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REVIEW: ‘Avengers vs. X-Men #3’

At some point Marvel was going to have to address how exactly Avengers vs. X-Men isn’t just another Civil War, and they were going to have to do it in a way that wasn’t just a self-assured press release. The only way they’re really going to convince us that they’ve done something new here is to do their convincing in-story. I’ve been pleased with the story so far, but Avengers vs. X-Men #3 is where the event really starts to become something more than a superhero vs. superhero bloodfest. It’s an important turning point, but does it pay off?

WARNING: Spoilers here from the last two issues. Don’t read unless you’re caught up.

In the wake of their massive battle on Utopia, Scott Summers has surrendered to The Avengers for reasons The Avengers don’t fully comprehend. Hope Summers is on the loose somewhere, now dramatically more powerful than she was before as she feels the early effects of the Phoenix Force. Meanwhile, Wolverine wakes up after his encounter with Hope, still regrowing the last of his skin, and realizes that Scott is up to something. The resulting X-scheme leads to not a battle, but a race, with each superhero team looking for Hope in one of five different locations.

Brian Michael Bendis and Jason Aaron have already been up to bat, and now it’s Ed Brubaker’s turn to take scripting duties. It’s probably no accident that he got the Cap-heavy issue, as he’s been Marvel’s go-to Cap guy for ages now, and thus he nails that part. He also gets to script one of the more interesting match-ups so far:

Captain America vs. Wolverine

Yes, Cap and Wolvie throw down, and yes it’s cool, even if it does get cut kind of annoyingly short. And sure, it sounds like the AvX story team is simply taking advantage of Logan’s obvious and ubiquitous volatility to throw a little wrench in their story, but overall this event  is still going somewhere interesting. And not just because sides are (kind of) switching, or because the battle has been replaced by a little race. One of the issue’s biggest moments comes when Cap and Iron Man disagree on something, and Iron Man reminds Cap of the last time they got into one of these massive superhero on superhero conflicts…and what happened to the both of them.

That, for me, was the most interesting part of the story so far. The guys at Marvel know you remember Civil War, they know you’re watching for similarities, and they’ve taken the liberty of calling themselves out on it. I’m hoping that this is a sign of self-awareness that will later spell further deviations from the superhero vs. superhero formula. If they can maintain that kind of consciousness, Avengers vs. X-Men is heading somewhere really interesting. If not, it’s destined to be just another flashy (if fun) event book.

Oh, and the Romita art is still excellent.

In Two Weeks: Issue #4!

Category: Comics, reviews

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