AvX: Consequences #4

As an epilogue to the latest big crossover, "AvX Consequences" has a difficult role to fill. On one hand, it's got to be a logical outgrowth of the events of the story it's concluding. On the other, it can't tread on the toes of the other Marvel NOW! launches, many of which are themselves growing out of the same events. As such, the focus here is on the X-Men, the characters who were most dramatically affected by the story with the loss of their mentor, leader, protectorate and home.

Event epilogues occasionally fall into the trap of bouncing randomly from scene to scene in order to hit various pre-determined plot beats, and while "Consequences" isn't entirely immune to that, Gillen has taken a slightly more coherent approach. Despite occasional scenes with the likes of Iron Man and the Black Panther, the story is largely ordered around the remains of the Extinction Team -- the former cast of Gillen's "Uncanny X-Men" -- with Cyclops as the figurehead. The problem is that the structure isn't hugely visible, lying more in theme than content.

Gillen's understanding of the characters helps keep the book on the right path, though. Colossus' mental current state is the natural conclusion of his character's attitude, not just following the events of "Avengers Vs. X-Men", but since the days where Gillen and Fraction were co-writing "Uncanny X-Men." Cyclops' increasingly unconvincing position as a wannabe-martyr is revealed as little more than self-pity, and he takes the next logical step for his character -- a major one, at that. Even Namor, having apparently dismissed himself from the X-Men off-panel, gets a moment that gives proper context for his disappearance.

As the incoming artist, Mark Brooks is probably the best to illustrate the series thus far, but he's not used in any particularly inventive way. Although he executes the material well, it's below his usual standard, with rushed compositions and a lot of slightly-too-blank expressions. With the material relatively unchanged from issue-to-issue, there's a definite sense that the only technical justification for multiple artists is to get the issues out of the door quicker, and it's not giving any of them a chance to shine.

In some ways, that's fair enough. There's not enough material for the likes of a long, monthly epilogue of the kind "Fear Itself" received in both "Battle Scars" and "The Fearless," nor is it the sort of book that can't be written far enough in advance to have one artist weekly. But despite Gillen's efforts, it's still coming in as a bit of a box-ticking exercise, and the lack of a solid creative partnership from one issue to the next doesn't help that impression.

Still, as a de facto X-Men title between cancellations and launches, it's doing its job. And crucially, it's leaving characters in a more interesting place than where it found them, which means it's doing its job well. For a series with a thankless remit, it's better than I would have hoped.

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