Avengers vs. X-Men #1

Issue Date: 
June 2012
Story Title: 

Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman, Matt Fraction (story) Brian Michael Bendis (writer), John Romita Jr (penciler), Scott Hana (inker), Laura Martin (colorist), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Jim Cheung & Justin Ponsor (cover artists), John Denning (assistant editor), Lauren Sankovitch (associate editor), Nick Lowe (consulting editor), Tom Brevoort (editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive editor)

Brief Description: 

The Phoenix Force decimates a city, possibly an entire planet, as it moves through the cosmos. On Earth, several of the Avengers witness a burst of energy crash into a commercial airliner, and then into the top of a building. Thor, Iron Man and Ms Marvel prevent the airliner from crashing, and from the debris of the building falling to the ground. Spider-Man assists in stopping the debris. Captain America, Hawkeye and the Black Widow find the point of impact on the ground where the energy landed - it’s Nova, who is in a bad shape, and announces “It’s coming” before passing out. On Utopia, Cyclops persists in giving Hope rigorous training exercises, despite her protests. Hope reminds Cyclops she has been training all her life, and asks him what he is so afraid of, before she manifests energy in the form of a phoenix. Captain America and Iron Man visit the President and brief him on Nova’s appearance, and the fact that they found the energy source of the Phoenix entity on his costume. They announce that the Phoenix is headed to Earth and explain that it will lay waste to everything. They report that a squad of Avengers have been headed to intercept, and that it may be a suicide mission, when suddenly, Iron Man gets a signal of a similar energy to that of the Phoenix, being used on Earth. Captain America visits the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning and quizzes Wolverine about the Phoenix, before telling him that it is coming this way and asks if he can count on Wolverine and the school’s help. On Utopia, Magneto, the White Queen, Sub-Mariner and Colossus confront Cyclops about Hope’s recent manifestation, and discuss the Phoenix, when Captain America arrives. Hope watches as Cyclops confronts Captain America, who the White Queen reports is not planning to leave without Hope. Cyclops points out that the Avengers were never there for the mutant population after “M-Day”, and does not offer his support to Captain America now. He orders Captain America off his island, and even uses his optic blast on him, only for over a dozen Avengers, including Wolverine, to reveals themselves onboard a SHIELD heli-carrier overhead. Cyclops orders his X-Men to protect Hope at all costs.

Full Summary: 

Bales of hay are scattered across a field. Farm buildings loom over the field. A small boy with a strange appearance stands on the porch of the farmhouse, and watches as the color of the sky begins to change - to a brilliant yellow luminous haze. The boy turns to another on the porch, and in a strange language, calls out ‘Father?’. The father puts a hand on the boy’s shoulder, as a cosmic phoenix appears overhead and decimates the farm in spectacular display. The Phoenix Force rises from the alien farm, and spreads upwards into the cosmos.

Earth, specifically Avengers Tower, where Ms Marvel drops down onto the roof, as several members of the various Avengers teams have gathered - Wolverine, Hawkeye, Thor, Black Widow, Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man and Protector. Standing next to some machinery, Iron Man tells the Protector that you don’t put a coupling drive next to the power source. ‘With all due respect, Mr Stark, did you forget I’m a technologies expert from an advanced civilization light years ahead of -’ the Protector begins, but Iron Man interrupts and states ‘Not sure what I’m more annoyed about - that you’re being so condescending, or that you are -’, however he is interrupted by Spider-Man who tells them that Ms Marvel is here. ‘Please stop fighting’ Spider-Man adds.

Ms Marvel drops down beside Iron Man and the Protector and asks ‘What’s going on? Never mind. I don’t care’, before asking if they are having an Avengers meeting. Iron Man turns to Captain America and reminds him that he is the leader, ‘Tell Protector to stop touching my stuff’ Iron Man asks. ‘Play nice, Tony’ Captain America tells his long-time friend and teammate.
Suddenly, the heroes look up and notice a brilliant light streaking across the sky. ‘Guys…we got a thing here’ Iron Man announces. ‘What is that?’ Ms Marvel asks. ‘Incoming!’ Captain America exclaims. ‘What madness?’ Thor remarks, when suddenly, the energy, whatever it is, crashes into a large commercial airliner above the city. ‘AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!’ Thor shouts as he, Ms Marvel, Iron Man and the Protector take flight.

The energy streaks downwards and crashes into the Empire State Building, while the plane begins to spin out of control, plummeting downwards, its right wing already fallen off. Thor begins to swing his mighty hammer and tells Iron Man to make sure the wing doesn’t fall into the city. ‘On it!’ Iron Man exclaims as he flies downwards, and Thor announces that he has this, as he creates a whirlwind. ‘Guys, I could use some back up!’ Ms Marvel exclaims as she flies towards the falling part of the Empire State Building. ‘Father, guide my hand’ Thor utters as he moves closer and closer to the falling plane. ‘Come on!’ Iron Man exclaims as he approaches the flaming wing.

