Position: Shortstop. The shortstop position is primarily a defensive role, but over the last two decades or so, shortstops have also become a viable offensive threat as well. They have a lot of ground to cover behind the pitcher so being able to get to the ball quickly is imperative. Our Avengers shortstop has both speed and power, not to mention webs. So if any ball is hit up the middle, Spider-Man should have no problem getting to it using either his agility or a webline. The X-Men’s shortstop won’t have the same power level at the plate as Spider-Man, but her “stepping discs” should help her cover the large area that makes up the shortstop’s domain. Magik may not be the biggest threat at the plate, but her abilities in the field all but guarantee that any ball hit up the middle will end up in Limbo. (A warning for Spider-Man fans; the webhead does not appear in this issue.)
Avengers vs. X-Men #6
The Front Office
Story: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman
Script: Jonathan Hickman
Pencils: Olivier Coipel
Inks: Mark Morales
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover Art: Jim Cheung & Justin Ponsor
Variant Cover Art: Nick Bradshaw & Marte Gracia
Inning Summary: Ten days after the Phoenix Five came to Earth, Professor Xavier returns to Utopia. The professor is greeted by his old friend Magneto, who is beaming with pride over the changes the X-Men are bringing to Utopia and the rest of the world. Magneto leads Xavier to Cyclops, where the former teacher and pupil share a discussion concerning the future. Cyclops explains how the Phoenix Five have solved problems such as starvation, thirst and the energy crisis, and that the professor’s dream is becoming a reality. Xavier does not wish to accept it at this price.
Two days later, Iron Fist is briefing Captain America on one of his recent missions. When confronted and overwhelmed by the Electric Legion, Colossus appeared to save Iron Fist, Spider-Woman, and Luke Cage. Captain America is surprised to hear that Colossus simply talked to the bad guys, eventually convincing them to serve as the power grid for a large portion of Eastern Europe. Cap convenes with more Avengers, including Wolverine and Beast, to share the news and devise a plan to take down the Phoenix Five. Black Panther questions whether or not the Avengers should even be worried, and Beast walks out on the Avengers in disgust at the thought of possibly killing friends he has known his whole life.
In K’un Lun, Lei Kung meets with a blind old man, the city’s eccentric lore keeper. He explains that these events have happened before, and tells of Fongji, the red-headed girl who trained to become the Iron Fist and confront the Phoenix Force in ancient times. Back on Utopia, Cyclops tells Hope that she is not a prisoner in Utopia, and although she was meant to join with the Phoenix, she rejected it and is now no longer worthy of the power over life and death. Cyclops leaves to address the leaders of the world.
As the leader of the nation Wakanda, T’Challa, the Black Panther, witnessed the Phoenix Five’s address to the nations. If the world declares an end to war and to all aggression, the Phoenix Five will continue to usher mankind into the future. T’Challa meets with Captain America, Iron Man, and the president of the United States, who declares the X-Men need a sense of accountability and that mankind needs to progress on its own. Elsewhere, the Scarlet Witch has a vision of the Phoenix Force destroying the Avengers.
A squad of Avengers prepare to invade Utopia and kidnap Hope. Using special suits designed by Tony Stark, the Avengers crash through the walls of Hope’s room. Cyclops and Emma sense their presence and arrive on the scene before the Avengers can abscond with Hope. The two Phoenix Five members make short work of the Avengers, with Iron Fist the only Avenger able to block their advances. Cyclops takes out Thor, but the skirmish ends when the Scarlet Witch appears to extract the Avengers. Much to Cyclops’ dismay, Hope tells Wanda she wants to go with her. Cyclops reaches out to stop them from leaving but is hurt when he touches Scarlet Witch. The Avengers leave with Hope, and Cyclops is frustrated at the continuous attempts to thwart mutantkind’s progress. The leader of the X-Men declares, “No more Avengers.”
Color Commentary: This issue highlights the biggest problem with this event. The story is just too big for its own good. Marvel made it a point to say that this event wouldn’t have any tie-ins, but with the number of tangents they’re trying to include, a few more tie-ins could have been useful. The architects are trying to reference too many story angles in the main title. First, it was the Secret Avengers in space, now it’s the New Avengers and the connection between Iron Fist and the Phoenix Force.
I like the idea of exploring the Phoenix’s background and how it relates to the Marvel Universe, but if you’re not following New Avengers, this part of the story could be hard to follow. The scene in K’un Lun seems a bit out of place and I would have preferred it if they just left that storyline in the New Avengers book. Likewise, the scene with the Phoenix Five addressing the United Nations or the Avengers meeting with the President of the United States could have been saved for an Avengers comic.
