Avengers vs. X-Men Round 5, which is much like Round 4 and Round 3 and Round 2 and, well, you get the idea. As of issue 5, AvX is coming off like the Bill Murray film Groundhog Day, because the same thing keeps happening over and over. There’s a little exposition, the two sides fight and then there’s a cliffhanger. Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of AvX better than I thought I would, but it’s teetering on the dangerous edge of boredom.
Something needs to happen, something that really moves the story ahead. The tiny cliffhangers are interesting but they come off as plot devices rather than story. In issue five, both the Avengers and the X-Men are on the moon arguing about who will take Hope Summers away before the Dark Phoenix arrives. The argument escalates into a battle. During the battle, Hope gets agitated and has an explosive bout of Phoenix power, which lays waste to all the battling heroes.
While the heroes regroup, Tony Stark flies a new machine he’s built into the heart of the coming Phoenix but rather than destroy it, the Phoenix actually spreads through all the X-Men on the moon, possessing them. Cool idea, but one that should have happened in the middle of the issue and then built from there. Instead, we get more of the battling that’s becoming repetitive and then a cliffhanger ending. A story like Avengers vs. X-Men should not be repeating itself so early in the game.
Outside of the plot issues, I have three very specific problems with how AvX is going down. First, can the writers stop writing Cyclops as a rambling madman just so they can move the story along? I realize every story needs a heavy, but at least make some attempt to keep continuity. Cyclops has always been a thinker, now suddenly he’s an emotional wreck because the writers need him to be?
Second, stop writing Captain America like some fascist dictator. Strong-arming everybody into his way of thinking is not how Captain America operates. Watching him commanding Cyclops to “hand over the girl” just doesn’t feel right. Cap is also a master tactician, so why would he keep trying to achieve his goal the same way over and over? Both Cyclops and Captain America seem like they’re being written just to keep the story going instead of how they would really respond.
My final issue is with Tony Stark. Could Marvel please find another way to battle evil outside of Tony Stark’s “Genius?"There’s no rhyme or reason to anything he does. Whenever we need something to battle something, Stark has invented it. It completely dehumanizes the character and turns him into a robot. In AvX #5, Tony just happens to whip up an Anti-Dark-Phoenix device. When? It’s been three days tops since they found out it was coming, when did Stark have the time to figure out what was coming and how to fight it, much less make it look like an Iron Man suit?
AvX #5 does have art from John Romita Jr. which always kicks ass. I am an endless sucker for his pencils and how they capture the larger than life idea of a comic book without becoming silly. Everything Romita does is unique, you always know it is his work you’re looking at the same way you always know it’s Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko. Avengers vs. X-Men hasn’t crossed the line into failure yet, but Marvel better get a move on with the story.
(3 Story, 5 Art)