COMIC BOOKS: Avengers vs X-Men

Aug. 27—"Avengers vs. X-Men" is one of those massive comic books events.

Collected, the storyline is more than 600 pages of action, but even though this is one of those big-tent mega-series where a who's who roster of comic book characters and comic book creators comes together to battle a world-threatening event and create a knockout storyline, it doesn't live up to the anticipated hype.

And granted that's possibly because I finally got around to reading it a decade after its release, thanks to a recent sale on the Marvel digital app. Still, "Avengers vs. X-Men" feels contrived as a sales event — both now and likely then — than a story that must be told.

For starters, the title is misleading.

It's really not so much the Avengers against the X-Men as it is the Avengers, and eventually the X-Men, against five Marvel mutants who have harnessed the cosmic powers of the Phoenix.

The disagreement starts over Hope, a mutant meant to inherit the Phoenix powers that corrupted founding X-Men member Jean Grey and led her to destroy a world. The Avengers, led by Captain America, consider Hope a security threat and want to contain her. The X-Men, led by Scott Summers, refuse to turn her over to the Avengers and want to continue training her so she will be able to handle the Phoenix powers when the time comes.

It's a solid crux for conflict between the two superhero groups, especially since some Avengers, circa 2012, are former X-Men — Wolverine and the Beast, for example, with potential for divided loyalties.

But early in the saga, Cyclops and four other X-Men — including Namor the Sub-Mariner — end up dividing the powers of the Phoenix between them. So, the majority of the story is really the Avengers vs. five X-Men, then four, three, etc. As the Avengers defeat one Phoenix-imbued X-Man, the Phoenix power moves into the ones remaining ... until only one X-Man has all of Phoenix power which leads to the Avengers and the X-Men vs. the Phoenix.

There are plenty of fun moments here, such as the Avengers battle with the Phoenix-Namor. So, "Avengers vs. X-Men" is a good read, filled with solid art, but it's not the earth-shattering title some may expect.