I was thinking today after reading Avengers vs. X-Men #9 about how important character moments are to really good event comics. I think we’ve already established that I’m not cynical about these things. I like superheroes and explosions and big displays of superpower awesome, so I can still enjoy an event just fine if it’s shallow and spangly. But those moments that tell you who these heroes are put things over the top and make good events great. I’m not ready to say yet if Avengers vs. X-Men is a great event (we still have three issues to go after all), but this week’s issue definitely packed a serious character punch.
After miraculously managing to take out Namor (and passing his Phoenix Force power to the other Phoenix Five members in the process), the Avengers have retreated to the mystical city of K’un Lun to regroup and launch raids to reclaim their captured teammates. As Captain America leads the missions to rescue their comrades, Iron Man sits frustrated in his room trying to solve the riddle of the Phoenix Force, Black Panther mourns the devastation in Wakanda and Spider-Man and Iron Fist do their best to get Hope Summers in shape for some kind of confrontation with the force that she was the intended host of. Meanwhile, the remaining four members of the Phoenix Five find new terror and might in their powers, leading some of the X-Men to wonder if they’re really on the right side anymore.
Jason Aaron returns to script this one, and it seems he’s the best writer for an issue primarily set on the losing side of a devastating war. He navigates the makeshift Avengers hospital and the tortures the captured Avengers (including Thor) endure at the hands of Colossus and Magik with ease. He understands this kind of fight (he’s one of the best Wolverine writers around, so of course he does), he understands brutality, and he gets to the heart of it quickly and effectively. The result is an issue packed with moments you’ll remember, but the key to it all this time is Spider-Man.
I’m not a universal fan of the character, but if you give Spidey the right moment and the writer, he can be among the most powerful superheroes in comics. What happens in issue #9 with Spidey might seem a little predictable to some fans, but I’m OK with it because it’s setting up something bigger, it’s done very well and all, and this is important, all the twists thrown into this story by the Marvel Architects so far have been too much fun to give up hope now. Did I mention it’s done very well? Right. Well, if you couldn’t tell from the cover, let me note again that this is a huge Spider-Man moment, and Aaron sells it completely, backed up by stellar art from Adam Kubert, who delivers all the brutality and spirit that the moment requires.
As we head into issue #10 the story doesn’t seem to be pivoting as much as it has in past issues, but Avengers vs. X-Men is definitely on a collision course. These last three issues are bound to be full of big things.