“Avengers & X-Men: AXIS” #5 steps up and makes something resembling order from the half-baked chaos that filled the four previous issues of this series. Part of the credit is due to artists Terry and Rachel Dodson bringing cleaner, sharper drawings and stronger panel layouts to the story. Part is also due to the simple identification of alliances from writer Rick Remender. Yes, some of that may be rudimentary beyond the halfway point in a nine-issue series, but the shift in art gives “Avengers & X-Men: AXIS” a new lease on life and a chance to keep readers engaged.
The issue opens with Spider-Man and Nova conveniently arriving at Avengers Tower at the same time, an opportunity Remender uses to inject some humor and sow some hope into “Avengers & X-Men: AXIS” #5. Remender repositions the story on the fly, highlighting the inversions of the affected characters in the process and making this comic book unpredictable and lively. Remender’s choice of setting Spider-Man and Nova alongside each other to open the issue could have served as the opening of the series, as the current cast explains everything in no uncertain terms. Underlying the expositional bits in “Avengers & X-Men: AXIS” #5 are the initial story beats that pit various franchises against one another and line up some interesting alliances.
“Avengers & X-Men: AXIS” #5 is filled with dynamic entrances and dramatic poses, affording Terry Dodson to draw a wide array of Marvel Universe characters from a number of backgrounds, from Nova to Nomad. It seems as though Dodson cannot draw non-beautiful people, and Rachel Dodson’s tight, crisp inks keep Terry Dodson’s drawings sharp and clean. The penciler adds in spectacular, crisp, compound geometric backgrounds that appear detailed, but simply augment the characters in action throughout the comic. The one knock on the art is that the Dodsons do not always complete the characters in the panels, preferring to show more with fewer lines. Such is the case with Spider-Man, who more than once is shown without the trademark webs drawn on his costume.
Colorists Laura Martin and Matt Milla have ample opportunities to color the Marvel Universe, as “Avengers & X-Men: AXIS” #5 brings X-Men, Inhumans and Avengers into conflict. The duo uses bright oranges and yellows throughout the confrontational scenes, providing visual punches to match those on the pages. The confrontations in “Avengers & X-Men: AXIS” #5 are filled with energetic sound effects and plenty of dialog being bounced back and forth, including pointed, heated exchanges, all of which letterer Chris Eliopoulos hammers home.
The story spins around Spider-Man and Nova, making for a fine team-up and nod to the friendship present on “Ultimate Spider-Man” animated series. Readers already familiar with the pairing from that avenue who find their way to this issue are sure to enjoy Remender’s playful banter. With the lines in the sand drawn and cleanly defined in “Avengers & X-Men: AXIS” #5, the combination of Nova and Spidey in a team-up situation blended with the slick art from the Dodsons has at least temporarily reignited my interest in the series.