STORY: Ed Brubaker
ART: John Romita Jr., Scott Hanna
After what amounted to a pissing contest followed by an issue of little-to-no plot, Avengers Vs. X-Men is finally on-track to deliver a cohesive story. Ed Brubaker takes the reigns for issue three, and he does a fantastic job raising the level of discontent between the two warring factions.
Wolverine acts as the audience surrogate, waking up hours after being cooked by Hope Summers at the end of issue two. Spider-Man informs Logan that the X-Men have surrendered and Captain America is trying to get everything in order again. Logan immediately knows something is up and attacks Cyclops, which turns out to be a mystic projection from Magik masquerading as Doctor Strange. This scene is the first of two important ones dedicated to piling on the distrust between the two sides. It’s worth mentioning the press release given out by the X-Men’s publicist in the pages of Uncanny X-Men #11. In it, Cyclops explains how the Avengers – and the US government, by proxy – considers mutants to be ‘less than’ even after everything the mutant community has given back to the world, and waxes poetic about being treated like property instead of people. It’s a powerful element of this event that I’m quite surprised wasn’t included in the main series. Either way, Magik’s fake-out serves as a proverbial smack in the face to all the Avengers. Add in an argument between Iron Man and Captain America about the legitimacy of the Avengers’ mission, and you’ve got a great first part of the issue.
The second important scene is between Captain America and Wolverine onboard a Quinjet discussing Logan’s rogue behavior on Utopia. Cap believes Logan is too involved, too close to the situation to make rational and logical decisions. Wolverine, on the other hand, knows the Phoenix force better than most and feels he has to do anything in his power to stop it. After a quick fight, Cap orders the jet’s cargo doors open and throws Wolverine out. It’s quite obvious that the Captain had this planned all along, that he’s had a contingency for Wolverine in place for quite some time. Seeing this side of Captain America is a little chilling – he’s (only somewhat) turning into a Batman-esque character who has a coordinated plan of attack against any of his fellow Avengers…just in case.
So far, it seems like Brubaker has the best hold on the plot of this series. It’s difficult to express discord between friends in a comic in a meaningful way. Fortunately, Avengers Vs. X-Men #3 made up for a lot of the pitfalls I saw in the first two issues. If Marvel can keep the narrative moving as smoothly as the giant, orchestrated fight sequences, this series might just be amazing yet!