Thursday, 5 July 2012

Avengers vs X-Men #7 review

'No more Avengers.' When Cyclops uttered those words at the end of last issue, we knew big things were coming this time. After all, he has the reality-changing power of the Phoenix, and his words echoed those of Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, when she removed the powers of almost every mutant on Earth.

Let's file this one under False Promises. It turns out that all Cyclops meant was that the X-Men would hunt down the Avengers so they can't keep trying to wreck Project Utopia - enforced peace on Earth. So Round 7 of this event brings back the spats that filled earlier issues. The difference is that now the massively powered Scarlet Witch is at their side, the Avengers have someone even the Phoenix Five - Cyclops, Emma Frost, Namor, Magik and Colossus - are wary of.

The engine of this issue is Iron Man's quest to understand the nature of both the Phoenix Force and Wanda's energies. To this end, he asks Wanda 'to stay focused on the data skews', whatever the heck that means. Tony aims to use this information for a suicide attack on the Phoenix Five, to make up for having been instrumental in their gaining cosmic power. Fellow genius the Black Panther tells Tony that's a rubbish solution and decides to consult the spirits of his ancestors. As you would.

To 'buy time' for Tony and T'challa to get some good ideas, Captain America sends the Avengers out to confront the quintet of Phoenixes. Wouldn't it make more sense to stay out of sight rather than risk members against beings who can kill with a blink? One Avenger actually does fall this time, burnt to a crisp (though we're immediately told he'll be healed and thrown into Magik's limbo penitentiary). Maybe the Avengers are after grabbing more data, but this has to be inferred from Tony having a eureka moment as Wanda fights Namor.

That's Matt Fraction's script for you. Several times I struggled to understand the story, as panel follows panel in a parade of headscratchers. Has Magick split into two after Wanda's attack? How can Hawkeye's arrow give the Phoenixed Emma pause? Why is Emma snogging Namor this time? Beats me, but as this book has six editors, it has to make sense, leading to the conclusion that I'm as thick as a brick rejected by a Marvel Architect.

There is one simply wonderful page, the opener, as the Phoenix Five get terribly bitchy about the Avengers. Other laudable moments include Cap yelling 'Avengers scramble' and Cyclops coming down firmly against murder. More of this please, and less of Dr Strange overusing the word 'egress' and the Vision running his sentences on.

Oh, and I demand that the Black Panther be defined by this moment for the next several decades.
I don't know whether the art by Olivier Coipel (pencils), Mark Morales (inks) and Laura Martin (colours) is responsible for some of the story issues I have, but it looks wonderful. The individual characters, from Polaris in a very Scarlet Witch outfit (they're long-lost half-sisters on alternate Tuesdays) to a be-vested Tony sitting amid a ton of litter as he collects that dang data, are striking. The battle sequences look impressive, even if the script means I can't always parse them. And the closing tidal wave attack by Namor, while something we've seen many times, feels brand new.

This is a step down after the delights of last issue, but the art almost makes up for the choppy script.

21 comments:

  1. The storytelling was terrible this issue, or maybe we're both thick. Just look at that panel you put up--it took me several reads to realize that T'Challa smacked Tony, as opposed to a sudden Stark spit take while Panther looks on in surprise. No indication of motion, Panther drawn in such a way it's not apparent he just moved...Coipel's stuff is pretty, but also pretty terrible in a narrative sense.

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    1. He probably had no time for motion lines, because he was drawing the great backgrounds.

      Oh ...

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    2. Coipel's 'stuff' is miles ahead of stick figure drawing JR Jr.....I could tell exactly what happened throughout the issue. T'Challa smacked tony for being a fatalistic loser. What I didn't like was the stubble faced Stark, who looked like he was weak chinned (which explains the ever-present beard) Similarly, Coipel's Hope looks like a ten year old. I like dialing back the sexpot aspect of a teenager, but that's off if the wrong direction. Did anyone reference some images of teen women?

