Review – Uncanny X-Men #18 (AVX)

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Ron Garney
Colors: Jason Keith & Morry Hollowell
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Ron Garney & Matt Milla
Published by: Marvel Comics

Heads up, if you haven’t read AVX #11 this is going to be a massive spoiler situation. That said, I warned you guys.

Kate Kiloare of Superhuman P.R. fame stands alone, everything shattered, broken and wrecked. Standing at the highest point of the escalation and doing damage control to the human population to explain the insane situations revolving around the Earth and Utopia she now looks at shattered remains. This really helps setup where this has all been going, promise of a new life, a new world, peace and prosperity and yet all that’s really here is war and hell and a massive floating island that looks majestic.

You can’t spin a positive twist on the Phoenix losing its last restraints and going supernova. Try as one might this is heavy. We see final encounters between the Phoenix Duo and key mutants but given the control imbalance there’s going to be a lot of resistance no matter who talks to them. We also see some fallout with Colossus and Magik, unfortunately for Colossus his desire to protect and save Magik has bitten him in the rear. This whole arc with Cyttorak explodes in his face and she reveals her being condemned in the past was likely one of those moves that shouldn’t have been turned over. Unfortunately with no one around and all eyes on the Phoenix she’s unchecked for now.

The madness continues back to AVX #11 influenced panels and we have a look inside the elegance of chaos, the two Phoenix force combatants locked in their own minds as they slug it out and blast their way through a united front. The tension growing, the frustrations developing and then… it comes.

For those hoping to see a really solid side issue to compliment the ongoing AVX story, Uncanny X-Men 18 is a solid bet. It details the attempts for a resolution, the inner thinking before the final tide changes and how Colossus just got screwed out of his mind. Hat’s off to Gillen and Garney for that intense moment, it was probably one of the biggest punches in the issue.

Release date: September 12, 2012

Story:★★★½☆ 
Art:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★½☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 

Review – Wolverine and the X-Men #15 (AVX)

Writer: Jason Aaron
Pencils: Jorge Molina
Inks: Norman Lee
Colors: Morry Hollowell
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover art: Stuart Immonen & Marte Gracia
Published by: Marvel Comics

Taking place just after Avengers Vs. X-Men #10 we’re launched into Wolverine and the remaining X-Men gearing up for a war with the remaining Phoenix Force hosts. Scott and Emma are the last two remaining in the battle and their power has grown to intense levels, with Emma losing her grip on control the X-Men are forced to take on a battle they may never return from.

The issue is a social call in many ways and an attempt to cross over the members of the Jean Grey school with the Avengers to show some cross chemistry between them. We see new advancements to strike back at the Phoenix Duo as they reach new levels of power and the Phoenix itself is starting to leak through the cracks breaking their control. Hope steps forward to acknowledge her role in all of this while the Avengers get lost in trying to find solutions excluding her.

It’s a fun deviation from the regular story, although one has to wonder what will come next given we’re looking at so much possible salvation and hope for the group in these dark times. Will there be a happy ending? It seems doubtful but there are some major changes in the issue that support a turn around for the Avengers and X-Men that join them. We see some lost faces come back into the fray such as Xavier who was very much sprinkled in throughout the story until now and even Rachel.

For those following AVX and watching their pockets, this is a worthwhile investment as it brings some nice character building to the story. The only real downfall is how Molina handled the art for the issue, I have to say it’s really confusing to see these strange squished heads for Wolverine, Hope and a few others. The expressions are pretty good for the other mutants, environment and especially between Ice Man and Kitty as she gives the best eye roll I’ve seen in ages. Sometimes experimentation isn’t the best thing to do and it really showed on those few panels.

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★★½ 
Overall:★★★★½ 

Review – Uncanny X-Men #17 (AVX)

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artists: Daniel Acuna & Mike Del Mundo
Art Assist: Diego Olmos
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Mike Del Mundo
Published by: Marvel Comics

The Phoenix attack resumes against Sinister to stop any plans of his against Hope for his own personal gains.   The group faces incredible odds but the cavalry is riding in to lend a hand in this difficult time for the X-Men, even in their darkest hour full of the most power they’re still a team and need each other to make it through.

The biggest thing that sticks out in this issue is the art, that’s not really a compliment at all as it ages the X-Men in ways I never knew to the point where they look disfigured. It’s certainly not pleasing during the read and it actually pulls away from the experience of the story, while I’m all for experimentation in style and format I can’t say this was the right choice to play.

