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Saturday, 27 October 2012
I don't believe you can start talking about AvX without mentioning a few of the comics and events that lead up to it and if we are to start at the beginning we have to go back 7 years to House Of M. Dont worry I will be brief...
House Of M
An epic story that changed X men comics in a massive way and climaxes in the immortal words "No More Mutants". If you live in a cave and haven't read House of M it is a story in which the Scarlet Witch, mutant and avenger, changes the world to suit her, Magneto and his mutants rule her world but are overthrown by Avenger and X Man alike to revert the world to what it was. However when Scarlet Witch changes the world back she alters it a little almost making the mutant race extinct by whispering "no more mutants" and dropping the mutant population from over a million to just 198. I love this story and I love what it did to the comics but the reason it is relevant is because, although nobody has attached a number to it, a lot of mutants must have inadvertently died because of losing their abilities. For example anyone flying, anyone who could breath underwater, anyone physically deformed, anyone possessing power within them (chamber for example nearly died), even wolverine would have died of adamantium poisoning... Since then mutants have been simply surviving and trying not to die out, a difficult task when feared and hated and blah blah blah...
Also in the House of M universe Xavier is dead (you might notice a trend)
I will be doing a full review of this but basically a new mutant birth, the first since M day, and everyone wants her for themselves. Who gets her? After a long struggle and not just a few bouts of fisticuffs Cyclops gives the baby to Cable to take to the future to train and look after until she is ready. No Avengers appear in this graphic novel but I wouldn't expect them too, its not their comic simple as that. Xavier is shot at the end of the graphic novel and presumed dead (just saying... a trend)
Again I will be brief, a full review is coming... Hope and Cable return. When San Fransisco is threatened the Avengers appear to help out but cant get into Utopia to help out because of a massive red shield. (No appearance by Xavier, Nightcrawler dies though... who isn't Xavier but still...)
A little more relevance now, in X sanction Cable turns up to beat the crap out of the Avengers for something that is about to happen. The reason this is so relevant is not because of what is about to happen (presumably he means AvX and wants to protect hope but that doesn't make any sense as she won in the end. Did cable agree with his dad and the Phoenix 5?) but is relevant as it puts into context what X Men and Avengers relations are like. Take this from Cyclops for example "You'v lost control son. Maybe its the techno organ virus maybe but. This isnt the way to solve anything... Cap I'll have you out of there in no time" or even "you've got to free the avengers. Cable-- my son-- has to be stopped" and as a team they stop the avengers, Cap lets Cyclops take his sons body as the Avengers take custody of Cable's weaponry, fair enough. Shows the X Men and Avengers are on friendly terms at least. A wicked miniseries in general with awesome art and scripting. It ends with a conversation between Cable and Cyclops about the avengers coming for Hope as she manifests as the Phoenix which is chilling and exciting! Cue AvX (Xavier also doesn't appear but what was he gonna do think nasty things at Cable?)
Just before getting into AvX I want to again talk about Cap and Scott and Avengers Xmen relations as they are through Uncanny X men #9 and #10. The world is in danger as space criminals brake free of an orbiting prison. Both the avengers and the x men are on hand to help out. as the Avengers arrive cap says to Cyclops "Together we've got the manpower, but we are lacking a teleporter. If we coordinate..." and Cyclops finishes his sentence with "...We'll be more effective. Understood and agreed" See! Like team mates! Tactitions! Admittedly the story ends in 10 with Cap saying that Cyclops has shown that the world is less important than hope by leaving (if you dont get it, read it! Its wicked) bit Cyclops admits his mistake and leaves. This is the kind of relationship the two have shown, they hold no hatred for each other which makes the start of AvX a little confusing.
Not a lot good happens in this issue... Hope and Cyclops' section is pretty pointless except for showing that Cyclops doesn't want Hope to know about Phoenix. Scarlet Witch's part brings her back into the MU for anyone who didn't read the largely inconclusive Avengers Children's Crusade. It also welcomes Scarlet Witch back into the avengers with the words "Once an Avenger always an Avenger" Her guilt absolved by all but the Vision who still isnt happy with her, understandably.