Thor catches the plane in the whirlwind, while Ms Marvel reaches the top of the building, and holds it up in the air. She screams in agony, before declaring ‘Got it!’, while down below, Spider-Man creates a massive web all over the street, to catch falling people and debris. ‘Aaaand you’re welcome!’ Spider-Man exclaims, adding ‘Those are official Spider-Man spider-webs, by the way. Not sold in stores’, as he perches on a lamppost. ‘Wow. That’s it. I’m moving. I’m done’ one of the civilians mutters. Iron Man releases a repulser ray at the plane wing, reducing it to dust, which falls down to the streets below. Thor has the plane completely engulfed in his tornado, and with complete control, he lowers it to the nearby harbor.

A Quinjet lands near the street where the burst of energy landed, and Captain America, Hawkeye and the Black Widow rush forth, while Protector drops down beside them. Captain America radios Iron Man and informs him that they are headed to the point of impact. The heroes are surprised when they see a certain someone lying amongst the debris, the young hero called Nova. ‘Get a medical crew over here now!’ Captain America shouts, while Hawkeye remarks that he thought Nova died. Cap calls out to Nova, asking him if he can hear him, but the young hero only utters ‘It’s - it’s coming’ before he passes out. Spider-Man asks what the “it” is, as he, Thor and Iron Man join their teammates beside Nova. Iron Man announces that there is nothing on the interstellar radar. Captain America asks Thor to do them a favor and see if anything is following Nova, then he looks down at Nova and frowns.

Meantime, on Utopia, island home of some of the X-Men, off the coast of San Francisco. Cyclops is giving the young mutant Hope a combat lesson. ‘Again!’ he orders. ‘Get up, Hope. We’re going again’ Cyclops tells her. Hope asks what she is supposed to be training for, to which Cyclops snaps ‘Life’. Hope gets to her feet and exclaims ‘This time with powers’, but Cyclops tells her ‘Absolutely not’. Hope tells him that he is no fun. Cyclops tells her that he is training her to be better than that. ‘Better than my best?’ Hope scoffs. Cyclops explains that powers don’t define you, and reminds her that right now there are humans looking for ways to take away her mutant powers. ‘How are you going to fight them then?’ he inquires. ‘Is this how Professor X trained you?’ Hope asks as she raises a leg to kick. ‘Absolutely’ Cyclops tells her as he fires an optic blast, knocking the brash girl back.

‘What the hell, man?! You said no powers!’ Hope protests. ‘I said no powers for you’ Cyclops points out, before telling her ‘Again’, only this time, Hope kicks her leg back, and trips Cyclops up. She gets up and punches him in the face, before Cyclops plants his knee into Hope’s face. The girl falls backwards and then onto her knees. ‘Again!’ Cyclops orders, while, on a balcony overlooking the outdoor area, Magneto watch the training session.
‘How’s the show today, Magneto?’ asks the White Queen as she stands in the doorway behind him. ‘Your man is in quite a mood’ Magneto tells the Emma, who replies ‘Well, you would know better than most: there’s nothing wrong with taking your training seriously’. Magneto replies that he also knows better than most that there is “taking it seriously” and then there is “compulsion”.

Cyclops kicks Hope in the stomach, causing Hope to shout ‘Come on!’ and ask Cyclops why he is riding her so hard. ‘I’ve been training all my life - I’m ready!’ she declares. ‘AGAIN!’ Cyclops booms, uninterested in what Hope has to say. ‘What do you think is going to happen to me?’ Hope asks. ‘AGAIN!’ Cyclops shouts, ignoring her. ‘ANSWER ME!’ Hope screams, pleading, as a burst of fiery energy, in the form of the Phoenix, surges from Hope, and knocks Cyclops several feet backwards. Magneto and the White Queen stare down from the balcony in horror, while the flames and smoke subside around Hope, who asks ‘Okay. What was that?’ Cyclops gets up, and stares back at her, concerned. ‘You saw that, right?’ Hope calls out, shocked.

Later, at the White House, Captain America and Iron Man stand before the President and various military and high-ranking officials. Captain America greets the President of the United States, who asks ‘What do you have for us?’ Captain America reminds the President that since the Skrull invasion, he has asked to be kept abreast of any interstellar situations that they come across. Iron Man reveals that last night, they intercepted the arrival of a member of the intergalactic Nova Corps. ‘He came with a rather vague, yet alarming, warning and then lapsed into a coma’ Cap adds. Motioning to a recording of the fallen Nova, Iron Man informs the officials that the scorch marks and wear and tear on his uniform lead them to believe that he survived a conflict with an immense energy source.

