When Avengers and X-Men meet, sparks always fly. But of all the events that are created around them, which is the most memorable and which would people rather forget?
Ever since their dual inception in September 1963, few teams of heroes have crossed paths in such decisive AND divisive events quite as often as Earths Mightiest Heroes, the Avengers and the group of mutants who fight to protect a world that hates and fears them, the X-Men. From early on they were often in conflict due to several odd and often easily resolved misunderstandings, as were all heroes in the shared universe, mainly caused by their different stances on current affairs politically and morally speaking, as seen in these early confrontations.
There are of course grey areas which are highlighted by the varied team switches from one side to the other. First starting out with Beast, then growing to include Wolverine, Rogue, Havok, Sunspot and Cannonball, all transferring over at one time or another from the X-Men and also of course Quicksilver swapping from Avengers over to X-Factor. At their core, the main differences are, most simply put, that one is a team vastly more popular in the public eye who are recruited or appointed heroes. Rubber-stamped by the ruling elite and with carte blanche to perform their self-appointed duties unencumbered by moral values being thrust upon them. While the other is seen as a band of misfits, hated and distrusted by the larger population they try to protect. Vilified despite their very best efforts and quickly and easily blamed when things go wrong. On a very basic level, they have even been interpreted as the high school popular kids and jocks, versus the dropouts and unfortunate, misunderstood geeks and freaks that hide at the back of the class.
This dichotomy has spawned many entertaining crossovers, stories, and events that showcase the two teams for what they are and represent. Emblazoned in the minds of fans everywhere, each of the events holds significant importance for many reasons, as they mark out the two groups in ways that define not only the characters themselves, but the generations of fans who follow them. Some became iconic narratives that are used to hold both teams up as the paragons of virtue they embody, while others have proven a real bone of contention and a sticking point for those who love both teams. In some cases, they are used as a big stick to beat each other into submission with on social media platforms and claim their team is the better, either physically or ideologically. On occasion, they are even used in the wider media as a template of what marks the two teams out as being so vastly different, despite their obviously similar ethos and traits and creates a war that shouldn’t even exist.
Here are seven of the most memorable and not so memorable setups in the joint history of these two groups, be they either concussive clashes or meetings of the mind. Laid out in order of preference by the ones who REALLY matter based on the voting of fans, from the least known or cared for the event, right up to most highly revered. With some theory added as to why they are either placed on a pedestal or as forgotten as so many clearly believe they should be, here they all are. Remember, you decided this. Not the sales department, not the creators, not even Marvel themselves. The ones who really count. You the ever faithful reader.
Escape from The Negative Zone (2011)
The Not So Magnificent SEVEN. Very low on anyone’s radar. Barely a ripple in the water, or even a drop in the ocean here. Totally negative. Which is a shocker as it’s actually a great tale?
Creative team: James Asmus, Nick Bradshaw, Ibraim Roberson, Max Fiurama.
Plot and repercussions: Taking place in Uncanny X-Men Annual #3, Steve Rogers: Super Soldier Annual #1, Namor: The First Mutant Annual #1. Shortly after the advent of the Five Lights (sounds Christmasy huh?) Cyclops, Namor, Nemesis and Hope get pulled into the Negative Zone. After bickering and splitting into two teams, Nemesis and Namor must tackle a giant creature intent on eating them. But first, they have to survive even being in each others company. Meanwhile, Cyclops and Hope are captured by Blastaar, who uses them as a bargaining chip to get Mr. Fantastic to come and negotiate their release. Enter Steve Rogers who, due to the Fantastic Four still reeling from the death in the family, is tasked with saving the mutants from Blastaar. But they manage to escape themselves before running into him and they have to all then evade recapture.
Though Blastaar isn’t the biggest problem that they face. The lack of water and bizarre physics of the Negative Zone have driven Namor foaming at the mouth crazy and he is mindlessly destroying everything and everyone in his path, even his friends and even long-term wartime allies such as Rogers. Nemesis too has his own problems, trying to find them a way home. Long story short, they tackle Namor by having Hope go up against him, once Cyclops deals with his overprotective nature and they all make it home. Interesting back and forth between Scott and Steve before the bad times to come and also proving that Avenger and X-Man CAN still work well together.
