Chain Reactions | <i>Avengers Vs. X-Men #0</i>

Brian Michael Bendis and Jason Aaron, two of the five writers of Marvel's upcoming crossover series Avengers vs. X-Men, gave folks a taste of what's to come this week with the release of the crossover's zero issue. Each writer told the story of a pivotal character from their respective franchise, both drawn by Frank Cho, as Aaron focused on Hope Summers and Bendis turned his attention back to the Scarlet Witch for the first time in many years.

There has been a lot of hype and some pretty big expectations from this series so far, so how did this first taste do in the "whet my appetite" department? Here's a round-up of opinions:

James Hunt, Comic Book Resources: "Avengers Vs. X-Men #0 contains two stories: one starring the Scarlet Witch with the other starring Hope Summers. Both are used to succinctly introduce the characters forming the center of the crossover, explaining who they are and their current status quos. Rather than being simple recaps, these stories also move their stars forward, offering a piece of new information or new development in their lives you can't get anywhere else. Whether you're a fresh reader or an existing fan, you should feel equally satisfied with this issue."

Cal Cleary, read/RANT: "Neither story is particularly complex, but both serve as believable introductions to the characters (and, presumably, to the upcoming event). Scarlet Witch’s story is more soap opera-esque and it takes way too long to get to the point, but I liked her confrontation with the Vision. Hope’s story is a more traditional tale of teenage rebellion – parent puts pressure on kid, kid rebels, the two have to come to an agreement – but Aaron’s script gives it a little more room to breathe and focus on Hope’s role in the upcoming event. Besides, it has the week’s first (and so far, only) laugh-out-loud page in comics, as Hope teaches an arrogant supervillain the purpose of the headbutt."

Martin Gray, Too Dangerous for a Girl: "I rather liked this. Writer Brian Michael Bendis gives us a still slightly confused, but emphatically heroic, Scarlet Witch, not entirely convinced she deserves anyone's forgiveness. Being welcomed back with open arms by Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman, Jessica Drew, makes her rejection by the Vision all the more painful. The fight with MODOK and his genetically engineered cronies is fun (Wanda even manages a decent gag) and there's a final panel that will resonate with fans of classic Marvel."

Jesse Schedeen, IGN: "Aaron's Hope story is a little more forgettable, as it merely showcases another example of Hope bristling under Cyclops' overly controlling mentorship. This story deals more directly with the brewing Phoenix situation, albeit through an unnecessary amount of exposition at times. For the most part, this segment is worthwhile just as an opportunity to see Hope be a total badass against the Serpent Society."

Chris Miller, Bleeding Cool: "Frank Cho’s art compliments their writing style perfectly. He obviously draws beautiful women, and those talents are on display in the first story. But his energy in action sequences is equally exciting, which excels in the second story. It’s almost like you can see the crackle of electricity in his pages. I like to think of him as a summer blockbuster artist."

Don MacPherson, Eye on Comics: "One of the reasons Frank Cho is such a popular artist is due to his frequent cheesecake depictions of female characters, and given the focus on feminine heroes in this comic book, it’s easy to understand why Marvel turned to him for the assignment. After reading the comic through the first time, I was left with the impression the cheesecake was toned down and was pleased he didn’t needlessly sexualize the many female characters. I thumbed through the issue once again to ensure it was an accurate impression. He definitely presents the women as voluptuous and buxom, and some have argued Cho’s cover art is meant to evoke the image of a vagina. Though there are some obvious cleavage shots here and there, generally, Cho doesn’t pose the characters in a gratuitous manner. He portrays them as strong women, not two-dimensional playthings. I also thoroughly appreciated his take on M.O.D.O.K., and Cyclops looks a bit lanky, which is fitting, given his historic nickname of 'Slim.' the mutant hero isn’t depicted as the typically buff and broad archetype. Furthermore, I rather liked how Cho portrayed Wolverine as being a bit on the ugly side rather than as a perfectly lantern-jawed, dashing-hero type."

David Brooke, Adventures in Poor Taste: "As a person who hasn’t been following all the X-Men and Avengers books, this issue gets a good pulse on potentially two of the main characters and their emotional states. Assuming this event won’t just be fight scenes, God lets hope so, this comic actually gets me a little excited for the event. Up until now it appeared this was going to be a battle royale and that’s it."

Ben Silverio, ScienceFiction.com: "Overall, this book acted as a nice setup for the upcoming event. Even though I enjoyed the first half a bit more than the second half, the dramatic build up to Avengers vs. X-Men was there throughout the issue. If you were looking to get into the major crossover when it starts, it would be good if you picked this up too."

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