Captain America reports that both Thor and Iron Man did personal and satellite interstellar recon, to which Iron Man declares that what they found was disturbing, reporting that they discovered an energy signature on Nova’s uniform. ‘And, as luck would have it, we’ve actually been searching for this exact energy signature since the Jean Grey incident’ Iron Man reports. ‘Jean Grey of the X-Men’ Captain America explains, as a computer image of Jean appears. Iron Man reports that once he locked on to the energy signature, he was able to backtrack Nova’s arc of travel. ‘I have run the math on this fifty different ways…it is coming here. The Phoenix Force is headed towards Earth’ Iron Man announces.

Iron Man tells those in the room unfamiliar with the Phoenix, that it is a destructive, parasitic force of cosmic proportions, that latches on to a biological host, and then uses that vessel to lay waste to the environment. ‘If it finds a host - when it finds a host - we need to deal with this immediately’ Captain America announces. Images of several Avengers appear on the monitor, as Captain America announces that they are sending a team of Avengers to try to intercept and destroy the Phoenix Force before it gets here - Thor, Ms Marvel, Beast, Captain Britain, the Vision, War Machine, Protector and Valkyrie. ‘We should be clear, though, it’s a suicide mission’ Iron Man announces.

‘While it’s true that there is a -’ Captain America begins, before the computer image of the Phoenix flares up. ‘Oh my God’ Captain America utters. ‘What was that?’, to which Iron Man explains that he set the programs to alert him if an energy signature similar to the Phoenix Force flares up anywhere on the globe. ‘And it just did’ Captain America remarks. ‘Yes’ Iron Man tells him, before Captain America asks him if he knows where.

Shortly, at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, ‘Are you sure?’ Wolverine asks as he sits in his office. ‘We’re sure’ Captain America tells him. ‘The Phoenix’ Wolverine remarks, looking down at his feet. ‘You were there when the Phoenix first came to Earth’ Cap reminds his fellow Avenger. Wolverine states that Jean Grey did everything she could to try to contain it, but eventually, all said and done, she had to kill herself to stop it. ‘Kill herself. And it didn’t even work’ Wolverine states. ‘It’s coming to Earth. But where?’ Cap asks. Wolverine declares that he knows where it is going, that everyone in the mutant community knows where it is going.

Captain America states that he needs Cyclops to work with him. ‘I need the X-Men and the Avengers to work -’ he begins, but Wolverine interrupts, ‘This thing killed Summers’ girl and with it any chance he had at any sort of happiness’. Wolverine points out that if this thing is coming back, then Cyclops is going to have an agenda, but he won’t even see it that way. ‘I know him. He don’t exactly let go of things’ Wolverine adds. ‘Then can I count on you and the school -?’ Cap asks, to which Wolverine reminds him that he founded this school to keep the kids out of the fighting. ‘Can I count on you?’ Cap asks, but Wolverine offers no response.

On Utopia, Cyclops is confronted by the White Queen, Magneto, Sub-Mariner and Colossus. ‘What are you thinking?’ Magneto asks him. ‘He’s thinking that Hope as the Phoenix might be the game-changer for the mutant people’ Emma declares, adding that it could turn the tide. ‘How?’ the Sub-Mariner asks. Cyclops states that it is power, true power to put the world back on track. ‘You’re sounding like me now, Scott’ Magneto tells him. Cyclops tells his team that what happened to their people was unnatural, 99% of them stripped of their powers, and fewer than 200 of their kind left. ‘We’re an endangered species when we were supposed to be the next step of human evolution’ Cyclops announces, adding that there has to be a reason the Phoenix keeps coming back to them, here, to the X-Men, looking for something. ‘Why does it keep coming back to us?’ he asks.

‘It brings with it death and destruction’ Colossus points out. ‘And rebirth. Always rebirth’ Cyclops adds, telling Colossus that the last time they dealt with the Phoenix they were young and foolish. ‘Now we’re -’ he begins, but the Sub-Mariner interrupts: ‘Still young and foolish’ he declares. The White Queen asks Cyclops what he would have Hope do, to which Cyclops replies that they train her, body and mind, all of them, prepare her. ‘And if we can’t?’ Magneto asks. ‘We can’ Cyclops states, determined. ‘What if the Phoenix is not to be trained?’ Magneto inquires. Emma tells Cyclops that it is up to Hope, when suddenly, a wind blows through them. The White Queen frowns, before realizing that they have a visitor. ‘Huh. You’ll, um, you’ll never believe who just showed up’ she announces.