This one clearly flew under the radar vote wisely as it really has some sharp, stand out dialogue and action with the mismatched team winning through despite themselves. Also, the first meeting of Cap and Hope. That’ll bode well in the future. He even vouches for Scott when Hope runs him down, as well as suggest to her that she can one day be an Avenger. If you haven’t read it I would heartily recommend it as it stands up there with the best of them, despite its low scoring here. Especially the sheer class that is Emma, who with a mere afterthought, teaches someone not to take inappropriate pictures with a mental compulsion of the perpetrators own wrist, while simultaneously snarking at Megan, proving women can truly multi-task, during the second instalment in the Steve Rogers: Super Soldier Annual (drawn beautifully by Ibraim Roberson)
Real world repercussions: Huh. Ermmmmm…what? Aside from the odd online post about the witty dialogue between Scott and Emma and some moments of pure comedy gold this had no lasting effects and sadly made no lasting impact on the souring relationship between Cap and Cyke. In fact, it was completely brushed aside in favor of the more sensational blah, blah, blah self-righteous bickering we know so well.
Avengers & X-Men: Axis (2014)
Ax-SIX of Evil. Almost neck and neck with Escape, but only just above, which is slightly surprising due to it’s MUCH higher profile. This is possibly because it is NOT a fan favorite for a few reasons. In one swift decisive move, Axis had Magneto conclusively proven to be only the father of Lorna Dane, thus losing all ‘blood ties’ to the Maximoffs, and powerfully and irrevocably breaking the one cast iron link that had once chained the two teams together. It also included the plot devise even more hated than “No More Mutants” Yes…INVERSION!
Creative team: Rick Remender, Adam Kubert, Leinil Francis Yu, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson, Jim Cheung.
Plot and repercussions: Hot on the heels of Original Sin came the nine issue Axis. Beginning with “March to AXIS” tie-ins involving the likes of Captain America, Loki: Agent of Asgard, Magneto and Uncanny Avengers, the story takes the almost too preposterous premise of the Red Skull using the being Onslaught and…sigh…the brain of the deceased Professor Xavier to overthrow the world and begin a new era of hate against mutantkind. He also influences Stark to create a new form of Sentinel, which use Pym particles to shrink and imprison several heroes. But Rogue persuades Scarlet Witch and Doctor Strange to cast an inversion spell to bring Xavier forward to defeat Onslaught. The spell backfires and Wanda is twisted into an evil version of herself. While Quicksilver and Magneto try to talk her down, she puts a curse on them that is meant to punish her blood. Pietro is the only one who reacts, which can mean only one thing, Magneto isn’t their father.
The events of AXIS itself and also the Inversion were at once dramatic and complex in terms of character study and development. Aside from the reversal of the Maximoffs parentage we also got to see heroes and villains fates so drastically changed. This was something we hadn’t readily seen or come to terms with at this point. Not since AOA, when we saw some heroes as villains and villains as heroes were there such a drastic change in the status quo, this time on a much larger scale. When the dust settles in the wake of the conflict, many status changes are afoot. Iron Man has returned to Stark Island in San Francisco. Havok returns to Cyclops’s X-Men. Deadpool and Evan Sabahnur go into hiding. Thor is still dealing with no longer being worthy. Doctor Doom abducts the Red Skull and holds him prisoner. The Avengers Unity Division reforms. Peter Parker builds the rhinestone statue Carnage made Spider-Man promise was going to be made when he sacrificed himself and still inverted. Sabretooth is imprisoned, promising to follow a better path in life similar to Wolverine’s path now that he is permanently inverted. And to top it all off Havok and Sabretooth are the only ones to remain inverted in the aftermath, which is a repercussion that has sat ill at ease with many fans to this day. Rogue would later resolve the issue with Xavier’s brain and release it from the bizarre control of the Red Skull and in an even more sensational move the Maximoff twins would also go on to discover that, not only was Magneto not their father, but they were not even mutants. Though the parentage issue is not a new dilemma, their change in genetic status was far more striking in its reversal of their very heritage and also caused some confusion as to Wanda’s own relation to Wiccan and Speed.
Real world repercussions: The whole saga created a ripple of strange and contrary effects within the wider-reaching sagas of the Marvel universe, yet again. Also, some online chatter around the time about the removal of the Maximoff relationship to Magneto bordered on complete paranoia and complaints of conspiracy due to licensing issues between Marvel and Fox. The overall reaction ranged, on occasion, from outright hate and ambivalence to plain and simple confusion and a state of “wait and see”, centred around both the Maximoff subplot and Inversion. Rick Remender, rightly or wrongly really upset the apple cart here. And though it courted controversy there is no doubt it definitely had the desired effect. Whatever the opinion on the story, however, this was a game changer and one thing was not in doubt, it included some stunning art by crossover mainstays Adam Kubert, Leinil Francis Yu, Terry Dodson and Rachel Dodson.
