What I once feared was going to be one of the worst crossovers I’d ever read has slowly turned a much more interesting corner in the last month, and “Avengers vs. X-Men” #10 by Ed Brubaker and Andy Kubert continues that positive turn.
The concept of the Phoenix Five was fairly unexpected. While it wasn’t the most inventive twist of all time, it was better than what I had feared this crossover would bring. While the obvious result of the Phoenix Five — being completely corrupted by power no matter how good your intentions — is old hat, the creators involved have told a solid story with the concept that I expect will leave compelling ramifications for everyone involved.
Kubert has some truly gorgeous moments in this issue, but I confess I was underwhelmed on the whole by his storytelling choices. Moments where I expected the epic (Hope can channel the power of a dragon!), I got only mediocre (Why is there only one not-so-great sliver of a panel to illustrate that?) In fairness to Kubert, there’s a lot going on in this issue, a ton of characters, multiple locations and wildly shifting tones — but still, with Kubert’s resume I expected more. Hope shifts in her looks from page to page, which is distracting, and in both the penultimate and ultimate moments of her fight with Phoenix-Cyclops, the art falls completely flat. Strangely, some of Kubert’s best work is the smaller (and to me more horrifying) side story with Emma on Utopia. Her interactions with the mutants there, and more specifically Cannonball and Magneto, are chilling and Kubert captures them expertly.
Although I have not cared much for the hero Cyclops has turned into over the past few years, it’s been well-developed and slow building work. Bringing it to a head this way has many rewards. Additionally, I’m hard pressed to think of two characters I’d secretly like to see go head to head more than Emma and Cyclops, so as we prepare for that showdown, I confess to secret giddiness. Perhaps the biggest problem is that I care less than ever about Hope’s involvement in any of this. Still, these writers took what we all expected and did their best with it, and in this reviewer’s opinion, saved this crossover from the brink of pointlessness. As in any good story, there is no black and white. Nobody is entirely right or entirely wrong, and if nothing else that will hopefully leave an interesting field in the wake of “Avengers Vs. X-Men.”