"AVX: VS" #2 is the second book in this six-issue limited series focusing on "off-panel" battles during the "Avengers vs. X-Men" crossover. The book is split in half with creative team Steve McNiven, John Dell and Morry Hollowell handling the Captain America versus Gambit section; and creative team Kieron Gillen, Salvador Larocca and Jim Charalampidis picking up the Spider-Man versus Colossus/Juggernaut segment.
On the surface, the premise of "AVX: VS" as a series is not a bad one. It's a chance to step away from the crossover story and see some simple knock-down, drag-outs between fan favorites. Unfortunately, so far the crossover that this series is stepping away from also just feels like an excuse to see some knock-down, drag-outs between fan favorites, so the need for this title, even as just some between-the-panels fun, is severely hampered.
Additionally, I haven't yet seen a really interesting fight. If we're going to spend 20 plus pages indulging in superhero on superhero action then I want to see something amazing. While the Iron Man versus Magneto matchup in issue #1 clearly had some thought put into it, I didn't see any of that here. Gambit charges up Cap's shield, then his uniform, Cap survives both and punches Gambit out. That's it? Seriously? The Spider-Man versus Colossus/Juggernaut matchup is even less inventive perhaps because it doesn't seem like a very interesting pairing. The moves are predictable and though Spider-Man is always a fun character to read, Colossus continues to be even more like an intractable block of wood that's now merged with Juggernaut. It's painfully dull.
Given the opportunity to eschew any semblance of story or character development and the limitless opportunities for grudge matches and fantastic displays of power, I'm disappointed to see that this is all we're getting from creators of this pedigree. Quite frankly, if you're going to eschew those other things, then I expect a much better fight for my price of admission.
The art in both pieces works well for what they are. They're easy to follow and clear in their goals, but like the story itself, the art is not particularly exciting or compelling in any way. It's hard to know whether that's the artist's fault for not finding better ways to deliver the story or the writer's fault for delivering an uninteresting battle script in the first place. It's probably a bit of both. Unfortunately, in the first piece since McNiven is both writer and penciler I'm afraid he takes the hit for both.
The promo for "AVX: VS" #3 suggests that we're going to see both The Thing and Colossus/Juggernaut again (which will make three appearances for Colossus/Juggernaut in the "Avengers vs. X-Men" crossover and two for The Thing). Why? With all of the great potential matchups out there, why do we need to see these particular characters repeatedly, especially when these are two characters that arguably have very low stakes for this particular "Phoenix fight" compared to so many others on the field. I don't think even the 15 year-old in me that cared less about plotting and character development and more about punching people out would be moved by these bouts.