High FIVES All Round. Higher by a wider margin than the last two. The needle has jumped to the same degree as before with some fun but irreverent and inconsequential tales.
Creative team: #1 Dan Slott, Ron Garney, Jeph Loeb, Dale Keown, #2 Chris Bachalo, Peter David, Mike Del Mundo, #3 Jason Aaron, Pasqual Ferry, James Asmus, Billy Tan, #4 Karre Andrews, Lee Loughridge, Jason Latour, David Lopéz, #5 Kathryn Immonen, David Lafuente, Kieron Gillen, Joe Bennet, #6 Peter David, Giuseppe Camuncolli, Michele Benefento, Mike Costa, Stefano Caselli, #7 Zeb Wells, Dale Keown, Christopher Yost, R’John Bernales, Chris Turcotte, #8 Gerry Duggan, Salvador Larocca, Christopher Hastings, Reilly Brown, #9 Nathan Edmondson, Humberto Ramos, David Lapham, #10 B. Clay Moore, Chris Anka, Adam Warren, #11 Mike Benson, Mark Texeira, Jim Kruger, Ron Lim, Chris Sotomayor, #12 Cristos Gage, David Williams, Justin Jordan, Angel Unzueta, #13 Gerry Duggan, David Yardin, Howard Chaykin, #14 Max Bemis,David Lafuente, Gerry Duggan, David Yardin, #15 Jai Nitz, Greg Smallwood, Gerry Duggan, David Yardin, #16 Sean Ryan, Goran Parlov, Gerry Duggan, David Yardin, #17 Jeff Loveness, Paco Diaz, Gerry Duggan, David Yardin, #18 Jim Kruger, Will Sliney, Gerry Duggan, David Yardin, Matteo Lolli
Plot and repercussions: Not so much a plot as a postscript to AvX, this eighteen issue magnum opus is created to show how good team-ups can be when the heroes put aside their differences. A fun read that alleviates the doom and gloom of the previous crossover, this has such treasures as Doctor Strange and Beast teaming up to be introduced to a world where Beast is Sorcerer Supreme and Strange is known as Professor S. of the Strange Men, Rogue and Black Widow share and adventure and a kiss and Kitty Pryde is recruited for an induction day with Tony Stark. Also Loki meets Sinister, Cable teams up with Captain America…the list goes on, with no far reaching repercussions for anyone other than a fun time for all. Which is something rarely seen in the Marvel universe outside of Christmas specials or alternative realities.
Real world repercussions: Absolutely none, but a fun read nonetheless and creates a great game of “did you know?” for many fans to share with each other and a veritable who’s who of artistic talent in a dizzying variety of collaborations, both character and talent-wise. Most notable of which has to be Chris Bachalo and the hint of who Black Widow had an affair with.
Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia/Exodos (2009)
A FOUR…boding Dark feeling. Voting jumps up and we feel it on the Richter scale…things are getting hot in here.
Creative team: Matt Fraction, Marc Silvestri, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson, Luke Ross, (Utopia) Mike Deodato Jr, Rachel Dodson, Terry Dodson (Exodus)
Plot and repercussions: Beginning in the Utopia one-shot special, the story crosses over to Uncanny X-Men#513-514, Dark Avengers #7-8, X-Men Legacy #226-227, Dark X-Men: The Beginning #1-3, Dark X-Men: Confession and also Dark Reign: The List – Uncanny X-Men before concluding in the bookend to Utopia, Exodus. It all begins with a clash erupting between a Humanity Now! coalition demonstration march and a pro-mutant crowd as Hellion and Pixie lead a group of mutants to surround the demonstrators resulting in riot police being called in.
Cyclops then agrees to have the X-Men out at night to diffuse the situation. When riots break out all over the city despite their best efforts, Norman Osborn sends in his Avengers to deal with the situation. And they inevitably come into conflict with the X-Men. Meanwhile, Emma Frost meets up with Osborn and he hands her the new mutant manifesto: the creation of another team of mutants led by Frost.
