One of the main problems with the AvX tie-ins is that they are all over the board in terms of continuity. This title has really been suffering from this event. For some reason, they decided to tell two stories about the Avengers space team in this book and in Secret Avengers. The team’s task has been to confront the Phoenix force before it reaches Earth. The number of times the characters have mentioned this being a “suicide mission” has been staggering. However, despite the singular mission, the editors of this debacle decided they could squeeze out two stories that have nothing to do with each other. And neither really ends in suicide, except a close call of my own after forcing myself to look at this issue.
This book is focusing on Noh-Varr, whereas the Secret Avengers story has been focusing on…Noh-Varr and Ms. Marvel and Mar-Vell? Wait, what? In one book, Captain Mar-Vell is being resurrected and getting Noh-Varr and Ms. Marvel to do his dirty work to take out the Avengers. In this one, Noh-Varr is betraying the Avengers. However, neither story seems to have anything to do with the other. Maybe I’m missing something, which is likely, but I can’t tell which story happens when or whether they are connected in any way.
In this issue, Noh-Varr realizes that he shouldn’t have betrayed the Avengers and ends up trying to correct his mistake. Bendis mishandles just about every character in this book. They all overreact to Noh-Varr’s betrayal, in my opinion, especially Beast. I remember when Hank McCoy was whimsical and full of heart. Nowadays he’s being written as the biggest hypocrite of the Marvel Universe, verbally berating every teammate who doesn’t agree with him.
Thor also confronts the Phoenix force again, but since he’s done that in every issue that has an AvX banner thus far, I feel like I’m watching a rerun. Ultimately, since this issue is behind continuity-wise, we all know that the Phoenix is going to blow by and hit the X-Men on the moon. So the point of this issue is incredibly moot.
The art is rough. Really rough. Simonson has never been my favorite, although I did like his X-Factor work back in the day. But this is not his usual dynamic work. It’s completely over-rendered to the point where I think he just got tired and started scribbling lines on faces randomly just to get it done. There’s one panel of Thor where the cross-hatching just doesn’t make any sense. His rendition of Beast is one of the worst I’ve ever seen, and considering he mastered Hank’s furry form almost 30 years ago, it’s a shame to see him look so bad.
This arc is largely skippable, so if you’re having to be selective about these AvX titles, I wouldn’t bother picking this up. The really sad thing is that for those folks who watched the movie and then wanted to pick up an Avengers comic, this crap is what was waiting for them. –JJ
Cover: 4/10 Writing: 3/10 Art: 2/10 Relevance: 3/10
The 3rd Issue of AvX: VS highlights Colossus vs Thing & Black Widow vs Magik. The latter fight also features an interesting, albeit kind of annoying, use of the Marvel AR app, but more on that later.
These VS books are not meant to carry any substance. The title suggests everything you need to expect from these short stories. It’s two Marvel Characters, one Avenger and one X-Man, punching the crap out of each other. No more, no less. For the most part though, the fights have been ridiculously cheap and some of the outcomes never suggest a clear winner. This is not what fans want. Fans want to see truly clever fights where one of the characters bests the other in a fair and creative way. This still isn’t quite the case with this latest offering.
The first fight, by Loeb and McGuinness, has Colossus duking out with The Thing. What we get here is actually fun. McGuinness is great at giving at portraying two behemoths smashing the ever-loving shit out of one another. This one would be more enjoyable if there were no words accompanying it. It’s not that Loeb wrote a terrible script, but the whole “I’m a monster” self-pity shtick from the Cytorrak powered Colossus is getting really old.
Fight two, by Yost and Dodson, is a battle of the ruskies as Black Widow faces off against Colossus’ sister, Magik. Marvel decided to try something new with their AR app and thought it would be a good idea to have these two characters sporadically converse in Russian throughout the fight. You’re technically not missing out on anything if you don’t have the app and can’t read Russian, but you’ll still get the feeling that you’re not getting your money’s worth since half the dialog is not in english. If you do have the app, the juxtaposed, translated word bubbles are neat for the first 2 panels, but then it really detracts from the pacing of the fight. Make sure to not use the AR app on your first read through.
Yost’s script is fun; the banter between the girls seems genuine. Terry Dodson does what he does best and gives our eyes enjoyment with two beautiful superheroines using everything at their disposals to try and take the other down.
All in all, it’s a beautiful book with a satisfying first fight, but doesn’t offer much beyond that.-SG
Cover: 6/10 Writing: 7/10 Art: 9/10 Relevance: 3/10
Uncanny X-Force #26
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Phil Noto
Two weeks in a row and I end up with the less than stellar books! Since this is Uncanny X-Force you would assume that it would be one of the stronger X Titles out this week. Well, that’s not the case with this one here as it’s got all of the cool elements but somehow Remender didn’t deliver the awesomeness that he set up in the last issue. This isn’t to say that nothing in the issue was enjoyable but it was difficult to sift through the fodder to find it.
There is a great opening sequence as the Skinless Man finishes up with his latest victims. Actually, it was better than great and is one of the highlights of the issue. Then we shift to Fantomex who recieves a surprise vistor who isn’t who she seems. Thought, what should have been the big payoff is Logan and Nightcrawler going up against the Omega Clan, but that fight felt very flat. We are treated to a bit of an origin about this trio and how they came about. Remender also reveals that they are only pawns in this attafck on X-Force as there is a new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants pulling the strings.
