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DRAMA!

Avengers Vs. X-Men #11

Written by Brian Michael Bendis

Pencils by Olivier Coipel

Inks by Mark Morales

Colors by Laura Martin

Review by Joey Braccino

Round 11 of the epic (?) Avengers Vs. X-Men mega-crossover hits stands today! New alliances are forged as the Avengers and the X-Men wage battle with the Phoenix Five Two! A hero falls! All of my previously mentioned fears come true! And I guess I’ll just have to deal with it!

Needless to say, SPOILERS AHEAD:

Yes, it was inevitable. The X-Men have surrendered to the Avengers, pleading for asylum and crying, “We didn’t know! We thought it was a good idea at the time!” In this issue (in a beautifully drawn sunset sequence by Olivier Coipel), Rogue leads an exodus of repentant X-Men to the Captain America and the Avengers, and they all sign up to do final battle against their former leaders, Scott Summers and Emma Frost. At least Bendis and Company spared my fragile X-heart the pain of seeing Wolverine or some other mutant yell “AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!” I don’t know if I could bear such a sight.

Alas, in the four weeks since issue #10, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that my beloved X-Universe proper probably won’t exist after this entire endeavor. Instead, my merry mutants are getting integrated into a greater Avengers franchise, or continuing on in the only holdover primary X-Title, Wolverine & The X-Men. I suppose it is time; the X-Men have been tied into an intriguing, though admittedly lengthy post-M-Day “We Must Survive” storyarc for nearly eight years. I do hope that the “Messiah” storyline is addressed either before AvX finishes or in some Marvel book down the line, but at this point, my resignation extends so far inwards that I just want my next issue of Captain Marvel or Hawkeye please.

Let me first say that Avengers Vs. X-Men #11 is actually quite good. The stakes are high, the action is fist-buckling, and the drama in the last few pages is emotionally resonant—particularly for any X-heads out there. After the book opens with a brief recruitment prologue (hint: SMASH) and the aforementioned eXodus, we jump right into the Everyone & Xavier Versus Scott & Emma sequence. Xavier and Scott’s battle on the psychic plane is laced with painful father/son overtones (Xavier: “I’m ashamed of you.”), and the conclusion to their battle, though predictable, serves the story well. If you’ve been anywhere on the internet yet today, you know how the battle ends. Even though it’s kind of the same ending as the “Messiah Complex” X-story from a few years ago, this one is much more heartwrenching and (most likely) more permanent.

Bendis does the X-fans a favor in the final panels. After Scott does the deed and turns into the Dark Phoenix, he says, “Why? Why did you make me do this? Why couldn’t you leave it alone? Are you happy captain?!” Yeah, Cap: are you happy? I wish this question had been asked more throughout the crossover. Looking back at the entire story, it’s clear that we were supposed to take the Avengers’ side and that the narrative was told with an Avengers-slant. But these few panels in the final pages of issue #11 remind us of Captain America and the Avengers culpability in the whole Phoenix situation. If the Avengers had been willing to work with Scott Summers and the X-Men way back when—even after the X-Men had received the Phoenix Force—how would things have turned out? Could a Logan/Jean-esque agreement have been worked out (I do awesome stuff, you kill me if stuff gets weird)? Finally, the writers have decided to paint Scott Summers as the more tragic hero/villain that this story required from the start.

On to Olivier Coipel’s artwork. I. Can’t. Even. It’s stunning. Simply stunning. No other words needed. His panel layouts are innovative and epic in scope. The Phoenix flames that wash over his panels drip with energy and weight. There are not one but two sunset sequences in this comic, and both are picturesque spreads filled with shadows, warmth, and grace. Beautiful. And yet, Coipel also draws some scary stuff. Scott Summers’ transformation into the Dark Phoenix is reminiscent of Sentry’s devolution into the Void back during the Siege event (also by Coipel). The designs are accented by Laura Martin’s heavy reds and blacks. Martin is a regular on these big events, and there’s a very good reason for that; she’s one of the best in the business.

Verdict

Buy it. Putting aside my X-Fanboy rage, I can honestly say that Bendis and Coipel deliver with issue #11. The artwork is stupendous, the dramatics high, and the action intense. I look forward to the conclusion next issue and, more importantly, I look forward to Marvel NOW!

Of course, I shouldn’t have to put aside my X-Fanboy rage, and I’m still quite bitter as to how my X-Men were treated throughout this crossover, but ultimately, I can see the narrative goal as we reach the finish line. Perhaps the X-Men’s dream earning their equality through superheroism was just that—a dream. Especially with their numbers so few, their extinction story arc must come to an end with their integration into the Avengers fold rather than through militant isolationism. It’s a METAPHOR!

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