Osborn then fronts a press conference presenting Professor X, who calls for Cyclops to stop running from law enforcement and turn himself in, while denouncing the behavior of the X-Men. But all is not as it seems. Professor X is a fraud, the real Xavier telepathically contacts Beast to tell him he is being kept prisoner. Later in Exodus, there is the all too familiar fighting between teams, but this time the Avengers are no heroes. Meanwhile, Professor X is freed by Frost, who apologizes for letting Osborn torture him and asks for his help in calming the Sentry. However, her plan goes awry and Emma is unable to hold the Void in her. Cyclops confronts Osborn, who calls a retreat. Cyclops goes live, denouncing how mutants are hated and feared and declares that mutantkind shall be free. Meanwhile, Osborn hosts his own press conference, offering ‘alternative facts’ and declaring that his Avengers and X-Men have won and Utopia is a prison for mutants and is content to let them stay there. As the X-Men recover and rebuild Utopia, Emma congratulates Cyclops on creating a new home. However, when she reminds him of Genosha he states it won’t happen again. They will beat Osborn the same way they did before, with faith.
Long-term repercussions involve Cloak and Dagger joining the X-Men for a time, discord between Cyclops and Beast, mistrust between Cyclops and Emma, Emma having issues with the sliver of the Void she has to contain within herself, also Deadpool believing Cyclops is talking to him specifically when he sees him on TV and deciding he must join the X-Men and upon Cyclops refusal of him, being called a hypocrite by Dagger. Also, there are implications for several of the Avengers in Osborn’s team such as Ares who is later put in charge of leading the attack on Asgard and Sentry himself ending up killing Ares during Siege. And a face-off between Ares and Mirage who makes a deal with Hela to up her game considerably.
Real world repercussions: Coming hot on the heels of Messiah Complex and also Secret Invasion: Dark Reign, it can get dizzying keeping up with events in the wider Marvel universe and the effects they have on the individuals and teams involved. Events then keep on coming until it becomes a tangled mess trying to keep on top of continuity in a plausible and believable way. Matt Fraction gave an intriguing look at the powder keg that was mutant hostility, which was topped off by some stunning art from the likes of Marc Silvestri, again, as with Axis, Terry Dodson, and Rachel Dodson, on Utopia, with Mike Deodato Jr, on Exodus.)
The X-Men vs The Avengers (1987)
TRI-umph of Justice. Now we are talking. There are some serious underground tremors with this one. Court is now in session, let the defense plead their case.
Creative team: Roger Stern, Marc Silvestri (#1-3) Josef Rubinstein(#1-4) Tom DeFalco, Keith Pollard (#4)
Plot and repercussions: When the Avengers find a fallen asteroid that is revealed to be part of the former HQ of their arch villain and father to Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, Magneto, they set out to arrest him for his past crimes. Meanwhile, he is also being hunted by the Soviet Super Soldiers for the sinking of the submarine the Leningrad. Both teams then come up against his new allies, the X-Men and the Avengers and X-Men form an uneasy alliance, though this is short lived when Magneto attempts to retrieve some old real estate and his helmet. What follows is a battle that would put the sword of the Black Knight against the might of Wolverines claws, Rogue playing kiss chase with Vanguard and more importantly results in Magneto giving himself up to the International Court of Justice in Paris, after realising his hiding in Singapore will cause yet more death and finally being absolved of all crimes.
Real world repercussions: Remember when it took just two people to collaborate on a book? One writer and one artist? No, me neither. Long gone are the days when a crossover was simply utilized to continue or conclude an ongoing plot, or showcase a story too big to tackle within existing titles, instead of creating an event as they do now. Roger Stern and Marc Silvestri though did just that, admittedly with some help on the finale from Tom DeFalco and Keith Pollard. Apart from a Guardians of the Galaxy feature in 1977 and brief collaborations, Stern was solely on editing duties within Marvel until 1980, when he would break into writing full time on Spectacular Spider-Man. For the X-Men, he would also go on to give us the memorable X-Men: Odd Men Out in 2008. With the X-Men vs the Avengers, he and Silvestri delivered a standout story with an epic dilemma, that shook the overall participants to their very foundations and had a feeling of actual importance and impact in the meeting between the two groups. In the same year that we had Fantastic Four v The X-Men and also Mephisto vs EVERYBODY this was to set the benchmark and give us a taste of how it would mostly be played out whenever these two Marvel mainstays meet, but with more depth and meaning than we were likely to see in the future. This is a simpler tale for a simpler time. Now the ongoing continuity or prevalent story of the day suffers and the often long set up, far-reaching fallout of the overall plot are sacrificed for the sake of the epic proportions of the crossover EVENT and the short-termism of the quick ratings hit. Though the storyline here was a serious one with deeper implications for both teams, going so far as to signpost such incidents as Magneto’s past crimes in Uncanny X-Men #150, Xavier’s disappearance in Uncanny X-Men #200 and even Captain America’s meeting with Magneto in Captain America Annual #4, it decisively set the tone for all future meetings of the two…mostly. An interesting and possibly coincidental footnote follows here. Later the same year Mark Gruenwald would go on to fire Stern from the Avengers, during a dispute about the upcoming storyline. He then went to freelance for DC and would not return until 1996. With one notable exception still to come the X-Men and Avengers would be set against each other for many wide and varied reasons over the years to come. Which brings us to…
TWO…Tribes Go To War. Now we are rocking. Buildings are showing definite cracks here as the Quinjet lands on the rocky shore with some serious long-term grudges being held and old wounds reopened when the two teams fight over the big one…the fate of the Phoenix.
