Or – “At Least I Don’t Have To Worry About Spoilering You Guys….”

As anyone who reads Marvel’s press releases knows, a long-time member of the Marvel Universe is going to bite the big twinkie this issue, and even the least cynical members of the reading public are thinking, “For how long?”  No matter how you feel about death in comics, though, it COULD be awesome or it could be drek.  Either way, your Major Spoilers revew awaits!

AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #11
Writer(s): Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman
Scripter: Brian Bendis
Penciler: Olivier Coipel
Inker: Mark Morales
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulous
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in Avengers Vs. X-Men The Phoenix Force returned to Earth, and was broken into five easy pieces, ordering Cyclops, Magik, Colossus, The White Queen and the Sub-Mariner to hold the chicken between their knees.  Three of the Phoenix Five have fallen in a massive war of attrition against the slowly dwindling numbers of the Mighty Avengers, leaving Cyclops and the White Queen still empowered (in fact, MORE powerful, having re-absorbed the fragments of the other three wielders.)  After seeing Emma Frost’s madness, Magneto called in his oldest friend/enemy, Charles Xavier, to try and talk his first student down off the metaphorical ledge, while Hope Summers channels her own powers into Cyclops’ first actual defeat.  Can Professor X save Cyclops from his own demons?

DON’T BET THE RENT, FAITHFUL SPOILERITES.

In the early going of this series, there were a couple of time-jumps (notably around issue five or so) wherein battles were won and lost off-panel, and the Phoenix Five turned the world into a nearly-perfect utopia (so long as you were a mutant and not the kind of person who would fight them.)  Those kind of missing moments can work for you or against you, and this issue it works against the creators, in my opinion, as the issue opens with two attempts to parley:  One, by Captain America, pulls a founding Avenger back into the fold.  The other, by Rogue, moves a great many mutants out of Cyclops’ camp and into Captain America’s anti-Phoenix army.  While his people defect to the other side, Cyclops has to fight not only his own bad decisions, but the power of The Phoenix, and the duplicitous nature of his lady-friend Emma.  There is a lot of build-up about whether she will turn on him or he will turn on her, but it all ends up for naught as Professsor Xavier arrives to bring his metaphorical child back down to Earth.  Their confrontation ends up being talky and overly-staged for me, although there is a momentary revelation in the middle of the story that creates a very strong visual image, as Xavier shields Cyclops’ mind from the knowledge that Captain America’s forces are already attacking…

“IT’S OUR WORST NIGHTMARE.  IT’S HAPPENING…”

Visually, it’s a pretty stunning second half of the issue, especially Storm’s lighting-powered beatdown on the White Queen, and a confrontation with Magneto that brings his daughter back to his side, something I never thought I’d see.  All in all, though, no matter how strong the individual visuals are, the battle ends up being portrayed as big still splash-pages, denying some of the fun of continuity and follow-through, and the climactic “surprise” at the end of the book falls flat for me.  With Professor Xavier seemingly dead, and Cyclops completely consumed by Dark Phoenix, Wolverine blown to smithereens, and even Iceman calling Scott Summers a jerk, things look very dark, indeed.  Until, of course, one considers that next issue has to wrap this all up, and also the fact that the solicitations for the post-AvX world are pretty clear who wins the conflict.  This issue ends up being a maddening series of still shots, moments that I would love to hear more of (such as Beast realizing that his best friend has gone bye-bye, Hulk’s change of heart, Storm’s battle with the White Queen and more) but only get quick hits on because of the size of the cast (and, possibly, the creative team.

THE BOTTOM LINE:THE INEVITABLE CAN NO LONGER BE POSTPONED.

From the beginning, it was clear that Cyclops was on a slippery slope, that somebody had to be consumed by the madness of the Phoenix, and that the battle pretty much couldn’t have a twist ending like Civil War did.  Now that we’re here, it feels a little bit hollow, although a killer issue #12 with some real consequences might change my opinion of things.  All in all, Marvel’s reveal this morning did a disserve to me, at least, as I spent the issue knowing that Profesor X wouldn’t make it, even as the story itself posited him as the last bastion against the Phoenix.  Avengers Vs. X-Men #11 was less successful than previous issues, with a long stretch of overly talky part and a telegraphed ending, but still did well enough to earn 3 out of 5 stars overall.  Both the art and story work about 75% of the time, for a slightly-above average reading experience…

Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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8 Comments

  1. Russ Catt
    September 12, 2012 at 9:14 pm — Reply

    Good review.
    I think that Professor X’s death in this issue deserves a big swerve for next issue’s conclusion.
    I’m calling that Mr. Sinister swoops in when no one’s looking and steals the Mind Gem from wherever Xavier hid it
    (hey, I just re-listened to the Infinity Gauntlet podcast and I have gems on the brain. So sue me)

  2. Xian
    September 12, 2012 at 9:42 pm — Reply

    I can’t take Xavier’s death seriously… even a little. This whole arc is about walking deus ex machina- Hope, the Phoenix, Wanda, etc. Early in the arc there were all sorts of “The World Will Never Be The Same” displays of power on behalf of the benevolent Phoenixes (terraforming, global disarmament, etc)… and then not-so-benevolent fewer Phoenixes (I imagine the catastrophic submersion of an entire African nation should qualify). Not to mention I’m still uncertain just how Thor came right back from his death in the last major event.

