The Avengers went to Utopia to try to take Hope into custody, but the X-Men had other ideas, so naturally we have a brawl in “Avengers” #25. Sort of.
With the “AvX” logo crowning the cover and an opening double-page fight scene, I expected to find a bit more of the “Avengers Vs. X-Men” action present. What I found instead was a story of Avengers adventures that occurred prior to the start of “Avengers Vs. X-Men.” Brian Michael Bendis dials the focus in tightly on the mood and mindset of Captain America, who is rather mopey to open the issue. Cap is feeling the strain of leading the Avengers as well as World Security, looking for — as Cap himself refers to it — “a solid, unqualifiable win.” Luckily, when Cap’s down he has pals like Thor to lean on and the pair has a refreshing conversation that merely scratches the surface on the depths their relationship should hold.
That moment is the best looking scene in the entire book. Given that we have twenty pages of Walter Simonson art, that’s truly saying something, but there is no mistaking the brilliance present in Simonson returning to draw the one character most comic readers associate with him: Thor. Simonson’s expressively exaggerated style fits the conversation nicely and serves the rest of the issue as well. There’s an extreme jump in the story visually towards the beginning of the book where Spider-Woman and Hawkeye start inexplicably making out, but it serves the point Bendis is trying to make of Hawkeye and Spider-Woman being a couple. It almost works, but is a little too jarring to sell the suddenness of it. Simonson’s work, capably inked by Scott Hanna, is otherwise quite strong throughout the book and the storytelling is clean enough that it could be offered as a how-to for comic book storytelling and composition.
To see Simonson’s art lit up like a four-color Christmas tree by the coloring work of Jason Keith is nice. I’m not sure when the last time was that I read a Walt Simonson-drawn comic book, but I’m positive coloring practices were a bit different then as opposed to now. Keith makes Simonson’s work really pop and truly plays up the energy of power signatures and blasts that we’ve all come to love in Simonson’s style.
The connection to “Avengers Vs. X-Men” is tenuous at best, coming in the form of three pages of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” red skies equivalent scenes. Simonson takes what Bendis gives him and puts a nice shine on it all. Unfortunately, the issue itself is filled with navel-gazing and seemingly inconsequential conflicts. The final page really delivers the true nature of the tie-in “Avengers” #25 serves to the main battle, but sixteen of the pages don’t add much to the “Avengers Vs. X-Men” narrative. I’m sure there will be some greater payoff in the future, mostly for the Avengers proper, but for those expecting more in-depth collaboration with “Avengers Vs. X-Men,” this comic simply does not deliver. For Avengers fans, however, this comic is certain to entertain and delight as Simonson’s art is proudly showcased in a story somewhat tailored to his strengths.