Pencils: John Romita Jr.
This is it. This is the moment Avengers vs X-Men has been building towards. The Phoenix Force has arrived, the Avengers and the X-Men are going head to head for the last time as Hope prepares to host the epic power of the Phoenix. What happens in this issue may determine the future of the mutant race and the planet Earth itself.
Warning: Spoilers follow.
Well, there’s no denying that the conclusion of this issue was a surprise. However I’m not sure it was a welcome one. Hope almost immediately folded under the pressure of the Phoenix Force. For someone who was determined she could handle the power it was disappointing that it took all of three seconds for her to give up and call for Wolverine to skewer her for the good of the universe. Then the whole X-Men team is imbued with the Phoenix power, at which point they deliver some dire warnings to the Avengers and take off. End scene.
The thing I’ve noticed about the whole AvX mega-event is that the creative team behind the series seems reluctant to follow through on what they promised. This is particularly true of the VS series running alongside the main event. Half of the duels between an Avenger and an X-Man end in what is essentially a draw. Clearly in some battles the writers just aren’t prepared to pick a winner. That’s how this issue felt too. All this time they promised the story of how Hope would either become the vessel of the Phoenix force or be killed to prevent it, but when it came to the crunch a weak alternative was found that neatly avoided actually having to choose between those two options. It was very anticlimactic.
In defence of the way things turned out, I suppose had Hope taken on the Phoenix Force then writers and readers alike would have found themselves in familiar territory. After all, the struggle of a single mutant host to wield the awesome power of the Phoenix has already been thoroughly chronicled. Perhaps this new twist is a much needed way to keep the story fresh and avoid returning to the well-worn Jean Grey scenario.
I have to say that I have no idea what is going to come in the next issue. Frankly this instalment didn’t do much to spark my curiosity but it’s too late to give up now, I’m sticking with this event until the very end. 5/10