Avenger vs X-Men continues to defy the odds and keeps going with the come back. #9 might be the best issue since Jonathan Hickman’s #6. And I’m going attribute this to #9 starring the best hero in the Marvel universe: Spider-Man.
#9 spends a lot of time dealing with the question “What does it mean to be an Avenger?” It’s a fair question, and one that the issue doesn’t answer directly. Spider-Man has a great heart to heart conversation with Hope on what it means to be a hero. Jason Aaron writes it pitch perfectly. It’s classic Spider-Man through and through. But Aaron’s ability to writer Spider-Man is really put on display during the finale. If anyone needs a reason as to why Spider-Man is still relatable 50 years after his introduction to comics, look to these pages. It’s full of quips, but not to the point where it overpowers the despair and sadness the reader is feeling. While we know Spider-Man won’t die here, Aaron toys with the possibility and leaves the reader worried that it MIGHT happen. That is a hard thing to do today in comics. Aaron also subtly shows how the remaining Phoenix Five are having trouble controlling the Phoenix Force. While the rest of the cast doesn’t get as much time as Spider-Man, Jason Aaron writes them very well. Aaron forgoes the out of character bursts that have plagued this event from day one. The dialogue perfectly conveys the despair that the Avengers are feeling. The X-Men, who are starting to defect have some good moments as well.
This issue is going to be more controversial than the others, for Aaron annuls Black Panther and Storm’s marriage. First, good job Marvel for annulling the marriage instead of them getting a divorce. It shows a respect for marriage, while also keeping the respect for the characters. But it happened off panel, which was horrible decision. Let the reader see how hard it was for the Black Panther. The way it’s shown here, it seems as if it wasn’t a hard decision for the Panther. There needed to be more space devoted to this development. Six panels are not nearly enough for this big of a development. And yes, it screams editorial mandate. With Marvel NOW! approaching faster and faster, having characters as “accessible” as possible is clearly the reason behind this mandate. Panther has been written well in recent books, so now is the perfect time for a Black Panther book. If a Black Panther ongoing is on the horizon, I pray the writer explores the annulment more than this issue. The annulment isn’t a detriment to the issue, it’s just a problem that the editors should have thought out more.
Adam Kubert’s pencils continue to shine. Jason Aaron writes to Kubert’s strengths, giving him some great action scenes. Kubert nails the quiet scenes as well, and gives some great facial movements to Spider-Man, who has his mask on the entire issue. The finale is where he really shines though, with the Limbo monsters looking great. The battle between Colossus, Magik and Spider-Man is nothing but brutal. The reader can feel every bone crunching hit on Spider-Man. Some of the impacts are a little much, but never take the reader out of the moment. One hit in particular looks as if Mr. Fantastic is getting hit in the face instead of Spider-Man. I love John Romita Jr’s art, but Kubert could have penciled this entire series and I wouldn’t have cared. And while the script doesn’t do a great job in the annulment scene, but Kubert’s art conveys a lot of emotion. Storm is clearly heartbroken, and the Panther looks pissed.
Avengers vs X-Men continues to be on an upswing. With only three issues left, I’m just getting more excited for each issue.
Avengers vs X-Men #9 gets 4/5.
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