Written By: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael bendis, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Kickman and Matt Fraction
Pencils By: John Romita Jr.
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: OUT NOW IN STORES & DIGITAL DOWNLOAD (VIA COMIXOLOGY)
This first episode of the twelve part event (plus numerous tie ins of course) begins with The Phoenix tearing across a distant planet and into space, presumably on its way to earth. Before we know it something else is tearing through New York movie blockbuster style, taking out a plane and the Chrysler building and giving The Avengers something to assemble over (with Spider-man creating the un-safest looking safety net to capture falling civilians and debris I’ve ever seen him muster incidentally) . Anyway this isn’t The Phoenix on the rampage but it’s revealed to be none other than Nova and before he slips into a coma he warns “It’s… It’s coming”" just to start this crossover event with a quite typical dramatic thud.
Anyway this leads The Avengers on a bit of an investigation informing us they’ve detected The Phoenix is on the way back to Earth and we’re given some back story to tell newbies why that’s a big deal. In the meantime, because this is not just an Avengers story remember, Cyclops is training Hope to fight without powers and pushing her hard but when he pushes her buttons a bit too heavily, making her unleash a mini (albeit powerful) burst of Phoenix power, the story really gets going and this gives The Avengers something to further explore on Utopia Island, current home of the Cyclops led faction of the X-men.
That’s the general set up here. Both Avengers and X-men alike think that Phoenix is coming for Hope (my guess is it isn’t but the writers want us to think that) and both X-men and The Avengers want to look after her. Of course Scott Summers thinks The Phoenix might actually be a good thing for the depleted number of mutants (as long as Hope’ is prepared for it) and Captain America (with a bit of advice from Wolverine) thinks it’s a bad thing for all mankind so here is where the clash begins.
Everything about this first issue is solid, if not all a little cliche. Romita Jr. art is strong but I have to say some frames have some characters with some odd expressions from time to time. The pacing is a nice build to the big showdown between Captain Ameirca and Cyclops (with Emma Frost being the only level headed out of the bunch -uh?) and in one issue the writers really do get across the latest argument between heroes to spark a big Marvel event. Sure it all feels quite run of the mill and I have to say squabbling between Marvel heroes is getting tiresome to a degree but with the importance of Hope to the mutants and the return The Phoenix being something to prick the ears of any X-fan out there, this shows promise.