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Avengers vs. X-Men
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This year's major Marvel story line is an epic grudge match between the two greatest superhero teams in the Marvel Universe, mostly penned by Bendis but with more than a dozen collaborators. This huge collection comprises the main series and two supplementary spin-offs. When the superheroes disagree about how to handle the planet-killing Phoenix force as it returns to Earth-possibly in search of a new host, a teenage girl named Hope-all hell breaks loose. Once the flawed premise is accepted, it's impossible to deny the fun of seeing fan favorites throwing punches at one another, but there's not much beneath that action-based surface. All the artists in this collection are strong, but they vary greatly when it comes to how they portray Hope. Sometimes she looks 12, other times 25, and as the character who much of the book hinges on, the discrepancy is distracting. The short stories featured in the "AVX: VS" portion of the book are essentially more extended battles between certain characters; the high point comes in episode six, where shorter, more humorous, and far more creative stories were tackled by a wider variety of talented creators. While a stereotype of superhero fighting, the Marvel Universe gets a thorough workout in what is a well-executed MMA-version of these well-known characters. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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