In story we see Gillen wrapping this story up with a bang, not only is there a conflict between Sinister and the X-Men but we see Unit take a deeper interest as well. Groups battled valiantly against the clones and we see allies colliding as they stage a front against the Phoenix powered clones awaiting them. It certainly gets ugly but the story twists manage to avoid jumping the shark.

As a whole, Uncanny X-Men 17 manages to deliver a solid story arc and additional depth into the X-Men side of this conflict as they gain Phoenix power. Unfortunately the art wrapping up issue 17 is some of the hardest I’ve had to swallow since reviewing Marvel comics. Some things to note, Magneto doesn’t have a Halloween costume helmet made of cloth or vinyl and Psylocke isn’t horribly old or deformed. Also we notice when unrefined illustrations are pushed as final products. One can only hope this trend doesn’t continue forward as it doesn’t benefit this issue in the slightest. There are panels that have a sharp contrast and one can only assume the other team members on the art side had influence there.

Release date: August 22, 2012

Story:★★★½☆ 
Art:★☆☆☆☆ 
Dialog:★★★☆☆ 
Overall:★★½☆☆ 

Review – Avengers vs X-Men #9 (AVX)

Story: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman
Script: Jason Aaron
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inks: John Dell
Colors: Laura Martin w/ Larry Molinar
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover Art: Jim Cheung, Mark Morales & Justin Ponsor
Variant Covers: Adam Kubert & Justin Ponsor | Ryan Stegman & Matt Wilson
Published by: Marvel Comics

The Phoenix Four have been on a heck of a ride, yes… four. Namor lost himself in his attack on Wakanda and with that he lost the Phoenix Force which distributed itself to the others. Issue 9 leaves us looking forward though, to the continued battles of the Avengers against the growing instability of the Phoenix avatars. We join one such Avenger waking up in a bloody, beaten and blurry state trying to remember where he was, what’s going on and what he’s going to do. Unfortunately all of that is irrelevant because his opponents carry the Phoenix Force.

For those hoping to see a happier chapter come to the Avengers I can’t promise you very much. There are some moments of hope and small victories but they fail to outweigh the damage still being dealt by the X-Men. Our star really does come from the cover image though, Spider-Man has his time to genuinely shine as only he can and we see some heavy tension as he does what he feels only he can accomplish. The whole unknown of the Way of the Spider is still a bit of a mystery, from the sound of things, Parker has rattled off everything he can think of to her for inspiration but it’s not enough.

The issue wraps with just as much fire as it started with and we see the Phoenix Power channel down to just a select two. It’s a tense moment and Hope realizes even if she’s not ready to throw down, it’s far too late to be concerned about that as her own time has run out. The fight is about to get even uglier as X-Men and mutants distance themselves from this group and the Phoenix Two seem to be at polar opposites for control of their powers.

Release Date: August 1, 2012

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★½ 
Dialog:★★★½☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 

Review – Avengers vs X-Men #8 (AVX)

Story: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman
Script: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inks: John Dell
Colors: Laura Martin, Larry Molikar
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover: Jim Cheung, Justin Ponsor
Variant Cover Art: Jerdme Opena, Justin Ponsor
Published by: Marvel Comics

We left the story off with a raged out Namor headed for vengeance in Wakanda, the Avengers were hiding out in the city hoping to figure out a solution to prepare Hope to help battle the Phoenix Five and the Phoenix Force itself. Unfortunately where things go in issue 8, well it’ll raise the urgency and also send the Avengers running for cover in the process, Namor isn’t the coolest head in the Phoenix Five and we get a dose of that in this issue.

Given the constant run-in events with Scarlet Witch it was a given there would be a breaking point for tolerance on why they didn’t try to take her out with a greater strike. Namor with his temper issues was the first to reach that fallout point and after getting a tip he waged full-scale war with some of his army from Atlantis on Wakanda against the Avengers in a pure rage for their defiance to this new order in the world. The act itself is huge but the battle is even larger, leaving the Avengers beaten and doubtful and making huge power balance shifts for the Phoenix Five.

Major changes do hit this issue, we see a Phoenix avatar step back and we see something long coming for Red Hulk as well, as I’ve stressed before I honestly felt he was completely boosted above reason in power and this brings the story back down to earth a bit.