Most of what was disappointing about this issue was a mix of Phil Noto’s artwork along with how some of the events played out in Rememder’s story. As enjoyable as it was to see the bloated Wolverine eviscerate himself and Nightcrawler vomit all over the place much of this seemed like shock events to spice up a pretty boring confrontation between the Omega Clan and X-Force. Boring both visually and pacing as I found myself rushing past to get to what was going on with Fantomex instead. Noto’s visuals were also a bit inconsistant throughout the issue. The Skinless Man opening looked fantastic along with Fantomex’s journey into debauchery but as you progress through the issue things don’t fare so well. We’re not even going to discuss the scenes in Genosha.
After such a consistant run of great issues it was bound to happen that one didn’t hit that same level of the others. I’m moreso looking forward to how Remender’s story is going to play out considering what the Brotherhood’s primary target is. Hopefully the next issue is a lot more fun for me. –IS
Cover: 8/10 Writing: 5/10 Art: 3/10 Relevance: 5/10
It’s a new beginning for the adjectiveless X-Men book as Brian Wood takes over from Victor Gischler. Wood comes off his somewhat successful mini-series Wolverine & the X-Men: Alpha and Omega. The great gift Wood brings is character development and a sense that what happens will actually make a difference in the lives of the characters. I mean, if the guy can write a long-running series about vikings, certainly he can bring those elements to the X-Men.
Wood inherits the X-Men’s security team, which sounds a lot like what X-Force was supposed to be, but without the stabbing. In fact, many past X-Force members are on this team, including former member Domino and current member Psylocke. Missing from Wood’s cast is Warpath, who I really enjoy even though Gischler never really gave him anything to do. Wood also decides to keep Pixie, Colossus, and team leader Storm in the book. Colossus’ inclusion is strange, seeing as how he is the avatar of the Juggernaut and is nothing but anger personified in other books, but here he is practically co-leading the team and even smiling in this issue. I think Wood needs to check his references on that one.
One thing that Gischler never really did was develop the characters in his book. They largely went on missions that had nothing to do with anything. In fact, since this title’s inception, it seems like nothing that happens here has had an impact on the overarching X-Men, with the only exception being Jubilee turning into a vampire. It’s been mostly filler. I noticed this especially when reading this issue. Only time will tell if Wood’s run will challenge the status quo, but it seems like it just might.
Wood re-introduces the idea that there may be other species of mutants. Before M-Day, this idea was explored with groups like the Neo and the Draco. It’s not an original concept, but perhaps Wood will take it in a new direction.
What’s most interesting is Wood’s handling of Storm. No one is doing anything with Storm. Her marriage to Black Panther is all but forgotten, she’s kind of an Avenger, and she’s been relegated to being a back-up on Scott’s side of the X-Men. Her past as one of the main leaders of the X-Men has taken a backseat to Scott becoming the general. This is a major disservice to the character, who is one of the strongest leaders of the Marvel Universe, not to mention being an well-developed black female character. I have a feeling Wood knows this and is working to correct it.
Storm seems to be taking this team in her own hands, keeping important details from Scott. This is a seed of something that could potentially be really cool. If Storm and Cyclops being withholding information from each other, could major tension be far behind?
Lopez’s art is much better than his work on New Mutants. His facial expressions work a little better, with the exception of Storm, who has the same serious unexpressive face throughout the whole issue. The work is nothing to write home about, but has some promise.
This is a great jumping on point, so even if this doesn’t blow your socks off, it may be leading to something worth reading. –JJ
Cover: 7/10 Writing: 7/10 Art: 5/10 Relevance: 6/10
X-Men Legacy #268
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: David Baldeon
The opening recap tells us that the Phoenix Five have made their way to Earth and basically started reshaping the world as they see fit. This leads us to believe that the story found in this issue of Legacy takes place in the very near future, rather than directly in line with the current continuity of AvX at the time of its release. In the fallout of the havoc caused by “Phoenix-Clops” in Narobia (the Marvel equivalent of Nairobi as far as I can tell), Frenzy is sent to keep the peace until the Cuckoos arrive on site to mind-wipe everyone.
If you are undecided about the Frenzy character, Christos Gage’s story will either make you a fan, or make you hate her. It’s a decent attempt at further developing the character and her backstory, it’s too bad the scenery and setting is so cliché. Send an angry black woman to Africa to have her deal with her troubled past. Meh. The only thing that is mildly interesting about Frenzy is how she constantly choses to be “good”, even though for all intents and purposes she should be a villain. Otherwise, she’s as one dimensional as Luke Cage.
Baldeon’s art is adequate and made it easy for the reader to simultaneously distinguish between the flashbacks and the current story which run in parallel. The action is kind of subdued though. I would have liked to have seen higher impact stuff during moments of confrontation.
It’s a nice look at Frenzy as a character, but I’m not sure how relevant Legacy #268 is to the AvX story as whole.-SG
Cover: 8/10 Writing: 6/10 Art: 7/10 Relevance: 2/10
Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: I loved seeing the spotlight on Frenzy! X-Men: Legacy #268 was a great issue!
SpidermanGeek: Avengers vs X-Men: VS #3 was mindless fun, especially the Colossus/Thing fight.
Infinite Speech: I’m boycotting the Pick of the Week. I picked up Avengers and Uncanny X-Force and didn’t like either!