We’re now officially more than halfway through Avengers vs. X-Men, and that means the endgame’s going to start shaping up any day now. But just as the Marvel architects behind this event haven’t been content to keep this story to a simple clash between two superhero teams, they don’t seem content yet to let everything fall into place. There are new challenges to be explored, new story threads to run out. Avengers vs. X-Men #7 is proof of this kind of continued ambition.
As the Phoenix Five continue to reshape the world, the re-appearance of the Scarlet Witch has Scott Summers worried. She seems to be the only member of the Avengers that has any effect on the seemingly unlimited power of the Phoenix Force, and she’s bent on redemption. Meanwhile, Captain America and Iron Man continue to work to find their own solution to the Phoenix Force problem with the help of Hope Summers, and Namor grows weary of Scott’s leadership.
Matt Fraction returns to script this week’s issue, and he does it with flash and wit and deft pacing (also, and this is just a little aside from me, some really cool Black Panther and Iron Man dialogue). But more importantly, he continues to challenge us with new issues within issues to grapple with as readers. He was the one who wrote the issue where everything changed and the Phoenix Force split, so it’s fitting that he’s the one who writes the issue where the cracks in the Phoenix Five armor begin to show. They’re not a perfect team. They can be beaten, even if no one can see how yet. The internal tension between these all-powerful beings is palpable, and as Scarlet Witch makes her return to the Marvel universe, it makes all the difference.
Olivier Coipel continues his penciling duties, and this time he gets to show his paces with a bit more action, particularly when it comes to members of the Phoenix Five taking on Scarlet Witch. The intensity ratchets up in this issue, and Coipel keeps up.
As we move into a new phase of this conflict, Avengers vs. X-Men is still impressing me, mostly because the architects aren’t willing to letting the story stand in the same condition for two consecutive issues. It’s not just constantly moving forward. It’s constantly developing, and that’s what the best stories always do.