AVX101: Everything You Need To Know About Marvel's 'Avengers VS X-Men'

Marvel’s ginormous event Avengers vs. X-Men is fast approaching comic book stands, like some sort of cosmic entity based on destruction… Or is that rebirth? Regardless, with Avengers VS X-Men #0 hitting stands on March 28th, the first issue of the twelve issue maxi-series heading to comic book stands a week later (that would be April 4th, people without calendars in their heads), and our own "Avengers Vs. X-Men: War Journals web series coming soon, we thought we’d give you the lowdown on everything you need to know about AvX… FAQ style.

Welcome to "Avengers VS X-Men" 101:

Avengers VS X-Men, huh? What’s the big idea?

Well, Mr. clearly going to be a jerk style of question asker, the pitch is pretty much there in the title: an inciting incident sends Marvel’s two biggest franchises, The Avengers and The X-Men at loggerheads, and they spend a good long while kicking the heck out of each other. There may be punching and shooting as well, but as of press time, we could only confirm twelve solid issues of non-stop kicking.

Inciting incident, you say?

That would be The Phoenix Force, the cosmic entity we teasingly referred to in the opening paragraph. Created by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum, the Force is one of those, “Born before the universe was created – never can be destroyed!” type things that for some reason is always very focused on hanging out inside one person who lives on Earth. In AvX, The Phoenix is heading for Earth after frying and rejuvenating a few planets. The X-Men think it’s headed to inhabit the body of Mutant Messiah Hope, and decide to prepare her for this. The Avengers think that’s a dumb idea, and want to destroy the Phoenix. Kicking ensues.

I now have one million more questions. Can you tell me more about The Phoenix first?

Sure! The Phoenix was first introduced when it ended up inhabiting the body of Jean Grey, one of the original X-Men. The power was first used for good, essentially cauterizing broken parts of the universe, and healing them into something nice and new. But in the body of Jean Grey, the Phoenix power started to corrupt, as absolute power is wont to do. She became… Dark Phoenix! Unable to reconcile her evil, Jean Grey momentarily regained control, and committed suicide to save the universe. This happened in front of her boyfriend Cyclops. On the moon.

Um… The moon?

Don’t worry about it. The important part here is that The Phoenix brought Jean Grey back to life several times, and each time Cyclops has had to watch her die, again. Because you know, Phoenixes are all up on that rebirth s**t. Cyclops is now leading the X-Men, so you can imagine he can either curl up into a little ball of sadness, or he can say, “I’d rather Hope be better prepped for this than my girlfriend was.” He chooses the latter.

Who is this Hope person you keep mentioning?

This FAQ is going to very quickly turn into a bottomless can of worms if you keep asking questions like that. But briefly, after there were no more mutants being born for a good long time, suddenly… There was one. That was Hope, and there was a whole battle to catch her first. The guy who eventually did get custody of her was Cable, Cyclops and Jean Grey’s son from the future, who then took Hope to the future, where she learned to fight and protect herself. Eventually, when she was old enough to carry several plot lines all by herself, she was returned to the present. Cable died to save her, and at the same time, she discovered she had the power to ape other Mutant’s powers. Later, she discovered that she could also activate latent mutant powers. During all that, Cyclops’ current girlfriend, Emma Frost, kept seeing a big flaming bird hanging out around Hope, which she found a little alarming.

That seems to cover it! What’s up with—

Hold on, we actually do need to take a big step back, and talk about why there were no more mutants for a while. That’s all because of The Scarlet Witch, who went a little nuts because she found out her children never existed, and also, she killed most of her best friends, and then was tricked by her brother into making the whole world into mutants, and then she wished that there were no more mutants, and there were no more mutants except for the 180 or so that Dr. Strange protected from becoming depowered, but then recently it turned out this was all Doctor Doom’s fault.

…What are you talking about.

I don’t even know anymore. The important part here is that there would be no Hope without The Scarlet Witch. As SW is on a bit of a redemption arc right now, and not really in the good graces of either the Avengers OR The X-Men, Hope and SW are headed on a bit of a collision course. Will it end with them teaming up, or fighting? Probably, since this is comics, the latter and then the former. And then more of the latter.

Okay, I think I’m getting a handle on this. That’s too bad about Hope’s adopted Dad Cable dying, though.

Yeah, it would be, if he didn’t come back to life for the recent miniseries Avengers: X-Sanction. In fact, he came back in time to try and take down the Avengers, to stop the events that will potentially happen in Avengers vs. X-Men. In case you’re wondering, he was unsuccessful. A side effect though is that he’s back, alive, in the Marvel Universe – and for those of you who are Cable fans, he’s now free of the techno-virus that gave him his sweet metal arm.

There’s an awful lot of people dying and coming back to life here.

Almost like its some sort of theme, huh? Weird.

So just to recap, there’s The Avengers, The X-Men, and they’re going to fight. That sounds pretty simple. Wolverine is going to kick Spider-Man’s butt!

Right. Except, well… Wolverine is on the Avengers.

Yeah, I’m right there with you buddy. There’s two pieces of key information that make this more complicated than Team A versus Team B:

1) Recently, the X-Men had a falling out. Cyclops is now leading half the X-Men on the island base of Utopia in a more militant style. Wolverine is leading the other half back in Westchester, where he’s the new head of a school for young mutants. They kind of hate each other’s guts at the moment.

2) The Avengers have several X-Men in their ranks, including Storm, Beast, and the aforementioned Wolverine.

So everybody is going to have to start choosing sides: are you with Cyclops, or are you with Captain America? We imagine Scott Summers vs. Steve Rogers didn’t sit as well as a title with Marvel’s marketing department, hence AvX.

Anything else I need to know?

Lots, probably, though we won’t really know what plot points from the Marvel U are going to pay off – or not – until we start to read the series. We do know that someone will become the host of The Phoenix before the series is halfway over. What happens then is anyone’s guess, but the Marvel creators have promised a seismic shift in the entire line after this event is over.

So they’re gonna rebo—


But just like Flashp—

STOP IT. If there is one thing Marvel has promised, despite the death/rebirth theme, and the fact that the Phoenix can destroy and remake worlds, there will be no reset, reboot, or renovation of Marvel after AvX is done. What will happen? Beyond creator changes – Brian Bendis is leaving The Avengers for example – we have no idea. Stay tuned.

Any final thoughts? Topics we didn’t cover?

Yeah, just on a structural level, you really only need to get the main series to get what’s going on. However, there will be a six issue companion series – AVX: Versus – which is wall to wall fights, and that should be a lot of fun. And a lot of kicking. The event will also spill over into the Avengers and X-Men monthly books, but that’s it. Oh, and there’s also a digital companion called Avengers vs. X-Men: Infinite that you can get for free if you buy a copy of the comic. It’s part of Marvel’s new experiment with iPad formatted books, and should be very, very interesting.

Thanks, guy!

No, thank YOU. I really feel like we've become very good friends.

Avengers VS X-Men #0 hits stands next Wednesday, March 28th from Marvel Comics!

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