While some may say that the best thing about “Avengers & X-Men: AXIS” #9 is that it ends, writer Rick Remender and a slew of artists do leave behind some noticeable impressions that will impact the Marvel Universe. The exact depth remains to be seen, but by the end of the issue, not everything finds its way back to the way it once was.
Without spoiling the story, a number of inverted characters remain inverted, while a majority of the Marvel Universe returns to pre-“AXIS” orientations. There is no magic reset button for the whole thing, which works to Remender’s credit as “Grinding Halt” closes out the tale of inversion and woe. The writer uses “Avengers & X-Men: AXIS” #9 to finish his story, to add another chapter to the saga he has been writing since “Uncanny X-Force,” and to construct some framework for the Marvel Universe yet to come. Most of the major players get some critical panel time as Remender checks in on what has changed and what remains in place.
As evil as some of these characters were made, the body count on “AXIS” as a whole is surprisingly low, proving that events do not necessarily need to include a high mortality rate. However, it comes at the expense of story flow, as Remender gives the “superior” Iron Man more than a few chances to brag and/or monologue his way through scenes. The mustache-twirling and hand-ringing Remender brings out in these characters provides plenty of melodrama for “Avengers & X-Men: AXIS” #9 and sets up plenty of looks-like-final, but not-really-final battles between old teammates and friends.
Jim Cheung is the first penciler credited in this issue, but the thirty-six pages of “Avengers & X-Men: AXIS” #9 showcase four pencilers, five additional inkers, one colorist and one letterer. With that combination, Cheung’s work is given a range of finishes, from brilliant to barely recognizable. Colorist Paul Mounts and letterer Chris Eliopoulos are the visual constants in this comic book, but the action is all over the board, from mystically possessed secret-reverse counter-spells to technological explosions and claw-filled shreddings. With the reflection and bursts of action and light, some characters’ appearances get even more muddled, especially as their apparel is in disarray, giving readers a chance to turn this into an interactive game of deduction to try to figure out who that character might be.
In the end, “Grinding Halt” is an appropriate title for this final issue as the story finds its way to an end. The purpose of “AXIS” seems to be simply to have undone some wrongs while testing out others, and in the end, Remender was successful in that regard. He also set up no shortage of future adventures and even provides the springboard for a pair of titles to launch in January. “Avengers & X-Men: AXIS” #9 is the capper to a series many readers will likely forget, but the repercussions of this adventure will impact stories for at least the very near future.