Avengers vs X-Men #5 Review

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Marvel’s main event has been somewhat of a mixed bag for the last couple of issues.   Some rather odd character development, and each writer’s own voice being morphed into something that isn’t their own, has made the event’s rather strong start seem like a distant past.  Avengers vs X-Men #5′s character work is much stronger, but the ending leaves the reader rather puzzled.

Matt Fraction deals with this week’s issue.  He frames the issue with Hope comparing herself to the man who pushed the atomic bomb onto Japan in World War II.  It’s a nice comparison, and one that helps sell the reader on how Hope feels this issue.  Fraction finally has her crack and agree with what the Avengers have been saying all along.  That scene would have worked really well, if it wasn’t surrounded by more and more fighting.  Look, I knew there was going to be endless fighting in this series, but I was hoping it wouldn’t be the same five fights over and over again.  But Hope’s confession that she made the wrong choice is a good story point, and one that I didn’t see coming from this event.  Tony Stark’s robot and plan was good, and it’s no surprise considering Fraction is one of the best Iron Man writers ever.  He also grounds the characters a little more than Ed Brubaker did in his issue, but retains the quirk from Jonathan Hickman’s.  Characters aren’t going wild for the sake of satisfying a plot point, but are speaking in character.  While Fraction had trouble giving everyone a chance to speak on Uncanny X-Men, he did a good job here.

What really left a sour taste in my mouth was the ending.  It’s not the worst ending in the world, but not exactly the best either.  The Avengers vaguely did something to the Phoenix Force, which pissed it off.  I hope they state in another issue what the Avengers exactly did, otherwise it’s a cheap plot twist.  But having the X-Men present be infected by the Phoenix somewhat messes up continuity.  Wasn’t the Phoenix only able to get into the mind of certain people?  I could be wrong, and I’m sure Marvel will say something like, “It’s the Phoenix Force, it can do whatever the hell it wants.”  #6 comes out in two weeks, so I shall reserve my judgement on this story choice till then.

John Romita JR is bashed quite a lot on internet forum boards.  He is a very talented artist who is one of the legends of the comic industry.  Look to his run on Amazing Spider-Man with J. Michael Straczynski for proof that he can be an amazing artist.  But Avengers vs X-Men isn’t going to be one of this better books.  His artwork is starting to look rushed, even when it looks good.  The page where the X-Men get infected looks great, and the costume designs are great to look at.  While Tony’s new toy looks like a big Transformer, it gives JRJR some room to pencil a couple of great pages.  But the wires that connect Tony to the robot look cheap.  And Cap’s shield strangely floats in one scene.  One thing that I have been noticing for some time is that Marvel has been overworking JRJR.  The guy needs  break.

I have been using the Marvel AR app on my iPhone, and I must say that it’s not 100% worth it.  Most of the added details are just the page going from pencils to inks to the final product.  Cool?  Yes, but not worth it really.  I like it when Marvel adds videos from the writers and artists, but they only work half the time.  Most of the time they play twice, with the reader hearing the audio twice but the video is only playing once.  It gives an odd echoey sound that makes it impossible to listen too.

While not the worst issue, things to change fast in this series if the event is going to be saved at all.  With JRJR finally getting a break and Olivier Coipel taking over on art duties, it’s time for the event to turn it around quality wise.  My fingers are crossed for Act 2.

Avengers vs X-Men #5 gets 3.5/5.

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