Avengers Versus X-Men is pure eye candy and fan service. The concept is very simple, the Avengers have beef with the X-Men because the Phoenix force is returning to Earth, and Hope Summers may be the reason why. The Avengers want her but they can’t have her so a ton of face punching ensues. It’s an excuse to see heroes fighting heroes without the typical super-villain lurking around. AVX: Vs. is just the fights, it’s pure action crammed into twenty or so pages. Each issue features two match-ups and the promise that absolutely zero knowledge of the plot is required. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or bad thing, that Marvel’s big summer crossover requires absolutely no thought at all. With Versus, “plot” is a four-letter word. Vs. #3 features Colossus versus the Thing and Black Widow versus Magik (aka Illyana Rasputin aka Colossus’ little sister).

This issue takes place during AvX #5, which means that the fights are taking place on the moon. It isn’t important to know why they are on the moon, just that they are. It makes me want to listen to a song off of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, and I think Us and Them captures the divisive nature of this whole epic crossover. We begin with a face-off between Red Hulk and Colossus, in which Red Hulk throws Colossus across the moon base so that he lands at the feet of Thing. It’s dismissive and insulting on the part of Red Hulk, but this does set the stage for the battle against Thing. At this point in the Versus line we’ve already seen Colossus battle Spider-Man, and now he is going to fight again. So two Colossus battles in three issues means this is a great book for fans of the shiny Russian mutant. Lets not forget that he also happens to be the new Avatar of Cyttorak, which basically means that he is the new Juggernaut.

The fight rages on in the blue area of the moon, where there is apparently a breathable atmosphere. Thing mostly makes jokes, while Jugger-Colossus has angsty thoughts about how he wishes the raging hunger for violence inside him would subside. Well, Piotr, maybe if you didn’t sacrifice yourself at every single turn of the page Kitty Pryde would still be dating you. The grossest part of the book appears to be when Thing, after being battered and beat, throws a part of himself into Colossus’ mouth… It’s super gross, and Thing proclaims that he has never done it before, but that it takes him back to his brick-throwing days on Yancy Street. Whatever, Ben Grimm, that’s nasty. Eventually the brawl spills outside of the breathable atmosphere and Thing needs oxygen while the Juggernaut needs nothing. Colossus is a Berserker (by Love Among Freaks). Even though Colossus has won, he feels like he has lost part of his humanity by becoming a monster in order to do so. Waaaaaah (that’s the sound of fake crying, fyi).

The second fight of the night, and the second part of the brother-sister double main event, features the recent movie-star Black Widow, against Magik. Magik is Piotr’s sister, but she has some crazy powers of her own. She is the Sorceress Supreme of Limbo, can teleport people around and between dimensions, has a sword made out her own soul, and like Dr. Strange seems to know every spell depending on the needs of the story at the time. Like most situations, Black Widow is horribly outclassed, but she is a survivor! This is a match-up between two Russians, but that doesn’t seem to come into play at all, as the Avengers and the X-Men supersede the global lines and ties of nationality. When all is said and done, Magik is a Twisted Sister who just wants the Black Widow to Burn in Hell (by Twisted Sister, see what I did there?).

Magik kicks it off by going for broke right away, she opens up a teleportation disc to send Natasha right to Limbo, effectively trapping her there for the rest of the mini-series. But the Black Widow is resourceful and snags Magik with a rope, pulling her in as well. This would appear to be a dumb move, seeing as how Magik is the ruler of Limbo. However, Black Widow is a brilliant tactician or something, I don’t really know because half the dialogue is in Russian and I can’t read Cyrillic! Maybe I need Marvel’s AR (augmented reality) App? Anywho, the battle rages on with Black Widow holding Magik at gun-point and threatening to blow her brains out if she doesn’t return them to the moon. With thousands of demons hot on their heels, they return. Black Widow gloats about winning (I think she gloats, again, I can’t speak Russian), but then Magik stabs her in the back with her Soulsword. I guess being trapped in a demon-ridden dimension will make you pretty ruthless. Due to the darkness on the moon, and the fact that Ozzy Osbourne is somewhat related to black magic (and reality TV), listen to this badass live version of Shot in the Dark. The only thing more metal than this song is Illyana Rasputin’s biography.

The Quick and Dirty

First Section: Pink Floyd – Us and Them
Second Section: Berserker – Love Among Freaks
Third Section: Twisted Sister – Burn in Hell
Fourth Section: Ozzy Osbourne – Shot in the Dark