Avengers vs. X-Men 12 and Uncanny X-Men 19
I’m reviewing both of these in the same post because it’s actually better to read them together than either of them separately. That said, I will look at each book separately. Let’s start with AVX 12.
The first act of AVX (1-5) was a bit of a mess. Some issues were good, while others felt dry. It was too big for its own good and it felt rushed. Act one probably should have been handled as build within regular team books rather than a part of the event itself. There were also inconsistencies between issues, some of them glaring. The second act (8-10) was much stronger. Those issues worked together much better than those of the first act, and they actually gave time for character development.
The third act had the worst inconsistencies in the entire event. How effective the Scarlet Witch’s powers were changed from issue to issue, and somehow Hope mimicked powers from a non-mutant when they’re only supposed to work on mutants. Issue 11 was the worst issue for inconsistencies, with the hulk talking dumber than he is in his current solo series, and there was some very poorly written dialogue from the X-Men. Yet despite that, it was more focused and more exciting than the first act.
AVX 12 is a satisfying conclusion to this year’s major Marvel event. On its own merits, the action is simply epic and chaotic in scale, yet it’s easy to follow. It rightfully focuses on Hope and the Scarlet Witch, both through flashbacks and in the final battle. Despite everything that happens in this issue, both characters have room for development that directly impacts the story. Nobody feels out of character, at least not that I’ve noticed, and the ending is very satisfying – especially for X-Men fans. Despite all the shame that Cyclops receives for his actions, he was still right from the start. Sure, there isn’t much room to explore the consequences, but that’s what the upcoming AVX consequences miniseries is for. It’s also nice that Jean Grey made a cameo
That’s not to say there aren’t problems – some of the dialogue in the ending feels a little forced or cheesy, particularly between Thor and Nova. Iron Man’s comment about faith isn’t explored anywhere, making it feel out of place. There are also inconsistencies between this issue and issues 10 and 11, including how Hope reacted to her “Chaos Fist”. That said, those moments are handled better in this issue than in 10 and 11 anyway. Most of this issue’s problems are minor and can easily be ignored in the grand scheme.
The art is very good in this issue as well. The apocalypse the Earth is facing is detailed and atmospheric. Fire effects and chaos magic make for a colourful book. Even without the captions, you can usually tell which city you’re looking at in each panel. I can’t think of any complaints about the art; it’s a great looking book.
Uncanny X-Men 19 takes place at the exact same time as AVX 12’s main fight, through Cyclops’s perspective. It explores how his cosmic awareness is taking over his mind through short, simple sentences. Even his smallest thoughts are becoming reality and he simply cannot control himself. It’s a great exploration of both his deepest desires and his rivalry with Wolverine. Kieron Gillen writes these thoughts so well that you almost think he’s experienced some sort of cosmic awareness himself. It’s a great comic and an excellent supplement to AVX 12.
The art in this issue is also good. As with AVX 12, you can usually tell which city is being destroyed without reading the captions. There’s a lot of environmental detail, yet it’s never distracting – same goes for the fires of the phoenix.
Both of these books are good on their own, but they improve each other if you read them side by side. AVX 12 had more character development than you’d expect for the finale of a major event, and Uncanny X-men 19 better explores the mindset of Phoenix powered Cyclops than AVX 12 could possibly have room for. AVX has had its ups and downs, but the ending is at least satisfying. If you’ve been reading the entire event so far, these issues are both easy recommendations.
As for the event as a whole, its biggest problems seem to be that there wasn’t enough communication between writers as each issue was written. If every writer contributed to every issue or at least helped with the editing, this could have been a much stronger event.
I must give credit where credit is due though, the changes that came with AVX 12 feel like they could affect the entire main Marvel Universe, and they could very well be permanent. I can’t say that for any other major Marvel event I’ve ever read. Fear Itself’s conclusion was a jumbled mess of a fight scene followed by teasers for other titles that had nothing to do with Fear Itself (Not to mention it had more than 200 tie-in issues). Civil War foolishly villainized Captain America when the rest of the event felt like the Captain was the hero of the story. Secret Invasion’s conclusion carried little weight as everyone knew Dark Reign wouldn’t last too long. Both World War Hulk and Siege had conclusions that were far too big for their own good. Even with House of M, as focused as it was, only had lasting effects on the X-Men even though the event itself focused on Avengers characters.
AVX is better than any Avengers event in recent memory; however it pales in comparison to the better X-Men events in recent years. Messiah Complex (where Hope first appeared) was a tightly written story packed full of awesome moments, and it had equal time for nearly every X-Men character around at the time, hero or villain. Second Coming, while not as good, had a simply epic story that nearly brought Mutants to total extinction. Last year’s Schism event was short, yet it was perfectly competent (ignoring your personal thoughts on the child led Hellfire Club). Utopia and Messiah War have their flaws, but they’re still better than any of the Avengers events since House of M.
AVX has been an exhausting event. For seven months, this event has been raging on with two issues a month – for the most part. Nearly every week had multiple tie-in issues. Uncanny X-Men tied directly into half of the main AVX issues while most other books had less to do with the main event. Some of the Avengers tie-ins barely had anything to do with the event, while most of the Wolverine and the X-Men tie-ins were disappointing. Yet despite all that, the conclusion almost feels worth it. It honestly looks like the Marvel Universe will never be the same.
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I thought AvX #12 was OK. Not bad, not great. It ended an event that was also OK. Cap chewing out Scott brought the issue down a bit, considering the Avengers were actually directly responsible for every bad thing that happened in this event, and lost any claim to moral superiority when they launched an all-out assault on Utopia, attacking the X-Men where they lived, with the express purpose of abducting a teenage girl in the X-Men’s care, without even asking what the girl wanted to do. Throughout the second half of this event, we’ve been told, over and over and over, that Scott was losing it. But prior to this issue, Scott was the most reasonable person in the whole event. Scott, Hope and Wanda are the heroes of this event. The Avengers screwed everything up by messing with stuff they didn’t understand, while Scott, Hope and Wanda set everything right.
UXM #19 was amazing. Just an incredible issue. Gillen is a genius. One of the best comic writers ever. This issue was just jaw-droppingly brilliant.
There’s plenty of blame to go around to both the X-Men and the Avengers in this event. While the Avengers provoked the X-Men, it was Cyclops that fired the first shot at Captain America. If the Avengers offered to help the X-Men, the war probably wouldn’t have happened, although at the same time we wouldn’t have the event. I’ve seen plenty of good arguments in defense of both sides. It’s indisputable that the Phoenix Five was a direct result of Iron Man’s attempt at stopping the phoenix force though, as he admitted at some point in act 3 (forget which issue).
I wouldn’t exactly call Cyclops one of the heroes of AVX. After all, he nearly destroyed Earth, killed Xavier and likely killed others with his apocalyptic rampage. He declared war on the Avengers, and didn’t exactly apologize for Namor’s attack on Wakanda. He was correct about Hope and the Phoenix Force though.
I do agree that Gillen is a genius. Hopefully his Concequences mini series can clean up some of the problems with AVX, and I’m excited to learn what today’s “Amatures” team announcement will be.
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