Position: Left Field. Outfielders are expected to cover a great deal of distance, and in this super-powered version of baseball, that includes covering the sky as well. There’s no shortage of high-fliers on both rosters in this game. The left fielder gets a lot of action, so the X-Men are going with a veteran player who has been around for a while, Magneto. The Avengers counter with their accomplished pilot, Ms. Marvel. (A warning for Spider-Man fans; the webhead does not appear in this issue.)
Avengers vs. X-Men #7
The Front Office
Story: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman
Script: Matt Fraction
Pencils: Olivier Coipel
Inks: Mark Morales
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover Art: Jim Cheung & Justin Ponsor
Variant Cover Art: Sara Pichelli & Justin Ponsor
Inning Summary: The Phoenix Five have labeled the Avengers global terrorists and secured the Avengers’ multiple bases of operation. Magik is leading a team of X-Men in tracking down the dishonored heroes when they come across a collection of Avengers, including Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch. Tony Stark is keeping tabs on the action from a remote location in order to gather data on the Scarlet Witch’s power and how it relates to the Phoenix Force. Magik attacks the Scarlet Witch on behalf of the mutant race.
The Scarlet Witch is distracted and overwhelmed after Vision, her former husband, is taken down by Havok and Polaris. Wanda recovers and lashes out at Magik, knocking the Phoenix-powered mutant to the ground. The Avengers’ situation only becomes more dire as Emma Frost emerges from the portal to join the battle. Emma labels the Scarlet Witch the murderer of the mutant race and advances on her with a wave of fire. Hawkeye intervenes, blindsiding Emma with a trick arrow and affording the rest of the Avengers time to flee to safety. The Avengers teleport away, but not before seeing Emma engulf Hawkeye in flames.
Back on Utopia, Cyclops condemns Emma’s actions and struggles with the rest of his Phoenix Five on rules of engagement. Magik states that she believes the Phoenix Force came to purge the evil that is the Scarlet Witch from Earth. Cyclops disagrees, asserting that their skirmish with the Avengers is not a war and murder is not an option.
The Avengers regroup in Wakanda. Tony Stark is upgrading his Phoenix-buster suit of armor and lets Captain America know that he still needs more data. After Cap leaves, Tony confides in Black Panther that he believes he created the Phoenix Five and is willing to sacrifice himself in order to stop the X-Men. Black Panther slaps Tony and tells him that if science fails, they need to look for answers in the spirit realm. The rest of the Avengers convene to discuss their future actions. Hope, the team’s “expert on the Phoenix Force,” explains that the Scarlet Witch is the only thing that scares the Phoenix Five. Dr. Strange offers a solution by presenting the Enchantments of Ikonn.
The Avengers take to the streets around the world. Their goal is to provide Tony Stark more time to gather information. When the X-Men are dispatched to engage each team of Avengers, a select member in each group uses the Enchantments of Ikonn to change her appearance into the Scarlet Witch. The trick does not last long since each member of the Phoenix Five reports seeing the Scarlet Witch at their location. Cyclops orders his team to engage and contain the Avengers.
The real Scarlet Witch reveals herself in an encounter with Namor. Dr. Strange is able to teleport all the Avengers away except Wanda, and Namor and Scarlet Witch are left alone. Scarlet Witch easily overpowers Namor and sends him back to Utopia with a simple touch. Not one to take the humiliation lightly, Namor lashes out at Cyclops, claiming that the leader of the X-Men fails as a ruler. Cyclops dismisses Namor’s unhappiness and Namor storms off. Emma follows Namor and confides that she agrees with him. Emma then passionately kisses Namor, telling him that she knows the Avengers are in Wakanda and she hasn’t told Cyclops yet.
Iron Fist and Lei Kung, the Thunderer of K’un Lun, arrive in Wakanda to escort Hope to the mystic city so she can better prepare for the powers of the Phoenix. Wolverine joins Hope through the portal. Captain America discusses the plan with Iron Fist and Lei Kung, but is interrupted by a warrior of Wakanda who rushes into the room. The warrior reports to Black Panther that there are walls of water rising around the city. Namor has arrived, signaling a war in Wakanda.
Color Commentary: Captain America’s comment to Tony Stark in this issue echoes the pacing of the event: “‘Stall’ was not the answer I was looking for, fellas.” This issue does nothing more than extend the story and set up a few more Avengers vs. X-Men bouts. I enjoyed seeing Luke Cage and Hawkeye captured since their imprisonment is a key point of the latest New Avengers tie-in comic.