The focus and introduction of some new characters in the story, such as Professor Xavier and the Scarlet Witch, help move the event into its next chapter, but it remains to be seen what part these new players will have. Wanda’s involvement is particularly interesting since it showed she can hurt the Phoenix Five. I’m also eager to see how her “no more mutants” hex plays into this event.
I’m glad Coipel has come on board and taken over art duties for the second act of this event. Coipel does a great job designing the grand scenery and landscapes the Phoenix Five are creating around the world. The two full page spreads of the Phoenix Five doing good around the world looked amazing. I also like to see artists draw the uniforms forming around characters so I enjoyed how Coipel drew Cyclops’s new outfit coming together when he sensed the Avengers arrive on Utopia. However, this trick usually seems like a move reserved for villains, so it makes me a little sad to think of Cyclops in that light.
The Box Score
Avengers: The X-Men had to bench Wolverine last inning in favor of the more faithful Emma Frost. Beast leaves the Avengers in this issue when he refuses to participate in planning the demise of his life-long friends and teammates, but according to the introduction page, both Wolverine and Beast are now firmly on the side of the Avengers. It might seem petty, but I enjoyed seeing Beast try to take credit for the idea of using mutants as a sustainable energy source in this issue, only to have Captain America silence him by saying it was not relevant to the current events.
Batting: Single – Iron Man (2) can’t participate in a big crossover event without forging a new suit of armor for himself or his allies. This time he creates the infiltrator suits that the Avengers use to sneak into Utopia and steal Hope. They’re apparently designed to deal with the empowered X-Men, but the outfits don’t do much besides look a little bit silly.
Double – Thor (1) is the only Avenger to make an attempt at attacking the Phoenix Five, even though it proves ineffective. I’m a fan of Thor’s bravado when he speaks and his failure only serves to prove just how powerful the Phoenix Five have become.
Defense: It looks like Iron Fist will have a big role in this event so it was time I made a defensive substitution. Iron Fist comes in to take the place of Luke Cage at first base and immediately helps the Avengers by protecting his teammates from Cyclops’ Phoenix-powered attack. It was a little hard to tell exactly what was happening since Wolverine and Iron Fist looked similar in Iron Man’s newly designed suits, but the Ying-Yang symbol blocking the attack helped straighten out the confusion and was a cool effect.
Pitching: Everything is going well, unless you ask Captain America. The Phoenix Five are helping the world and making it a better place. So why does Captain America feel the need to keep instigating? Can’t he accept the fact that Cyclops was right and the Phoenix has come to help the world? Maybe Cap should listen to Black Panther, his longtime teammate, who questions whether or not they should be acting against the X-Men. Black Panther made a good point about questioning Thor’s powers and why the Avengers freely trust that god.
It annoyed me when the Avengers and the President of the United States referred to Cyclops’ requests as “demands.” The only thing Cyclops asked for was that the countries of the world cease their hostilities and agree to no more war. That sounds like a pretty fair request to me, but just because it’d be enforced by a quintet of cosmic powered mutants, the government wants to bring them down? This seems pretty irrational. It’s not as though the X-Men are an alien race which had secretly been invading our world, or a known sociopath trying to force his dark reign over people. These are the X-Men, freedom fighters who have only ever wanted to help make the world a better place and build a better future, for mutant and mankind alike. Now that they’re doing it, you want to stop them?
Batting: The X-Men’s offense is quiet for the first time this game as they refocus their strategy on defense and setting up a better world.
Pitching: I liked seeing Magneto embrace Cyclops and his new power in the beginning when he greets Professor Xavier. This continues the parallels started during Schism comparing the relationship between Cyclops and Wolverine to that of Magneto and Professor X. I have to agree with Professor X though. This isn’t Cyclops using his own powers. Mankind will resist the convenient change of the future and this will ultimately be the Phoenix Five’s downfall.
I also thought it was an interesting choice to have Cyclops speak to Professor X telepathically while Xavier, the most powerful telepath on the planet, chose to speak out loud to his former pupil. Cyclops spends a lot of time addressing people in this issue, first Xavier, and then Hope. I’m sure it was more likely the Phoenix talking, but I’m glad he called Hope out on not being ready for the power the Phoenix offered.
Sadly, the end of this issue probably signals Cyclops’ final turn in villain territory. You can’t make a statement such as “no more Avengers,” and not expect to be labeled a villain. Hopefully the writers don’t take him so far down this path that he can’t be redeemed for his actions, whether he was influenced by the Phoenix or not.
Good comic, but a little bit too grand for its own good. Anybody not keeping track of all the threads that make up this story could easily get confused.