ComicsAlliance Vs. AvX Round Four: I’d Like to Teach the World to Punch
Buckle in; it's the fourth installment of ComicsAlliance Vs. AvX, our unofficial scorecard for Marvel's big summer publishing event, Avengers Vs. X-Men. Round one went to the Avengers when they seized the moral high ground, round two saw the X-Men rally back, and round three... well, that was Wolverine being the best there is at hogging the book. Jonathan Hickman is on script duties for round four, and the score is close at Avengers 16, X-Men 18.
The story so far: The Phoenix Force is coming to Earth to claim Hope Summers as its new host and either end the world or save the mutant race. Robert Downey, Jr. and Chris Evans think this is good; James Marsden and Michael Fassbender think this is bad; Hugh Jackman hates everyone. (Guys, I'm trying to appeal to those millions of new fans who just ran into the comic stores with their Hulk 3D glasses and demanded piles and piles of comics, okay? They don't know anyone's names yet.) Hope Summers has gone AWOL, and both Samuel L. Jackson's team and Patrick Stewart's team are trying to track her down. Hope doesn't have an actor, so just picture Miley Cyrus in a ginger wig.
Round four! Avengers, ready! Gladiators, ready!Avengers Vs. X-Men #4
Story: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman and Matt Fraction
Script: Jonathan Hickman
Artists: John Romita, Jr., Scott Hanna, Laura Martin
Opening Score: Avengers 16 / X-Men 18
Friends, I have a confession to make. I am avoiding the tie-in books. I'll read them eventually, and when that happens I'm sure I'll see a lot of fights and character moments that I missed, but I really want to see how much I can get from this event when I'm only reading the main book. So if I'm excited about a cosmic space battle and I see the preamble and the aftermath but not the battle itself because it happened somewhere else, that's going to affect my enjoyment, and I think that's worth mentioning.
This issue of Avengers vs. X-Men is entirely about battles happening in other books. On its own merits it has a lot of good moments, but it still feels too much like watching a movie by wandering down the hall of a multiplex and listening in at the doors.
There is one tie-in book I've checked in on, and that's Versus, or AvX Versus, or Avengers vs. X-Men: VS, or The Avengers Versus The X-Men: Versus, or whatever the heck it's called. That's the book where they rub the heat-sensitive stickers on two superheroes to see which one is better. (What? Battle Beasts is huge right now! Don't tell me that reference was too obscure!)
Thus far, Versus has found solidly for the Avengers, with Iron Man beating Magneto by wearing ceramic underpants; Wet Thing beating Namor with a fish tooth; Captain America beating Gambit (because, look, he's Captain America, okay?); and Colossus being awarded a victory over Spider-Man because it was starting to look embarrassing for the X-Men, but really that one was a no-score draw. On that basis, I'm giving six bonus points to the Avengers and zero bonus points to the X-Men.
Current Score: Avengers 22 / X-Men 18
Okay, let's get to the events of this issue. It starts with Wolverine wearing a polar bear coat. That's worth ten points straight away, but Wolverine is currently unaffiliated so no-one gets those points. Wolverine has been abandoned in Antarctica by Captain America's poor personnel conflict resolution skills, but he's saved by Hope Summers' fine appreciation for luxury animal fur couture. Wolverine responds by brandishing his claws, because that Canadian knows how to accessorize, mm hmm.
Meanwhile, in space, we missed about 90% of the cosmic space fight, but we arrive in time to see Thor throw Mjolnir at the Phoenix, which results in... I don't know. This:
What is this? What's happening here? Does anyone know? Can anyone tell me?
But the Avengers get five points because Chris Hemsworth is dreamy.
Current Score: Avengers 27 / X-Men 18
Back in Antarctica, Wolverine still wants to kill Hope, but Hope has beer. Well played. Hope has a plan. She's going to embrace the Phoenix Force and try to use it to save the mutant race, and if that doesn't work and she goes all genocidey, Wolverine can kill her.
That's a pretty solid plan. We've seen that the Phoenix Force can wipe out planets even without a host; it makes sense to contain it in something meaty and stabbable. Hope's plan also provides an admirable middle way between the Avengers' "kill the rabbit" plan and the X-Men's "maybe this rabbit can restore the x-gene that was wiped out by Magneto's magic daughter" plan. (The rabbit thing got away from me there.) Well done, Hope! Good plan!
