Position: First Baseman. This position tends to go to the big bopper a lot of the time. The home run hitter. Guys that don’t always need to be the best on defense, so long as they can catch and scoop a ball. Of course there are always first basemen capable of dazzling with a glove. So, who’s on first? Ha, that’s a little baseball humor for those that didn’t get it… Anyway, neither team has a typical masher at first base. Beast, for the X-Men, has some good agility and strength for some defense and pop. The Avengers were a bit tougher. Since we’re using the designated hitter rule in this game, my first choice for first base moved into the DH role. This paved the way for Luke Cage to see some action in the field. Who knows, maybe Luke can change his name to Home Run Power Man after this game.
Avengers vs. X-Men #3
The Front Office
Story: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman and Matt Fraction
Script: Ed Brubaker
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inks: Scott Hanna
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover Art: Jim Cheung & Laura Martin
Variant Cover Art: Sara Pichelli & Justin Ponsor (more covers below)
Inning Summary: Wolverine awakens, screaming, after having his skin seared from his body recently by a Phoenix-powered Hope. Spider-Man is waiting with a pair of extra clothes and news of Cyclops’ surrender to Captain America when Hope fled at the end of the battle. Fully-healed but skeptical, Wolverine races off to confront the two leaders.
Due to a recent publicity stunt by Cyclops, in which Cyclops accused the Avengers of invading the mutants’ home, Captain America is unable to apprehend the mutants. Iron Man and Cap discuss tactics as the X-Men huddle on the other side of the Utopia pavilion. Dr. Strange arrives from Limbo with an unconscious Magik. Wolverine shows up, claws out, and accuses the sorcerer of being an imposter. The X-Men drop the illusion, revealing a triumphant Magik over a beaten Dr. Strange, and then teleport away from Utopia.
Cyclops and his extinction team go underground in one of their hideouts. Cyclops assures the X-Men that they still have allies inside Wolverine’s school, and he plans to use those connections to find Hope before the Avengers do. Hope breaks into a technology store to work on a mechanical device mounted on her wrist. As she flees the store she sees her reflection with the flaming bird behind her.
At Avengers Tower, Wolverine reaches out to his school and talks to Rachel Summers, Cyclops’ daughter from an alternate future and a former host of the Phoenix Force. Using the mutant-tracking machine, Cerebra, Rachel was able to track Hope to five possible locations. The young time-displaced mutant becomes increasingly uncomfortable with Wolverine aiding the Avengers so Captain America thanks Rachel for the information and ends the conversation. Rachel telepathically contacts Cyclops and shares the same information.
Captain America splits the Avengers up into five separate teams to scour the areas were Hope might be: Wundagore Mountain, Tabula Rasa, Wakanda, Latveria, and the Savage Land. Cap requests that Wolverine join his team in the Savage Land. Aboard the quinjet, Wolverine senses something amiss with Captain America, so the leader of the Avengers suggests the two talk. In the back of the jet, Captain America orders Wolverine off the mission, stating that he can no longer trust the mutant after he went off on his own to kill Hope.
The two long-time soldiers come to blows when Wolverine refuses to stand down. Both fighters, expertly skilled in combat, land successful hits on their opponent before Wolverine is blind-sided by Giant-Man, Hank Pym. The Avengers kick Wolverine out of the plane, and a bleeding Captain America orders his pilot, Sharon Carter, to continue on to the Savage Land.
Now alone in the cold waste of Antarctica, Wolverine marches on, determined to finish the job on his own.
Color Commentary: Hope is boring, and that doesn’t bode well for this story as she’s the main attraction. I don’t care for her as a character from what I’ve read in the X-Men line of comics, and this series hasn’t done much to change my opinion of her. I don’t care what happens to her when the Phoenix comes, so that makes it hard for me to care about her running away, or even where she got that wrist-mounted gizmo which seemingly cloaks her and keeps her from being tracked. One of my favorite things about this issue is that they didn’t spend more than two pages on Hope.
I may have judged the use of the narration boxes by Jason Aaron a bit harshly, but I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that the script responsibilities are split between five writers. The different styles are a bit jarring from chapter to chapter, so I worry how the trade will read when the twelve parts of the story are combined. I did enjoy Brubaker’s handling of the script this time. He kept the dialogue light and effectively filled in background, brought readers up to speed, and answered a few questions as simply as possible.
The simplicity of Romita’s art continues to be a downside, however. I still find the faces of most of his characters to be a bit flat, and Wolverine’s masked face in profile still looks too narrow and pointed. Romita loves drawing the characters in groups, too. The Avengers or X-Men are usually huddled together or lined up facing-off with one another. This time the Avengers are walking in a line to their respective Quinjets. It’s not the most dynamic artwork.
The Box Score
Single – Iron Man played the voice of reason when he and Captain America were discussing the next steps in dealing with the X-Men’s “surrender.” He made a good point about them not having space to keep all the mutants in holding cells and again concerning Cyclops reasoning behind the cease fire. I also liked the comparison drawn between Cap and Iron Man’s roles during the superhero Civil War, although it’s an obvious comparison to make in a hero-versus-hero event like this. Ms. Marvel also gets a single for her efforts in space.
Pitching: Captain America loses a bit of his composure in this issue by attacking Wolverine. Isolating your closest ally within the X-Men’s ranks does not seem to be a good strategy. I also don’t understand how dropping someone in the middle of Antarctica is a problem in the Marvel Universe. Wolverine is obviously going to get involved in the fray again so wouldn’t it make more sense to keep him under your watch?
There wasn’t a whole lot of offense from either side this inning, and the majority of the action was the fight between Captain America and Wolverine. It was an entertaining fight, despite being a bit short. You can tell both fighters are familiar with the others’ tactics. Wolverine made a smart move by slashing the handle strap of Cap’s shield. Cap was able to dive away from a deadly lunge by Wolverine and deliver a ricocheting shield throw. The ferocity of Wolverine’s attacks made me wonder how far Wolverine was willing to take this skirmish as well.
Wolverine continues to be a wasted spot on the X-Men’s roster as he continues to do nothing to support the team with whom he is most strongly associated. The Avengers show that they don’t even trust him enough to keep him around. I like seeing Rachel noticeably upset with Wolverine when he is helping the Avengers. Does Wolverine honestly think Rachel wouldn’t help Cyclops?
Walk – Beast is still out in space facing off with the Phoenix Force, and Namor is one of the more active members of the Extinction team, despite his sometimes over the top sexuality in the most recent Uncanny X-Men. They get free passes this time out.
Single – You don’t see it in this issue, but in X-Men Legacy, Iceman leaves Wolverine’s school to return to fight alongside Cyclops, starting a wave of dissenters on Wolverine’s side of the Schism. He gets a hit for that.
Pitching: Cyclops shows he’s still the mutant in control and always thinking two steps ahead of the Avengers. Even though, as he tells Magneto, he has no firm plan in place, he keeps his sights on his goal, and you had better believe he has a few ideas on how to achieve it. I like that they even reference the open letter he wrote to the world, stating that the Avengers unjustly invaded the X-Men’s home, winning over some sympathy for the mutant race in this altercation.
Defense: Magik uses a dazzling play to save the X-Men from the Avengers, and preventing a few runs from scoring. I’m really interested to see how she was able to beat Dr. Strange, even being in her own territory of Limbo. I find it hard to believe that Dr. Strange could be taken “out of [his] element” when dealing with alternate dimensions and magic. Unfortunately this doesn’t look like a fight they’re fleshing out in the AvX Versus title. I’d also like to see how the rest of the X-Men escaped Utopia and the Avengers since Magik only seemed to transport the Extinction Team.