Now that we’re two issues into the second Act of Avengers vs. X-Men, despite my being impressed that the writers have taken the series in an unexpected direction, I can’t find myself being all that interested or entertained in the direction that they’ve taken the book. The overall story hasn’t truly engaged me, and this might be because the series is almost moving TOO quickly now, after moving at a relatively slower pace during the first few issues of the series. The Phoenix Five and the X-Men’s relatively quick and easy takeover of Earth gnaws at me, and bugs me, not the least of which is because the Earth just went through Dr. Octopus trying to supposedly fix the world in “Ends of the Earth”, a recent storyline in Amazing Spider-Man. Plus, it’s really hard to not think of the X-Men as being the villains of this book, in much the same way that Iron Man and the Pro-Registration Forces started to feel like the villains of the Civil War mini-series. Although they are supposedly coming from a positive place, when it comes right down to it their actions are far more lopsided towards being the antagonists and not splitting the protagonist title with the Avengers.
This issue was actually quite frustrating because it was an equal amount good and bad, as if for every good point there was an equal negative bringing it down. The idea of the Avengers scrambling for time and trying to fight their losing battle was reminiscent of Captain America’s Secret Avengers during Civil War, and is a great concept, until you remember that they’re on the run from the X-Men, who are now the defacto villains. Sure, the Phoenix Five are being taken over by the Phoenix Force, but how do you explain the rest of the X-Men? At times the writing just doesn’t feel like it makes sense, as if the X-Men (sans Phoenix Five) teamed up with the Avengers to take on their cosmically empowered teammates, that might actually make some sense, instead of forcing all of the X-Men to follow the Phoenix Five just to make this series live up to its name. Tony Stark is horribly mischaracterized in this book, which is more alarming because Matt Fraction scripted this particular issue, and this Tony is NOTHING like the Tony he writes in the Iron Man solo title. Black Panther was one of the strongest characters in this issue, as he asserted himself quite nicely, although sadly at the expense of Tony Stark. The Phoenix Five are the biggest casualties of this issue, as their scenes just felt too over the top, and took them further and further into villain territory. Namor deciding to go against Cyclops’ wishes didn’t feel nearly as dramatic as it could have, instead just feeling like the actions of a petulant child.
The artwork by Olivier Coipel was surprisingly subpar. I’m usually a huge fan of his artwork, but this is far and away some of the weakest artwork I’ve ever seen him produce. I’m more surprised because this is only the second issue that he’s illustrated of this mini-series, and yet it already looks rushed and hampered. His depiction of Tony Stark is absolutely atrocious, and if I didn’t know any better I would have just thought he was Wolverine but with a haircut and lack of overall body hair. It definitely didn’t look like Tony Stark. This is still good artwork, overall, but if you’re a fan of Coipel, be ready to be disappointed by how rushed and sloppy this issue looks.
There’s still five issues left in this series, and for the life of me I’m not sure where this is going, nor even if I really care anymore. Now that Marvel NOW! has been announced, it makes this series almost feel like a lameduck mini-series, similar to how all pre-New 52 stories felt once the New 52 had been announced. Those series still had to wrap up their stories, and yet suddenly it was hard to really care or get excited about the wrap-ups, because it was already understood that they wouldn’t matter at all going forwards. Obviously the situation here is different in that the events of this series will still be felt in some way in the new revamp of the Marvel line, but it does leave you with a certain feeling that maybe the aftermath of this won’t be that shocking anyway.