Wednesday, 3 October 2012
Comics: Avengers Vs X-Men - Round 12
WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS!
Marvel's massive mash up comes to a satisfying conclusion that gives both franchises some new pastures to move onto. At the end of the last issue, X-Man Cyclops, the last of the mutants to possess the incredible Phoenix Force ended up killing his mentor and surrogate father Professor Xavier. Consumed by grief and anger, the leader of the X-Men became Dark Phoenix, the bringer of destruction to the Earth. Can the combined forces of the remaining X-Men and the Avengers stop him? And what do the Scarlett Witch and Hope Summers have to do with the solution?
While far too long and unwieldly, the story has refocussed well in the last couple of issues and A vs X 12 is a good solid conclusion. It helps that Jason Aaron, one of the better writers of this serIes has been tasked with scripting the final part and that Adam Kubert, a gifted storyteller, is On the art chores. With Dark Phoenix causing earthquakes, tidal waves and destruction on a massive scale it's up to the heroes to save as much of the population as possiblE, giving Kubert the chance to draw a number of disasters in a number of countries being stopped by a large cast of characters. It's a penciller's dream (or nightmare depending on the deadline!). Cyclops's plan is deadly in its simplicity:
"This world will burn. And from the ashes, a new world will rise. A brave new paradise forged in fire. But not for the likes of you."
Quite simply he's too powerful for the heroes to stop him and so they turn to the Scarlett Witch and to Hope, who has been trained by Iron Fist. The two have abilities that, as Iron Man rather unscientifically states, act like Ying and Yang to each other and Combined they can damage the Phoenix. As Scott takes a pummelling we get the rather predictable flash back to the original death of Jean Grey, the first Phoenix, and Scott's first and greatest love. Like Jean he also has a moment of rationality and begs the others to kill him. I was steeling myself for the death of my favourite X-Man but then, to my delight, Aaron surprised me: instead the Phoenix is forced out of Scott, into Hope and then she and the Scarlett Witch disperse the Force across the world, restarting the Mutant gene that the Witch had wished away during her nervous breakdown (chronicled in Avengers Disassembled and House of M). No more Phoenix; loads more mutants.
This ending has opened up many new possibilities: firstly, following this rift, Captain America is determined to strengthen ties between the two teams and we'll have new title The Uncanny Avengers, written by the excellent Rick Remender coming soon. Secondly, the Uncanny X-Men team are now wanted fugitives which should writer Kieron Gillen, who has struggled with the tie ins, somewhere new to go. Thirdly, it looks like the rift between Wolverine and Cyclops is stronger than ever with both teams going very seperate ways. Finally, we have Cyclops himself. At the issue's end he is in a ruby quartz jail, guilty of destruction on a massive scale and the death of the founder of the X-Men. Where we go from here is anyone's guess but old one-eye is unrepentent. He sees this as the start of a new age for both humans and mutants. The Cap chides him:
"Don't you dare try and turn this into a win! You waged a war that set friend against friend! You played Russian roulette with the planet! You left wounds that will take years to heal. If they ever heal at all. And you killed one of the finest men I've ever known. If you consider that a win... I pity you, I really do."
Cyclops sees things very differently:
"There are new mutants being born, aren't there? So I was right about the Phoenix. it wasn't here to destroy us. Change never comes easy. There were alway going to be sacrifices. ... That's the thing about the Phoenix. There always has to be destruction before the rebirth."
This adds a great new dichotomy: to the Avengers, Scott Summers is a terrorist but to Scott and many of his X-Men, he's a freedom fighter and hero. Handled well this could be a fascinating new strand to Cyclops's character. In the end, though baggy, this storyline came together in the end and has provided the opportunity for some great new stories and directions for Marvel's top two superteams. Job done.
GK Rating: ****