It’s been awhile since I reported on Avengers vs. X-Men, so I figured why not involve myself with round 8? Unlike the other issues that were locked into this meet/fight/talk/fight scenario, AvX #8 actually furthers the plot along. Earlier this week, I was singing the praises of Brian Michael Bendis’s New Avengers #28, and I must sing them again here. I think some lessons were learned by how badly the nobody-is-to-blame ideology of Civil War was received. With AvX #8, the X-Men and the power of the Phoenix begin to show cracks in their benevolent demeanor.
Namor floods Wakanda. That’s the opening two-page splash spread. Namor, possessed of part of the Phoenix’s power, flies above Wakanda releasing millions of gallons of seawater into Black Panther’s country. Naturally, this doesn’t sit well with the Panther or the rest of the Avengers. Enraged as they are, the Avengers must take care of business first. Captain America orders the portal to Kun-Lun closed right away before the X-Men figure out where the Avengers have taken Hope Summers. Hope's bond with the Phoenix is the key to turning the war around, but only if she can control it. In the past, those who have studied Kung-Fu in Kun-Lun have been able to control the power and use it.
As Wolverine, Thunderer, Hope and Iron Man try to get things started in Kun-Lun, Cap and the Avengers decide to try and stop Namor. What goes down is an epic battle, one that takes almost every Avenger just to knock out Phoenix-Namor. Several shots from Cap’s shield, a punch from Red Hulk and a tap on the head from Thor’s hammer do nothing.
Finally, Wanda steps in and goes toe-to-toe with Namor. He buckles and his Phoenix power leaves him, assimilating into the other possessed X-Men who have just shown up. Apparently when you fail, the Phoenix abandons you. Then, just as the Avengers escape a wrathful Cyclops and his band of merry men, Professor X walks into Cyclops’ mind and tells him “Stop this or else”.
See what Bendis did here? It’s pretty damn cool. He took the repetitive cycle of the first seven issues of AvX and dissected it. Now we have Hope studying Kung Fu to control the Phoenix power. We have a power struggle between Cyclops and Professor X, and we have a bit of insight to how screwed up the possessed X-Men’s loyalties are. Now, we have a game going. Now, we have a reason to get interested in what comes next. Bendis easily splits all the storylines apart and develops interest in each one.
The cracks in the X-Men’s armor is a surprise to me. I didn’t think there would be a moment where one side really seemed wrong. Watching Emma betray Cyclops and then the Phoenix betray Namor simply because he failed sets up the X-Men as heroes who are dancing dangerously close to the edge of becoming villains. I like that Bendis has taken a side here. Even if the side of right switches as the story goes on, at least we have somebody to root for and against.
Adam Kubert’s pencils are, as always, ridiculous. Some artists learn their craft and some were just born to draw, Kubert is definitely in the latter. The opening spread of Namor taking out Wakanda is breathtaking. The show of power, the display of ego and willful destruction by Namor, it’s an emotional scene with no dialog. I also enjoy how Kubert uses strained facial expressions to show how much the punches hurt during the fight. The panel where Namor is hit square in the face with Cap’s shield, you can feel that impact. The aerial shot of Thor coming down on Namor is another example of how Kubert uses perspective to show movement and force.
Avengers Vs. X-Men #8 is a welcome directional shift to the series.
4 Story/ 4 Art