Blast From The Past: The X-Men vs. The Avengers (1987)
For those of you who didn’t know, the upcoming Avengers vs. X-Men event from Marvel isn’t the first time the two teams have tussled. Way back in 1987, the year of my birth, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Marvel’s Merry Mutants threw down in a knock-down drag out four-issue fight from writer Roger Stern and artist Mark Silvestri. Well, maybe “knock-down” drag out isn’t the right word. How about “get into an argument, team up to fight Soviet Super Soldiers, fight each other, and then come to a mutual understanding”?
Doesn’t pack the same punch, does it? If anything, the 1987 X-Men vs. Avengers four-issue mini-series is a classic example of the superhero team-ups of days of yore, and it’s a time capsule of comic book storytelling from the 80s’. The dialogue is a little clunky, and the first pages of each issue play catch up for the reader, even though we’re being told the events of the story from a character’s point of view.
And what an event it is. Playing off numerous past Uncanny X-Men stories, the 80’s throw down finds pieces of Magneto’s old hideout Asteroid M plummeting to Earth. After the Avengers help prevent pieces of the debris from destroying an Ohio shopping mall, they discover that the debris is part of Asteroid M, Captain America and Co. decide to look into Magneto’s whereabouts to get some answers. Elsewhere, while relaxing with his new teammates, Magneto overhears of the debris crashing to Earth near Soviet Russia and his possible involvement, leading him to sneak away and find the debris for himself.
Landing near the debris site, Magneto is confronted by the Avengers, then the X-Men (who had followed him there), and the Soviet Super-Soldiers, who consist of Crimson Dynamo, Darkstar, Vanguard, Ursa Major, and Titanium Man. After the X-Men and Avengers do battle with the Soviet Super-Soldiers, the mutants head off with Magneto, and while they still don’t entirely believe that he isn’t trying to get the asteroid pieces back for nefarious reasons, they stand by him because of Professor X’s previous wishes. What follows for the next three issues is the members of The X-Men and Avengers fighting one another, then teaming up to fight the Soviet Super-Soldiers, and ultimately standing by as Magneto is brought to a U.N. trial for his actions prior to turning towards the side of “good”.
|Mind Control Helmet?|
The X-Men vs. The Avengers, while failing to deliver on the fight aspect of the title, does bring up some interesting plot elements. Of course, it all happens in the final issue. With his life at stake, Magneto turns to his old helmet, which he recovered from the Asteroid M wreckage at one of its crash sites. After learning from Ms. Marvel (or Photon) that one of the judges plans on using Magneto’s execution after the trial to start a war between humans and mutants, Mags uses some sort of “circuitry” in his helmet that can influence others (something I swear was NEVER mentioned before), to dispel any anti-mutant feelings from the judge. After being released under the fact that he never signed the Geneva Convention or something, Magneto and the X-Men walk outside to a mob of anti-mutant protesters, all calling for his head. The final panel, with Magneto lamenting his decision, not thinking that his death would have actually HELPED mutants, is very cool, and gave some great insight into the character at that time.
Unfortunately much of the dialogue is pretty cheesy, especially coming from Captain America. Speaking of Cap, with the exception of Thor, you probably won’t recognize many of the Avengers that make up this team: Captain America, Thor, She-Hulk, Black Knight, Captain Marvel, and Dr. Druid. Yes, you read that right: Dr. Druid, the footie-pajama and cape-wearing mystic, who actually plays a pretty huge role in the plot of the story, acting as the Avenger’s inside man by probing the minds of the X-Men and hiding amongst them. The X-Men side is a little more recognizable, consisting of Wolverine, Storm, Rogue, Magneto, Havok, and Dazzler, although it does make me wonder why there weren’t more characters from the team featured here. Although, this was from 1987, a time when the X-Men were about to enter the Australian outback and the events of “Inferno” were just about to take place.
Mark Silvestri handles the art duties, so while the story is a little lacking, the art sure isn’t. Every character here looks awesome, even the Dr. Druid. Wolverine’s throw down with Black Knight is pretty awesome, and Silvestri’s depiction of Magneto in his quieter moments is really detailed and evokes his inner conflictions with his past perfectly.
The X-Men vs. The Avengers is definitely a relic of its time, and it’s a safe bet that this week’s upcoming event of a similar name won’t be a rehash of the plot of this one. In fact, the only thing the two events share is the fact that Magneto is a member of the X-Men again. There’s no Cyclops to be seen, or two different X-Men teams. Even the Avengers of today are nothing like their 80’s counterparts. If anything, The X-Men vs. The Avengers makes you appreciate the comic book storytelling that we have today, and regardless of whether or not the story lives up to the hype, that’s worth noting.
ALSO, as promised, the results from last week’s “Last Man Standing” bout between Boba Fett and The Punisher. In a stunning move (mostly because few people posted on the forums) the two combatants ended up in a TIE, both splitting the votes in the forums! Thanks to those of you who played!