Creative team: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman, Matt Fraction, John Romita Jr, Olivier Coipel and Adam Kubert.
Plot and repercussions: Preceded by Avengers: X-Sanction (Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness) in which Cable has targetted the Avengers, this 12 issue maxi-series event inevitably spilled over into several tie-in books. Primarily that of Avengers and the two main X-Men titles, Uncanny X-Men and X-Men Legacy (natch) it also had fallout within titles such as Avengers Academy, Secret Avengers, New Avengers and last but not least Wolverine and The X-Men. As well as spawning another maxi series entitled AvX VS, there was also the inevitable miniseries, AvX: Consequences, and Iron Man: Godkiller.
Sparked off by the impending return of the Phoenix, the Avengers see it as a threat to mankind and head off to stop it joining with Hope by attempting to “take her into protective custody”. Whereas conversely, Cyclops team of X-Men believe it to be a dawning of a new age for their race, which is still on its knees after Decimation and the thinning of their species. And so the two teams come to loggerheads with some interesting divergent attitudes. That of Wolverine, long time X-Man and now Captain America’s pet Avenger, Hope, the supposed target of the force barrelling its way to Earth who is at first reticent to be fought over like some trophy and leery of her fate, Cyclops and Cable who are the proponents of ensuring Phoenix gets what they think it wants, then everyone else trapped in the middle. The Phoenix Five remaking the world to their specific design and the end result of the death of the creator of the Dream of mutant and human co-existence would send shockwaves through the Marvel universe for years.
Real world repercussions: Opinion was vastly divided and professional critics went all out. With CBR giving AvX #1 4 out of 5, praising Bendis’ writing but felt John Romita Jr.’s art to be “a bit inconsistent”, explaining “The storytelling is good and he handles the large cast very well, but there are places where the art feels very thin on detail”. Also, critics such as Jesse Schedeen of IGN gave AvX #2 a 5.0 out of 10, stating“Romita’s work seems rushed” and “Aaron’s distinctive voice is toned down to the point where the shift away from Brian Michael Bendis’ script is far less noticeable than might be expected”. By AvX #7 Schedeen gave it a score of 7.5 writing “As with nearly every chapter of this event, Avengers vs. X-Men #7 is guilty of glossing over certain vital parts of the story in its charge forward. Even so, the series remains in better shape than it was during Act 1″ Schedeen gave AvX #12 a 6.9 stating, “The final issue of Avengers vs. X-Men delivers an epic but sometimes emotionally underwhelming finish”. CBR gave the final issue four stars out of five as well, saying “It feels like unhelpful shorthand to praise a comic for being fun, so even though that’s what “AvX VS” #6 is, let’s instead praise its other qualities: it’s humorous, inventive and routinely gorgeous”.
And yet commercially it was hugely successful, due in part to the following relaunch initiative that was Marvel Now. It topped the comic book sales charts from April to October that year. Also, it lasted for almost a whole year, from May 2012 with AvX #0 to November 2012 (two years if you include A+X which wrapped up in May 2014) and so had some serious longevity, when it must be remembered that some sagas run out of steam less than halfway through. With AvX #1 estimated to have peaked at 200,000 in the first month of release, AvX #2 dropped to 135,000 then went up again, peaking at 190,000 by AvX #6 but settling again to a healthy 170,000 by the final issue. Still far above the other tie-in mini series X-Sanction, VS, and Consequences, as shown in the chart below.
