And we’ve come to the end of our journey (or at least, the end of this particular limited-series-that-gives-way-to-more-limited-series-and-also-by-the-way-go-buy-these-relaunches). Six months ago I decided to make an effort and review my first superhero event comic as it happened (I’ve reviewed more than a few retroactively, reading them all at once), and it’s been an interesting ride. Regular readers of these reviews will know that I’ve been largely impressed with the events of Avengers vs. X-Men. I’ve even defended some decisions that my fellow comics fans couldn’t stand (see issue #11). So now the tale is told, issue #12 is out, and I have to lay out my final verdict. As much as I’d like to launch into another strong defense of the book, though, I have to admit, for the first time, that for all its promise, AvX #12 ended with much more of a whimper than a bang.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD (And really, if you’ve come this far you’re probably up to speed. But yeah, I’m talkin’ plot points down here.)
Seriously, big plot points about to be discussed…
Still here? OK, cool.
So, Professor Xavier is dead (Or is he?), Cyclops is officially Dark Phoenix and the Avengers are standing on the brink of apocalypse (so, you know…it’s Tuesday). With nothing else left to turn to, Tony Stark is convinced that the combination of Hope Summers (the “Mutant Messiah”) and Scarlet Witch (the chick who nearly wiped out the mutants a few years back) is their only hope, and as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes fall one-by-one to the last remaining rogue X-Man, it looks like that kinda has to be the plan.
Of course, you probably predicted that Cyclops would be somehow defeated, but what you might not have predicted was Wanda and Hope combining their powers to basically erase the Phoenix Force from existence. That’s the part I was cool with. It’s a bold move that will actually make a difference in the universe (if they don’t just find a way to bring it back, that is). But the rest of the issue just felt like more epilogue than conclusion.
Jason Aaron does a fantastic job of scripting the issue, and Adam Kubert’s pencils are full of energy. It’s a high quality comic, but that doesn’t make the resolution any less dull. Yes, the erasing of the Phoenix Force is a big move, but everything else feels not only predictable, but exploitative. I’m not suggesting Marvel’s ripping us off (well, I suppose I am suggesting that, but I truly don’t think it was intended that way), but we’ve all known for a while now that AvX will be followed by a big relaunch titled Marvel NOW! that will feature, among many other things, a new Avengers team called Uncanny Avengers (because the X-Men will be involved too), and the final pages of the issue really seem to serve as nothing more than a setup for that.
What about the rest of the Marvel world? What about all those changes the “Phoenix Five” made to the world? What about Wakanda? What about the other rogue X-Men? Oh, those’ll all be wrapped up (maybe) in another limited series. What’s left after Cyclops falls is not a revolution, but a setup for more stuff we have to read. And yes, I get that’s the nature of the business, but come on. Give us something more satisfying for the final issue after you killed Professor X last issue. Overall, Avengers vs. X-Men was a genuinely wonderful reading experience, but at the end, it fell from favor with me. I’ll remember the other 11 issues fondly, but this one did absolutely nothing but make me realize that there’s no real ending here, only more stuff to buy.