Avengers vs. X-Men #5 Review
- Published on Thursday, 07 June 2012 01:00
- Written by Rokk
- Hits: 4184
Avengers versus X-Men has been a terribly disappointing event. I thought that Marvel's move to make this a bi-weekly even would mean that we would get a fast paced story with strong plot progression. I also thought that having it stretch over 12 issues also would mean that the story would have some meat to it. And while the concept of Avengers vs. X-Men is not particularly original I did think that we had a chance for a fun old school 1970's-80's styled super hero romp. Unfortunately, I was horribly mistaken. Can Avengers vs. X-Men #5 get this big event back on track? Let's find out.
Plot: Jason Aaron, Brian Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman
Script: Matt Fraction
Pencils: John Romita, Jr.
Inks: Scott Hanna
Colors: Laura Martin
Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with the Avengers and the X-Men battling each other (again) on the moon. We get some cheesy inner narration from Hope that serves as the spine for this entire issue. Hope talks about the bombardier who dropped the bomb on the Japanese during World War II. She says that nobody blames him for the damage. They blame the bomb. She wonders if she is the bombardier or the bomb. (Fraction has absolutely zero deftness, subtlty or genius to his themes. I could see him pounding out this ham handed scene on his Mac while sipping a latte at Starbucks and congratulating himself over his brilliance. Oh wait, I'm typing this review on a Mac while sipping on a latte at Starbucks! Dammit!! Snark backfire!!)
Hope lets out a Phoenix Force blast that takes everyone out as she yells for them to all stop fighting. Hope then tells Wolverine that she was wrong. That she cannot handle the power. Hope begs for Wolverine to kill her. Wolverine quickly obliges her request. (Err, wait. Didn't Jason Aaron spend all of Wolverine and the X-Men #11 telling the reader how Wolverine has changed? That he no longer kills children. That he helps save children. Logic be damned!! Fraction has a "dramatic" moment to deliver! Slice and dice that girl, Wolverine!)
Cyclops blasts Wolverine and tells him to leave Hope alone. Cyclops and Wolvie start battling.
We cut to Hank Pym and Tony Stark putting the finishing touches on Tony's new Phoenix Buster armor. (Yup. I'm officially coining this suit of armor the Phoenix Buster. It makes since considering that Tony used to have a Hulk Buster suit of armor.) Tony rambles on about how they are scientists. And that makes them pioneers and pilots. (Huh, what? Okay, maybe pioneers of science. I get that. But pilots? I'm missing the jump in logic with this one.) We get a dramatic shot of Iron Man's Phoenix Buster armor that looks like a massive Gundam suit. Hank replies that the Kamikaze were pilots, too. (Did Fraction watch a special on the closing stages of the Pacific Campaign of World War II on the History channel before writing this issue? He seems to be stuck in a rut with his analogies and comparisons.)
We cut back to the moon where the Avengers and X-Men are still brawling. The Phoenix then appears on the scene. We then get random cut away panels to Scarlet Witch, K'un Lun and Professor X. (The panels feel awkwardly forced into the story. I guess this is Fraction letting the reader know that shit is about to get real.) We get some more of the same stale dialogue where Cyclops and Captain America debate who is right and who is wrong.
Iron Man then flies up to the Phoenix Force and unleashes the face melting power of the Phoenix Buster armor. We have a massive explosion. Followed by a massive fallout. The heroes are all staggered. Iron Man thinks he did it. That he actually killed the Phoenix. (But, we know that is not the truth because we still have six more issues to go! False suspense!!)
We turn the page and we see the Phoenix Five all powered up by the Phoenix Force. The Phoenix Five includes Cyclops, Emma Frost, Colossus (No longer in his Juggernaught form), Namor and Magik. Cyclops is holding an unconscious Hope in his arms. Scott says that the gift of the Phoenix was not meant for them. That it was meant for Hope. Scott says that they will take Hope home to heal her and help her get ready. That the world can still be saved and healed. That it is time to evolve tomorrow itself beyond something that the Avengers have ever imagined. (REBOOT TIME!!!)
Scott tells Captain America that he cannot stop the Phoenix and for Cap to not even bother trying. (Oh well, that will totally work on Cap. Look Steve, just hang up the shield and go to Starbucks and get yourself a latte.) Hope then narrates that she was just like everyone else. A victim of what the Phoenix had in store for everyone. We see the Phoenix Five blast off for Earth. End of issue.
The Good: Even though I am not much of a fan of John Romita, Jr.'s artwork I must admit that this issue fit what Romita, Jr. does well. The action scenes are well suited for Romita, Jr. and he does not disappoint. The fight scenes are properly dramatic and larger than life. The splash shot of Iron Man's Phoenix Buster armor was excellent. The fight scene between Iron Man and the Phoenix and the fallout from that fight was top notch. Romita, Jr. brought plenty of excitement and dynamic energy that managed to perk up the rather slow and tired story. Both Hanna's inks and Martin's colors did a nice job giving Romita, Jr.'s pencils a nice pop and combined to give Avengers vs. X-Men #5 an exciting look.
There was not much about this story that impressed me with one exception. And that was the Iron Man Phoenix Buster armor. I loved it! This is the kind of over the top super hero fun that made me fall in love with old school (pre-2000) Marvel comics. This is exactly what Tony should be up to in an event like this. He should be frantically working on some outrageous variant of his armor to take on some all-powerful villain. This was a nice fun touch to the story.
