X-Man battles begin. This will clearly be the brunt of the action, especially in the battle-centric tie-in series "Vs.". For instance, Captain America takes on if Remy has a chance in hell there. Check out some other impending match-ups, and try not to resist the obvious homoerotic overtones.

In other parts of the world, less "marquis" teams face their own conflicts. An Avengers contingent is dispatched to contain the Jean Grey School, and for some reason the three most boring Avengers are chosen for that duty, despite Rogue and her team being rather formidable; She-Hulk, Falcon and Moon Knight. Seems like an easy win for the X-Men there, hopefully.

And in New Avengers not only does Danny Rand do his noble, self-sacrificing, in-it-for-the-little-guy thing by (probably) siding with Hope and turning against the Avengers, it seems there's an ancient mysterious connection between the Phoenix force, and his own Iron Fist legacy from the mystical city of K'un L'un.

• The secret history of the Phoenix is revealed in K’un Lun’s book of the dead Iron Fists. One of the most important chapters in the AVX story.
• What is Danny Rand’s secret connection to the Phoenix?

Which explains this other cover released weeks back:

All in all, I expect the first act to culminate not only in some major titular battles, but in the revelation of Hope's personal plan, Danny's connection to the Phoenix, firm decisions re: allies, and a display of the cosmic power and what it can do. Followed, inevitably, by a twist of some kind.

My main question is where Rachel Grey is in all this. Honestly, if she's just at Jean Grey School fighting She-Hulk, I'll be very disappointed. She was a former Host for God's sake! And recently too, along with the Cuckoos to a much smaller degree. Plus there must be some direct connection to Hope, and Hope's true parentage is sure to be revealed at some point in this long story.

Furthermore, this was recently teased, and one can assume it has something to do with AvX due to the timing, but of course it could just be a new X-title (throughout AvX stories will still run independently--for instance X-Factor doesn't seem much affected by this war, and both the Astonishing title and the plain X-Men title will continue with their own separate story arcs.)

For my part, I'm hoping this means Chris Claremont is coming back for awhile. I don't care how crappy X-Treme was, Chris and X-Men is just good. clean. joyous fun.

Anyone got any good AvX theories/speculation? What's Hope's 'suicide mission'? Which Avenger, besides Iron Fist, will join the X-side of thinking? Will there be any deaths, and if so, who? Who are Hope's real parents?

And is it April yet? Cause I'm quite ready to get this war started.

UPDATE:  Newest AvX teaser, released today, does nothing to discourage the homoerotic tone. I'm a fan. For a good laugh, check out BleedingCool where Rich Johnston's slash/fanfic write-ups prove most entertaining.

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