Finally! It starts with Nova crashing to Earth saying "its coming" cool and exciting again! And then it drops down hill with a marvellous misrepresentation of the military character Cyclops has become, he beats Hope for not training hard enough (also a misrepresentation of how much Hope trains) thus starting one of the worst things about AvX, the feeling none of the writers have read comics recently and dont understand or know the characters the way the readers do!!! The phoenix appearing is done in a cool way although Romita Jr. art is hit and miss throughout. When Cap consults Wolverine he obviously immediately jumps on the offensive, thats expected, see Schism! Cyclops talks a little about why the phoenix is important and the Rebirth it could bring to the mutant race, he talks about it logically and without emotion and like Cyclops would which is nice... just before the ego's clash! A double page spread full of good points about who should hold Hope, neither suggest they both keep her which would make the most sense but Cap threatens Cyclops and Cyclops responds by blasting him into the sea, and so ends all reasonable debate and discussion. Both actions out of character and quite stupid! Cyclops is the type of character to take help when he can get it, and Cap is not the type to be aggressive but more likely to offer help rather than threaten to take Hope. This is probably the most annoying thing in AvX well written until the last few panels of absolute S**T which are an excuse to get the ball rolling on a sales boosting series of brawls that should be in "What if?"'s. Obviously the Helicarriar is there also showing that Cap was never just going to stay on the island with Hope and the X men and watch over her like a sensible person, he was going to Take! her. And what if they did take Hope? What was their plan? how would they protect her?
AvX 2 continues to get the characters wrong, scott particularly talks like a jealous brat however the battle for the beach is a cool idea and the double page spread of Cyclops vs Cap is really cool. These are still outweighed by the fact that the fight is stupid and pointless.
Finally through Magik's trick some of the tactics of Cyclops and Cap come into play even though they are in a fairly minor way it is nice to see them finally thinking about strategy rather than just butting heads. One of the best bits of dialogue in the whole storyline is also in this issue, delivered by Tony Stark to Cap "It wasn't too long ago I was saying things just like that and you were on the other side then", a brilliant call back to Civil War. Cap and Wolverine's fight is another highlight of the issue, the art is fairly good and the reasoning behind it even better. Finally it is nice to see Hope thinking back to her training with Cable in the shortlived and Cable series.
Issue four is one of the most boring issues, after the slightly better issue 3, 4 begins with Hope louring Wolverine to her with beer... illogical and stupid but apparently it works. Then they go to the moon and the X men and Avengers follow them... that is it. The whole issue.
More butting heads and random battles fill the majority of issue 5 along with a weird, silly and giant Iron man suit to capture the Phoenix. Hope also decides that it is time to die and that she can't contain the phoenix, Wolverine tries to kill her but Cyclops wont let her. The Phoenix doesn't get captured but does split up and inhabit "The Phoenix 5" Cyclops, Emma Frost, Namor, Magik and Colossus. Which all look a little silly...
Firstly Copiel takes over the art and does a better job than Romitta Jr. despite the silly costumes. The new Utopia looks pretty cool and the things the Phoenix 5 have been doing, with zzzax for example, seem to be for the good of everyone. Somehow the comic still displays them negatively, blaming them and acsing them of being evil, this one sided representation of Avengers being good and the X men being the villains is one of the more annoying themes of AvX. The worst thing they do in the comic is give nations an ultimatum "no more war" (the second of many "no more"s) how evil!!! Beast finally begins to redeem himself for the last few years of pathetic wining by saying maybe the x men are the heroes and the Avengers shouldn't fight them but that doesn't last long. Finally another of my hates for this storyline is brought into this issue K'un Lun I don't read many Avengers titles or know much about Iron Fist but WTF!?!? This made up land and sudden made up origin is an attempt to explain a force which already has a history ie. the Mkran crystal and the Shiar. This is pretty much forgotten about so that an Avenger can have a back-story relevant to the Phoenix and actually have a reason to be in the story but its done in a pretty half assed way. Hope also decides it is time to change sides and go with Wanda, not the Avengers or the X men but Scarlet Witch... you know the one who decimated the mutant population.
