REVIEW: Avengers Vs. X-Men #12 (of 12)

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Or – “The Cost Of Constant Conflict…”

Yadda yadda fighty-fighty Avengers something something X-Men, Cyclops gone mad.  You’re not even reading this part, you just want to know how it ends.  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #12
Writer(s): Jason Aaron/Brian Michael Bendis/Ed Brubaker/Matt Fraction/Jonathan Hickman
Scripter: Jason Aaron
Penciler: Adam Kubert
Inker(s): John Dell with Mark Morales & Adam Kubert
Colorist: Laura Martin with Justin Ponsor
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in Avengers Vs. X-Men:  Cyclops has taken on the full mantle of the Dark Phoenix, killed his teacher, and lit the world on fire.  There is now officially literal hell to pay.

BLAM BLAM BLAM WHOOSH CAMEO BLAM!

There has been a trend in big Marvel crossovers for the last several years to really fall apart in the end, to have a nonsensical ending (like Siege), no ending at all (like World War Hulk), or to just get folded into the NEXT Next Big Thing (like Civil War and Secret Invasion).  This issue quickly pulls out all the stops with the battle sequences, and I have to say that the combination of Jason Aaron’s writing and Adam Kubert’s art overcomes my fears of what the story could have been.  We get an Earth-shattering crossover that feels like it has sufficient weight, with at least short-term consequences.  Hope Summers and Wanda Maximoff get into a slap-fight early in the issue as Hope (correctly) blames the whole mess that is the current state of affairs on Wanda’s ‘Avengers: Disassembled’ madness, a fight that works on multiple levels.  Both Wanda and Hope (and Captain America, Iron Man, the new Nova and Cyclops, for that matter) each have a unique voice that makes their participation in the story feel unique and necessary.  Dark Pheoniclops criss-crosses the globe, beating the bajeezus out of Avengers and X-Men alike as he goes, lighting massive fire pits and just generally being incredibly evil all over the place, while the heroes follow Tony Stark’s one-word plan:  “Faith.”

THE MOMENT WE EXPECTED…

It’s nice that the plan here makes sense in the story being told, but the fact that it unites Iron Man, Cap, Iron Fist and others into its creation is even more impressive to me, and the moment wherein the two mutant heroines confront Cyclops is a strong one for all three characters.  As his wife was before him, Scott Summers finds himself being consumed by the power of the Phoenix, even begging his former comrades to kill him before Hope fulfills her destiny and takes the Phoenix Force for herself.  As he falls, Cyclops sees and/or hallucinates Jean coming to him, urging him to let go, while Hope uses her newfound powers to undo some of the destruction that Cyclops has wrought throughout the issue.  To Aaron’s credit, there is an awkward, tense moment as the heroes stand face to face with Hope as another Phoenix, but she quickly combines her powers with Wanda’s to disperse the energies of Phoenix around the world, with (to me, at least) unexpected results.  Cyclops and Captain America end the issue with a difficult conversation that doesn’t shirk Scott’s responsibility for 12 issues of all-hell breaking loose, while keeping the slightest hope that the X-Men’s leader might still be redeemed, a very impressive feat by Jason Aaron’s dialogue.

THE BOTTOM LINE: UNEXPECTED, BUT IN A GOOD WAY

I’ll admit it:  I was kind of expecting a train-wreck full of deus ex machina this month.  I was wrong, mostly (there’s still a little bit of inexplicable ‘return-to-status-quo’ near the end of the issue, but that development is actually a couple of years overdue by my standards.)  All in all, it doesn’t disappoint as a single issue story, and doesn’t lose the small moments entirely in the din of the giant guy in the hat screaming “CROSSOOOOOVER!!!!!”  I agree with those who say that the death of Professor Xavier seemed tacked on to this whole crossover, but, comparatively speaking, this is an effective ending to the story being told.  Avengers Vs. X-Men #12 avoids some of the bigger pitfalls, with some excellent dialogue and good work on art, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.

Rating: ★★★½☆

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