Marvel’s 2012 tentpole event will be “Avengers vs. X-Men,” a biweekly 12-issue miniseries. The story will involve the Phoenix Force returning to Earth and feature the Scarlet Witch in a prominent role. At least one character will die, and Marvel will publish a second miniseries (title yet to be announced) that ties into AvX.
Like any comics fan worthy of his Black Lantern T-shirt, I’ve been speculating about what will happen in the series. Here are my guesses:
1. In Schism, the X-Men split into two factions, but they’ll put aside their differences to try to beat up the Avengers. How could it be otherwise? The miniseries is called “Avengers vs. X-Men,” not “Avengers vs. Half the X-Men.” Besides, what with the regular Avengers, the New Avengers, the Secret Avengers, and maybe even Avengers Academy, there are a lot of Avengers, and they all do get along. The X-Men need to show up with their full roster to make a fight of it.
2. As in Civil War, the two teams will fight even though they know they’re all heroes and it will be obvious to any thoughtful reader that the violence can’t accomplish anything positive. We fans will forgive the contrived plotting, though, because, after all, we’re buying the series to see the characters fight. So, hey, whatever it takes to get Colossus and the Red Hulk slugging it out like they are in the promotional art.
Besides, hero-on-hero (combat) action has been a Marvel tradition since the glory days of Lee, Kirby, and Ditko. No reason to quit at this late date.
3. Unless I’m forgetting someone, there are four characters who are both Avengers and X-Men. So the question arises, which side will each of them take?
Storm’s been an X-Men as long as she’s been a superhero. She only just joined the Avengers. It’s hard to imagine her siding with her new teammates over the old friends and mutant brethren even though her husband the Black Panther is an Avenger. It’s not like she’s going to have to electrocute him. He’s an inactive member who hasn’t served on the team in a long while.
Namor used to fight the Avengers, only served briefly, and, like the Panther, left the active roster long ago. It seems unlikely that he’ll abandon the X-Men, either, despite his considerable history with — and respect for — Avengers Captain America and Dr. Strange.
Wolverine’s been one of the most active Avengers in recent years and seems very much at home with the team. But he’s been an X-Man much longer and at the moment actually leads not just one but two of the several X-groups. He, too, will stand with his fellow mutants.
That leaves the Beast. He started his superhero career with the X-Men but has seen plenty of action with the Avengers, too. Look for him to side with the latter group if only because it seems inevitable (from a storytelling perspective) that at least one of these characters will.
4. The tie-in miniseries will be better than AvX. Honestly, I’m not at all confident about this particular prediction, but I’ll go out on a limb based on recent events. Fear Itself, Marvel’s big 2011 miniseries, was pretty good once it finally got moving. Journey into Mystery, the spin-off series, was and is terrific.
5. In House of M, the Scarlet Witch revealed the ability to transform reality on a global scale. First, she wished for a world where mutants ruled, and that reality replaced the normal Marvel one. Later, she wished for a world without mutants, and while she didn’t quite achieve it, she de-powered the vast majority.
The trouble with characters like that is they’re too powerful to use in the average story. How can a standard Marvel badass like Baron Zemo or Count Nefaria challenge the Scarlet Witch if she can turn him into a flamingo or teleport him to Pluto just by wanting it to happen?
A common solution is to sideline the omnipotent character, and this is what Marvel did with the Scarlet Witch, sending her off to Wundagore to live in seclusion. But she’s a fairly major character, and in a superhero universe, no such champion or villain stays inactive forever.
AvX will solve the problem of her omnipotence by dialing her “probability-altering” mutant “hexes” back to what they were in her early days, thus enabling her return to the Avengers. She’ll burn out the greater part of her power preventing the Phoenix Force from destroying the Earth in an irresistible force/immovable object sort of confrontation.
6. The Beast will die. He may not be the only character who does, but he’s definitely kicking the oxygen habit. The Beast is a wise, kind-hearted soul much loved by both teams, the hero most likely to plead for peace and reason before the onrushing tide of events compels him to reluctantly choose a side. As such, his death will devastate both groups. It’ll be the dope slap that makes them stop fighting and work together just in time to save the world.
7. Of course, in the Marvel Universe, superheroes rarely stay dead forever. Captain America (the James “Bucky” Barnes/Winter Soldier version) and Thor died in Fear Itself and came back to life (well, in Thor’s case, at least a reasonable facsimile thereof) immediately. They popped back up like Bobo dolls.
The Beast may not be that lucky. He could stay dead a while. But in Secret Invasion, Marvel used a big event miniseries to bring back seemingly dead characters. The Scarlet Witch has the ability to raise the dead, and AvX is a story about the Phoenix Force. Put all that together and what do you get? The resurrection of Jean Grey, a character capable of merging with the Phoenix Force and (maybe) keeping it under control.
And there you have them: my predictions. It’ll be fun (and possibly humbling) to see to what extent I was right.
Richard Lee Byers is the author of more than 30 fantasy and horror novels, including a number set in the Forgotten Realms universe. Look for his eBook supehero series The Impostor, his eBook collection The Q Word and Other Stories, and all the rest of his work on Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Follow him on Twitter (@rleebyers), friend him on Facebook, and add him to your Circles on Google+. Follow his blog here.