Team-up stories are often one of the best parts in comics. It’s an exciting moment when characters that don’t normally get to share the page team up, especially when two teams of heroes have to work together. The X-Men and The Avengers: Gamma Quest brings together the two biggest Marvel teams as the groups have to work together to track down missing teammates Scarlet Witch and Rogue.
Originally printed as three separate volumes, Lost and Found, Search and Rescue, and Friend or Foe?, across 1999 and 2000, this new release brings the entire story together into one collected edition. Much like previous omnibus editions that Titan have produced, this is a chunky book, totalling nearly 600 pages of small text. I know 600 pages isn’t huge but the individual books clocked in at 800 pages, so that should indicate how small the text in this edition is.
Despite the almost imposing size of the book the story reads a lot better in this format, as the trilogy feels like one story broken into three pieces. However, it does at times feel as if it has been padded out slightly to make up three individual books, rather than being one well thought out story.
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Sometimes this is because of the large number of fights in the book, with the heroes having to not only fight villains and their minions, but each other too. These fights are something that’s to be expected from superhero stories, but these scenes often go on for so long that they end up feeling boring more than entertaining. Added to this, there are points where it feels that sentences are being padded out, adding descriptors that feel unnecessary; some parts of the book come across as though every other word has been replaced using a thesaurus, just to include bigger words and lengthen the narrative.
Greg Cox has written dozens of great books over the years, with novels that tie into popular franchises such as Star Trek and Alias, as well as writing adaptations of films and other comic book stories. His recent Batman novel, Batman: Court of Owls, was a great read and one of my favourites of 2019. Cox is a good writer, so the general lack of interest I felt whilst reading this new collection took me by surprise. Perhaps this is due to this it being some of his earlier work. Then again, it might just be my own experience of the book and others will enjoy it.
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There is some good stuff here, despite my previous complaints. The book has a good selection of characters from both teams involved, and contains enough references to previous stories and other characters being off doing other things that it feels like it fits into the Marvel Universe well. Cox clearly knows these characters and this universe well, and it comes across like he’s a big fan. This helps make parts of the book a lot of fun, and recreates some of what makes the source material great.
The X-Men and The Avengers: Gamma Quest is a good book, but it didn’t set my world on fire. If the story was a two volume collection rather than three perhaps it would have flowed better for me, and felt better paced. As it is, it’s a decent story that perhaps overstays its welcome due to its length.
The X-Men and The Avengers: Gamma Quest is out on 21st January from Titan Books.