Pencils: Olivier Coipel
It’s hard to believe that this is the penultimate instalment in this much-hyped series. It feels like just yesterday that I was reading Avengers: X-Sanction in anticipation of 2012’s big event. But now it’s almost over and it feels like, in some circles, AvX has already passed into the history books. Despite the big finale having yet to see publication, Marvel seems in no hurry to maintain any secrecy. Spoilers abound on the internet, many of them coming from Marvel itself. However, so far I have managed to avoid all give-aways and am still blissfully ignorant about how this is all going to pan out.
Warning: Spoilers follow.
For me this issue is the strongest so far. In fact I think it’s fair to say that, after a shaky start and some rough patches around the middle, this series has really gained strength in its final chapters. Issue 11 opens with some really beautiful pages showing various Avengers/X-Men flocking to the anti-Phoenix banner including the Hulk and Rogue. The scenes of those X-Men who were previously with Cyclops re-uniting with their friends and teammates are truly touching. Bendis does a wonderful job of showing how hard it was for X-Men like Iceman to walk away from Scott Summers and their deep regret over what has happened to him. Their emotional reunion with Professor X is very moving. For the mutants this is the day they have to bring down one of their greatest heroes and most beloved leaders and they are all grieving.
For Professor Xavier in particular this day has been a long time coming and he has to claim partial responsibility for Scott’s state of mind and his worldview. The central theme here is the confrontation between Scott and Xavier and it’s a moment that has been building in the franchise for some years now. The dialogue that passes between them is very powerful. In these scenes Scott’s bitterness and resentment towards Xavier come pouring out. Despite his best efforts Xavier is unable to contain Scott although he does give him a run for his money. Eventually Scott strikes Xavier down, killing his one time mentor and father figure, but not before he brutally turns on Emma, depriving her of her portion of the Phoenix Force. In the final scenes Scott is overcome by the Phoenix and is reborn as Dark Phoenix.
Aside from the main action, issue 11 has some other really wonderful moments that are worth mentioning here. The first is when Storm nails Emma with a bolt of lightening following a nice little quip. There’s nothing like snappy dialogue and this issue has plenty of that to go around. In a similar vein this is a comical exchange between Hawkeye and Spider-Woman right after Hawkeye shoots Cyclops in the back of the neck. It’s good to see epic, universe-altering action balanced out with some more light-hearted moments.
Readers who aren’t already following Uncanny X-Men should pick up a copy of issue 18 as it complements issue 11 of AvX .
Verdict: Overall this was a great issue and one that delves into themes that have been in development since the very first issue of X-Men back in September 1963. 9/10