Fans were as divided by the event as the characters themselves. In the short term, it was a tremendous roller-coaster of an event that pitted hero against hero for the fate of the world. Some felt many of the players in the drama acted a little out of character, or that it polarised beliefs as never before within the teams and even with fans, some of whom surmised that the incident should never have happened in the first place. Or to put it in it’s simplest terms…
From Wolverine being used as the potential executioner of Hope if it all went wrong, Hope herself flip-flopping on how to react to her ultimate fate, Cyclops being seen as a blinkered revolutionary who sees only that the end justifies the means and going so far as to absorb the full Phoenix Force himself after taking out his co-hosts, go mad and kill his father figure, Charles Xavier. Not to mention poor Rachel. The panel below completely sums up many fans opinion as to how it really looked from an outsiders perspective and how the whole thing could have been avoided if one HUGE plot point from the past had not either been overlooked, ignored or completely forgotten.
And so despite the wide gulf of varied opinion of fans and that of critics, the figures do speak for themselves. Sales wise and controversy wise it was a high point for Marvel. The cream of Marvel talent at the time Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman, Matt Fraction, John Romita Jr, Olivier Coipel and Adam Kubert, rolled up their sleeves, got their heads together and went all out to give us a pantheon of heroes, who mixed it up in the arena that covered the whole world and even went to the moon and back, resulting in a climax no one was expecting. Also resulting in the supposed character assassination of Scott Summers for his part in the death of his father figure, Charles Xavier. It delivered a battle on an epic scale with some truly eye-popping confrontations and ideological differences between characters that, though many have often been allies individually, when the bigger picture was involved, the revised allegiances couldn’t have been more controversial and thought-provoking. However, it created a vast divide between fans and an incident from which there was no turning back. Even in light of the return of Xavier and if ever Scott Summers does return (because death is NEVER the end) there are no takesys-backsies where Patricide comes in. But then again, if Wanda can come back from her fall from grace that was Decimation and Jean from her own brush with the cosmic chicken, there is hope for Cyclops yet. After all, everyone has a bad day. Even if it is a truly dark one.
ONE…Big Happy Family. Just a head above AvX. Clearly a parable of the Apartheid era this is a tale that truly negates those who demand comics should be free of politics and also shows the two teams as they once were, two separate sides of the same coin.
Creative team: Bob Harras, Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza, Roy Thomas, Jan Duursema, Steve Epting, Andy Kubert, John Romita Jr, Dave Ross, Tim Dzon, Dan Green, Tom Palmer and Matt Ryan.
Plot and repercussions: So WAAAAY back in 1993 the X-Men and Avengers both had their landmark 30th anniversaries. And what better way to celebrate than with a big reunion and street party. Well, Marvel didn’t do that, obviously. Instead, they had a civil war between an island nation of recently liberated mutants, mutates and it’s human population and topped it all off with a child abduction. Taking place in Avengers #368-369, Avengers West Coast #101, X-Men #26 and Uncanny X-Men #307, the tale followed on directly from Fatal Attractions and finds Fabian Cortez seizing the granddaughter of Magneto, Luna, as a barrier from his former master’s rage for his betrayal. Unaware that Magnus isn’t even capable of raising an eyebrow let alone a fist, he goes on to stir up some unrest in Genosha for good measure. However as her parents, X-Factor member Quicksilver and the Inhuman Crystal of the Avengers, are pretty powerful themselves and come with some crazy powerful friends you wouldn’t mess with, all bets are off. The abduction of Luna also raises the ire of one Bennet du Paris, better known as the all-powerful mutant Acolyte Exodus, who not only takes it upon himself to deal with Cortez, but expunge the blight of humanity from his former masters bloodline that is the child Luna, who has the double distinction of not only being half Inhuman but also NOT a mutant, otherwise known as a ‘flatscan’. A state of affairs Exodus will not permit to sully the good family name. Fun and games ensue and everyone descends upon Hammer Bay to deal with their respective issues in a way that would put Jerry Springer to shame. It’s also memorable for showing Exodus going toe to toe with Sersi and the first time Quicksilver and Crystal look to bury any long-standing issues they have with some on the spot couples therapy. This was also a landmark story as it was the first outing of Revanche as a member of the X-Men, after her introduction in Puzzle Quest, where she officially joins the X-Men in the field and notable as the first time we see her in action without being shown as some sort of appendage to Psylocke. The involvement of the Avengers also means them going against the wishes of the government and the UN, something that will have repercussions when they get home and which draws a clear line in the sand and makes them more relatable to the plight of mutants for the first and maybe also the last time.
