Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Riding the Gravy Train 01 (Avengers vs. X-Men #1)

I already knew all of this. The biggest Marvel press promotion ever with the biggest individual issues sales of the year and what did they deliver? A comic that pretty much retells everything that the hype and press that drove the sales up already told us. I'm almost at a loss over what I can possibly say about this comic. The Phoenix is coming, the Avengers think it's coming for Hope, they want to stop that, Cyclops has gone all crazy cult leader, and... fight! Seriously, I knew all of that going in. That's the premise. The first issue tells me the premise. Again. In comic book form. And guess what? It's not significantly better that way. It's not such a vast improvement over simply hearing the premise that it's worth this comic being the largest selling issue of the year.

It's not even that Avengers vs. X-Men #1 is a bad comic. It lays out the premise clearly and gets to the tipping point quickly enough. I'm also a John Romita, Jr. fan, so him doing art is always welcomed. If you'd never heard of this comic or what it's about, you'd most likely enjoy it more than everyone who is even vaguely aware of what this event is about and that's the problem.

Brian Michael Bendis has acknowledged this problem: to sell the comic, you pretty much have to give the first issue away ahead of time. If that's the case, how do you even begin to judge the first issue? I can't say that it's worth the money spent on it since it's not. It's hard to even say if it's 'good' when all it does it deliver the premise of the story. It's an introduction. How the fuck do you rate an introduction that you've already been given? I had the same problem with Siege #1. I guess we should all be grateful that this is issue one of a twelve-issue story rather than issue one of four. This is only 8.3333% of the story rather than 25%.

Is there a solution to this? Obviously, to sell the comic, you need to tell people something about what it's about. But, when the first issue establishes that premise, what are you to do with the first issue other than suck it up and sell people a comic you've already told them all about as often as you've could for months? Especially when, let's be honst, the title of this comic gives away the premise. It's almost like they need to skip to the second issue, throw in some clunky narration or recap that covers the events of the first issue. Is that better?

I honestly wish there were more to talk about with this issue. There isn't. If you've read anything about this event, you've read this comic. Marvel manages to make the title of this series of posts seem like cynical and jerky and more like the reality of the situation, sadly. Hopefully issue two will be something new and different.

Next week: New Avengers #24 is the first of the tie-ins to the event and the first comic relating to this event after the first issue. It should be interesting for establishing a tone or at least hinting at what else is going on beyond the basic premise. Hopefully.