13
Sep
2012
Avengers vs X-Men #11
Review
Chris
Avengers vs. X-Men #11
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Story: Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, Jonathan Hickman, Ed Brubaker, Jason Aaron
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Olvier Coipel


Super hero comics tend to have this bad habit of breezing through or dumping a great idea, in favor of the next big idea. Such is the case with the developments of Avengers vs X-Men #11, as a story that has been unfolding for years, reaches a climax that is far less nuanced and engaging than the set up or potential developments left to explore. I usually try to keep my reviews relatively spoiler free. This will be an exception. Spoilers will ensue. Spoilers will ensue. You have been warned, spoilers will ensue.

The issue opens with Captain America making an impassioned plea to recruit the biggest gun around for the Avengers' impending last stand against Cyclops and Emma Frost. It's a well written moment, and a fun reveal when it becomes clear that Cap is talking to the Hulk. Shortly thereafter the ranks are further bolstered by the X-Men who have realized that Cyclops and Emma can no longer control the immense power they wield.

The exchange between Scott and Emma nicely emphasizes just how frantically their still grasping at their last vestiges of humanity. While Scott, ever the tightly wound master of control, is still just barely keeping things together, Emma is on the verge of cracking, scorching the world, and rebuilding it from scratch. The fight that ensues gives a number of characters a quick moment to shine in a way that highlights their strengths. This is definitely a more well thought out fight than the usual super hero dog pile, something I've had an issue with in some issues of Bendis' Avengers work.

The big moment comes in the form of Cyclops sapping the Phoenix out of Emma Frost and then turning his full power against the one combatant who had truly been able to hurt him: Professor Xavier. Whether that outburst of power that kills Xavier was intentional or the by-product of Cyclops not knowing how to wield the full power of the firebird or a combination, is unclear. What is clear is that with this act of, for all intents and purposes, patricide, Cyclops' journey of the past few years into a fascinating character that is marked by his pragmatism, strategic brilliance, and determination has come to a close.

Where Cyclops had become one of the most interesting characters in the Marvel Universe, combining the most practical elements of the dreams of Xavier and Magneto, making some questionable decisions to ensure the survival of his species but never letting his increasingly powerful army of X-Men stray into the territory of outright villainy, the act of killing Xavier has pushed him firmly into the position of outright mustache twirler. The moment becomes especially disappointing as it could be inferred that Cyclops killed Xavier because his former mentor had the audacity to cross him. While how much the influence of the Phoenix and the nigh-omnipotent power levels Scott was trying to wield factored into this moment will undoubtedly be a subject of debate and exploration for many stories to come, but right now, I find it an overly simplistic end to a very complicated character arc.

Olvier Coipel turns in an impressive display of power in this issue. The Phoenix appears to radiate so intensely that it threatens to burn right off the page. Every blow the Hulk strikes appears to rattle the very panels themselves. The final page reveal is a visual as impressive as it is terrifying, brilliantly underscoring the return of a character known to x-fans over as the worst case scenario. The art is not perfect however. The pages feel overly crowded with panels, and the action does not always coherently flow from one panel to the next. At times it takes a moment or two to discern the proper story flow.

This is not a bad issue. Nor should the faults I take with it be solely lobbed at Brian Michael Bendis, as five architects contributed to the planning of this moment. I find myself disappointed with the end of this issue, and thusly the climax of this event as it takes the fascinating arc Cyclops had been on, and sets him on a new arc. What that arc will be is unclear, but as it stands this was one of the most predictable and simple endings to Cyclops' story. An arc that fascinating deserved a more complex finale.

Grade: B-



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