Written by Rick Remender
Art by Leinil Yu
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: October 22, 2014

As the first chapter of Marvel’s latest crossover event ends, it continues to show troubling signs of being a rushed affair in terms of both story and art. Luckily, some of Marvel’s liveliest villains steal the issue and, if anything, make Rick Remender’s Avengers & X-Men: AXIS #3 a lot of fun.

Events are always heavy on action but AXIS is testing new limits with three straight issues of the battle against Red Onslaught and his sentinels on Genosha. The good news is that Remender has a blast this issue writing some of Marvel’s zaniest villains such as Carnage and Hobgoblin as well as tossing around witty banter between the likes of Mystique, Enchantress, and Loki. Despite not being a villain, Deadpool also manages to grab the spotlight and Remender embraces the chance to return to the character he wrote so well in Uncanny X-Force. His Deadpool isn’t necessarily the most hilarious but unlike many writers, Remender doesn’t make Wade overbearing to the reader and carefully places the unique character into the plot instead of shafting him to the margins for quick jokes. It’s a take on the character that I would love to see more of in a form of a mini.

The bad news about the issue is that when the dust from the battle settles, the glaring problems about the event as a whole come and hit you upside the head. A tragic blunder happened this week when two tie-in issues, Deadpool #36 and AXIS: Hobgoblin #1, had to clarify to readers what had happened in the closing pages of the main event book. Without spoiling things, the final scene of this issue depicts a debate between the Avengers and X-Men and you guessed it, both sides act just as childish and hypocritical as last time. There’s no real indication that anything is out of the ordinary because the characters are saying things we’ve heard them say before. When the argument abruptly ends when a new voice joins the debate, it reads as bad storytelling and not subtle hinting that something sinister is still looming. The last few pages lack so little emotional depth that you easily forget that this whole story started in mutant concentration camps. In fact, it seems the X-Men and Avengers forgot about them too considering the way they hastily take off from Genosha on the final page.

Leinil Yu has a lot of character designs on his plate this issue and like Remender, clearly has a lot of fun working with the villains of the piece. Although the fight is scripted like a typical superhero fight, Yu conveys that these baddies fight a bit messier than our main protagonists do and it makes for a visually interesting fight.

However, Yu seems to be as exhausted as the heroes are after the battle, delivering six bland pages of dozens of superheroes standing around, doing nothing but talking. There’s no dynamic to the staging of the argument, no powerful facial expressions to be found, and he doesn’t make the effort to put more than five full character designs into one panel. Any tension that Remender built up with his script, which wasn’t much, completely vanishes due to the dull art. And with three colorists and a inker, some pages pop while some are more subdued and in line with Yu’s usual style, causing an inconsistent feel that just shouldn’t exist in a high-profile event book.

The inspired battle between some classic Marvel villains and giant sentinels serves as a brilliant distraction to the many flaws of Remender’s unambitious story. But this being only the end of chapter one and with the event just getting started, we have a long way to go before this story can be deemed a true failure.

The Verdict: 6.0/10

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