Minutes later, Magneto, the White Queen, the Sub-Mariner and Colossus stand on the shore that surrounds the island, while Hope crouches on a nearby rock, and Cyclops walks out into the water that laps sat the beach, where Captain America is waiting. Colossus asks what Captain America is doing here, to which Emma points at Hope and states ‘He’s here for you’. Colossus asks the White Queen if she can hear them. She folds her arms and replies that Scott can handle it, so everyone needs to stay back, as there is no need to ramp this up. The Sub-Mariner points out that he knows the Captain better than almost anyone, and adds ‘If he is here, it’s already, as you say, ramped up’.

‘Cyclops’ Captain America calls out. ‘Cap’ Cyclops replies, before Captain America announces that they need to take Hope into protective custody. ‘Because…?’ Cyclops asks. Captain America explains that the Phoenix Force is coming to Earth and all of their experts feel it is headed towards her. ‘Your experts? You mean Wolverine’ Cyclops remarks. The White Queen telepathically informs Cyclops that Captain America is not leaving without Hope. ‘It’s not going to happen’ comes Cyclops’s reply. ‘She’s a mutant. This is a mutant problem. We’ll handle it’ Cyclops tells Captain America, who points out that this is not a mutant versus human problem, and that if Hope is the Phoenix’s vessel, they need to take care of this.

‘One could argue that the Phoenix coming here…in the right vessel…is maybe mutantkind’s last, best hope’ Cyclops announces. ‘What?’ Cap replies. ‘It’s a force of rebirth’ Cyclops explains. Cap begins to protest, but Cyclops interrupts, stating that it may be the rebirth of his people. Cap tells Cyclops that he is too close to it, and remarks that Wolverine told him he would have issues in him coming here. ‘I was hoping you and I could come to an understanding’ Cap explains. ‘Man to man, leader to leader…I need you to trust me’ Cap tells Cyclops, who points at Cap and asks ‘I’m too close to it? You’re too far away from it. As you always have been’. Cyclops adds that it occurs to him, seeing Captain America here, ‘Where were you for us? For the mutants? Except now, when you need something’ he adds.

Respecting you’ Captain America declares, before asking Cyclops if he wants to have this discussion, and telling him that it is fine, but that it will have to wait for another day, as there is a destructive force headed towards Earth, and they have to figure out a way to stop it. ‘Respectfully, get the hell off my island!’ Cyclops tells Captain America. ‘What?’ Hope asks. ‘The gauntlet has been thrown’ the Sub-Mariner remarks, adding that Cyclops is going to force Captain America’s hand. ‘You do understand I wasn’t asking’ Cap tells Cyclops, who replies that he understood that completely, and releases a powerful optic blast, which Captain America blocks with his shield, though the force of the impact sends him careening backwards into the water.

The White Queen close her eyes and frowns, while the beachgoers are joined by Warpath, Domino and Danger. ‘Avengers Assemble’ Captain America utters as he looks up, and a SHIELD helli-carrier drops down over Utopia. Onboard is Wolverine, along with an assemblage of various Avengers - Dr Strange, the Thing, the original Spider-Woman, Giant Man, Hawkeye, Luke Cage, the Red Hulk, Mockingbird, Iron Fist, Iron Man, the Black Widow, Spider-Man, Daredevil and the Black Panther.

Cyclops looks at Emma, who reads his thoughts: ‘Emma, get Hope. Protect her at all costs’. Emma reminds Cyclops that it is Hope’s decision, as she grabs the girl by her wrist. ‘Not anymore!’ comes Cyclops’s reply, while Magneto, the Sub-Mariner and Colossus rush forward, and an image of the Phoenix appears in Hope’s eyes.

Characters Involved: 

Colossus, Cyclops, Danger, Domino, Hope, Magneto, Sub-Mariner, Warpath, White Queen (all X-Men based on Utopia)

Beast & Wolverine (members of both the Avengers and the Westchester-based X-Men)

Black Panther, Black Widow, Luke Cage, Captain America, Captain Britain, Daredevil, Dr Strange, Giant Man, Hawkeye, Iron Fist, Iron Man, Ms Marvel, Protector, Red Hulk, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Thing, Thor, Valkyrie, Vision, War Machine (all Avengers)

Nova III

Phoenix Force

Father and son aliens

Image on computer monitor:
Jean Grey / Phoenix

Story Notes: 

This issue was preceded by Avengers vs. X-Men #0.
Nova - the Nova that the Avengers know, Richard Rider, the former New Warrior, is in fact dead at present. This is a new Nova, the third (the second being Frankie Raye).
Avengers vs X-Men Infinite #1

The mutant population was decimated following the “House of M”.
Given the Phoenix history, this issue seems to ignore most of what has come after the Dark Phoenix saga, namely when Rachel Summers / Grey and Jean again (sort of) hosted the force.

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