Avengers Vs. X-Men #12
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Adam Kubert
Inks by John Dell w/ Mark Morales & Adam Kubert
Colors by Laura Martin w/ Justin Ponsor
We have arrived. Round 12 of Avengers Vs. X-Men. What a journey it has been. This week picks up with the X-A-Men-gers fighting a losing battle against Scott “I AM FIRE AND LIFE INCARNATE” Summers in all of his full Dark Phoenix mode rage. Jason Aaron weaves in some flashbacks tying together the Iron Fist/Hope Summers/Scarlet Witch storyline, which work to add context to the ultimate conclusion to the crossover. It’s a pretty loaded issue, with several high points and several decidedly low points, but overall a worthy ending to what has heretofore been a fairly haphazard comics event.
The first half of the issue deals primarily with Cyclops’ rapid devolution into an enflamed (literally and figuratively), volatile, violent entity of pure energy. A lovely double page spread shows several “Avengers” (meaning the combined might of the X-Men and the Avengers, under Captain America’s “do-no-wrong” leadership) lying bruised and broken on the floor. Keep your eyes open for a knocked-the-freak-out Thing, who you could mistake for a boulder lying prone in the foreground! The action is brutal, and Adam Kubert captures the chaos perfectly with his innovative panel lay-outs and knack for kinetic illustration.
Overall, the artwork is excellent this issue—though I must admit that putting Olivier Coipel on any book is somewhat unfair to any other artists, even legends like JRJR and Adam Kubert. There’s a certain cinematic, contemporary look to Coipel’s designs that transcend Kubert’s (and JRJR’s) more traditional—but still incredibly stunning—pencils. My own tastes notwithstanding, Kubert excels at capturing the grandiose action in Round 12, as well as the “quieter” moments that round out the flashbacks and the short scene at the tail-end of the issue (no spoilers yet!).
The latter half of the book sees a spectacular inner monologue from Cyclops, a moving allusion to the classic “Dark Phoenix Saga,” and some large ramifications for the impending Marvel NOW! universe. There’s also a frustrating interrogation sequence at the end, but I’ll talk about that in a spoilery bit later. Generally, the comic should satisfy those that have been reading right along, and Jason Aaron actually provides enough context in the first few pages such that new readers could probably just read this issue and get the gist of the whole deal.
::IMPENDING DIATRIBE, REPLETE W/ MINOR SPOILERS::
Skip down to the verdict if you’re want to remain non-spoiled!
Even in issue 12, pacing is still a problem for the whole miniseries. It’s revealed at the very end, during the aforementioned interrogation sequence between Cyclops and Captain America, that Emma Frost, Magneto, and Namor have gone on the run. We don’t see this happen; there are just a few wanted posters on a wall somewhere. The emotional beats are rushed, and a lot of the intense character moments are glossed over as Aaron and Co. barrel toward the end of over 7 years worth of storylines. That’s important. Keep in mind that the entirety of Avengers Vs. X-Men was meant to wrap up the X-Men’s ongoing extinction storyline as well as the Avenger’s ongoing “Are we really heroes?” storyline.
The fact that Scarlet Witch is redeemed for murdering Avengers back in “Avengers Disassembled” and eradicating over 98% of the mutant population still rubs me the wrong way. These facts are even mentioned during the book, and it seems like Aaron wants to spend more time exploring these points, but it’s issue freaking 12!!! Why weren’t we asking these questions earlier!? Hope effectively blames Scarlet Witch for the entire mess, since it was her actions that disillusioned Cap and her “no more mutants” that radicalized Scott Summers and the X-Men. It’s a powerful scene, but the follow-through is just more conservative superhero team-up fare.
Similarly, a powerful one-page sequence sees Cyclops admitting to himself that all he wanted to do was make the world a better place, a world in which his mutant children could live happily ever after without flying across the galaxy and using their eye-blasts for superheroics. And let’s not forget, he freaking did for, like, a week before The Avengers started pestering him and his Phoenix bros! Remember that? That was like Round 6? This sequence is interspliced with some fantastic images harkening back to the “Dark Phoenix Saga,” and there’s a fantastic reference to the Wolverine/Cyclops relationship. With Cyclops in jail now thanks to Captain America’s (re: hypocrite), Xavier dead, and Emma, Magneto, and Namor on the lam, that leaves Wolverine as the leader of the mutant race. This should be exciting.
Finally, to add to the “Cyclops Was Right column,” Captain America chastises Cyclops for suggesting that their battle over the Phoenix ultimately resulted in a restoration of order to the world. When Cyclops says that the Phoenix was never on Earth to destroy anything, Captain America says, “No, Only You Were.” What is that!? Scott “Boy-Scout-Military-Strategist-Extraordinaire-Leader-of-a-Race-of-People” Summers used to be a hero, a bonafide mutant superhero whom Cap and others respected and admired (remember House of M, in which all the heroes decided that Scott Summers should lead them into battle!?). The larger issue here is that Cap is willing to go to great lengths to offer redemption to the Scarlet Witch (crimes previously mentioned) and Bucky (murdered and assassinated diplomats, world leaders, and countless civilians in his guise as The Winter Soldier), and yet he’s still treating Scott Summers—who admits that he will take full responsibility–like some two-bit terrorist unworthy of sympathy. It’s painfully hypocritical and anti-canonical, and should leave any long-time comics readers scratching their heads.
And why is Iron Man on the cover? It’s his fault this whole mess escalated the way it did anyway, what with that cheap Phoenix splitter thing he invented!
Buy it. Might as well. Avengers Vs. X-Men #12 is a fitting end to Marvel’s latest universe-shattering crossover. The art is stunning, the writing tight, and the scale epic. Even if you haven’t been following along, Jason Aaron makes this issue accessible to new readers through contextual flashbacks and an exposition heavy introduction. Still, like most crossover events, characterization and canon are sacrificed in favor of the upcoming new direction. X-Fans in particular will be (and have consistently been) displeased with the proceedings, despite a promising—though vaguely inconsequential—development later in the issue. Alas, ‘tis done, and now, Marvel NOW!
Also, I so desperately want a “Cyclops Was Right” t-shirt NOW!