Position: Center Field. The Center Fielder is the leader of the outfield crew. They help coordinate the positioning of their teammates and tend to cover the most ground in the outfield. It seems only natural the X-Men would use their resident regal, mutant, Namor, as the leader of the outfield. Since coming aboard the X-Men, Namor has been a valuable ally to Cyclops. Being one of the Phoenix Five has strengthened his position at the top. The Avengers give control of the outfield to Iron Man, another character who has led the Avengers into past battles against friends and teammates. Tony Stark’s tactical mind should prove beneficial in making sure any ball hit to the outfield is tracked down. (A warning for Spider-Man fans; the webhead does not appear in this issue.)
Avengers vs. X-Men #8
The Front Office
Story: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman
Script: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inks: John Dell
Colors: Laura Martin with Larry Molinar
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover Art: Jim Cheung & Justin Ponsor
Variant Cover Art: Jerome Opeña & Justin Ponsor
Inning Summary: Namor, King of Atlantis, has brought war to Wakanda in the name of the Phoenix Five. There, the Avengers scramble to react to the sudden attack. Iron Man grabs Lei Kung and flees through the portal to K’un Lun. The rest of the Avengers assemble in the streets of Wakanda, which are now flooded with water and sea monsters.
Captain America uses his shield to knock Namor from the sky. Iron Fist follows up the attack with a powered-up punch from behind. Cap is side-tracked by one of Namor’s minions, and Black Panther tries to surprise Namor from above. Namor blasts Black Panther from the sky and destroys his weapon, but the distraction allows more Avengers to converge on their attacker. Namor sends a burst of fire outward, sending the heroes flying, as he shouts his “Imperius Rex” battle cry.
Red Hulk survived the attack and sneaks up behind Namor and delivers a jaw-shattering blow. The Thing, Thor, and Dr. Strange follow up the attack with blows of their own. Namor recovers in time to violently break Red Hulk’s arm. Namor rises in the air, burning the gathered Avengers, but unaware that Thor is bearing down on him from above. The Asgardian and Atlantean fight in the sky and Namor emerges triumphant. Captain America calls in the Scarlet Witch to renew the attack. Namor and Scarlet Witch dual with energy attacks; the fight ends with both contenders being knocked out. Namor falls to the ground and the Thing follows up the attack by punting the King of Atlantis.
Cyclops and the rest of the Phoenix Five watched the scene unfold from Utopia. Cyclops, unhappy with Namor’s actions, questions Emma, but Cyclops’ partner and trusted confidant claims Namor will do what he wants as he normally does. With the location of the Avengers revealed, Cyclops orders the rest of the Phoenix Five to travel to Wakanda to end the fight. When the X-Men arrive, the portion of the Phoenix Force embodied in Namor leaves its host and attaches itself to the rest of the Phoenix Five. The Avengers are forced to retreat through a portal to K’un Lun. The remaining members of the Phoenix Five are left alone in the ruined city of Wakanda.
An image of Professor Xavier telepathically appears to Cyclops in the skies of Wakanda; Xavier chastises his former student for the recent turn of events. Cyclops deflects the professor’s criticism, claiming that if Xavier could defeat the Phoenix Five he already would have. The image of Xavier disappears but the world’s most powerful telepath pleads one more time for the Phoenix Five to reconsider their actions, or else Xavier will be forced to stop them himself.
Color Commentary: Story: This act of war against Wakanda is going to be the start of what turns the rest of the world against the Phoenix Five. Something drastic needed to happen and, given Namor’s background as an on-again, off-again villain, it makes sense that he would be the first one to spoil it for the rest of the X-Men. I’m glad that Namor gets his comeuppance by the end of the issue, but his ill-advised actions have pretty much doomed Cyclops’ cause, as other characters, including Captain America and Professor Xavier, are quick to blame Cyclops for Namor’s actions.
Hope’s journey to K’un Lun seems out of place in this issue considering she has already arrived in the previous New Avengers comic. I’m also not sure why Wolverine is the one escorting Hope since he hasn’t played a part in the K’un Lun story in New Avengers. It’s even more confusing considering that Bendis, writer of the New Avengers, has scripting duties for this comic. I’m not sure why he wouldn’t have tried to connect those stories better. Most of Bendis’ writing was focused on Namor preaching about his superiority over the Avengers, which seemed fitting for the character. I enjoyed the line he gave Spider-Man in the end about winning a fight but somehow still losing.
