After several months of Avengers vs X-Men split book AvsX, Marvel flips the formula to reflect the friendlier relationship between the two teams. And decent sales.
So here’s another $3.99 series featuring two stories spread over a stingy 21pp, but it’s team-ups rather than tussles. First up is Captain America and Bucky in the Second World War, joined by Cable for a spot of prototype Sentinel-bashing. Cable’s not the only time traveller on hand in a thoroughly enjoyable yarn – I never knew I wanted to see an Iron Giant-style Sentinel operated by punch cards, but apparently I did.
Dan Slott’s script is assured, pacy and throws in pleasant nods to continuity without getting bogged down by Marvel’s larger universe. Ron Garney’s pencils are brilliantly bombastic, as one of Cap’s best artists revisits the character (his take on the classic costume totally shows up the clunky new version). The art’s not at all hurt by having three inkers – Danny Miki, Cam Smith and Mark Morales – while Wil Quintana’s colours are perfect for the scenario. Clayton Cowles letters, and does a generally decent job …
… there’s an error that really shouldn’t make it into a comic book, though – Adolph Hitler. I don’t wish to specifically blame Cowles, because someone higher up the production chain – Slott, or editors Jordan D White or Nick Lowe – should have caught such a clunker.
More time travelling fuels the second story, which sees the Hulk and Wolverine smash and slash future versions of themselves – Maestro and Days of Future Past Logan. The latter pair pop up in Avengers Tower looking to kill the Red Hulk, but he’s not in the house. The shamelessly slight ‘story’ ends with a paradox and the promise/threat of more to come. Jeph Loeb’s script is fine for what it is, a two-minute fight scene, but a bit of ambition would be appreciated. It’s great, though, to see another classic penciler return to a character with whom they’re heavily identified, as Dale Keown pencils the Hulk once more. The jade giant has rarely looked more formidable, while his Wolverines are proper little spitfires. Danny Miki inks, Frank D’armata colours and Albert Deschesne letters this good-looking trifle.
I can’t see this book surviving a year. Sure, it’s an Avengers title, it’s an X-Men title, but unlike AvsX, it’s not tied to a crossover, and even fan favourite creators have a hard time selling books which continuity-is-all Marvel Zombies consider inessential. And this one wears its throwaway nature on its contents page sleeve. It’s certainly a fun diversion, and I’d love to see it continue at $2.99, but the current price point is going to hobble it something rotten. Yes, Marvel gets away with overpricing on some books, but this won’t prove to be one of them.