Not to show my age, but I remember A+X when it was called Marvel Team Up. Seriously, this latest book from the “house of ideas” strikes more of their need to throw anything against the wall to see what sticks. A+X #1 contains two stories, Captain America & Bucky meeting up with Cable and then Hulk and Wolverine doing battle against Maestro and an older Wolverine. I’m going to assume that Marvel Team Up was rechristened A+X because from now on it’ll always be an Avenger and a Mutant. Wow, way to limit your storytelling ability, Marvel.
The good part in all of this is that A+X is actually a lot of fun. The first story, from writer Dan Slott and artist Ron Garney, places Captain America in 1944. The military brass has discovered Hitler attempting to build some kind of spoilsport weapon that will be buried and then set off if Germany loses the war. Naturally, the American Government wants it taken out and who better to do it than the star spangled Avenger and his plucky sidekick. During the battle to take this spoilsport weapon out of commission, our two heroes encounter Cable, who is also chasing the Nazi’s weapon.
Our next tale comes from writer Jeph Loeb and artist Dale Keown. Maestro and the older Wolverine, whilst chilling in the Avengers Tower, attack Hulk and Wolverine. There is a grand battle but ultimately the heroes from the future are sent back to their time. Curiously, they land in the White House where it seems the President is gigantic, almost Hulk-like. The mission to try and kill Red Hulk has failed, though neither Maestro or future Wolverine was going after the Red Hulk. The last panel sets up a future storyline and also makes it seem as though future Red Hulk wants his past self, killed. It’s confusing and Loeb is not nearly as good at multiple storylines as Slott.
Of the two stories, Slott’s Captain America is far superior simply because Slott is a better writer. His script flow easier, it isn’t trying so hard to be funny. For example, Loeb has this unnecessary and very forced exchange between Wolverine and Hulk about cake. It feels less like a funny bit and more like something Loeb had to put there in order to expand the story. Even with few pages for his story, Slott still juggles multiple story lines like a champ. Past and future collide and it never gets confusing.
Neither artist on A+X is particularly impressive. Both men have a similar style. They’re both detail oriented and both prefer thin lines to bolder ones and both use shadow to give depth to their panels. I like Garney’s ability with movement better, though the Maestro and Wolverine splash page by Keown is wonderfully realized. Perhaps the oddest thing is both Ron Garney and Dale Keown draw their character’s faces like they have to take huge dumps. It’s really apparent with The Hulk but if you look at each panel, everyone in A+X #1 seems close to a bathroom emergency.
While not anything to get excited about, A+X is an enjoyable read and probably the closest we’ll get to Marvel Team Up.
Slott/Garney (4, Story, 3 Art)
Loeb/Keown (3 Story, 2.5 Art)