AvX VS: Heavy Hitters

AvX VS: Heavy Hitters

By Ben Morse

The large scale turmoil and ethical quagmires of AVENGERS VS. X-MEN continue in the next three issues of the parent series—#3 out this week, #4 coming on May 16, and #5 due June 6—but over in the page of AVS: VS, the focus turns to other matters of great import: namely who can punch, kick, claw and/or blast their way to victory in no holds barred combat!

AVS: VS #3, hitting stands on June 13, adds two more bouts to the ledger, each featuring a Rasputin sibling on the X-Men side of the equation, as Colossus butts heads with The Thing while Magik tangles with The Black Widow.

“When Senior Editor Nick Lowe announces he was doing this VS book it just seemed like it was made for me and Ed,” says writer Jeph Loeb of himself and longtime collaborator, artist Ed McGuinness, who will reunite for the Thing/Colossus clash. “We had so much fun blowing stuff up in HULK and AVENGERS: X-SANCTION that to get away with it as the actual selling point of the book was too good to be true.

“Ed draws the most badass Thing in the world and is a big Colossus and Juggernaut fan, so it was two great tastes that taste great together.”

Peter Rasputin’s new reluctant and dangerous role as possessor of the Juggernaut power indeed adds a different tenor to this fight.

AvX: VS #3 inked preview art by Ed McGuinness

“He’s different now because he’s fighting what he’s become,” Loeb notes of Colossus’ current state. “I read the issues of [UNCANNY X-MEN] where he became this ‘monster’—his word—[which matches] up neatly with The Thing.”

Known for tailoring stories to suit his artists’ strengths and wishes, Loeb concocted a brawl McGuinness could sink his teeth into and have fun with.

“Ed’s gift is that he can’t be contained to the page,” the writer shares. “That’s Marvel DNA; you want the feeling that fight is going to spill out of the book and onto your lap. Just too big for borders. Ed gives you that in spades. He’s insane talented.

“We wanted the fight to be fast and dirty and to have a structure that was different from what everybody else was doing. We start small and it gets very big!”

On the flipside of the VS coin, writer Chris Yost teams with Terry Dodson for the throw down between Illyana Rasputin and Natasha Romanoff. An active part of the “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!” animated series and “Marvel’s The Avengers” film, Yost has spent the past few years getting to know The Black Widow across multiple platforms while he helped bring Magik back to life during his run on NEW X-MEN.

“They’re two great characters, both with a long history in the Marvel Universe,” he contrasts. “Both beautiful, both Russian, and both with a bit—or in Magik’s case, a lot—of darkness within them. Neither pulls punches, neither one is shy about doing what needs to be done.”

Yost promises a “brutal, take no prisoners” brawl spread across “two vastly different locales” with “all the dialogue in Russian.”

AvX: VS #3 inked preview art by Terry Dodson

“The fun part is to show how character comes through in the action,” he continues. “All the punching, shooting and stabbing in the world is great, but it means nothing if there’s not character behind it. The fun of VS is getting to show who these women are as they beat the hell out of each other.”

The writer broke with his traditional method of story preparation out of deference to his celebrated artistic counterpart.

“This is one of the few times in my career I haven’t done a full script, Terry wrote off an outline,” says Yost. “I felt pretty confident in the story because I knew whatever I wrote he was going to make it a thousand times better. Because he’s Terry Dodson. Seriously.”

When asked to offer his pick for a winner between Colossus and The Thing, Loeb deemed it too close to call:

“People know I’m a big Fantastic Four fan from the beginning, so it’s gotta be Ben—but Peter’s story is so wonderfully woven that I’m rooting for him as well! Gotta see how it all turns out!”

Yost, on the other hand, had no problem making his allegiances clear:

“Magik. Viva la X-Men!”

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