Saturday, June 16, 2012

Avengers vs X-Men #6

Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Olivier Coipel
Company: Marvel Comics

With issue five of this twelve issue series being more of the lighter fare than previous outings, it was nice to be able to sit down with a comic, an event comic no less, that felt BIG in both scope and size. Hickman, who's recently been rumored to be one of the guys taking over one of the Avengers titles when Bendis leaves, is definitely a big idea guy. More importantly though, he has the chops to deliver said idea, an ability easily seen in the confines of this issue.

What this issue does is explore the Phoenix Force and what it means for the people of Earth. Is it really the gift that Scott has thought all along or are the Avengers in the right, and their goal of killing or removing Hope from the equation the "good" thing to do. The back and forth and the investing in both of these sides and all of the grey in between is at the crux of the story, and Hickman's script really attacks that paradigm.

Giving the Phoenix Force to these five characters is a gutsy move. We've seen these kinds of things for sure, as Spider-Man has gotten the powers of Captain Universe and of course Jean Grey. I doubt it will prove to be for long, but the idea of it works well for telling a different kind of story. Seeing them use their new-found powers and the effect that it has on their traditional psyches is another bit that the story seems to be devoted to. I for one am happy to have Colossus looks more like Colossus instead of Colossunaught, as I personally found that idea to be 90% stupid. But that's a small thing.

On the flip side of the story, the Avengers are given a shot in the lime-light too. They have one of the coolest espionage scenes, with appropriate Tech-ed up gear that actually looks visually appealing, in recent memory of superhero comics. Hickman also deals with some of the inner struggles that specific members are having with the Phoenix 5 and what they are able to accomplish, which feels more like what would occur, instead of them all simply going one way because that's what the story calls for.

I guess my point is that the issue feels balanced. He moves the story forward in huge ways. He also provides stuff to mull over while giving you action and character moments. Essentially, it's kind of what the Avengers movie did, minus silly things like Loki sitting in the back of an SUV.

For the start of this Act 2, gone is art from John Romita Jr. He will, as always, be missed, but the work provided by Olivier (House of M/Thor) Coipel is snazzy x1000. The two differ in styles, as I tend to think of Coipel as more of a "Widescreen" European influenced artist, but each know how to compose a story and how best to translate the big moments in a way that projects their importance and energy. Coipel's portrayal of the new looks that Cyclops, Emma Frost, Namor, Colossus, & Magik sport have that instant cool factor. The costumes don't look cheesy or look completely out of character, mainly because each of them kept the essence of the character. He also handles quiet moments, action, and setting all with the same level of skill. You hear the term, "The Complete Package," thrown around a lot, but with Coipel (despite his sometimes slow speed) the term seems the most apt. He's come along way from his more wiry and more sketch-y lines that graced the pages of Legion Lost back in the day.

So yes, Avengers vs X-Men continues to have my attention. The story keeps rolling in unexpected ways, and for a big event like this, that's a damn good thing. At this point, unless something jumps the shark completely, Marvel has my money for a collection. Maybe even a hardcover.

This is an advance review. Avengers vs X-Men hits comic shops this Wednesday, 6/20/12.

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