AVX: VS #3

"AVX: VS" #3 is exactly what Marvel promised us it would be: fight scenes. At least Marvel is kind enough to drop in some pretty good artists to dazzle readers with battles between Thing and Colossus (Juggerlossus) and Black Widow and Magik. Yes, fight fans, this is the first time "AVX: VS" has featured a brother-sister card. Not to spoil anything, but that duo is also two-fifths of the Phoenix Five.

The issue opens with an eighteen-panel slobberknocker between Juggerlossus and Red Hulk (both pretenders to their crowns, but that's a story for another time and place). Red Hulk taps out to the Thing and from there it's Yancy Street's own going toe-to-toe with the Russian X-Man. Produced by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness, this story is exactly the type of big-screen, summer movie spectacle you've come to expect from the frequent collaborators. There's not much substance here, but that's kind of the purpose with the entire "AVX: VS" series.

Loeb provides some insight into Colossus' current situation and his decision to assume the Juggernaut identity but for the most part, this is Ed McGuinness, Dexter Vines and Morry Hollowell's story. The visual trio really shines, detailing Thing's hide and Colossus' organic steel skin -- of course, it helps that the backdrop of the Blue Area of the moon doesn't offer much distraction.

The second half of the issue is a tussle between Magik (Colossus' little sister) and the Black Widow. Drawn by Terry and Rachel Dodson, this segment gave me a pleasant surprise in that the Dodsons are able to distinguish Natasha and Illyana through more than simply styles of hair and exposure of cleavage. Guru eFX colors the skirmish, which ranges from the Blue Area of the moon to Limbo and back again. The combination of Guru eFX and the Dodsons gives this story as much visual polish as McGuinness' tale had cartoony, over-the-top brawling. There is one scene, however, where it appears quite literally as though Black Widow is pulling a pair of guns out of her butt. I checked the set-up to that point, but could not find evidence to support nor refute that claim.

Christopher Yost's story includes some verbal sparring in Russian, but given that I read this digitally, the Marvel AR function was not available to me. The things that Natasha and Illyana said to one another in Russian stayed in Russian and I had to glean their intentions from the rest of the story, something I found mildly annoying without the translation.

Of the three issues of "AVX: VS," this was the one I enjoyed the most, but it was not without flaws. This is a great superhero slugfest comic, but it's also easily forgettable and doesn't make a strong case for re-reading. The matchups have been shown no less than a handful of times in various issues of different comics, but the creative teams assigned to those fights in this issue were masterfully matched. I'd like to see more of Loeb and McGuinness working with the Thing and likewise for the Dodsons with Magik. Halfway through this series we've seen six matchups (three of which have featured Juggerlossus) and two of the best looking fights are in "AVX: VS" #3.

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