Ah, Avengers Academy. The one book where you can see Marvel's big Avengers vs. X-Men mocked for its insipidity at the same time its core premise is being used for an interesting discussion about adults making decisions for minors in this world of superheroic education. Avengers Academy #31 resolves the building tension of the last few issues with reasoned debate, and when the fisticuffs happen, it feels like an afterthought – with good in-story reason.
Before getting all mixed up in the huge AvX conflict, Wolverine made sure to dump all the kids from Utopia onto the Avengers Academy campus and basically said "keep them here, no matter what." Naturally, this led the younger X-Men to believe they were being held captive against their will, and while there some fun was had with the two groups of teens interacting with each other (such as Loa helping Mettle earth-surf), it was mainly distraction from their gilded cage. In the midst of all this was the amnesiac Sebastian Shaw, who spent last issue breaking out of his actual cage and looking every bit like he's become the vicious Black King once again. In AA #31, after it becomes clear that Shaw just wants to free the X-kids (and is appalled that they'd assume he wants to kill them), what results is a tense but frank discussion of ideas about the rights of minors in the face of a pitched battle between adults.
And as usual, the acidic Hazmat has the best summation of the crux of the problem:
Kudos to Marvel for allowing writer Christos Gage the freedom to put the square-characters-hammered-into-round-plot-holes nature of most event books, and AvX in particular, in its place. Gage is able to make a book about verbal conflict as compelling as any slapfight could be, and it doesn't err on the side of dumb. Tom Grummett's art is also solid, although a lot of his facial expressions tend to be extremely similar, and a bit more distinctive features to each character would be welcome, but he's got so damn many characters to juggle that it's forgivable – not everyone has the magic of George Perez.
I never thought I'd care much about X-23, but Gage puts her center stage, at the crux of the disagreement between the X-Kid she once was and the AA kid she currently is, and she fills the role perfectly – and her bond with the equally emotionally-distant Finesse is one I hope to see develop more in the future. Seems a good writer can make anything work the way it should, be it a teen hooker Wolverine clone or a fight between two teams of superheroes who ought to know better.