At this point, this has to be old news for those who read comics. But for those who don't know, Marvel Comics is introducing a massive six-month-long crossover event between their two most valuable franchises: The Avengers and the X-Men.
However, this event is so massive that it may force my hand in buying here. Even if you don't read any Avengers or X-Men books (which I don't), anyone who reads comics on any type of recurring basis know who the teams are and know what a crossover of this magnitude means in the comic book universe.
This article provides all the information you would really need to understand the crossover, and the #0 issue will set the stage far better than anything. In an effort to build excitement, Marvel is shipping the first installment of the actual crossover a week in advance so that they are available at the parties spanning across more than 1,000 comic book stores nationwide.
But for those who would like an idea as to how this crossover event compares to, say, the "Night of the Owls" crossover in the Batman comics, here's a basic layout of the circumstances:
Marvel is giving the crossover its own title - and it's going to be around for a while.
AVX will be occurring in its own self-titled book, which will come out once every two weeks. This will be a 12-issue installment, which means the crossover will go for six months.
On the other hand, NOTO will span across 10 comic titles (nine of the 11 Bat-books as well as All-Star Western). While that seems intimidating, the crossover will only last in the May issues (DC only does one book per title per month) in a colossal majority of the books, which brings me to the next detail.
Other titles being tied in
NOTO's storylines are very loosely connected, and with the possible exception of Batman and Nightwing, the stories don't need to be purchased together in order for them to make sense. This event is only really essential to the arc plot in the Batman and Nightwing titles (coincidentally they are also the only ones doing a prologue in Issue #8), and the rest will add to the story while not forcing you to purchase them.
In AVX, there will be a six-issue, monthly tie-in where the fights shown in the month's two AVX issues will be given far more detail. It's a way to see the event without having to make sense of why they are fighting (which apparently has to do with the Avengers wanting to kill a galactic Phoenix that the X-Men want to save).
Besides that tie-in, however, this crossover will expand into active Avengers and X-Men titles. It would seem that none of them are essential to understanding the AVX issues, but it sounds like they'll be more closely related than the NOTO plots.
OK, so this is really a statement about the unnecessarily dense nature of team books. But when it comes to the NOTO crossover, the list of heroes involved is significantly smaller than this AVX crossover.
Batman's whole family takes up 11(soon to be 12) titles, only four (probably five come May) of which routinely follow Batman. The other titles are virtually independent (Batgirl's time in the Birds of Prey being the lone notable exception). As a whole, approximately 14 major characters are represented in these books up to this point. Of those characters, Batwoman won't even be part of the crossover.
On the other hand, there are more than 100 X-Men with multiple factions represented. The Avengers have multiple teams that span across multiple titles and have expanded to a ridiculous size as well. Between the nine X-Men titles and four main Avengers titles, this crossover has "massively oversized" written all over it.
Now that's not to say it won't be great. Even I'm interested in this event. My issue is that it's hard enough for these groups to get enough time to develop their characters in their own books. In the crossover, it will be hard to draw in a lot of new readers because the only characters that will see any real time will be the firmly established ones. Putting in too many of the lesser-known characters won't be of significance to casual readers like myself.
As I said, though, this will be an excellent event and my opinion may be chalked up to being someone who dislikes most team books. That said, I will be giving my thoughts on the crossover as it goes along.
Oh, and so you know, I'm on Team Avengers here. The few characters in Marvel that I am genuinely invested in all would fight for the Avengers, so that's where my loyalties will lie.