Well, it looks like Marvel's teeing up yet another round of superheroes fighting superheroes with the USA Today announcement of this spring's Avengers vs. X-Men 12-issue series, which is the end result of all the threads from Fear Itself, X-Men: Schism and Avengers: The Children's Crusade coming together.
It will feature five writers sprawling over this big event: Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, Jason Aaron, Ed Brubaker and Jonathan Hickman. Fraction wrote Fear Itself and Aaron wrote X-Men: Schism, while Brubaker is the stewart of Captain America and Hickman has his hands all over the Fantastic Four. Most interesting to note, perhaps, is that Allan Heinberg, writer of Avengers: The Children's Crusade – a series which has made a huge point of finally repairing the character of the Scarlet Witch that Bendis destroyed in Avengers: Disassembled – will apparently not be involved, leaving Wanda Maximoff back in the hands of Bendis.
There will be a #0 prologue in March written by Bendis and Aaron, featuring art from Frank Cho, tying this massive event into the return of the Phoenix Force, spinning out of the pages of Point One and Jeph Loeb's Avengers: X-Sanction. In the latter, Cable will be launching a pre-emptive strike against the Avengers before they come after his adopted daughter Hope Summers, believed to be a focal point for the Phoenix, given her messianic nature for mutantkind (the first one born after Bendis had the Scarlet Witch nearly erase mutants from existence) and her mysterious resemblance to Jean Grey, whose history with the Phoenix Force is well documented.
So, the central disagreement will center around Hope. The X-Men want to protect her and prepare her to become the new Phoenix, while the Avengers want her in custody so they can figure out how to keep the Phoenix from threatening the entire world, as shown in Point One, where it killed the world Terrax The Tamer ruled to allow it to be reborn.
Another bit of sketchy reasoning for good guys to waste time fighting each other, maybe – something Heinberg satirized in Avengers: TCC, which may be why he isn't involved in creating another satire-worthy event.
"You've got two populations whose motivations are simple and understandable and defensible," says Axel Alonso, Marvel's editor in chief. "That's part of the beauty of this. You're seeing a story that evolves out of 'What would you do?' "
Yes, this is feeling like Civil War Redux.
It's designed to be universally appealing to both hardcore comic fans and the moviegoing public who have taken in all the X-Movies and the Avengers films, but proving that there are still things that can only happen in comics.
"If you want to see it," Bendis says, "come look what comics does because there are things we do better than anybody. And this is one of them."
"The Avengers as the most storied franchise in baseball vs. the perennial underdog that commands ferocious loyalty," Fraction says, comparing it to a Yankees vs. Cubs World Series. "It's crazy to be a part of something this ridiculously 'hugeungus.' "
Each successive issue of Avengers vs. X-Men will feature a different writer in the cycle, while artists Olivier Coipel, John Romita Jr. and Adam Kubert will each draw one four-issue arc.
"It's interesting to see each guy bringing his best to the table," Aaron says. "You don't want to be the weak link who lets the team down. Each issue, every guy's trying to throw down the gauntlet and one-up the guy who came before him."
Aaron's stuff will focus on Hope Summers, while Bendis is getting his hands on the Scarlet Witch again, and the two characters will cross paths – the young woman who's been told all her life she's the mutant messiah and the elder fallen hero who created the need for a mutant messiah in the first place. There's all the talk about Hope being the obvious Phoenix host, but what if it turns out to be Wanda instead?
There's also the matter of all those X-folk who have been mixed in with the Avengers lately – namely Storm, Beast and Wolverine. Will the X-Men call dibs?
Brubaker also raises an interesting question about his boy Cap. "How do you be the good guy while also getting into basically a war with a whole race of people?"
We don't know. Let's just hope he doesn't become an idiot in the process like he did during Civil War.
So. Another Marvel mega-event teed up, and this time it's going to be 12 issues long. How do you feel about this? Excited? Dreading it? Cautiously optimistic? Hopefully pessimistic? It could be awesome… and it could also not.