Despite events escalating for both the Avengers and X-Men as AXIS reaches its mid-point with issue five, Rick Remender’s story continues to seem aimless as characters struggle through another setup issue of better things to come.
With many heroes now fully inverted, things take a turn for the worst as characters begin acting on their reversed persona’s objectives. This means that Falcon and a rogue squad of inverted Avengers cage the other Avengers to keep them out of the way while the X-Men, banded together under Apocalypse, begin their attempt to take over Manhattan in the name of mutants. It sounds exciting enough and with Steve Rogers putting together a small team of saner heroes to clean things up, AXIS is at least starting to feel like a proper event. Unfortunately, the script is weighed down by a bloated cast of paper-thin unrecognizable characters. While I’m sure Remender had an individual plan for how each hero and villain would be affected by the inversion spell, it’s not coming across in the story whatsoever. Instead of there being a pattern or rhyme or reason to the spell’s effect, it’s two broad strokes of the Avengers acting like villains and the X-Men acting like minions. There’s some seeds planted of characters having more developments with their inversions, such as Tony Stark and Hulk, but with no room to develop them, they’re nothing more than plugs to pick up some of the tie-ins.
Terry and Rachel Dodson’s bright, lively, expressive art is a welcome change from the less-than-stellar art that opened this event but not only is it a huge tonal shift from the earlier Kubert and Yu issues, the Dodsons are not suited for a high-stakes event like this. They’re certainly not out of their league and they deliver a beautiful issue but any tension built up is lost in their colorful, lighthearted depictions of the characters and action. Even a scene of Apocalypse beating a hero to a bloody pulp looks like it belongs on a Saturday morning cartoon.
It feels like more setup but with such an oddly paced event, who can even tell anymore? This issue at least promises readers that we’re due for an exciting second half but at this point, I fear most will simply stay on board hoping for some intriguing repercussions. For now, AXIS remains an unsatisfying montage of characters behaving oddly around a frustrating concept that Remender isn’t mining for its full potential.
The Verdict: 6.0/10