With this arc drawing to a close soon one has to wonder what else they’ll pull out of the box for this series, Hope is clearly training to tackle the Phoenix Force, there are new developments about the power distribution among those chosen and we see a new factor from the mutants come into play. To top it all off we haven’t even seen all the side story elements play out yet either. Bendis and crew better have some really good twists up their sleeve to keep this whole thing running until the final act.

Story:★★★★★ 
Art:★★★★★ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★½ 

Review – Uncanny X-Men #15 (AVX)

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Daniel Acuna
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: Daniel Acuna
Published by: Marvel Comics

As the Phoenix Force purges the world of war and darkness, there are many inevitable battles including the one against Sinister. The X-Men are concerned about what interference might be made from the man now that Hope is in the open and the Phoenix Force has arrived. Instead of letting things brew much further they gather and set forth against the darkness ahead using their full combined power.

The issue itself seems to drop in between 6 and 7 where Hope has been taken but they haven’t waged full war against Scarlet Witch just yet and tried to pursue her. Knowing the Avengers aren’t a direct threat they focus their power on the numerous other issues in their to-do list for this revival of the planet and new beginning. This isn’t the only focus of the story though, we see that even the might of a Phoenix Force X-Man isn’t enough to shake the foundation of other higher powers still, the harsh reality is a hard slap but it doesn’t deter them from their original goal.

Uncanny X-Men #15 delivers an interesting twist to this ongoing conflict, at this rate they’ll not only purge the world of war but of all the villains as well. It’s incredibly hard to imagine what rests ahead at this rate, all we know right now is that all hell is about to break loose with Sinister to keep him from ruining this tranquility they’ve established across the planet.

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 

 

Review – New Avengers #28 (AVX)

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato
Colors: Rain Beredo
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: Mike Deodato & Rain Beredo
Published by: Marvel Comics

New Avengers #28 whisks us out of the main AVX timeline to flash back to Hope and the final chapter of the legendary Iron Fist who challenge the Phoenix. Unfortunately we did get a bit confused in all of that, thinking the girl was possibly Hope when it was a girl from legend instead. Apologies there.

The issue is a story of training and Hope’s continued struggle with her destined occupational promotion to Phoenix host, given the attachments of doom and destruction it’s understandable she wouldn’t be excited about the prospect. New Avengers 28 drops us back into the realm of the Iron Fist as the story completes and Hope sits confused hoping to know what she needs to do next. Unfortunately with something this cosmic and powerful there’s no way to just tell someone what they need to accomplish, instead Master Yu Ti sets her down to learn her paths that may follow as she empties her mind.

What happens after that point is a shock as her path deviates from the story told to her, instead of pursuing the Dragon she must pursue the Spider and learn its ways to best assist her challenge in saving the Earth and going head to head with something like the Phoenix. It’s here we get some insight that elaborates the moon struggle from AVX #5 and the growth Hope had been searching for to be able to take on the challenge, fortunately it doesn’t throw readers back into the fray as the story is still to be continued between her and “The Spider”. I have to admit that during the issue it gets a bit abrasive to see Hope constantly fighting around with people she should feel confident in, demanding to know answers and not going along with the rituals even though she just heard about the other host doing these things.

Even with that, I can’t knock this side story as it brings humor, elaboration and some tension into the mix. There is no one stop solution from the Iron Fist to handle the Phoenix which is a deviation from everything we’ve seen so far from the other factions involved.

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★½ 
Dialog:★★★½☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 

Review – Avengers vs X-Men #6 (AVX)

Story: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman
Script: Jonathan Hickman
Pencils: Oliver Coipel
Inks: Mark Morales
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover Art: Jim Cheung & Justin Ponsor
Variant: Nick Bradshaw & Marte Gracia
Published by: Marvel Comics

The Phoenix Five are here, leaping into action to shape the world to be a better place not just for mutants but for humans as well, seeking to end age-old crimes and problems brought on by greed and lust for violence. The group seeks only to settle the issues of the planet and focus on a goal that pushes development and growth over suffering and struggles. For many the group comes off with a near god-like presence to deliver justice and peace with a swift hand, for politicians though the move is seen as hostile and controlling and a threat to how they go about their dirty deeds.

We’re in a position of multiple camps as a result, at this point the Avengers are doing their best to continue fighting Hydra and making the world safe as they can manage. They obviously have their say about this situation but given the lack of enslavement and the massive power gaps between them and the X-Men Phoenix Five it’s a hard situation to sell them as complete villains even though they may want to. We see internal conflicts and impartial impressions rise up from the group splitting their own commitments or energy into the effort to bring them down, the possibility of a worldwide reboot tempts even some of the most hardened of the group into questioning the result.