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    3. I do find it weird that Marvel doesn't seem to have a visual bible to which artists must adhere. Tom Brevoort has commented that artists are free, for example, to draw the Beast as they see fit in terms of classic blue vs cat, which strikes me as very odd.

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  2. My money is on wakanda kicking namor's ass, even with his new power's he is still the arrogant atlantean we all know and love so we t'challa will take advantage of that weakness

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    1. Cue Vibranium wall rising from the beach, eh?

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    2. nah, actually t'challa does have the device doom used to drain the silver surfer, maybe that can be used

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  3. I agree with you Martin about BP being defined by that awesome bitch slap! I guess BP is today's Hank Pym Syndrome recepient. Good for him.

    Actually, it'd be even more awesome if BP bitch-slapped the whole creative team and editors for allowing such an abortion of an "event" to happen in the first place. Surely even in this Twitter/Facebook age, fans should expect to read quality comics that are well thought out and organized, and not the giant clusterfucks they've recently become. Maybe it's the short-attention generation at fault, but damn!

    Oh and I'd also like to add the entire DC comics company and publisher to that bitch-slap list. Mattel too for other reasons.

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    1. At the very least, Black Panther must be court martialed, and shunned.

      I dunno if I approve of all this bitch slapping!

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  4. Illyana isn't split in two. She's half unconscious and Emma appears and carbonises Hawkeye.

    As for Emma and Namor snogging... well, it's not the first time they play the sexual tension between them.

    I think the idea is to show that the Phoenix Five are starting to fall prey to the Phoenix, that's using their personalities against them. Illyana gets closer to the Darkchilde, Emma used to be a sadistic villain, Namor's ego and instability is well documented... Only Colossus and Cyclops should be able to stay "true" to their goals.

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    1. Hi Bruno. And ahhh, strappy legs on the woman in the bubble - it's Emma, not Magik. These pages are so choppy, it's like we get every third panel that's needed to show what's going on. Lack of useful dialogue plus a dearth of establishing shots and scenes of characters coming and going make it tough to work things out.

      Bah.

      Anyway, I'd hope Magik would be better situated to fight the corruption, having so much experience of going dark. Maybe she'll come through yet.

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    2. Snooooze....Emma has slept with ever powerful man on the planet. She's not chaste little Jean Grey. We get it already

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    3. Too right. I don't see what this particular scene is meant to add, we've seen her thrown herself at Namor already.

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  5. It LOOKEd pretty but no Fraction script has ever sold me on emotion. He's not plot centered as bad as Hickman but he's not a writer to engage your emotions either. I'm just ready for this crap to end. I never thought Marvel would be able to imagine the X-Men having a clean win (they can't imagine a married Spider-Man after all) but I never thought they'd go this route, with my favorite Marvel team ever in the cliched role they were stuck with...

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    1. It does seem as if the X-Men are going to be presented as foolish lackeys of the Phoenix, doesn't it? I wonder which of the so-called Architects is writing the back end of the series.

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  6. I think I agree with you on the issue Martin, but Coipel's art saves any script, for me. I highlighted some solo character layered pages on my site, in regards to Avengers Vs. X-Men Round #7.

    http://365daysofcomics.com/2012/07/oliver-coipel-energizes-avengers-vs-x.html

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  7. I fear that after AVX wolverine and the x-men will be cancelled, does anyone now if that may be true

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    1. false alarm newsarama has octobers marvel solicits and wolverine and the x-men are here to stay plus avengers acadmy has it's football game against the jean grey school

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  8. It is really weird that artists don't see to stick to one version of Beast. Continuity should mean something!

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    1. I agree. It's one thing for artists to draw or not draw billions of scales on Captain America, say, but Marvel should really lay down the law as to whether or not the Beast is a cat or an ape. And much as I hate the cat look, until Marvel say Hank's stupid 'secondary mutation' has receded, he should be feline.

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