“Avengers Vs. X-Men” #6 is the opening shot for the second act of the battle between the Avengers and the X-Men. It’s also the first issue featuring the art of Olivier Coipel. Better than all that, it finally feels like this series is moving forward.
While I could subscribe to the old cliche of comparing apples and oranges to describe Olivier Coipel step in for art following five issues from John Romita, Jr. I won’t, saying simply this instead: Coipel’s art, coupled with the script from Jonathan Hickman, refreshes this series. Of course it helps that Coipel is granted the opportunity of drawing Namor parting the sea, Colossus floating among disarmed missiles, Emma Frost rending Sentinels into scrap and Magik dismantling Jeeps and tanks.
The landscape of this series spans Utopia, the United Nations, the White House and K’un Lun, all richly detailed by Coipel. Coipel’s drawings are lushly colored by Laura Martin, who makes the bright colors of the conflicting squads brighter, energizes the power signatures of the Phoenix Five and softens the world around the chosen mutants as they make the world a better place in their wake. Chris Eliopoulos joins the effort, adding a chill to the word balloons of the Phoenix Five and dust into the script contained within the Book of the Fallen.
Hickman’s story rends relationships and redefines the characters in the light of the changes forced by the Phoenix Five. There are some grandiose speeches and panels filled with talking — and arguing – heads, but the writing crew also includes action and dramatic scene-ending shots that feel suspenseful.
In those scenes, Hickman provides significant screentime to Iron Fist, Beast, Magneto, Charles Xavier, Black Panther and Scarlet Witch. Some of the decisions those characters make are surprising, others not so much. One scene involving the Avengers and Hope feels hurried and off-base for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, but when pressed in the manner they are in the pages of “Avengers vs. X-Men,” I suppose it’s more forgivable to allow their decisions.
Another scene involving Hank McCoy stating that “People I have known my entire life – – are remaking this planet into a place that is finally tolerable.” Beast tends to be a bit of a drama queen on occasion, but that statement seems contrived for the sake of drama. After all, the only one of the Phoenix Five Hank can truly make that claim about is Cyclops.
Those moments aside, this issue is exactly what I’ve been expecting from this series all along: action, adventure, harsh decisions and relationships forever altered. More importantly, reality is starting to shift, things are changing and not necessarily for the better. I’m anxious to see how this plays out, specifically Cyclops’ decision on the final page of the issue, but I can say that this is the most I’ve enjoyed any piece of Marvel’s summer event. Even so, like “Fear Itself” beforehand, I would hope and expect to see more of the expanded rosters of these teams that we are introduced to on the recap page. After all, if reality was shifting right under his feet, wouldn’t Captain America be compelled to summon EVERY Avenger?
I can understand the need to restrict the cast of characters, particularly given the depth on the writers’ bench. At least now “Avengers vs. X-Men” finally feels like an event with severe consequences awaiting both sides.