The real tension of the chapter comes in when the US decides to throw in a demand to control or have a check on all this power going around. With that we see the brainstorming start and a venture go into action to develop a countermeasure to the Phoenix Force that wont splinter it yet again. Surprises keep flying during the mission that will have readers shocked and waiting to see where this all goes from here. It’s about to get tense for both sides now that a new hero joins the mix.

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★½ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★½ 

Variant Gallery

Review – Avengers vs X-Men #5 (AVX)

Story: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman
Script: Matt Fraction
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inks: Scott Hanna
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover Art: Jim Cheung & Justin Ponsor
Variant Cover Art: Ryan Stegman & Marte Gracia
Published by: Marvel Comics

So we’re a bit late to the AVX party on this one but we’ve been following the series so far and wanted to continue at least with some coverage of the latest happenings after that 3 week break that Marvel took.

We’re back on the Moon and Hope is merging with the Phoenix, the Avengers and X-Men are clashing on the moon and it’s about to go down in a bad way. Hope is feeling the limits of this event she’s prepared so hard for and no amount of training and preparation she attempted is providing much help right now. Regardless of this bad situation, everyone is battling out their own personal pursuits on the surface as the apocalypse itself sets in.

Avengers vs X-Men #5 dives into the dilemma that is Hope’s mind, she’s torn on what it is she’s exactly doing anymore, the force is too strong and she has no idea on how to tangle with this cosmic bird trying to overwhelm her. Instead of embracing it like the warrior pictured through all of this lead-in, she’s still the scared girl and now she’s trying to get away.

The issue  is one of the strongest yet, we see a bit of everything in the pages of issue 5 including where this whole story goes once the Phoenix Force and Hope have their difficulty in bonding. Many have had an issue with the Avengers beating down every X-Men member they see but that will not be the case anymore, honestly everyone on the Avengers just died a little inside. Balance issues with Red Hulk dominating everything that gets in his way and so on seem flipped for the next arc.

I’ve been hoping for a brighter side to this story for the X-Men side, I don’t know if that’s exactly what happened in this issue. Some fans will of course be cheering because of the cool new attire and powers but at the same time it could very well mean doomsday is just around the corner for Earth yet again with 5 avatars full of stupid amounts of power. I can say I’m really looking forward to seeing where this whole twist goes in issue #6.

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★½ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★½ 

Review – Secret Avengers #27 (AvX)

Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Renato Guedes
Colors: Bettie Breitweiser & Matthew Wilson
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover: Alan Davis, Mark Farmer & Laura Martin

*Clarification – This story takes place before Avengers 26 and 27 in the AvX storyline.

A beaten and bruised crew emerges on Kree, hoping to find time to do repairs and tend to the injured of their group under secrecy from the government of the planet. All seems to be going well enough until we see Captain Marvel call two of his Kree allies on the Secret Avengers team into action, from here the goal is established that all Avengers will fall to his reborn might.

With this call to arms we see another faction emerge in the battle for the Phoenix Force, the Kree allies of Protector, Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel group up on behalf of the planet to control and harness the Phoenix for what is said to be the next evolution of the Kree people. Life isn’t so simple though, while it’s not outlandish to see this come up, there’s another force at work speaking to the Kree and driving them directly into sacrifice instead of salvation. On a normal day those in the Secret Avengers might not have such a hard time, in this case they’re fighting with anything they have after being crushed in space when trying to contain the Phoenix Force in a deep space challenge.

The twist with Marvel is certainly interesting, he’s looking for redemption within his people for all that he’s done in the past, clouded by pride and likely mind control he goes out hoping to strike down the Avengers and inspire faith. He dreams of more for his people as he lays blow for blow, but the romantic view of life and his people will only last so long before the truth starts to rise to the surface and pop the visions he thought he knew so well. There is a darkness lurking but time will only tell if Marvel becomes aware to it and is able to react for the good of the universe.

Renato Guedes lays down great art through the book, highlighting expression and movement and pages of horrible pain to Thor and others as they get slugged around by Captain Marvel. It’s really just a brutal series of events in this issue but with the right attention that’s alright because the dialog and story still sprinkle in as it happens without feeling awkward.

Release date: May 23, 2012

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★½☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