Kubert takes over the main art duties for the final run of this event and takes the art to the next level, much like Olivier Coipel did when he took over for John Romita, Jr. earlier in the series. Kubert’s art is very complimentary to Coipel’s, and I wasn’t aware the art change had occurred upon my first review of this issue. The exquisite attention to detail of the action makes the destruction of Wakanda and the brutal fight between the Avengers and Namor really dynamic. The Avengers’ bloody, beat-down montage of Namor, and the Atlantean’s follow-up attack in which the Red Hulk’s forearm was snapped, were good examples of the detailed artwork bringing the action to life.
The Box Score
Avengers: The Avengers explode this inning for six runs at the expense of Namor. It took almost everything they had, but it’s the Avengers’ best showing so far against the Phoenix Five.
Batting: Walk – Daredevil (2) and Spider-Man (2) each get free passes for being involved in the defense of Wakanda, even though they didn’t play a huge role in taking down Namor. Walks should be a common occurrence for these characters anyway since their extra, heightened senses would give them a pretty accurate analysis of the strike zone.
Single – Iron Fist (1) gets his first hit in the game by blindsiding Namor with a powerful dragon punch. His victory is short-lived though, as Namor stands triumphantly over his unconscious body after the attack. Dr. Strange (1) slaps a base hit up the middle when he uses his magic against Namor during the series of attacks against the Atlantean.
Double – The Thing (2) hits one of the Avengers’ three doubles this inning. Thing clobbers Namor with the rest of the Avengers and even kicks Namor when he’s down after the Scarlet Witch defeats the X-Man. Thor (2) also doubles for the second time in the game when he unleashes his devastating lightning-infused Mjolnir attacks, including one from above that takes Namor by surprise. Red Hulk (1) has been pretty quiet at the plate this game, but he does his part in taking down Namor. Unfortunately, Red Hulk got a bit too eager and is thrown out by Namor when the Phoenix Five member snaps the Hulk’s arm.
Sacrificial Bunt – Iron Man (1) removes himself from the battle in order to close the portal to K’un Lun. He doesn’t leave the Avengers completely helpless though, as he left Captain America a way for the Avengers to follow him when they defeat Namor.
Pitching: Captain America can finally put one in the win column for the Avengers. Even though it took everything they had, the Avengers should find solace in the fact that they can in fact defeat the Phoenix Five, even though beating one of them means making the others stronger.
X-Men: All attention is on Namor this inning, and not the good kind of attention. Namor does his best to win the battle single-handedly for the X-Men, but no matter how many times he knocks the Avengers down he can’t secure the victory. However, his failure does result in a run for the X-Men and the further empowerment of the four remaining members of the Phoenix Five.
Batting: Walks – Iceman (1) and Magneto (2), like the rest of the non Phoenix-powered X-Men, are background characters for most of these stories. However, these two prove to remain loyal to Cyclops, as evidenced in tie-in comics such as Uncanny X-Men and Avengers.
Single – Magik (4) and Emma (2), along with the remaining members of the Phoenix Five, get an upgrade when Namor falls but they don’t have a chance to capitalize yet.
Strikeout – Namor (3) fails to do anything beneficial for the X-Men and loses in a fight with the Scarlet Witch for the second inning in a row.
Defense: Ejection – Namor’s foolish plan to attack Wakanda comes back to haunt him. Not only does Namor receive the beating of a lifetime, but he makes the rest of his teammates look bad. Namor pays the price when he loses his bond with the Phoenix Force at the end of his fight.
Pitching: Despite what it looks like from an outsider’s perspective, Cyclops is still trying to maintain control of the Phoenix Force for good. Namor has made that task exponentially harder and forced Cyclops’ hand in confronting the Avengers in Wakanda. Unfortunately, most people, like Captain America and Professor Xavier, are quick to credit Cyclops for the attack on Wakanda. I am not a fan of the anger and sense of disappointment Professor X is directing at Cyclops. Professor X has been a spectator in the X-Men’s life for some time now, so his role in this event seems a bit forced and unnecessarily condescending. One thing I sincerely hope is that this story doesn’t end with Cyclops’ former mentor telepathically lobotomizing him.
An exciting fight comic focused on Namor and the Avengers. Light on story and characterization, but a relevant plot point about the Phoenix Five is revealed in the end.
“Remember that one time during the fight when it looked like you might actually win? No? Me neither.” – Marvel vs. Capcom 3
“Did I mention I beat up Firelord once? No, seriously. Firelord.” – Ultimate Alliance 2