Today Avengers vs. X-Men #12, the last issue in the epic battle between two iconic hero teams, comes out. And, as my grandfather used to say….
“I’m glad that mess is over with.”
Realistically, there was no way for this to end on anything less than an anticlimactic note. To be true to the truth, once you read the end of AvX #12, you’ll see it for what it really is – a way for Marvel to shill their next series of books in hopes of pumping up the bottom line. No matter how many writers they threw into the soup, it was still going to taste thin and lack flavor. If you sat down and re-read AvX all at once you would see that nothing really happened. Oh, Professor X died again. Sorry, that doesn’t really do anything to give this story any emotional impact.
AvX #12 is the final battle between the now Dark Phoenix Scott Summers (aka Cyclops) and the rest of whoever is left. Writer Jason Aaron does his best to set up tension and create drama, but he’s pushing a very heavy rock up a very jagged mountain. There has been little to no actual drama in these twelve issues, outside of whatever was forced in for shock and awe. Scarlet Witch and Hope Summers get over their differences and combine powers to stop Scott. There is a moment when, shocker, Jean Grey’s shadowed image comes to Scott and he finally releases the Phoenix power.
Hope then inherits it (remember how she was supposed to be its target in the first place?) and, because she’s studied Kung Fu under Iron Fist, she can control it (um, okay). She uses the power to fix the immediate damage and end the immediate danger that Scott caused as Dark Phoenix. Then, after a speech from Wanda, Hope releases the Phoenix power back into space. Once gone, suddenly, mutants begin popping up all over the world. The crushed mutant gene that Wanda created when she wiped out all the mutants years ago is done. Now, mutants can begin showing up all over and in record numbers.
There are several issues I have with this entire series. First, remember all the focus on Spider-Man having something to do with training Hope? Yeah, that just went away. Second, remember how this whole thing started because the Phoenix was headed for Earth specifically to take over Hope? Yeah, well, that was left out until the last two pages of issue 12. The Iron Fist part, the death of Professor X, everything that happened within these twelve issues did so according to what the story needed. Large plot points forgotten, things developed and then tossed aside. Even the foreshadowing of something awful happening to Cyclops as a result of all this goes nowhere. In the end, he sits in a ruby cell wearing an X-Wing Fighter pilot helmet and waxing philosophical about the return of the mutants.
I do think AvX will have historical significance, but not for any reasons involving artistic merit or storytelling. In recent months, we’ve seen a lot of complaints from Marvel writers about editorial choices. We’ve heard grumblings that nothing is about continuity or allowing a writer/artist team to set up a tremendous run on a book. Nope, it’s all about moving units and crunching numbers. I believe the AvX series is the first event series specifically designed to do that. Nothing impactful happens in this series at all. In the end, Captain America makes a speech about helping the world embrace mutants. Cue the start of the new Uncanny Avengers series.
Really? Captain America is going to try to integrate the mutants to his team in a time when humanity’s trust in them is nil? That makes no sense other than to shill a new team book. The second thing is that Marvel finally got out of the corner they painted themselves into by wiping out most of the mutants. Through this drawn out story, they’ve shoehorned the mutants back into the Marvel Universe. Rejoice, more mutant books to come.
The art from Adam Kubert is outstanding, and also seems to show a changing of the guard. Kubert is a kid in a candy store here, drawing epic battles between iconic characters. We all know how good he is, but that’s not the reason to pay attention. AvX has relied heavily on the gorgeous art to see it through, and I see that becoming something that happens more and more. In short, stuck between editorial idiocy and bean counters, writers will be held at bay writing drab stories to move product and to “shake things up” in hopes of creating a sudden sales boost. As that happens, the art will gain more and more of a hold over comics. In five years, when comics are back in an early '90s sensibility where the writer takes a distant backseat to the artist, people will point to AvX and say “Yep, that’s really when it all started”.
AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #12 = 2 Story, 5 Art
OVERALL SERIES = 2 Story, 5 Art