Current Score: Avengers 27 / X-Men 22
So of course Wolverine is going to screw it up.
In New York, Cyclops and Emma Frost have holed up in an abandoned Hellfire Club safe house. And when I say "holed up," I mean they're in a book-lined study with comfortable armchairs, fancy bronze light fixtures, and huge windows looking out over a tree-lined park. It probably has maid service. The Hellfire Club is so fixated on luxury and comfort that their safe house is probably two doors down from the Hellfire Club. They may even share underground parking.
Emma has the bright idea of hitching a ride on Toad the janitor's brain so she can use Cerebro at the Jean Grey School to eavesdrop on the rest of the crossover. We spend the next seven pages dipping in to what I assume are scenes from other comics set in Wakanda, Tabula Rasa, Latveria and the Savage Land, but we're not told which comics, so, collect them all!
My favorite part of this sequence is when Emma mentions "old rivalries rekindled," and we're looking at Thing and Namor in the background, which, sure, makes sense; but we're also looking at Hepzibah shooting Luke Cage in the foreground while Sunspot apparently has a moment in the bushes.
Remember that old rivalry between Hepzibah and Luke Cage? He resented the way she would awkwardly hang upside down from a tree and shoot things. She hated that he would stretch out her bandanas. Oh, Hepzibah and Luke Cage! They never got along.
One point to Emma Frost for having the good sense to find a comfortable chair while all this silliness is going on.
Current Score: Avengers 27 / X-Men 23
Iron Man decides to build a big gun. He talked to Beast, T'Challa and "even Hank," (poor under-appreciated Hank!) and they all agree that, you know, science. And you can't argue with science.
Current Score: Avengers 29 / X-Men 23
Wolverine and Hope pay a visit to A.I.M Worldworks, which is one of seven themed fun zones at Evil Disneyland. While you're there, why not check out Hydra Haven, the Lagoon of the Unliving, Vickey's Doomtown, Dr. M.O.D.O.K.'s Dreamatorium Designed Only for Killing, or the Hate-Mongering World of Adolf Hitler? And new for this year, don't forget to visit Intellectual Property Rights Lawsuit Island! Some restrictions apply!
The main attraction at A.I.M. Worldworks is of course stabbing pepper pot men in the chest. Some people wonder how A.I.M. is able to find so many talented scientists to fill random goon roles in an evil organization, but the truth is the perks are amazing. Free meals, Segway rides, you can bring your dog to work, and everyone gets a pepper pot hat!
And then Wolverine and Hope steal a rocket and go to the moon.
50 points to the X-Men.
Current Score: Avengers 29 / X-Men 73
But it turns out Wolverine tattled to the Avengers, so he's still on their side, so half those points have to go to them.
Current Score: Avengers 54 / X-Men 48
Of course, by being a tattletale, Wolverine ruined Hope's plan, which was the only really good plan anyone had come up with. It was even bipartisan! But we all know the era of bipartisan cooperation is over and you just can't get the two sides to work together any more in the United States of... uh... the Blue Area of the Moon.
The Avengers show up. The X-Men show up. Everyone sets the clock back three issues. This is all Wolverine's fault, so he loses five points for his team.
Current Score: Avengers 49 / X-Men 48
Then Thor crashes into the moon, with all his big muscles and luscious hair. He's here to remind us all that Chris Hemsworth is dreamy. As if we could forget. Oh, and the Phoenix has arrived. To be continued in three weeks, because putting out a comic every two weeks is really hard, you guys.
Final Score: Avengers 49 / X-Men 48
MVP: Chris Hemsworth. He is dreamy.
Analysis: It was all going so well when Hope had the brilliant idea to go to a place where she couldn't hurt anyone, try the Phoenix Force on for size, and bring a murderous runt along to kill her if it didn't work out. It was flawless! But no, Wolverine decided to ruin everything by calling in the guy who kicked him out of a plane. That's some Machiavellian team-building technique you've got there, Captain America, but I can't argue with your results.
Graphics by Dylan Todd.