The Battle rages on.

It’s Earth’s Mightiest vs. the Children of the Atom. The Phoenix has been stirring up shit, which is reason enough for Hero and Mutant to clash and the Marvel Universe will never be the same again! And Geek Hard will be there to report on the battles and advise on the aftermath (well, I will, at least). No issue will be forgotten and no plot point left unturned. Hard hitting analysis will ensue. Consider this you’re Avengers vs. X-men Post show.

Since there are no new issues of AvsX or VS. this week, we’ll be taking a look at Avengers #30, the only issue marked AvsX to hits the stands for this Wednesday. While this issue does flaunt it’s banner, I don’t really see much of a connection to AvsX. With the exception of the first double splash page and the note by a character or two that the conflict has been taking up a lot of the Avengers’ time, there really is no real mention of the Phoenix or the X-Men for that matter. We’ve been hoodwinked! But with no other issue to review this week, we will be  delving into this one which focuses on two of my favourite Avengers, Hawkeye and Spider Woman.

This issue of Avengers is brought to you by Brian Michael Bendis and Walter Simonson. During the course of the Avengers vs. X-Men Event, I have praised Bendis’ run on New Avengers (with Artist Mike Deodato) and stated that possibly being inspired by a great artist has rejuvenated Brian’s love and passion for the characters. Bendis’ work on Avengers further backs up that point by being the antithesis to his New Avengers work. Where the other book feels fresh and new, this series comes off more like a re-hash with more than a few paint-by-numbers plots. But with this issue, there has been some improvement in storytelling. But was it enough?

The story begins with that aforementioned double splash page depicting the crazy battle between the Avengers and Cyclops and Emma Frost. There is narration accompanying it that alludes to the conflict and how it’s taking up Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ time and as such, this should be taken advantage of. This is then followed by Mr. Negative and his crew breaking into a top secret Shield facility to obtain the confiscated mech weapons that The Red Skull (Sin) used to attack Washington and New York during the Fear Itself storyline. Everything appears to be going swimmingly for Negative and the gang until Marvel’s favourite archer and his Arachnid-inspired girlfriend hit the scene. Then it’s pretty much game over. For the rest of the issue, the two wipe the floor with the hoods as they work through a bump in their relationship (mainly the history Hawkeye has with one witch of the scarlet variety that has recently re-joined the team). After several pages of ass-kicking and an appearance by the Avengers’ Big Three, the story’s over, but not before a reveal that Spider Woman was given intel by the Viper (of Hydra). The last page reveals Viper’s impetus for giving Jessica the tip.

As I said above, the Avengers series has been lacking since the beginning of AvsX. The tone and pacing have seemed off for the recent batch of issues and one would guess it has to do with the writer/artist dynamic. As legendary as Walt Simonson is, it is very obvious that he and Bendis do not gel on a creative level. That being said, this story was their best collaboration to date. The pacing of the issue was good and the characters felt like the characters. The idea of having a huge fight between a group of villains and two heroes and make the story really about a guy having a fight with his jealous girlfriend is fun. Especially since, for the short period Hawkeye and Spider Woman have been together, there hasn’t really been any examination of their relationship to this point. The fight is funny for the most part as the “love-life history” or lack there of between the archer and the Scarlet Witch is the focus. Of all the characters to focus on. Jessica’s upset that Clint has a past with Wanda and Wanda doesn’t know they’re dating. If we were to line up team members that Hawkeye’s had a thing with, Scarlet Witch would not be at the front of that line. Hey Spider Woman, you do know that his ex-wife, who we never saw him break up with in any issue before you started dating, is still an Avenger, right? And what about Black Widow? Did you not know about her? It’s kind of stupid for her to be upset. But what I like is that she comes to that realization on her own and fixes the problem without dragging it out. It’s almost more like she’s venting to Hawkeye in the issue more than scolding him. And Hawkeye, not the brightest, is better off for it going that way since he would have put his foot in his mouth eventually. It was nice to see a human element with these two. The backdrop of the issue – Mr. Negative making a play for the ordinance – was weak but served its purpose. The art was not as jarring as previous issues but was still not up to par for what I expect for an Avengers book. This is even more evident when you look at the stunning cover by Leinil Yu. It’s like getting ready to eat a steak but then when you sit down to eat it, it’s now a hamburger. A hamburger is alright but you’re hungry for steak. There was one art gag that I liked on the third last page. As Spider Woman brings Iron Man and Cap up to speed on the evening’s events, you can see Thor in the background. A thug gets to his feet and Thor just knocks him back down with one punch saying, “Be Still”. It was pretty funny. Overall, while not the best run in Simonson’s carreer, this was still a passable one.

If you read Avengers on a regular basis then you shold pick up this book. That is the only reason to take the time to read it. There is no real tie-in to AvsX. I was debating on doing the post show this week since there really wasn’t a show to speak of. But we are just 2 weeks away from the epic conclusion to the Dark Phoenix-clops versus almost every other hero in the Marvel Universe (at least 85 % of them) and I can’t wait. As far as events go, this was probably the most fun I’ve had with one from the big two in a while (if not ever).

That’s all for this week. Keep checking back here for more reviews and predictions with Geek Hard’s AvX post show.

And if you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!

It’s all about Hawkeye and Spider Woman (No, really. Those people in the background aren’t even in this issue).