I am a bit neutral on the "twist" ending to this issue. I like that the writers pulled a small swerve after building up over the past several months the fact that Hope was going to gain the Phoenix Force. The Phoenix Five presents the reader with multiple villains and multiple villains means the writers can pull in an even larger roster of characters to do battle with them. It also increases the chance that we may have a deeper schism in the X-Men as some of them may side with the Avengers in the battle with the Phoenix Five.
The Bad: Reviewing Avengers vs. X-Men #5 is like being tasked to give a critique of the nutritional merits of cotton candy. It is like reviewing the contents of a balloon. There is just nothing there. Seriously. Avengers vs. X-Men #5 is an emaciated anorexic that throws up words at the mere thought of actual story content. There simply is not much to say about AvX #5 because there is little to no content to this issue. All you need to know is that the Phoenix Force took over Cyclops, Emma Frost, Colossus, Magik and Namor. Done. In one sentence I summed up all of the actual plot progression and new content that was delivered in this issue.
Avengers vs. X-Men has been an ode to decompression and this issue is certainly no different. The story continues to creep along with absolutely no sense of urgency at all. It is clear that each writer has one task at hand with their designated issues: Stall. It is obvious that the template being used for these first five issues is to fluff up the story with filler and only actually deliver something that resembles plot progression in the final 3-5 pages. The plotting and pacing in this issue is just pathetic. There is no doubt that each writer is stalling for time because their story for this big event simply cannot fill up twelve issues. The utter lack of depth and actual content to the issue is stunning.
Most of the issue is spent recycling the same fighting we have gotten in the previous four issues. We also get the same re-hashed dialogue between the Avengers and X-Men that we have gotten in the previous issues. Basically, all Avengers vs. X-Men #5 gives the reader is a re-hash of the previous issues with about five pages of actual new content. That is simply not enough to satisfy most readers.
I never expect AvX to offer a deep dense story packed with amazing dialogue and impressive character work. I knew this would be a summer blockbuster movie styled comic book. And I am okay with that approach. But, the story up to this point simply has been ridiculously shallow. I'm pretty sure that Cobra had a more substantial story than AvX has up to this point. And while I did not expect incredible dialogue, what Fraction gave us in this issue was somewhere between generic at best and cheesy at worst. Most of the characters continue to move thought this story as nothing more than props to fill up the background. The few characters that actually get the spotlight deliver their lines with all the personality of cardboard cut-outs.
The lack of internal logic also continues to plague this event. The devil is in the details and I would expect that a story written by a committee of writers would not conflict with tie-in issues written by one of those committee writers. In AvX #5, Fraction shows Wolverine quite willing, able and ready to kill Hope. There is no hesitation at all in Wolverine. This does not sync with what Jason Aaron delivered over in Wolverine and the X-Men #11. In that issue, Aaron went way out of his way to hammer into the reader how much Wolverine has changed. That he simply no longer has it in him to be a cold blooded killer. That he cannot kill children. In fact, Aaron went on to say that Wolverine has now dedicated his life to saving and helping children. Yet, here in AvX #5, Fraction has Wolverine snarling and leaping at the chance to kill Hope. I know these are little details, but this is what I expect from people that put themselves out as professionals.
Now, let's talk about the "twist" ending. My concerns with this twist is that it clearly casts the X-Men as the villains. This is a similar problem that Civil War had. Prior to Civil War, Marvel promised that they would not take sides in the fight between Captain America's group and Iron Man's group. Of course, that was summarily exposed as a lie. Marvel, in their rush to cobble together a poorly done post-9/11 commentary, they blatantly cast Captain America's group as the heroes and Iron Man's group as the villains. This robbed a lot of the tension from the story.
Fast forward to Avengers vs. X-Men and Marvel once again claimed that there would not be one side that was clearly the "good" guys and one side that were clearly the "bad" guys. However, the first four issues of AvX have certainly painted the Avengers in the more heroic role than Cyclops and the X-Men. And in Avengers v. X-Men: Versus, the Avengers have been mowing down the X-Men up to this point. Now we have the Phoenix Five arise and assume the role of the main bad guys and all of them happen to be X-Men. Now, I know that the Phoenix Force has taken over these five characters, but they still were at least receptive to the Phoenix's influence and its plans and It is tough for the reader to not view the X-Men as the villains in this story when the Phoenix Five is composed solely of X-Men and are going to fill the role as villains of the story. By making it certainly seem that the X-Men are the villains in this story it robs the reader of some of the fun of having an internal debate on who is right and who is wrong.
Overall: Avengers v. X-Men #5 continues the trend of disappointing reads for this big event. There is no way I would recommend this issue to anyone other than hardcore Marvel fans. The $4.00 cover price is a financial raping considering the pathetic amount of actual content that the reader gets in this issue. I would be fine with paying .99 for this issue. Maybe even $1.50. But, $4.00? For this? No way. A total waste of money.
Rokk began his little Blogger blog known as Rokk's Comic Book Revolution on January 24, 2006. One wife and two little boys later he is now the Editor In Chief of the Comic Book Revolution and works with some great fellow comic book fanatics. You can keep up with Rokk and his musings through various formats.