    I assuming killing Charles is supposed to show how far gone Cyke is, but the entire premise is undermined by the fact that Magneto, Wanda (Decimation), Charles (Onslaught), Hulk (World War Hulk), and Ironman (Civil War) stand in opposition to him… given how they all found forgiveness no so far removed from their own atrocities, Cyclops just has to shrug, get a mini-series (see Daredevil:Reborn post-Shadowland), and he’ll be back amongst the fold in no time. This heroes-as-villains (not just hero versus hero, which can actually be an interesting play on where reasonable minds differ, as they do in life; but when the face turns heel utterly) is tired and uninteresting to me right now.

    The complete absence of ambiguity at this point has me checking out for now.

  3. September 13, 2012 at 10:51 am — Reply

    In six month, Marvel will bring back Prof X from the dead, because they will have a “good” story to write about the character… That’s the way they work, only for the money !!!
    Maybe, just maybe, if they has good writer to write good story, they could let the dead… DEAD !?

  4. Xian
    September 13, 2012 at 12:07 pm — Reply

    I didn’t really finish my thought above, but I actually think the tenor of the current story is that with so many nigh omnipotent beings in the present arc, I wouldn’t be surprised if Xavier is resurrected before the arc’s end. Even if all the other world changing events aren’t reversed, at a minimum, a nigh omnipotent force will need to be defeated and if the allies have that power, what’s a mere resurrection by comparison?

    My gripe isn’t the stunt-death (and inevitable resurrection). Those are to be expected. My gripe is that the death is meant to show Cyclops is EEEEVIL! That robs the story of its entire “Versus” premise (reasonable minds differing; ambiguity in selecting sides) and just turns Cyke into a big-bad for the entire universe to team up against. Marvel failed to deliver on that with Civil War and claimed they were aware of the issue with Schism and AvX, but the end result doesn’t really seem that way.

    • JoeM
      September 13, 2012 at 12:26 pm — Reply

      Well, you can look at it as Cyclops is making bad choices and is corrupted by them. Although as I think about it that doesn’t really fit because he didn’t make the choice to become Phoenix. Unless you look at it as things would have worked out and Hope become Phoenix without the problems if only the Avengers and X-Men hadn’t decided to fight about it.

  5. Ryan Collins
    September 19, 2012 at 2:28 pm — Reply

    Ok, maybe I read a different book than you did, and maybe I understand comics differently than you? I saw Xavier go down, and Cyke yell “are you happy now Captain”, but I never got the impression that Xavier was dead, like blown-up, nothing left gonzo dead. For all we know he is playing possum, or is just unconscious. I know a major char. is supposed to die, but it ain’t Wolvie, that’s for sure too, did you read Civil War? Wolverine has regenerated back from some bits hanging off his adamantium skeleton before. Prof. X has “died” too many times to count, that I won’t even register that as a possibility until 2-3 years from now when he is STILL dead. I don’t think that detracts from the story, I mean, didn’t we all know it was going to be Marvel U. vs. Dark Phoenix at the end? Jean was Dark Phoenix and did some very awful things, and she was forgiven, and she of all people should have been able to control it, with Xavier’s tutelage, what chance did non-psychic enhanced mutants (other than Emma, whose failings are evident) have of controlling the force that TONY STARK caused to inhabit them? Cyclops should be given the same help, and forgiveness. The Hero vs. Hero story is still viable, it is just that some heroes, the Avengers acted preemptively to stop Hope’s gaining the P-force. That changed the whole story, and caused the outcome in #11. I still consider the actions of the Avengers, Cap and Stark especially as the villainous acts here, up to and until the “phoenix 5” inevitably lost their minds under the crushing weight that was thrust upon them by that drunk Tony Stark, who caused the death, along with Reed Richards of Bill Foster, yet was never held accountable (or did Pym make the Thor clone unstable to sway public and heroic sentiment?)…see…lots of ways to interpret these books. I think the fact that the Phoenix would lose was a forgone conclusion, but at what cost, and who is really to blame? These are the questions that need to be answered. I give the book a 8.5 based on your scale. I think Cyclops will be the one who ends up dead, as they are bringing another one from the past in a month or two.

    • September 19, 2012 at 5:59 pm — Reply

      Ok, maybe I read a different book than you did, and maybe I understand comics differently than you?

      Well, I also read Marvel’s press release that announced Professor X’s death…

  6. September 30, 2012 at 8:57 pm — Reply

    WHAT A SHOCKER! MARVEL HAS REALLY SURPRISED ME AGAIN! Not…I hate that I saw this coming since the early issues. Deaths don’t mean a thing anymore in comics. But one thing I have liked about this series is that there hasn’t been a “hit list” or a bunch of major characters killed off for no reason. Yeah, if this sort of thing were to happen then more deaths would occur since the Phoenix is a world ender and blah blah blah…but its not real, its comics lol…

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