I’ve been away from the comics world for two weeks and have a lot of catching up to do, so here we go . . .
If you haven’t been reading this saga and are still debating whether to jump in or not - - I say read this now and then go for it! I’ll try to clue you in on what you’re missing without spoiling it too much. The primary result of your getting onboard will be that you will be entertained first and foremost. You will also be amused and most likely become engaged enough in the storyline to explore some of the cross-over titles. However, none of that is mandatory and you can still enjoy this storyline in bits and pieces. I feel it will deserve a place among the Top Five of 21st Century Marvel sagas but haven’t decided yet whether it will have a significant impact on the Marvel universe the way some of the other events have. My favorite of these remains THE CIVIL WAR followed closely by AVENGERS DISSASSEMBLED. I don’t yet rank AVENGERS VS X-MEN near my #3 choice, SECRET INVASION. That may be just because it doesn’t involve as much mystery and guessing. It surely is just as entertaining.
AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #5 (August 2012) Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman: Story. Matt Fraction: Script. John Romita, Jr.: Pencils. Scott Hanna: Inks. Laura Martin: Colors. Chris Eliopoulos: Letters.
This is a high intensity key issue in the story and a lot happens that will impact on events yet to come. I don’t won’t to reveal too much. I just want to stress that this is an important issue that you should read.
Romita does a highly effective job of communicating the intensity through his great art. It’s one of my favorite issues with his work in it. I am also impressed by Fraction’s turn at the script this issue. He uses captions throughout the issue to share with us what is going through Hope’s mind during the conflict. There is a nice framing sequence which open the first page with Hope comparing her situation to a pivotal moment in World War II and wondering if she is the bomb or the bombardier. She is surprised by the evident answer on the final page, just as you will be.
The Phoenix Force makes it’s way to the Moon and gets exactly what it wanted in spite of the Avengers efforts to thwart it and the X-Men’s attempts to manipulate/control it. The familiar-by-now roster page seems to include a little teaser as to who will be joining the fray and further separates the divisions within each group. Avengers team facial icons are bordered in blue while X-Men icons are bordered in yellow. Straddling the line between them in black borders are the pivotal character Hope and accompanying her (in a strange alliance) is Wolverine (which you know why if you have been reading—they have an agreement). Within the Avengers section and bordered in red are icons for Scarlet Witch and Lei Kung - - two characters who I predicted would be playing a role in the proceedings (kudos to me!) . The red color may indicate their allegiance is still uncertain and subject to change, as may also be the case with the green icons of Professor X and Legion within the X-Men section.
Some highlights include yet another effort by Wolverine to kill Hope, and a high-tech weapon that Tony Stark and Henry Pym developed to stop or alter the impact of the all-powerful Phoenix force (they should have asked Reed Richards to assist). Hope has the best lines this issue, including these: “At some point they stop treating me like a ball they’re all trying to carry downfield . . . and just start trying to kill each other.” . . . and . . . “There was a plan, but now there’s chaos. I failed. And now, where there was hope, there’s just hate.”
AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #6 (August 2012) Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, and Jonathan Hickman: Story. Jonathan Hickman: Script. Olivier Coipel: Pencils. Mark Morales: Inks. Laura Martin: Colors. Chris Eliopoulos: Letters.
Readers following a mega-storyline like this one will always speculate and attempt to predict the eventual outcome. It’s just a natural tendency and also enhances the enjoyment of the story. All bets are now off, as I have no idea where this is going. Things take a dramatic and unexpected turn here. You now need the pair of issues published this month - - both #5 and #6 - - absolutely essential. My job of trying to give you some idea of what is occurring without spoiling the story is getting harder and harder. Still, I’ll try.
Romita and Hanna get a break from the art chores this issue. Coipel and Morales take over and do a dynamite job. You’ll love it.
The very important roster page is again very telling, with the separate icons on the Avengers side of Scarlet Witch remaining red (perhaps to indicate action this issue?) while the one for Lei Kung is green (perhaps a holding or waiting pattern?). The X-Men side of the page is further divided with the orange border for members of The Phoenix Five (who, you ask?) and the other X-Men in yellow border. Their ranks now include Professor X and some additions from the teen teams/schools.
Just a little tease, now: The Phoenix Five have used their great powers to change the world and seemingly make it better. Naturally, as Professor X explains “ . . it unnerves the world. People are afraid” of the “New Day”. The Avengers are suspicious and “plan for the worst” while doubt enters the mind of some members who either decline to participate further or walk away from their membership. There’s some great dialogue/opinion from many, including Beast who wraps it up with a comment to Wolverine: “More and more each day it looks like you and I have no place to call home. “ I am also suspicious. Obviously, if everything was grand the story would end sooner rather than later. A comments from Cyclops to Hope also gets me nervous: “And now I know that you don’t deserve it” as well as his concluding remarks/intentions on the final page/final panel of the issue. (He says “no more” this and “no more” that a lot this issue.)
There is a two-page sequence which is not clear whether it is a flashback or a prophecy/forecast because the characters in this vision(?) are not as they appear today. It occurs to the Scarlet Witch and it makes her sweat to consider the implications. (Me, too!) Not content to sit on their hands, the Avengers attempt an ill-planned/ill-advised mission - - although there may be a positive outcome thanks to another’s intervention. Time will tell. Remember these words of Scott/Cyclops: “Men know that regardless of their endless sins against mutants, their heroes will protect them. They will do what their leaders think needs to be done.” Don’t miss this!