AvX shocks world, doesn’t suck

Despite knowing it’s terrible, and the warnings from friends, I’ve kept buying AvX. My reasoning was simple: yes, it’s bad, and fumbling, and awkward, and forced, and dumb, and shoddily written, and terribly plotted, and the artwork isn’t great. But hear me out! It’s also my first event book, and as a new comic fan, I wanted to see it through to the end. I figured a few bucks per month isn’t going to break me, and finishing my first big comic event start to finish would be something to remember no matter how rough the ride.

This came to a head in the last issue, when Iron Man split the Phoenix Force up into five pieces, making it go into five random X-Men newly dubbed the Phoenix Five. You might notice this sounds extremely stupid. Regardless, I sighed and picked up my copy today. Imagine my surprise when it occurred to me, as I flipped through the pages, that this was actually good. I say that without a hint of sarcasm or irony. This issue was more interesting than the other five issues combined.

The Phoenix Five (ugh) are making serious strides in the world, but are showing internal hints of getting carried away. The Avengers, meanwhile, mistrust them despite that they’ve done nothing wrong. So the X-Men are split on how much they can use force to impose their will in the spirit of improvement, while the Avengers are split on whether they should even be considering killing this group that’s ostensibly doing wonderful things for humanity. In other words, neither party is objectively right and both have understandable differences of opinion. Imagine that!

(The art also seems moderately improved, but still not blowing me away. It’s a bit inconsistent still, with some great looking panels and others that just look rushed.)

This is apparently the start of the second act, and I’m back on-board. I’m not sure if this is the product of Jonathan Hickman taking over as the writer, or if this is just the spot they were aiming to get to and all that hackneyed crap was them taking shortcuts. But either way, I hope this standard of quality continues through the rest of the event series. You’ve finally won me over, Marvel. Now don’t screw it up.

Speaking of Marvel, Avenging Spider-Man was a bit off its game this week. It had a clever moment or two, but in a book that I primarily enjoy for the witty writing, it just didn’t deliver much on that front. But in a procedural buddy-comedy, some are going to duds. It’s too bad, though. Fellow comic enthusiast Bryan loves Dr. Strange, so I was curious to see that character with the accessible window of Spider-Man. In the end he was fine, but nothing special, and I got the feeling he can be better written. Wonder Woman finally resolved the Hades saga. While I’m disappointed that it didn’t prove my theory that she’s in love with her pregnant pal, they wrapped it up about as well as could be expected — even if they used a cheat to defang the major threat from the last issue.

I also picked up a reprint of the first issue of Saga, because I love Brian K. Vaughan. Honestly, I have no idea how I felt about it. It was very creative, but maybe a little too disconnected from reality for my tastes. It felt like he was trying very hard to be otherworldly, maybe a bit too much. We didn’t really get a clean entry point into this world. Do any of my comic reading friends know if later issues help ease us into the plot?

  • As promised, here is my Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor review. You’ve probably heard from various sources that it is one of the worst Kinect games yet. You have not heard wrong. Though, to pat myself on the back, I actually finished the game. I wrestled that twitchy little bastard into submission. You certainly can’t accuse me of not doing my due diligence.
  • We’ve been opening up editorials lately at Shacknews, and I had something on my mind. Namely, that the Vita needs its own experiences. You’ll only get so many people willing to buy two copies of the same game just to play it on the go.
  • I’m fairly certain my brother and sister-in-law still play Dragon Age Legends. So, good news for family!
  • As someone who values education, this story about Steam for Schools was really quite cool to report on. Valve was in a perfect position to do it, so they went ahead and did it. Kudos.
  • Another Japanese fighting game developer says paid character DLC is a no-no. I’m wondering if this is the start of a sea change, or just rebelling against the inevitable tide.

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