STORY: Jonathan Hickman
ART: John Romita Jr. and Scott Hanna
Finally, finally, things are moving forward a bit in Avengers vs. X-Men, a series that has, thus far, shown little more concept than, “let ’em fight!” which may not be a terrible idea on paper, but stretching it out to a whopping 12 issues was silly, as I mentioned a few weeks ago for my review of AvX #3. Fortunately, Jonathan Hickman’s turn at bat has proven a much better experience than any previous issue, and it’s mostly because the actual conflict is in the background.
A few panels here and there are dedicated to giving the readers a little overview of where all the troops are for both sides. Fights have broken out on Wundagore Mountain, Tabula Rasa, in Wakanda and Latveria, and even into the Savage Land. The beginnings of these bouts are explained throughout various tie-in issues over the Marvel imprint. Uncanny X-Men #12 shows how Namor and Sunspot got to Tabula Rasa to fight the Thing and Luke Cage, etc. Compartmentalizing these fights has given Hickman more room to flesh ou an actual story, which is refreshing.
Last time, Captain America kicked Wolverine out of a Quinjet and into Antarctica. A polar bear skin-clad Logan follows a trail of frozen beer – in a nice moment of humor – to Hope Summers who has come looking for Wolverine, even though last time they met, he tried to kill her. After a little time to herself to comprehend the scope of the alien entity coming to possess her, Hope now understands why everyone is going ape-shit over the Phoenix’s return.
While the various fights around the world are going on, Iron Man is attempting to build a Phoenix killer – a weapon with enough cosmic might to take down a god – and Emma Frost psychically uses Toad to interact with Cerebra at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning in Westchester. This shows not only Cyclops’ disrespect for Toad, but also his desperation in technically stealing from Wolverine. Hope recruits Wolverine to help her get to Earth’s moon, where she hopes she can connect with the Phoenix and learn to control it before returning to Earth. Seemingly impressed by Hope’s logical thought process, Logan comes along for the ride. And then, all hell breaks loose.
The showdown between the Avengers and the X-Men is staged on the moon’s surface as Wolverine informed the Avengers to Hope’s whereabouts as soon as they met in Antarctica, and Emma was able to find Hope using Toad and Cerebra. Like most situations in this series thus far, this face-off feels forced. On the moon? Seriously? Then Thor crashes down and the Phoenix shows up. Like I said, this issue finally gets some plot going, but it takes us to the moon and that just seems silly.