Avengers Vs. X-Men #10
Written by Ed Brubaker
Pencils by Adam Kubert
Inks by John Dell
Colors by Laura Martin w/ Larry Molinar
Review by Joey Braccino
Remember that time Avengers Vs. X-Men #9 came out and we were all impressed with the intimacy of the characterization and the immediacy of the action? And how we all thought it was a sign that the third act of this massive crossover was going to continue a trend of marked improvement? Well, Avengers Vs. X-Men #10 dropped today, and with it dropped a lot of the life that the previous issue captured. Back again are the haphazard characterization and, surprisingly, the lackluster artwork of earlier chapters. Total bummer.
98% of the issue takes place in K’Un Lun, where Cyclops appeared at the end of issue #9 to take Hope back to Utopia. Cyclops layeths the smacketh downeth on some Avengers (including Thor and Iron Man and Iron Fist) before being attacked by Lei Kung the Thunderer riding Shao Lao, the mystical dragon protector of K’Un Lun and source of Iron Fist’s energy. It’s a pretty awesome scene, and the implied connection between the Phoenix and Shao Lao (as well as some of the events later in this issue—No spoilers!) brings me back to my prediction that Hope is going to be the next Iron Fist. Of course, that means that Danny Rand is going to have to bite the dust in this crossover, which would suck if all of the series he’s currently appearing in weren’t being relaunched during Marvel NOW! Time will tell. (Is Danny Rand still 33? Because we all know what happens when an Iron Fist turns 33…)
The most telling part of the issue is when Cyclops asks Hope why she has turned on her own people. She calls him a monster who destroys innocent people’s lives. Huh? When did that happen? Last I heard, Cyclops and Company were bring innocent people free energy, abundant food supplies, and world peace. I hope Hope doesn’t mean to say that the Avengers are innocent people, because that would fly in the face of everything the Avengers titles have tried to explore for the last 8 years…
There are two whole pages of Emma Frost on Utopia. These two pages will go down in comics history as the pages in which Marvel announced once and for all that the X-Men will always be disliked step-children of the Marvel U to the golden boys (and girls) of the Avengers. Emma Frost, despite her previous characterization as staunch defender of and activist for Mutant rights, has forced the X-Men to kneel before her on Utopia and think good thoughts about her and worship her. Yeah. It’s disrespectful to all of the previous storylines that showed her maturing and reforming into a superhero worthy of the title X-Man, and it misses the opportunity to accelerate the development in the previous issue of this crossover that showed Emma going around the world killing humans who hurt or murdered mutants in the past. Now that would have been a much more powerful few pages—Emma Frost enslaving humans who harbor ill-will toward mutants—than showing Emma Frost tyrannizing her own people. Come on Marvel. Come on. If this crossover ends with all of the X-Men joining the Avengers in order to beat up Cyclops, I’m going to flip some tables.
Ed Brubaker is one of the best writers in comics today. His dialogue in this issue is tight and the pace is rapid and exciting, but the story as a whole—the story “written” by the AvX braintrust—is simply not good. Look, I’m glad that Fraction and Brubaker’s work on The Immortal Iron Fist is being woven into the Marvel Universe proper, but Fraction and Brubaker also worked on Uncanny X-Men! And it was under their pen (as well as Joss Whedon’s) that Emma Frost and Cyclops’ relationship was strengthened and our merry band of mutants endeavored to become tights-wearing, monster-beating, sci-fi-fantasy superheroes again! This crossover has become Cyclops versus the Avengers, in which the Avengers are always right simply because they’re the Avengers and Cyclops is a Fascist (as per a Mussolini quip early in the issue), with no exploration of why the X-Men needed/deserved/wanted the Phoenix power in the first place and how the other X-Men (and non-tights-equipped people in the world) benefitted from the Phoenix World Order.
Adam Kubert’s artwork on this outing resembles John Romita, Jr.’s flat character work more than it does the scope and energy of Oliver Coipel’s. Take that for what you will. There are some magnificent spreads, including the aforementioned Shao Lao reveal and some dynamic Iron Fist kung fu moments, but overall it lacks the vigor and innovative paneling of Kubert’s earlier entries in the crossover. There is a classic 9-panel page that features The Watcher that looks uncannily like something JRJR could have drawn.
Buy it if you have to. If we weren’t so close to the end of the crossover, I’d say drop it. This issue pretty much captures the problems of the entire Avengers Vs. X-Men endeavor: awesome writer, awesome artist, and huge stakes all muddled by a shoddy story and clearly biased characterization. But alas, we’re two issues away from the end of this mishandled crossover, and, more importantly, we’re two issues away from the increasingly fascinating Marvel NOW! relaunch. Seeing as how all of my beloved X-books are being obliterated in the wake of this crossover, I’ll have to add some new books to my pull-list. Thankfully, the Marvel NOW! teasers look fantastic. It’s just a pity that we have to suffer through the end of this crossover to get there.
And I say again: is Marvel breaking up all the long-standing ‘ships in preparation for NOW!? Odds are the Emma/Cyclops and Storm/Black Panther relationships are done like dinner after this crossover. Now while most people weren’t really digging the ‘Ro & ‘Challa connection, most X-readers in the 21st century bought in to and were moved by Emma and Scott’s love story through Astonishing X-Men and into Uncanny X-Men.