Monday, May 7, 2012

Comic Review -- Avengers vs. X-Men #3 / Ed Brubaker, John Romita, Jr., Scott Hanna, and Laura Martin

I really like the cover of this issue.  It's intense, personal, and vicious as Cap and Wolverine struggle for dominance.  Costumes are torn, sweat and what appears to be blood are flying, and both men are determined to beat the other.  The artwork itself is wonderful, and it really sells the idea that this issue will contain some violence.

Wolverine recovers from his ordeal with Hope and is told that Cyclops and the X-Men have surrendered.  While Cap and Iron Man argue about how to handle their new prisoners, Wolverine immediately recognizes that the X-Men are merely playing possum, and isn't able to prevent them from escaping by using Magik to teleport away.  Both teams set out to locate and retrieve Hope, but she's gone and found a way to scramble Cerebra's sensors into putting her at five different locations across the world, forcing them to split up.

While talking with her over the intercom from Wolverine's school, Wolverine detects some attitude from Rachel, who it turns out is feeding information to the X-Men.  Cap confronts Wolverine about his inability to follow orders and how he tried to kill Hope, and Wolverine responds that he knows how to deal with the Phoenix, and that Cap won't be able to save Hope from the Phoenix Force.  A fight breaks out between them, and Wolverine is expelled from their shuttle.  Calling Cap a blind old-fashioned fool, Wolverine pulls himself up and sets out after them, convinced that their fates are all up to him.

I will say, the writing in this issue has gotten a little better than what I saw in Round 2, but that's actually not saying much.  I think Ed Brubaker is doing what he can to ameliorate the poor direction of this story, which has clearly been written by committee.  Great swaths of action get glossed over, and some plot points are just flat-out ignored.  So the X-Men all surrendered, off the page?  Not impossible, I suppose, but given the amount of event skipping already portrayed in this series, I'd think the writers would want to keep bridging events on the page.  And why was the fight between Dr. Strange and Magik not shown?  If she can beat the Sorceror Supreme, I want to see how!

Also, if Emma was effectively de-psionicized in the last issue, why does she only regain her abilities after they've escaped from the Avengers?  If she actually had recovered her telepathy at that point, she could have just shut all the Avengers down psychically.  Why didn't she?  It just seems the logical effects of the storyline are discarded or ignored at the whims of the writers, no matter how ridiculous it looks.

I was happy, however, to see that Wolverine's conflict with Cap didn't directly involve him having a change of heart and deciding he wanted to fight on Scott's side now.  It came about for a perfectly plausible reason, though I am more than a little skeptical that Captain America is only now realizing how far Logan would go to defeat the Phoenix Force.  It really raises the question of just how much research Cap's done about the Phoenix Force and the X-Men's brush with it.  Any idiot should know that the X-Men have faced this thing several times, and are both more experienced and more vicious in dealing with it.

I was also glad they at least acknowledged the parallels to the Civil War in this issue, as they were becoming very obvious.  While Scott is not free of blame here--he was written like a crazy person in issue #1--Cap is increasingly showing his lack of preparation and realism in this arc.  He's brushed off the input of two X-Men experienced in dealing with the Phoenix; he was willing to imprison the X-Men for getting in his way, when there was technically no call to do that--I'm glad Iron Man was the one to call him on that; and he basically pulls a Spock on Wolverine when he won't start marching to his orders, ejecting him out the shuttle.

Art-wise... John Romita, Jr. is again drawing far too wide a scale for his work to come off as anything but rushed, blocky, and distracting.  Nuff said.

Overall, I'd say this is an improvement over the last issue, though between JRJR's art and the flawed storytelling, it still leaves a lot to be desired.  The fight between Wolverine and Cap is pretty cool, and while I'm not surprised to see the X-Men still have a few tricks up their sleeve, they didn't really do much this issue.  Recommended.

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