Last issue, Avengers vs. X-Men ended on a huge act of destruction. This issue is where we have to reckon with it. As The Avengers continue to try to find a way to tame the Phoenix Five while protecting Hope Summers, the stakes are raised once again, and though issue #8 doesn’t pack the same kind of dramatic pivots that some previous issues do, it definitely keeps up the tension.
Brian Michael Bendis returns for his first scripted issue since the event kicked off, and now that he’s in the thick of the action he doesn’t disappoint. The pacing is among the best in the book so far. Things move at an almost unbelievable pace, and yet the issue is packed with plot. He manages to squeeze in a massive battle (filled, by the way, with some very nice character moments), two trips through interdimensional portals, a confrontation between two X-Men and small strategy sessions for both teams, but nothing ever feels rushed or underdone (which is saying something for a writer who so many fans like to label as slow). Bendis doesn’t get to end his issue on a big reveal, but he does pack in some important set-ups for things that are sure to bring big consequences in future issues (thought I won’t spoil them here).
Meanwhile, on the art side, Adam Kubert takes his turn with the pencil, and the results are wonderful. The art in this issue might be my favorite on the book so far, and when the book has also included John Romita Jr. and Olivier Coipel, that’s saying something. He’s one of those rare artists who’s just as brilliant at action close-ups as he is at broad, epic views, and he puts everything he’s got into this one.
What’s most impressive about Avengers vs. X-Men #8 is that it proves the Marvel Architects are still working to up the ante with every single issue. Three quarters of the way through their story, they’re still venturing into more ambitious territory, and that means that even if this whole thing ends up crappy (which I doubt), they all get respect points for truly trying to do an event book the way it should be done: holding nothing back.