You probably know the feeling.
You’re trying to get into a major Marvel event after the fact. The hype around Avengers Vs. X-Men has come and gone, and now you’re left with a 12 issue event that alludes to countless tie-ins. Couldn’t Marvel just sell a stinking book that included all of the tie-ins at once?
It would seem our longstanding trade collection nightmare has passed.
Presumably this was announced some time ago, but I stumbled across this gem on Amazon yesterday: The Avengers vs. X-Men Companion Reader.
The hardcover trade is available for pre-order on Amazon right now, with a scheduled release date of May 21, 2013. It includes all of the following tie-ins and crossovers: Avengers Academy 29-33; Secret Avengers 26-28; Avengers 25-30; New Avengers 24-30; X-Men Legacy 266-270; Wolverine & The X-Men 9-16, 18; AVX: Consequences 1-5; Uncanny X-Men 11-20, A-Babies VS. X-Babies 1.
The whole reading order challenge surrounding Marvel comics (or at least major Marvel events) could easily be mitigated with trades exactly like this one.
The vast glut of tie-in trades and crossover issues makes event reading an exercise in organizational management. For example, with Secret Invasion, I count 28 separate trade collections you could purchase in an effort to get the full scope of the Skrull attack.
Naturally this can lead to a lot of debate, questioning which narrative arcs are truly worth it, and how many trades you can actually afford to add to your collection.
A companion reader along the lines of this AvX book immediately eradicates these concerns. Every tie-in issue is included, and you can enjoy the Avengers vs. X-Men experience the way it was originally intended.
We’ve seen variations on event-based omnibus collections before, but this might be the best example I’ve seen in the modern Marvel era. There’s a really great Avengers Disassembled collection that includes the entire run of Cap, Thor, and Iron Man, but that offers a pretty focused scope, and each series is separate from the others rather than interwoven to reflect event continuity.
Events like Dark Reign have had their own semi-companions, but the “Accept Change” trade is really more of a prequel to the event.
My favorite example of a Marvel trade collection that puts reading chronology first? The Age of Apocalypse trade collections. These books do a fantastic job of interweaving disparate series titles in an order that maintains the closest possible semblance of a shared universe. With so many different writers and creators weaving stories, comics may never tell a truly cohesive whole, but that’s always the promise.
It’s nice to see a trade collection that finally delivers on this perceived promise for the fans.