There are three Avengers Vs X-Men comics published today. Avengers Vs X-Men #12, Uncanny X-Men #19 and AVX: Versus #6.
Under the natural order of things, you'd expect Uncanny X-Men to be the best, Avengers Vs X-Men to be second best and Versus to the be the worst. But it doesn't quite work like that.
Starting with Avengers Versus X-Men #12, we basically get the point of AVX #0, even if the book has to move through a series of flashbacks to get there. And Cyclops Dark Phoenix defeated with a double punch when he's distracted by the ghost of his dead wife, basically. The meat of the comic however occurs after the "No More Phoenix" moment and we see a repopulation of the mutant universe, with a bevy of what they call "New Mutants" – people around the world suddenly developing mutant powers, rather than the usual mutant-powers-exhibit-at-puberty version. So what makes all these people mutants now, as opposed to your standard powered superhero who receives their powers from an outside source, like the Fantastic Four or Spider-Man? Are these new mutants even mutants at all? And get ready for the most awkward use of the word "uncanny" in a comic book.
It's a not a good comic. Clumsy, boring, ignoring much of the consequences of the issues it has raised and in some places using storytelling that defeats its purpose, such as the arrival of Nova. You see Nova blasting through the pages, before you see the panels calling for assistance. That needed to be a turn-the-page reveal, it is unsuitable for a print comic. This series has hardly been Marvel's literary peak, but it has had some really decent moments within it. The final issue however is a real clunker.
Which is why you naturally turn to Uncanny X-Men, which through the event, has provided a better insight, a fleshing out of characters, an understanding of world impacts far better than the main title. The job of this comic is to explore the mind of Scott Summers as seen in the final issue of Avengers Vs X-Men #12.
What we get is a rehash of Doctor Manhattan in Watchmen, travelling up and down his personal timeline, commenting in a dispassionate voice, narrating his life. It's hard not see see a blatant swipe here, given the circumstances, but done so without the verbal dexterity, it feels bland and serviceable, aside from some nice use of typography on the splash page an a well placed black caption. I'm struggling here.
Also, it manages to contradict events in Avengers Vs X-Men #12. The thoughts expressed in this issue seem to contradict with those expressed in the other, as do the encounters with a certain ex-wife. Is one Scott and the other Phoenix? The difference isn't clear. And that's before you compare the final encounters with both Beast and Captain America and how the questions about "new mutants" also don't seem to match up. Well, I mean, it's just as disappointing, but at least this comic tries to do something different.
And then we come to the abandoned stepchild of Avengers Vs X-Men #12, AVX: Versus #6. You know, the comic that just shows the fight scenes from the main comic that spilled over the edge. Devoid of plot, purpose or meaning, Or that was the plan.
Instead we get a series of hilarious short stories, some no more than a page long. Even the more serious Scarlet Witch and Hope bust up for the first few pages are enlivened with panels like this.
And then the rest of the book has Bendis and Jim Mahfood giving us Captain America and Cyclops' bitchfest on the beach, and a series of Avengers Vs X-Men fights that have little to do with the crossover and are so much better, the Avengers scientists fighting the X-Men scientists, Havok taking revenge for his brother, Domino taking down Red Hulk, Jarvis fighting Toad in a butler/janitor match you never expected, a Jeph Loeb/Art Adams wankfest in Hawkeye's mind, a great scene with Iceman fisting Iron Fist, and Dan Slott and Katie Cook at the end giving us Squirrel Girl Vs Pixie in a way that puts the entire event in an entirely new light.
It's fun, frolicsome and takes away any of the bad taste in your mouth from the previous two comic books. AVX Versus #6 – the best comic of the entire crossover.
I wish it had all been like this – or at least delivered with as such wit and care. There have been other highlights, most of Uncanny X-Men and Wolverine & The X-Men, AVX #0 and #6 showed real promise, but the main beef of the crossover has been a disappointing one.
Still, we'll always have AVX Versus #6. Here, have another bit.
Comics courtesy of Orbital Comics, London.