Avengers vs. X-Men 9 takes place after Namor lost his portion of the phoenix force. His portion divided itself evenly among the remaining phoenix four, making them each more powerful. However as this issue shows, the increased power also increases the corruption in each avatar of the force. The main plot in this issue is a prison rescue however. There will be spoilers in this review, but I’ll warn you ahead of time.
First, you should know that this takes place after the last Vs. Issue, where Emma Frost beat Thor in a duel. This issue starts almost immediately after that. A bunch of the X-Men join the Avengers side after they see the corruption within the phoenix four, as does Xavier. After all, most of the phoenix five wouldn’t normally agree to imprisoning avengers in limbo – that’s the cosmic power affecting their thought processes.
The prison rescue scene was fairly well done. Spider-Man distracts Colossus and Magik while the others rescue their captured allies. Magik argues that Colossus should simply finish Spider-Man off while Colossus still holds onto his peaceful self and refuses. I’ve read comments on comicbookresources arguing that it’s out of character for the Russian siblings to fight since they normally get along very well.
The thing is, those possessed by the phoenix force don’t act in character. This issue makes it obvious that Emma is aware that the phoenix force is corrupting her, and that she’s losing control. Jean Grey wouldn’t destroy a planet, yet when she was possessed by the phoenix force in the Dark Phoenix Saga, she ate a star that destroyed a planet, which in turn exterminated an entire peaceful race.
Even without the phoenix force, Magik has gone to the extreme to accomplish her goals. In the Fall of the Mutants storyline in New Mutants, she united Legion’s multiple personalities and risked all of reality simply for her revenge. Colossus not wanting to kill spider-man is him holding on to his gentle self and putting his foot down. The phoenix force doesn’t want to be split into pieces, so it pushes them into fighting each other. The way that Colossus and Magik turn on each other and drive the phoenix force out is perfectly in line with both their characters and the phoenix force.
This issue isn’t about whether the Avengers or the X-Men were right in the beginning of the event. This is about both sides realizing that the Phoenix Force is the real threat, and that it’s truly meant for Hope. In order to even have a chance at saving Earth, they need to separate the phoenix force from those it wasn’t meant to possess. Even Cyclops realizes that the conflict between the X-Men and the Avengers is meaningless, even if the phoenix force is skewing his point of view so that he thinks he’s in the right.
Besides that, this issue is a good read. The main plot was well told, and there was enough action to keep the pacing up. Spider-Man’s monologues work well too, and they’re appropriate since this issue is Spider-Man’s time in the spotlight. It’s nice to see him actually matter in a main Marvel event (he hasn’t had a big role in an Avengers event since Civil War). I’d even go so far to say that Spider-Man standing up against two phoenix powered foes is the second greatest Spider-Man moment I’ve read yet – the best being in the Death of Gwen Stacey storyline.
There were nice touches spread throughout as well. Colossus playing with nature in the whale scene was funny, playing on both his artistic side and his own stupidity. The relationship between Storm and Black Panther is explored. There’s actually a lot going on in this issue, yet it doesn’t feel the least bit crowded. The art is good too – probably the best art in the event so far.
If you’ve been reading AVX, then you should check this one out. It’s either this or issue 6 that’s the best in the event so far. If you haven’t been reading this event, then by now you should just wait for the paperback – unless you can find the previous issues. If the rest of the event is similar in quality to this issue, then this could easily be the best Avengers event in the last decade.