Review: Avengers Vs. X-Men #11
“…when you ask a favor of the Hulk you tend to ask politely.”
Avengers Vs X-Men #11 has everything you want from an end of act climax. There are intrepid alliances, large-scale super powers battles, betrayal, and even death. As the biggest event of the year draws to a close, Marvel throws the death punch they’ve been telegraphing for the past six weeks. With only one issue left, is there anyone who can save the Earth from the Phoenix?
Seeing that Bendis scripted this issue, I can see the beginning of plot threads here for future Marvel now stories to grow out of. After reading his big Marvel event books, Avengers Disassembled, House of M, and Secret Invasion his destruction has a distinct fingerprint. There’s the little things like Rogue being the character to reach out and Havok and Captain America respect handshake as little visual clues that can be picked up after seeing the Uncanny Avengers solicits. The beginning of those threads start here and it’s what Marvel and Bendis excel at, creating a living cohesive mesh for their characters to grow. In the previous months event books and tie-ins we knew Xavier was going to step-in eventually. After all, Scott was his greatest student. What Bendis masterfully does is only take away a piece to set up a future story. When the solicits for the All New X-Men came out, I was excited, but puzzled as to what event could keep the original X-Men here in the present. As if the death of Jean Grey and the event of Genosha or House of M weren’t enough, The permanent death of Charles Xavier at the hands of Scott Summers would certainly do it.
Amid all the destruction, there are a lot of beautiful moments in this issue. Oliver Coipel’s art is sweeping and beautiful. Not only do his characters look real and still larger than life, but his backdrops are picturesque and cinematic. Rogue in the wheat field and Xavier’s reveal, Emma and Scott fighting and engulfed in fire, and the sunset beach front battle are incredible. Having Oliver illustrate here at this stage of the event helps the reader feel how important the story unfolding in front of them is. I also really enjoyed his large, brutish looking Hulk in contrast to Captain America. Bendis begins the issue with him and rather than stodgy or old fashioned, Cap comes off as poignant, well spoken, and capable of great humility. Of course, when you ask a favor of the Hulk you tend to ask politely.
The big battle on the beach feels like every heavy hitter is there. Curiously absent from the fray is Hope Summers, but judging from the events of last issue they are saving her as their backup plan. When backed into a corner, Scott does exactly what Magik and Colossus did: desire more power and crush another phoenix host. In one issue, Scott robs Emma Frost, his long time companion, of her section of the phoenix force and kills Charles Xavier. All it took was that event to push him over the edge and understand what Jean had gone through. No host is pure enough to have a symbiotic relationship with a cosmic force of destruction. The boon of the phoenix is the power for rebirth, but it only comes through cleansing fire. Regardless of what combination of Hope, Scarlett Witch, Iron Man, Thor, and/or Hulk end up destroying the phoenix, the real tragedy of this story is Scott and his post event life in Marvel NOW! A man with the best of intentions corrupted by power. The only character I can think of who’s suffered anything close to that personal anguish in the Marvel universe recently is Daredevil, post Shadowland. With only one issue remaining, I am anxiously awaiting the closing finale and the changes it will being to the status quo or Marvel NOW!
Geek Smash rating: 92/100