It was around here I thought of my own end to AvX, Cyclops gets all of the Phoenix in him and then opens the "black box" in his mind and lets out the eternal hunger of the Void and it consumes the eternal power of the phoenix and all settles itself out.... unfortunately that not what happens.
All that happens in this issue is we find out the Scarlet Witch can hurt the Phoenix 5 and Namor gets pissed off... That is literally the whole issue!
Again a pretty simple issue, Kubert takes over the art and does a damn good job with awesome pencils and panelling. Wakanda get destroyed which is monumental and amazing, by a power mad Namor who as Magneto states has "always been his own mutant". However he is defeated by all of the avengers and most notably the Scarlet Witch. This is where the storyline starts to get good, now that there is no question about who is good and bad the X men become classic villains. The main development in story is that as one of the Phoenix 5 die the others get stronger.
Hope continues to train, boring, battles go on again and again with the avengers on the losing side and the x men falling further and further into despair. However one of the best bits of art and writing comes in a double page spread in which Spiderman gets pummelled and beaten to ensure the Avengers escape. Whilst doing so Spiderman tempts the two phoenix powered mutants with the power they would have if they killed each other, so they do... It confuses me however that they both die, neither one is a victor... At the end of the issue Cyclops goes to K'un Lun to take back Hope, I don't really know why... or why the Phoenix 5 don't just bring mutants back but whatever thats only a massive plot hole. I think its this issue a third "no More" is said, No more avengers... I think most fans are now tired with the No More theme, No more mutants was epic but we are all just bored of the pun now.
WTF is with the stupid giant dragon?!? I mean really who came up with this!?! Not much needs to be said about this issue, along with the dragon Hope punches Cyclops to the moon again a big WTF stupid moment. Also how do you get to the moon from K'un Lun, wouldn't you have to go through some magic portal to Earth first? Again the X men get more evil surprise surprise. Oh and Charles Xavier gets involved (theme is coming).
The first issue of AvX I actually liked! The art goes back to Copiel who does a wicked job again, bringing the story to life with just maybe a little too much fire but oh well... Hulk is recruited, a little late, and the final attack on the Phoenix 2 begins, the mind fuck of Xavier mixed with all of the avengers attacking Cyclops is too much so he does the only sensible thing and doubles up his strength by defeating Emma. With his new power he kills the person who has lead his whole life, Charles Xavier
The epic final issue begins with Scarlet Witch and Hope wining at each other and some mumbo jumbo about magic and technology not meshing but the final battle takes over pretty quickly and is damn brilliant when drawn by Kubert. Scott begins to destroy the planet in traditional Phoenix style and finally gets brought to Hope and the Scarlet Witch. In a final outburst of energy, whilst battling Hope and Scarlet Witch, Cyclops sees a red headed woman walking towards him as he mutters Jean, Hope steps forward with Scarlet Witch and finally defeats him. This is really cool but not as good as #19 of Uncanny X men which tells the battle more chillingly through Cyclops' eyes. In a second the Phoenix jumps into Hope who fixes everything in an Ex Machina kind of way and finally with Scarlet Witches help and the clearly necessary words "no more Phoenix" the phoenix force is banished forever... hopefully. Not only is everything ok again but Mutants are born! The rebirth of the mutant race has begun and Scott knows it, I believe Cyclops was right! The conversation between him and Cap is brilliant, he knows his actions but still believes he did the right thing. In Uncanny X men 19 the issue ends with him finding out about the new mutants and with his arms crossed and cuffed he holds his head high.
As a Cyclops fan I am actually pretty happy with this ending, it adds depth to his character and if he becomes some kind of villain he will beone of the best ever, the motivations behind what he did make a lot of sense (even if they jumped the gun a little) and they shake the MU up in a new and fun way.
To me Marvel NOW is what is happening because the .1's failed but still it looks pretty exciting.
Anyway as far as AvX is concerned I still think a lot of it was pretty poor, it could have been done in a better way over a longer period of time but I guess the conclusion was pretty nice. I leave you with two images to express my opinions of AvX