I’m using my five-star rating system for these titles in order to help you determine what will get you the most value for your time and money and what may not matter as much. These secondary titles are all addendum, elaboration and background information and truthfully could all be considered non-essential (some being even more so). I’m glad Marvel is doing things this way rather than placing major developments outside of the main mini-series.
AVX: VS #3 (August 2012) The Thing vs. Colossus by writer Jeph Loeb; penciller Ed McGuinness; inker Dexter Vines; colorist Morry Hollowell; and letterer Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne. Black Widow vs. Magik by writer Christopher Yost; penciller Terry Dodson; inker Rachel Dodson; colors by Guru eFX; and letterer VC’s Joe Caramagna.
Events in this issue take place during AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #5 as part of the fight on the Moon.
This series is absolutely non-essential to the AVENGERS VS. X-MEN storyline, but it’s mostly a fun read. It elaborates upon the one-on-one battles that would take up too many pages in the regular mini-series. It’s slam-bang action. It’s very well illustrated. The script is brief but vibrant. It’s fun and entertaining.
And, after three issues I am starting to get bored. I don’t need to read another issue of AVX: VS but I probably will - - not because I need the whole set but because I believe and hope that another pairing of writer/artist will excite me more than is happening with this issue. My favorite pair-up as well as story so far has been the Captain America vs. Gambit fight.
After getting pounded on by The Red Hulk in a previous battle, Colossus gets an opportunity to come out on top against the Thing. It’s clobbering time and what ensues are a series of punching trade-offs. Visually exciting but I was patiently waiting for the last panel. Black Widow versus Magik is more mentally-stimulating with more script (although quite a bit of it is in Russian) but I found myself anxious to reach the ending as well. Ho-hum.
RATING FOR AVX: VS #3 - - - - - 2 STARS (art and stand-alone story value)
WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #11 (July 2012) Jason Aaron, writer. Nick Bradshaw, penciler. Walden Wong, Nick Bradshaw & Norman Lee, inkers. Justin Ponsor, colorist. Chris Eliopoulos, letterer.
Events in this issue occur during AVENGERS VERSUS X-MEN #4 while the Avengers and X-Men are searching for Hope in several locations, and during Wolverine’s meeting and alliance with her.
There are many short sequences in this issue that jump back and forth and feature all sorts of characters within the main AVENGERS VERSUS X-MEN mini-series - - and many who are not regulars in this title. Among the relevant moments are a fight with Wolverine and Hope together against the Shi’Ar Imperium Death Commandos and the fight between Ice Man and Red Hulk.
Regular artist Chris Bachalo gets a break this issue with interesting fill-in from Nick Bradshaw, whose style is much closer to John Romita Jr’s than Bachalo’s. One positive benefit was it was easier to discern what was occurring during the action/fight sequences.
RATING FOR WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN #11 - - 3 STARS (art, story, stand-alone value)
WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #12 (August 2012) Jason Aaron, writer. Chris Bachalo, penciler/colorist. Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza, Al Vey & Victor Olazaba, inkers. Chris Eliopoulos, letterer.
Events in this issue occur following AVENGERS VERSUS X-MEN #6 with Hope now under the protective custody of the Avengers.
Rachel Grey, the telekinetic, telepathic teacher at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning has now jumped sides and reverted to her mutant-chasing Hunter persona (from a previous life in the future!). She is assisting Cyclops and the Phoenix Five sniff out the place where the Avengers are hiding Hope. Many characters get panel time in this issue but I sense that the main focus is on Rachel, revealing more of her character, values, and decision making. I enjoyed this and the way Aaron worked it into the story and handled it - - and this makes me want to continue to the next issue (one star earned). Rachel makes an important choice. (I don’t want to say more without spoiling it.)
There is a beautiful double page spread by Bachalo of the Avengers assembling that is some of his best work, and it’s unblemished by captions or dialogue. There’s a lot to admire during the battle between the X-Men and the Avengers, both for artistic interpretation as well as the revealing and sometimes amusing dialogue between the protagonists . As Cyclops interrogates Rachel at issue end and tries to get her explanation of how things concluded, the Shi’Ar attack again, this time with King Gladiator at the helm who want to get his son safely away from the Phoenix Force on Earth. Yes, that also makes me want to return here.
RATING FOR WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN #12 - - 4 STARS (art, story, stand-alone, want more - - just still non-essential to the main series understanding)
NEW AVENGERS #27 (August 2012) Brian Michael Bendis, writer. Mike Deodato, Artist. Rain Beredo, color art. VC’s Joe Caramagna, letters.
Events in this issue also occur after AVENGERS VERSUS X-MEN #6 with the well-traveled Hope now being “trained” at the mystical city of K’un Lun under the tutelage of Master Yu Ti and various others.
The issue begins with a flashback to an earlier time long ago (unspecified) when the Phoenix Force clashed with another young red-headed mistress of the martial arts at K’un Lun. And therein may lie the answer to how to deal with the Phoenix in the present time. That confirms an earlier suspicion of mine (see previous blogs) and makes this a pivotal issue that is tied directly to the main AVENGERS VERSUS X-MEN storyline (earning it another coveted rating star).
Of all the A vs. X-related books NEW AVENGERS wins my vote for the best art. Deodato maintains the consistency of greatness from earlier issues. This is truly a gorgeous book to look at and admire.
In that earlier encounter, some of the details remain intentionally vague so the reader is never sure who or what is victorious. “There are always two paths”. It appears that the Phoenix merges with the girl Fongji and transforms her before departing for an unknown destination while sparing the Earth. “This world isn’t ready.”
This piece of vague information is shared with Hope in the present day, and Iron First, Yu Ti and later Spider-Man try to advise her. Spidey is his normal goofy self but may inadvertently blurt out some useful philosophy to help guide Hope, who clearly acts like a confused, impatient and somewhat impetuous teenager here (nice detailing by Bendis). “I train and I train and now it’s here. An now The Phoenix is on Earth and I’m here instead of there and I’m not even sure what I’m supposed to do when I get there.”
My favorite scene is with Hope and Yu-Ti at the scrying vessel of Bo-Ling which requires observers to sit, empty their mind and wait for insights to be revealed. In awesome panels that look like paintings (especially the larger backdrop) Hope tries her best to close her eyes and focus. She is clearly squirming and having difficulty with this, as finally revealed in the panel where she sneakily opens one eye to take a peek.
My favorite line is spoken by Yu-Ti as Spider-Man struggles to figure out what exactly he should be training Hope for - - - “I wonder if you are to teach her self-loathing.” Spidey responds: “Well, it is what I have my doctorate in.” (My favorite response this issue). Obviously, nothing gets resolved this issue in order to reserve the conclusions for the main mini-series to explain.
Rating for NEW AVENGERS #27 - - 4 STARS (art, story, want more, linked to the main story - - but not a stand-alone story)