“Avengers vs. X-Men” #6 has some big, world-changing events in its pages and it falls to Christos Gage and Timothy Green II to reflect those twists in “Avengers Academy.” The problem is, I’m finding myself convinced that “Avengers Academy” #32 would have been a better comic if they took the core of this story and told it entirely separate of “Avengers vs. X-Men.”
Ever since “Avengers Academy” relocated the main cast to the old West Coast Avengers headquarters and added in a large supporting cast, one of the new additions that’s been gaining in page-time has been Juston Seyfert, thanks to his controlling a reprogrammed mutant-killing Sentinel. Recent issues have drawn more attention to the fact that a lot of the characters are less than comfortable with Juston’s robot friend, and this month it all finally comes to a head with members of the X-Men demanding that the Sentinel be destroyed.
The problem is, as mentioned earlier, this is set amidst “Avengers vs. X-Men,” which means that we’ve got a Phoenix-powered member of the X-Men present, and all sorts of modern miracles happening all over the globe. Having all of this also included in the book draws attention away from Juston’s story and how it runs parallel in some ways with X-23’s own origin. That’s frustrating, because Juston explaining how the Sentinel has been reprogrammed in a manner that protects everyone from its un-removable edict of, “Kill all mutants” is clever and fun and I like the way Gage uses this to launch into this being as much about X-23 as it is Juston.
Gage does his best to try and join the gaps between the two halves of this book, though. We get mentions of X-23’s past with the X-Men and how the new shifts on the planet might make her interested in re-joining them. It’s a valiant effort and I think that Gage truly does the best with the hand he’s given. The sad thing is that an “Avengers vs. X-Men” crossover probably bumps up the sales on “Avengers Academy,” and I feel like new readers are not going to get the real “Avengers Academy” experience. The character moments are great, but the plotting is just a little too crammed full of extraneous elements.
Green’s pencils are a good addition to “Avengers Academy.” I like the stringy way he draws hair (especially when Emma Frost swoops in), and X-23’s steely expression comes across in a relatable manner. Juston, likewise, is drawn well with his sheepish looks when questioned about Sentinel’s programming. One of the moments that struck me the most about liking Green’s art was the way he draws Giant-Man at full size; as strange as it sounds, drawing him at that size often looks awkward or not quite right, but I feel like Green manages to get the perspective on those pages just so.
“Avengers Academy” #32 is a comic that is good, but it’s frustrating to see these additional elements pushed into a story that would be better without it. If you are an “Avengers vs. X-Men” reader who is thinking about picking up “Avengers Academy” #32, definitely do so. It’ll give you an idea of what the book’s about and the kind of stories it tells. Just make sure to stick around once the crossover has concluded. I’ll bet that what we get next will turn out to be even better.