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ComicsAlliance Vs. AvX Round Three: All Wolverine, All the Time

Welcome to the third installment of ComicsAlliance Vs. AvX, our unofficial scorecard for Marvel’s big summer publishing event, Avengers Vs. X-Men. It’s the Biff-Baff-Biff on Earth-616. (I need to work on that.) After a poor showing from the mutants in the first issue they rallied in the face of a helicarrier assault in the second. The scores now stand at Avengers 17, X-Men 13. Brian Michael Bendis and Jason Aaron brought us this far in the story, and now it’s Ed Brubaker’s turn to carry the ball.

The story so far: The Phoenix Force is coming back to Earth to sleep on our couch, eat all our food and fill up our Tivo with Real Housewives shows. Hope Summers is the likely host, so the Avengers want to contain her, the X-Men want to protect her, and Wolverine wants to kabob her. Everyone is fighting, fighting, fighting, often by summoning the sum totality of their purple prose. Hope wants none of this and has made a break for freedom, leaving Wolverine deservedly flash-fried. Meanwhile, in space, the Spacevengers brace themselves for first contact with The Force. The action continues.

Round three! It is on!Avengers Vs. X-Men #3
Story: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman and Matt Fraction
Script: Ed Brubaker
Artists: John Romita Jr, Scott Hanna, Laura Martin

Opening Score: Avengers 17 / X-Men 13

We rejoin the action as Wolverine recovers from an all-over Phoenix skin peel. It’s a weirdly effective cosmetic treatment; look at how much more handsome he (briefly) is! In a macho Cro-Magnon with a Mach 3 razor way.

The book opens with Wolverine because the issue is at least 80% Wolverine. As he’s the most notable guy to serve on both of the titular teams it makes sense that he’d draw focus, but remember how last issue ended with the thrilling promise of a gigantic space battle featuring some of Marvel’s biggest powerhouses against the Phoenix Force? Remember how exciting that looked?

Yeah, no. Wolverine.

Still, it’s nice to finally have a comic about Wolverine, right?

Anyway, between issues, while Wolverine was out of it, the X-Men surrendered. So. Game over. Avengers pick up a few points for… winning. And we’re out.

Final Score: Avengers 20 / X-Men 13

Flawless victory. Thanks for reading along to Avengers Vs. X-Men with us. I hope you had fun. Join us back here in two weeks for the replacement series, Slingers Vs. Fallen Angels.

No, wait, I’m pretty sure there are nine more issues on the line. There was a checklist and everything. So let’s see where this is going.

In two of the only pages not to feature Wolverine this issue we get a rather necessary conversation between Cap and Iron Man about the practicalities of throwing half the Marvel Universe in prison. Surprisingly, Iron Man has some reservations about it, which is a departure from his usual gulag-happy style. When he points out that Captain America used to be on the other side of this issue, Cap doesn’t respond with, “I am rubber you are glue,” which he would be totally within his rights to do.

Oh, and remember the other fight last issue that I was really excited about? Illyana versus Doctor Strange? Yeah, no. Wolverine. The pocket Canuck turns up to reveal that the X-Men have pulled off a magical switcheroo, replacing Doctor Strange with Illyana. He announces this by shouting, “Are you people all blind?” As Daredevil is one of the Avengers, this is not a cool thing for Wolverine to shout, but since Daredevil’s own enhanced senses didn’t pick up on the Doctor Strange/Illyana thing he probably doesn’t want to draw attention to himself at that moment.

Anyway, the X-Men effect a prison break using one of Illyana’s teleporting discs. Bam! Well played, X-Men.

Current Score: Avengers 20 / X-Men 16

I say “the X-Men,” but only eight of them make the break; the Extinction Squad All-Stars. All the remaining detritus of psychopaths and teenagers are left in Iron Man’s matronly care. Illyana’s secondary mutant power is to correctly identify which characters belong together in a team book and teleport them en masse, which is why Wolverine is her kryptonite. Is he a Defender? Is he a Champion? Nobody knows!

So the cast of Uncanny X-Men are united and on the loose, and they know what they have to do now; they have to reach out to the cast of Wolverine & The X-Men! (Minus Wolverine, obviously.)

Oh, and Hope finds the last Kirbytech repair shop in San Francisco and builds what I assume is a wrist-mounted Large Hadron Collider judging by the size of it. No, actually it’s a device that checks her into five different places on Foursquare, which totally fools everyone. Genius!

Current Score: Avengers 20 / X-Men 18

Captain America and Wolverine check in with Rachel at the Jean Grey School. You remember Rachel? Rachel who used to go by the codename Phoenix? Rachel who used to be the host of the Phoenix Force? And no-one really minded, except Galactus that one time? Oh, and Wolverine? Yeah, so Rachel does a fairly good job of not throwing that in Wolverine’s face, that whole, “How does it feel to be in a jerk squad made up of just you and the Devourer of Worlds?” thing, but she’s secretly not on team stab-the-redhead.

Captain America comes up with a plan to check in to all the places Hope Summers is Foursquare mayor of, which is also a rundown of all the funnest spots in the Marvel universe; Latveria! Wundagore! The Savage Land! Wakanda! (Storm vs Black Panther for real this time?) And Tabula Rasa, which is the new underground Savage Land! No Madripoor for you, Wolverine.

It sounds like a really good plan. If your plan is to drag out an event comic for another nine issues! Which it totally is!

On the plane, Cap takes Wolverine aside for a little chat about his stab-the-redhead plan. On balance, he’s against it. His counterpoint? Punching Wolverine in the jaw. Smashing him in the face with his shield. And throwing him out of a plane.

I do love a good KRAAANG. And if you’re having an Avengers event, as a general rule of thumb, a good KRAAANG is much better than a Kang.

Apparently this fight and the subsequent sudden deplaning were something Cap had planned for, because he had it worked out with Sharon Carter in advance. This makes me wonder why he didn’t have this conversation with Wolverine somewhere less death-plungey. If you know you’re going to drop someone from your team, why do it from 30,000 feet? HR will have words to say.

Because Wolverine and Cap are both Avengers at this point (and I can’t see why the X-Men would want the diminutive murder-muppet back now), I have to score the Avengers down for their inter-douchebag slapfight. Really, Cap, your “punch first, kick him out of a plane later” tactics aren’t gelling with my vision of you as an inspirational leader. Minus 4 points.

Final Score: Avengers 16 / X-Men 18

MVP: In an all-Wolverine issue you might expect Wolverine to be the most valuable player, but I don’t want to reward his lack of team spirit (and abundance of murderous rage), so I’m giving the prize to Rachel Grey for giving Wolverine some attitude and staying loyal to her peeps, and in recognition of the fact that this story really ought to be about her, and she’s keeping her cool in a thankless supporting role.

Analysis: In the first issue it was Cyclops’s hair trigger and strange rationalizations that made his team look sloppy. Ever since, the Avengers have come across as bullies and blowhards, and with this issue that strategy cost them their lead. However the focus on Wolverine made this a low-scoring round for both teams, and everyone’s being a bit jerky. At this point it’s not a case of who we should cheer for, but who it’s easier to cheer against. Hey, superheroes! Do something superheroic!

Graphics by Dylan Todd.

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