Sunday, 10 June 2012
Avengers vs X-Men #5 Review
As I am only beginning my reviews with issue 5, I feel I should sum up my feelings on the entire event so far to give the best picture of how it is going. Unfortunately, I'm not coming down on it favourably. Ever since the first issue, these typically rational heroes have been acting like colossal jerks. Captain America inexplicably declared war on the X-Men and is talking about imprisoning the entire Mutant race, behaving wildly out of character. Cyclops has come off like a religious zealot, giving himself over entirely to a cause bigger than himself and putting the whole world in danger in the process, behaving wildly out of character. The only person who's actually acting IN character is Wolverine, but his goal of murdering Hope is so despicable, you really wish he would act out of character and try to save her instead. He's betrayed the X-Men at every turn and is actively aiding in snuffing out Mutantdom's last chance at a future. It was never going to be easy for Marvel to find a reason to have their most popular franchises go to war...and they still haven't found it.
This issue inparticular takes place almost entirely on the Moon, taking place over a matter of minutes. Hope keels over in pain at the impending arrival of the Phoenix Force, while the Avengers and X-Men simply hit each other like simpletons for twenty pages. There's an occasional plea by Captain America to Cyclops to stop this madness, but even in such a rational request, everyone is still committed to their own course of action, with no attempt at compromise. You'd think as they're on THE MOON, what's the harm in letting Hope take on the power, see if she can contain it and if not, have Wolverine use those claws he's been sharpening for the past four issues. Ultimately this issue is just another horrible example of Marvel smashing their favourite toys together and seeing what happens, regardless of whether it makes sense.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the schizophrenic creative team behind this series. All of Marvel's top tier writers have taken a crack at writing an issue a piece. I'm assuming that there was a huge group meeting to discuss where exactly the story was heading, but even then, these are wildly different writing styles and inner voices being used with every passing issue. A Brian Michael Bendis comic is a very different beast to a Jason Aaron comic, as it is to an Ed Brubaker comic and so on. They all have their various strengths and weaknesses and as a result, they never come together as a cohesive whole. This particular issue was written by Matt Fraction (famous for his work on The Invincible Iron Man, The Mighty Thor, Defenders, etc). He's well known for taking a step back from the emotional core and focussing on lofty bigger ideas of a grand scale. Considering he's got two superteams on the surface of the Moon scrapping it out, whilst a cosmic force moves ever closer in an attempt to consume them, you could certainly say he's guilty of that here. He does however frame the issue around a lovely metaphor where Hope questions whether she's the pilot of the bomber or the bomb itself. Amidst all the needless violence, I did appreciate such sentiment.
Finally, the issue ends on a shocking cliffhanger, which I'd be an idiot to not address. So if you're not wanting to know what happens, please do not read beyond this point and go about your business. As established in the most recent issue of Uncanny X-Men, the Phoenix Force was definitely responsible for Hope's birth and the subsequent arrival of the "Five Lights". Not having her acolytes on hand at the time of it's arrival, the Phoenix Force possesses the five members of the X-Men's Extinction Team. Cyclops, Emma Frost, Namor, Colossus and Magik have all become living avatars of the Force. After their abrupt transformation, they take the broken Hope in their arms and abscond back to Earth, with their great work still ahead of them. This is actually a fantastic concept for the remains of the series and quickly dispells the notion that the Avengers have been utterly superior up until this point. The X-Men were losing, but now they've changed the game entirely and laid claim to the moniker of Earth's Mightiest Heroes. It'd be extremely easy for Marvel to make these possessed X-Men the villains of the piece and have the Avengers striving to stop their genocidal plans, but I'd be far more interested if their motivations weren't as simple as wiping Humanity off the face of the Earth and instead had the Phoenix wanting to bring about genuine change on a global scale.
6 out of 10