Magik offers an intriguing alternate stance on the relationship between the Phoenix and Scarlet Witch. Because Wanda’s decimation of the mutant race was a devastating, unnatural event, shouldn’t she be considered just as dangerous as the Phoenix Force? Maybe Magik is right and maybe the Phoenix is trying to purge this dangerous mutant from the world.
Marrying your Avenger teammates never seems to be a good idea. Vision and Scarlet Witch’s romantic involvement comes into play in this issue when it distracts Wanda in her fight with the Phoenix Five. There was a good mix of surface level characterization for the rest of the Avengers. Hawkeye had a nice heroic moment when he stepped up to allow the Avengers an escape from Emma Frost at his own expense. Tony was appropriately sassy and self-deprecating, although I don’t feel that he should blame himself for the creation of the Phoenix Five, no more than Cap should.
The X-Men were also well-characterized. Namor is proud and resentful, Emma is sultry and scornful, and Cyclops remains determined and optimistic about his mission to change the world. Hope came across as the most out-of-character, and I’m not sure why Cap considers her their expert on the Phoenix Force. What makes her an expert? She had one encounter with it and failed at understanding its power. Even her speech is out of character. The majority of the time she wants to be viewed as a tough-as-nails soldier, always yelling, but in this she comes off as more of a scared child. She has also never treated the X-Men like friends before, so why the sudden concern now?
I enjoyed the pacing of the writing of this issue. The story was confined to speech bubbles which offered some personal insight into several of the key players. It helped engage me in the story and move it at an enjoyable pace. The art was equally entertaining, but I felt that the black outlines could have been a bit thicker in some places to help define facial features. For example, when the Avengers met with Hope, Scarlet Witch’s nose was non-existent and instead there were just two nostrils placed in the middle of her face.
The Box Score
Batting: Walk – Daredevil (1) gets credit for trying to talk Psylocke out of their fight in the AvX Versus title. Their fight ends in a draw as he flees and Psylocke is left to ponder the Avengers’ words.
Triple – Dr. Strange (1) conjures up a spell to help the team gain an upper hand on the X-Men for a brief period of time. The illusion is used effectively on three separate occasions before the X-Men pick up on the deception.
Pitching: Captain America still doesn’t have a strong grasp on the situation. Cap is pursuing every option he can think of, from magic, technology, and mutant insider information, but the Avengers are still fighting an uphill battle.
X-Men: Cyclops’ inner circle begins to show signs of cracks. Some of his longtime allies begin to question what the Phoenix Five are becoming, and the X-Men fail to capitalize when three of the Phoenix Five load the bases.
Batting: Walk – Colossus (2) plays it cautiously when his team of X-Men encounters the first Scarlet Witch look-alike. Like a loyal soldier, he falls back and alerts his leader and the rest of the X-Men of the possible deception.
Single – Magik (3) is presenting a case for the X-Men MVP with her fourth hit of the game. Magik has done a great job of setting the table at the top of the X-Men’s lineup. She’s kicked off a lot of the action for the mutants, including that of this issue when she initiates a skirmish with the Scarlet Witch.
Double – Emma (1) picks up Magik by taking on Scarlet Witch when Magik falls. Their fight is temporarily halted by Hawkeye’s trick arrow, but Emma recovers and takes the Avenging Archer out by lighting him on fire. Unfortunately, this brutal attack on Hawkeye, and her nonchalant attitude about the danger she put the Avenger in, is just an early glimpse at the darker side of the Phoenix Force emerging within her.
Strikeout – Namor (2) goes down looking this inning for his second strikeout of the game. After his humiliating defeat and banishment by the Scarlet Witch, he throws a king-sized hissy fit which Cyclops refuses to acknowledge.
Defense: Error – Namor’s (1) damaged pride results in the undersea ruler overstepping his boundaries by going after the Avengers without Scott’s approval. It was only a matter of time before the hot-headed Namor ruined things for the X-Men, but it was even more upsetting to see Emma (1) play a part in the betrayal as well. Not only does she deceive the man she loves by sharing the location of the Avengers with Namor, but she even cheats on Cyclops by passionately kissing the Atlantean.
Pitching: While the rest of the Phoenix Five seem to be on the fast track to corruption, Cyclops stands strong. By brushing off Namor’s hissy fit, Cyclops shows he is still in control of his emotions and common sense and proves it by seeing through the Avengers’ deception. It’s a shame that some of his closest allies in recent times will be his ultimate downfall.
An enjoyable issue which focuses on the core conflict of the story and sets up events that play out in other comics. Some strong writing also helps show the respective leaders and how they interact with their team members.