Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
If you watch boxing or, say, UFC, first round knockouts can be incredibly disappointing. Depending on the build-up and the hype put on for the match, it can seem like a waste of talent. Worse, it can seem like a waste of your time and money that you spent ordering the darn pay-per-view or getting tickets ringside. Maybe you watched months of lead up, interviews, training docs, compilations of past fights and then, with one right hook, Junior Dos Santos is champ and FOX has some air time to fill. You can know your combatant so well that seeing anything less than three full rounds just won’t showcase their talents enough for a satisfying contest.
Well, with Avengers vs X-Men #1, you don’t have anything to worry about as far as first round TKOs go. With around 31 pages to fill, it feels like each team barely gets into the ring.
WARNING: Below, we will shorten some titles and talk about AvX #1, AvX #0 and about combat sports in general, the latter not too well. It’s a metaphor bonanza so grab your copies and read along!
For months now, we have heard every angle to the hype for this match-up. Promoters took to comic con crowds and interviews, gearing us up for Marvel’s main event. The press have examined each fighter and given their own odds on the outcome of these two industry mainstays. For time immemorial, fans have asked themselves, argued and defended their own opinions on who would win in a fight this size, from the small scale to the large scale. The previews for this fight were everywhere.
If anything, AvX #0 was more of an undercard, just a couple of squash matches (if I can switch my metaphors to sports entertainment for a quick sec). The Avengers roundly defeated the Scarlet Witch, more of a novelty act the way her career has headed in recent years. The X-Men, through Hope, wiped the mat with the Serpent Society, a squad of jobbers there to make the talent in the match look good. This was something to whet the appetite, to show us that these two teams could give us that TKO in the first round if they wanted to. Okay, so maybe the sports entertainment analogy was a little depressing, let’s call it an interview instead. A pre-match interview with trash talking and a little heart from each opponent. Yeah, they can throw the Scarlet Witch from their doorstep, but a robot can cry a little about it, too. Hope could have demolished the Serpent Squad on her own, but she’s got a bigger destiny ahead. This match is only a stepping stone to her wearing the championship belt. Well, the Phoenix Force, but let’s just pretend it’s a belt.
So here was round one, clearly labeled on the cover, and that kind of talk leads to some expectations. I expect some punches to be thrown. If they take it slow, size each other up, hesitate in their shots, I at least want to see how they perform in the ring. A display of skill, prowess and talent that fits all the hype I’ve heard and have imagined in my head. As much as a first-round TKO can be frustrating, a tender-footed tap fest can be even worse.
The Avengers came out pretty relaxed until Nova fell out of the sky, sending the team into action. Despite the threat of doom and the lives at stake, the team looked capable and efficient, everyone had a place and they went right into action. These were no small actions either, as they went from saving NYC to the desk of the president to dive right into the ring. The X-Men entered really intense from the start; to borrow from Joe Rogan, never have I seen Cyclops this focused. If anything, this seemed his show, the man was clearly in charge and there was no question that he was dominant and ready for the fight ahead.
Both combatants start in the sand where a line is clearly drawn: Cyclops needs hope for the future of mankind, Captain America wants to take Hope away to protect the planet. Yes, Hope is a person and a metaphor. Despite the lead up and Scott’s earlier furious training, both sides seem surprised it would come to this conflict. Commentators Namor and Emma Frost set the stage immediately, that these two men face off to fight. Cyclops takes the first shot, a clear and direct optic blast to Cap’s center mass, easily deflected by the shield. A show of force and the ring of the bell. The Avengers Assemble, the X-Men were already prepared, it’s go time… at the end of the first issue.
And as first issues go, it’s not bad. A little slow in parts thanks to my own over-analysis and following the lead up, but it set the motive, the players and the setting. The AR technology is pretty fun and seems to be picking up some of the slack left behind by those little yellow editorial boxes of yore, making sure first-time readers get all their facts in a new and fun way.
As round ones go, it’s atrocious. Nothing happened. I saw one shot thrown, and it wasn’t even to take Cap down. They took their sweet time getting into the ring and then seemingly botched what little time they had before the round ended. If I had to call it, I’d give the whole round to the X-Men; they were the aggressors, they threw the first shot and defended their ground. I can’t say it was a decisive round, but it was theirs. The Avengers, favored to win in this conflict, have to get their act together. We know they work like a well-oiled machine in the face of danger, let’s see some of those tactics come out for round two. With the advantage on their side, they could make this a quick conflict. On the other hand, we do have 11 more rounds to go.