Last week saw the arrival of the first issue of the much ballyhooed AvsX mini-series - a bi-weekly Marvel Event that is going to run for the next 6 months consisting mostly of fights between Avengers and the X-men scripted by Brian Bendis.
Now, most of the backlash against this series has come in the form of fans denouncing Event styled stories in general. I don't necessarily agree with that sentiment. I think comic Events are a bit like any other type of storytelling approach - they succeed (or fail) based on their own merits.
With that said, I think AvsX is going to be another one for the Fail column and let me explain why.
First, I don't think Bendis has ever had a good handle on how to dialogue some of the more esoteric characters in the Marvel universe. For writing the dialogue of street level characters like Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Daredevil, he does an adequate job. However, anytime he has to write Thor saying something, it comes out like this:
I have this?
This is really how Thor talks these days? Even putting that dialogue in some faux Medieval font from Blambot doesn't shake the feeling that this line was left over from Die Hard 4. Is that what is passing for verisimilitude now? And I know Bendis isn't the only writer who does this (Paul Cornell is guilty of it in DC's Demon Knights) With dialogue like this creeping in at the onset, I wouldn't hold my breath that it will get better by the time we hit month 3 or 4.
Hey, that's okay, you say because this series is going to be mostly action scenes, so who cares about the dialogue?
Well, good point. Let's look at the action scenes we got this issue:
Early on, a mysterious object from space clips off the top of the building scattering all the people inside to the four winds.
Wow! People and debris falling every where! How will the heroes solve this problem? Well, Spider-man makes a giant web that somehow separates the people from the debris and saves everybody. All in the space of one panel break.
Also in this early scene, check out how Thor and Iron Man handle a problem with a Jet that has lost a wing in the middle of the city. Iron Man uses an unspecified ray blast of some sort to just atomize the separated wing, and Thor creates a magical wind tunnel to capture the jet and guide it to safety.
But Jim, you remind me, that's okay because comics are all about heroes using far fetched solutions to solve problems! Well, you may have a point, but I think the far fetched solutions in Silver Age Superman were often clever parts of a larger story with a twist to them. Here we just get one panel with no attempt to even rationalize the physics or abilities involved. With Thor, you can say it's magic and just sort of shrug, but that nonchalance has been expanded (by the writer) onto the Spider-man and Iron Man scenes as well. It's perfunctory at best and lazy at worst.
Well, that's okay, because while Bendis may be weak on action scenes, he will come through on the fight scenes.
I wouldn't bet on that. Check out this scene where Cyclops is just beating on Hope for reasons that are a bit unclear.
Now, it's implied that he's training her for self defense here. However, if Cyclops is supposed to be seriously training Hope, wouldn't some form of martial arts be more effective? This scene, which runs several pages, resembles a bar fight as recounted by a guy who wasn't there. Like Thor's dialogue, there isn't any suggestion of a style other than Street Level 101.
But, but...Bendis writes good character interaction scenes.
Well, I guess you mean like this one with Mopey Wolverine who is the best at what he does (as long as what he does is exposition.)
As I said, what seems to be the marketing rallying cry of this series is the battles that are to come in each issue. However, writing awe inspiring (or clever) battle/action scenes isn't really Brian Bendis' strong suit. This has long been a complaint leveled against Bendis by many different comic reviewers and podcasters so I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. So, if you still feel compelled to buy this mini-series, go for it. Maybe the next one will be better. ;)
What I predict will happen is that somewhere around July or August we will see a lot of buyers remorse as those fans who bought into the hype with this series start to realize it just ain't that good.