The old adage “Too many chefs spoil the soup” seems to fit with the Avengers vs. X-Men series. Each new issue has a change in writer, and all those writers were involved with developing the plot. With that many people involved, any project will balloon into overbearing, which is the line crossed in Avengers vs. X-Men #6. It’s too big now, too much is going on, and so plot holes develop and details go unchecked.
So where are we in this convoluted mess? Last issue, Tony Stark magically managed to make an Iron Man suit that could possibly destroy the Phoenix power before it united with its human target Hope Summers. Instead of destroying the Phoenix, Tony Stark’s nifty suit shatters it and the parts manage to posses Cyclops, Emma Frost, Namor, Magik and Cyclops. Um, wait a second. Wasn’t the whole point of this that the Phoenix could only attach to its human host Hope Summers? Isn’t that what everybody was fighting about? Hope Summers? Now the Phoenix can attach to anybody? What? Why didn’t it attach to Professor X and just convince the world to be benevolent to it.
Issue #6 picks up ten days after the possession. Magneto has summoned Professor X to try and talk sense into Cyclops. Turns out that Cyclops and his possessed bunch have been running around making the world a better place. They’ve given us endless energy, ended starvation, tried to end war, the list goes on and on. Writer Jonathon Hickman attempts to cobble out a story arc here but it never gels.
What we get instead are members of the Avengers, as well as the people of the world, torn between fearing the X-Men’s new power and loving them for helping. Really? How many times do we have to go through the “Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely” story arc before the comic companies retire it from the roster? My eyes rolled hardest when Beast, one of the smartest men in the world, got all sanctimonious about the Avengers wanting to stop the Phoenix powered X-Men. It just seemed a little beneath Beast and his intellect.
Then comes the Avengers' move, which makes no sense at all. The greatest war tactician ever, Captain America, decides to take a team and storm Utopia to take Hope Summers away. Why? Clearly she isn’t as integral to the whole saga as originally thought. Why are Cap and the Avengers still preoccupied with her? Why would Cap attempt this kind of feeble snatch and grab against the current X-Men? As the issue ends, Wanda The Scarlet Witch is thrown in for good measure, as is something having to do with Iron Fist. AvX #6 is the halfway point of the series and easily the most muddled.
Jason Aaron, Matt Fraction, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker and Jonathon Hickman. These are the names behind AvX and the clearest idea of what isn’t working. Too many ideas tossed in, nobody there to control it and then each of these guys writing out what is probably their own contribution to the story. I like the AvX idea on a whole, but it’s being executed with the same clarity one would see when a bowl of spaghetti spills on the floor.
Olivier Coipel’s artwork is first rate. I just like the way this guy pencils, he has a style that feeds comic books really well. The opening exchange between Professor X and Magneto is a moment that captures the present and the past, and Coipel handles it perfectly. He has Professor X in street clothes and Magneto in his uniform. That one bit tells more than any written word could. I also like how Coipel draws fire, which is a prevalent theme here. He makes it move, he gives it weight and gravitas.
On the downside of the art, Coipel’s human features are way too small. Everybody ends up having this same blank look on his or her faces. I enjoyed the panel placement but thought he could jazz it up a bit, especially for a big series like this. I’m still interested in what the end brings for AvX; I just wish I didn’t need a GPS to get there.
(3 Story, 4 Art)