The Marvel “architects” that masterminded Avengers vs. X-Men have been promising for a while now that they’ll deliver us big, unpredictable things in this story, and with the first third of this 12-part event complete, it’s about time they started delivering. By the end of Round 5, the story has taken a new shape, the stakes have been raised, and it’s confirmed for all of us that this is most definitely not just a Civil War rehash.
WARNING: A FEW SPOILERS AHEAD FROM PAST ISSUES. READ AT YOUR PERIL
Matt Fraction (Invincible Iron Man, The Mighty Thor, Defenders) takes on the scripting duties this time, and he’s got the enviable task of writing the issue where things really get interesting. I’ve been intrigued by what’s come before, interested enough to keep reading, but this was the first issue of the event that left me with a real “Holy hell” feeling, a sense that they really weren’t kidding when they promised to take things to another level.
The Avengers and the X-Men have tracked Hope Summers to the Blue Area of the Moon, and they’ve run out of time to hold her back. The Phoenix Force is no longer just on the way. It’s here. While Iron Man and Henry Pym rush to complete a last minute disruptor beam that they hope will stop the Force, Cyclops and Captain America again square off, and Hope prepares to meet her destiny, still unsure what that really means.
Then it gets really crazy.
I don’t want to spoil it for you if you haven’t read the issue, but it really is a game-changer. We’re familiar with the Phoenix Force. We know what it’s done. We know where it’s been. So why is it compelling to watch it be the villain yet again? Because in issue five, Fraction and company change the rules. The parameters of this fight have expanded and deepened far beyond anything else in the story so far. I don’t know what the remaining seven issues will bring, but even if they’re terrible (and they won’t be) I can look at this issue and continue to admire it for its pacing, its drama and the new level of storytelling ambition it reaches.
Wherever the rest of this event is headed, the Marvel architects are declaring to us that they’re not afraid to reach. Big ideas are at work here, and if the AvX writers make good on those ideas, this event will end up required reading for every superhero comics fan.
In Two Weeks: Round Six