AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #11
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Olivier Coipel
Release Date: September 12, 2012
A major death, a lot of fire, and a whole lot of splash pages. Avengers Vs. X-Men #11 is a tough one for me to review, as the issue itself is not bad, but in some ways cheapens everything that has come before it.
I’m of two minds with this comic. Bendis writes the dialogue well, but some of the moments in this comic just feel cheap, for lack of a better term. I’m going to go mild spoiler here, so if you are maintaining AvX radio silence until you’ve read the book, look away now! Let’s talk positives first: there is a good old fashioned “Anakin/Obi-Wan” moment in this book that has some real heart to it. These characters have an intense amount of history and the big moment of this book will have lasting repercussions to a lot of characters in the Marvel Universe. Bendis does not approach this moment lightly and lets a lot of silence speak volumes. There are raw emotions at play, and Bendis writes that very well. Marvel said the Marvel U would look a lot different after this conflict, and the events in issue #11 have changed the landscape. While the character has been on the periphery for a while now, his name carries a lot of weight in the Marvel U and this can definitely split off in a lot of different ways if Marvel handles it properly.
Now, the criticisms: when did this series lose so much of what it was building upon? In the beginning, two ideologies were battling, each with valid concerns and battle lines were messy. In this issue all of that is tossed away in two pages, with one entire side of the conflict admitting they were wrong with a bunch of handshake and hug moments. I have a very hard time buying someone who had been hit in the face by Mjolnir just saying ‘damn, I was so wrong, please forgive me’. The layering and complexity of this series was a huge part of its success, and the simplification of 10 issues of conflict into a ‘this side was wrong’ hurts this story dramatically. I was also disappointed that the death of a single character in this issue was seemingly the sole focus. There were some major events that went down in issue #10 that were completely ignored, and a conflict that even graced the cover of this book was over and done with in less than two pages. All these things culminate in an issue that feels surprisingly hollow, considering the events within.
On the art front, I’ve been an unabashed Coipel fan since I first saw his art. This guy is a heavyweight comic artist, there is no disputing it. He pencils these characters well, and there is more fire in this issue than I have ever seen in a comic. The splashes are epic and the Phoenix is a more imposing entity than it has been throughout this entire series. The number of splash pages, while all are pretty, does grind the story to a halt in places and at times is probably a detriment to the comic, as are some of the layouts. That said, it really is a jaw dropping issue at points and Coipel leaves AvX setting the bar very high for Adam Kubert’s issue #12.
In the end, this issue vexes me somewhat. Momentum that was built has somewhat ceased and I honestly have no idea what to expect from issue #12, which may be a good thing. If nothing else, I definitely want to know how this beast of a series ends.