AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #10 (October 2012) Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman = story. Ed Brubaker = script. Adam Kubert = pencils. John Dell = inks. Laura Martin w/Larry Molinar = colors. Chris Eliopoulos = letters.
Spoiler Warning: This review is spoiled rotten to the root, and riddled with reveals
At the end of Issue #9 the Avengers safe haven of K’un Lun is found out through the Phoenix-enhanced eavesdropping abilities of Emma Frost, who shares this tidbit of information with Cyclops. He rushes off there to demand that Hope be returned to his custody.
K’un Lun is the main battleground this issue and where the majority of the action takes place, with some very short interludes with some other Avengers in Russia and some X-Men secondary forces in Utopia.
The Russia interlude is very short, just one page and just enough space for us to learn that Professor X, who swung his allegiance over to the Avengers and assisted in the break-out from Magik’s hellish prison, has decided to pursue his own path without the Avengers. He now wants to ensure that “mutant kind doesn’t fall with them” (meaning Scott and Emma’s corruption by the Phoenix Force). There’s some confusing art that might have made this moment more meaningful but seems to have the reverse effect. I believe that artist Kubert’s pencils had some lines drawn on the faces of Professor X and Captain America that were meant to indicate severe stress and battle fatigue. However, the ink and color team didn’t seem to get the message. What was penciled in as popping veins and stress lines on Professor X’s face end up looking like star tattoos on his head and a port wine discoloration on his cheek once the art team finishes with it. Likewise, what should have indicated Captain America’s facial expressions of disbelief and later disappointment at Professor X’s decision instead look like scorn/pouting and then indifference. The latter panel is even more confusing in that it looks like a tear running down Captain America’s face while he still has this faraway look. I think Kubert also intended to make it look like stress lines and perhaps some sweat coming out of Cap’s headpiece. If Captain America was indeed meant to be shown crying, I don’t think Kubert would have drawn such a stone-like face/gaze. Also, what seems to be meant as a torn piece of face mask also looks like another port wine stain in the hands of the art team. Shame! This page is ruined for me.
The Utopia interlude is a little longer and more effective. It reveals that Emma is just as corrupted and power-obsessed as Scott as she makes an example of the usually high-powered Magneto, here reduced to a whipping post.
Meanwhile, back on the ranch (K’un Lun) Iron Fist, Iron Man, the bandaged and Weary Three (Thor, Hawkeye, and Thing) all have a shot at stopping the now god-like Cyclops - - all to no avail. Only Hope rises to the occasion with a little dragon assist. Cyclops is hurt but not defeated, only made to disappear for awhile. He then concludes that he needs more power and rushes off to sponge it off Emma.
RETURN TO THEORY TIME: . . . . And that concluding decision by Cyclops would seem to support my theory on how this is going to end. The next issue preview panel shows Scott and Emma in fierce battle with each other. Also, the smaller preview panel for Uncanny X-Men #18 & 19 shows Emma in a Phoenix-fired embrace by Scott (a kiss before dying, perhaps?) I will definitely be picking up those issues to find out if I am right.
Now that we readers have come this far, it’s time to see it through and find out what the big pay-off will be. As much as I have enjoyed this series, I’m ready for it to end and see how Marvel picks up the pieces from here. I certainly hope the journey will lead to new treasure. Yes, I have Hope.