Avengers & X-Men: AXIS #6

With the results of the Inversion clearer than ever, Rick Remender, Terry Dodson and Rachel Dodson shamble towards the conclusion of the "AXIS" event in its 6th issue. The issue, which jumps from Avenger to Avenger and X-Man to X-Man, reads more like a character piece than a story-driven event -- something that feels more suited towards an event tie-in rather than the main storyline itself. As fun as these episodic adventures read, "AXIS" #6 is chock-full of fluff to pad the plot, suffering from a meandering story and rushed artwork.

That isn't to say, of course, that "AXIS" #6 doesn't nudge the story forward -- but nudge is really the only way to define it. The issue is bookended by events relevant to the plot, that being the Gene Bomb and the assembly of a rogues gallery of Avengers. However, the Gene Bomb feels like a tired reiteration of the events of "Infinity," which introduced the Terrigen Bomb. With the two events only a year off from each other -- with the latter's effects still rippling through other titles -- the two plot devices feel claustrophobically close to each other, particularly where the "device used to kill humans en masse using their genes" McGuffin has been used by X-Men and Inhuman villains numerous times before. Its reveal at the beginning of the issue feels lackluster and the rest of the plot makes no strides to make up for that.

The middle of the issue -- the real meat of the story -- sets out to prove that renowned villains like Mystique, Sabertooth and Loki have become much more pure of heart, where heroes like Scarlet Witch, Thor, Nightcrawle and Rogue have lost their conscience, which was already abundantly clear from the past few issues. As such, most of the issue feels like a retread of what's come before; though this issue is the flipped side of the coin of the "Avengers Gone Wild" sequence from earlier, it feels odd that the issue chose to focus on some characters rather than others and that a few of those characters already had tie-ins that recounted the same information. The pace slows to a crawl here, where it advanced at breakneck speed during the battle against Red Onslaught.

Considering all that, though, the episodic character scenes are an enjoyable read. There's a certain amount of Schadenfreude that goes into watching characters like Mystique and Loki -- who were so neglectful to their families for so long -- get a taste of their own medicine. Nevertheless, some of the characterizations are odd -- particularly Genesis. Though Genesis -- Remender's own creation -- becomes Apocalypse when inverted, he and the other mutants act as though he is the decades-old version of the character, complete with pompous speeches, Egyptian themes and lots of bowing. As a clone and thus a different character with a different (and much shorter) life experience, this reversion to the Apocalypse's old traits feels off-kilter. This idea isn't given nearly as much page time as the other seemingly fill-in ones.

Even for Terry Dodson, the issue buckles under a rushed job. The lines, inked by Rachel Dodson, come out harsh and rough. Terry Dodson's perspective often comes at the action from far away, reducing his figures to tiny splotches of ink and color with no discernable detail. Similarly, his close up focus on characters look hurried, with some characters missing eyes or maintaining sketched lines in their faces. His backgrounds are borderline non-existent, often opting out of color for a blank white space instead. His classic attention to detail does come through in one awesome full page spread that showcases the inverted Avengers team, but that's the only scene where his typical style shines through his other choppy figure work. Edgar Delgado and Jesus Aburtov's colors are inappropriately bright and cheerful for all its focus on these inverted heroes.

Although Remender, Dodson and Dodson's "AXIS" #6 suffers from a wayward plot and rushed artwork, the issue manages to stay afloat with some enjoyable character inversion moments. For the most part, however, the story spends too much time on these moments and not enough time fleshing out plot; with less attention to the story, the issue comes across as trite despite the event's intriguing concept. With only 3 issues left, "AXIS" #6 just isn't enough to save this floundering event.

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