Real world repercussions: Not much of note was recorded of critical opinion at the time, social media being in its infancy. Back in the 90’s Wizard magazine was the place to get any and all news of what was hot. And so when the wunderkind of 90’s Marvel got together for this family reunion to celebrate the milestone in the two groups creation, that is where Bloodties was lauded as the event of the decade. With the Pressman gold second print of Uncanny X-Men #307, two commemorative magazines also being produced for both X-Men and Avengers in the September and November of that year as well as a poster book entitled M.A.X Yearbook, that was all it took to launch an event that was thirty years in the making and is a true testament to how the story takes precedence over spectacle.
This was the extent of the mass marketing outside of comic events back in the day. Still, in its heyday as the boom in variant covers, prismatic covers and covers with holograms and trading card sized images plastered on them was just getting into high gear. Not like more recent times and the aforementioned maxi-series within a series and spin-off mini-series. It is a true testament to all of the creators, Bob Harras, Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza, Roy Thomas, Jan Duursema, Steve Epting, Andy Kubert, John Romita Jr, Dave Ross, Tim Dzon, Dan Green, Tom Palmer and Matt Ryan that great plot, character and story development ensures that so many years later this STILL comes in higher than the biggest Avengers/X-Men meeting EVER, without all the bells and whistles of having umpteen variant covers and being drawn out for a whole year (or two). And twenty-five years on is so memorable that it also ranks far higher than the most recent crossover and therefore the freshest in everyone’s memories. And it may be no mere coincidence that within both stories lies one intrinsic common link, which may possibly be the key to explaining the reason for its favorable position. Where Axis retconned a retcon and reversed one of the few mutant dynasties that the two teams had in common, with a scream at the top of its lungs this affirms it in the loudest possible voice. Or as Exodus himself says…
“Humans and mutants working together! The embodiment of Xavier’s Dreamquest.” Couldn’t have put it better myself Benny.
Not only that, but the fact that out of all the times these two teams have faced off this is by far the all too rare occasion where they co-operated so decisively and were the epitome of how heroes should truly act. I wouldn’t so much count A+X, as some of those stories were anecdotal at best and a few even had them meet up just to agree to disagree and go their separate ways. Bloodties, however, did what no other matchup of heroes did so conclusively. From the start they didn’t have the usual face off, misunderstandings, squabbling, and soap opera style in-fighting that so often permeates the traditional trope when two teams of heroes meet up, which in fact is almost always de rigueur now. This in itself showed how serious their plight was, that it took two teams to deal with the threat and work together. Something that has been seen by fans as lacking before and again in later years, with obvious calls of “where were you when things got bad Cap?” becoming more prevalent over recent incidents such as 198, M Day and especially AvX. Although within the Avengers there was some question as to what to do to begin with, and Genosha itself held some very bad memories for the X-Men, once the true dilemma began and they finally come face to face in Act IV, it was with compassion and care for each other, when the estranged couple meet alongside Jean and Wanda, whilst searching for Luna and Cortez.
And also in Act V with the rest of each team finally meeting up. They were a smooth, cohesive unit, splitting up into various sub-teams and cooperating for the greater good of their shared goals. In fact, I’d go so far as to say they all behaved almost as one large sympathetic family, a true force to be reckoned with, which we may never see the like of again.
OVERALL CONCLUSION: So what, if anything, can we glean from all of this? The general consensus seems pretty clear. When all else is said and done the best formula for a crossover is to have both sides of heroes ACT like heroes and help each other from the get-go. Not to knock the stuffing out of each other blow by blow, pointing fingers (and claws) and making each other’s lives miserable. Nobody likes that guy. That guy just doesn’t get invited to dinner parties and family get togethers. Although it does still sell a lot of books, especially when you make it a 12 issue maxi-series with side events such as a sub-series with one on one battles within battles. Oh and not to mention a fallout title or two called Consequences and Godkiller where the two main protagonists have to go sit on the naughty step for being VERY BAD BOYS and think about what they did. While the event itself is dramatic, the narrative that stands up to the true test of time is how these people act when the chips are down. And people clearly prefer when everyone just gets along and trounces the real bad guy, not each other. Sales figures or no sales figures.
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