Comic: Avengers vs X-Men #8

Written By: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael bendis, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Kickman and Matt Fraction

Pencils By: Adam Kubert

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Release Date: OUT NOW IN STORES & DIGITAL DOWNLOAD (VIA COMIXOLOGY)

Rating: ★★★½☆

The Avengers are hiding in Wakanda. Namor has gone rogue from the Phoenix Five and he’s taking out all of Black Panther’s citizens to get the Avengers to show themselves. The Avengers are out gunned and for once in this series it feels like we have a villain to defeat. Y’know what, I might have actually enjoyed this issue.

Now, while I let that statement sink in as I’ve shocked myself, I’ll start with the negative. I found the artwork here to be all over the place. Sometimes Kubert’s work looked slick and full of angst, other times it looked rushed and frankly sub par. The writing also had a fair few moments of feeling repetitive. Yes, we get it. It took ALL of the Avengers to bring down one guy. We saw it happen. Please stop telling us it happened. Other than those two minor issues this issue got the balance between drama and fighting almost perfectly. Very early on in the issue the story felt more grounded, more focused and like there was more at risk. In fact when Captain America announced he was going ot “kill” Namor, I actually thought he might try.

Namor has always being a dick (come on, someone had to say it) but here he is written and portrayed like a proper bad guy. He isn’t actually killing anyone (despite the devastation of Wakanda) but he seems to want to. The Avengers are believably more ramped up because of it as well, which was so refreshing to see in this title that has felt like super powered slaps on the wrist rather than genuine battles over the past seven issues.  Namor gets a much deserved pounding and his retaliation on Red Hulk provides the most shocking visual in AvX yet. This sudden escalation made AvX feel important and that’s a great thing for a series I was all but ready to skip to the end on (if only I could).

This issue provides a deeper understanding of the split and shared Phoenix force and it could very well be what brings the fire bird baddies down from the inside. It also has an epic X-Men drama moment with Charles Xavier getting in on the act of telling Scott Summer to ‘just stop it already’. In the end though nothing has really changed. We’re still running-hiding-and fighting our way through this over long event but something about this issue finally presented those fire fuelled muties to us a menace that has to be stopped rather than having the plot sit on the fence so not to make any one group seem too much in the wrong. We all knew the Phoenix muties were the baddies Marvel. So what they changed the world for the better, you couldn’t hide the fact Cyclops’s red outer pants scream baddie at the core.

The way I see it at this point is that Cyclops will aim to become all powerful for all the same misunderstood reasons we’ve been presented with since issue #1. He’ll finally split up with Emma Frost over it. Charles will be forced to take him down and rebuild the newly united X-Men from the ground up and mutants will be feared and hated more than ever in a world that has seen what they can do on a global scale (ignoring the fact they helped loads too). Now that might just be me wanting to go back to the good old days of X-Men more than considering all of the other elements this story has to resolve but at least AvX finally has me thinking about what this event could change after the dust settles. In a way, AvX feels like it might actually end up being a little bit important after this issue. Of course issue # 9 might drop the ball again because this series has so many ups and downs you can’t put faith in one ‘better’ week good but this issue was a spike on a flat  line and hopefully that means good things as we head towards the finish line (and the limited series to wrap things up that follows it).

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This article was first posted on July 19, 2012