Position: Right Field. It’s typically considered that the right fielder sees the least amount of action compared to the other outfield positions, but the right fielder is usually thought to have the strongest arm due to their distance from third base. The Avengers have one of the strongest arms in the Marvel Universe in right field. An Asgardian god, guarding the line. Thor has a lot of experience tossing his hammer around the sky so hurling a ball to third on a frozen rope should be no problem. Storm may not have the same physical strength as Thor, but using her control over the weather, she could use a stream of air to propel the ball across the diamond. But Storm’s willingness to throw out Avengers is brought into question this issue.
Avengers vs. X-Men #9
The Front Office
Story: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman
Script: Jason Aaron
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inks: John Dell
Colors: Laura Martin with Larry Molinar
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover Art: Jim Cheung, Mark Morales & Justin Ponsor
Variant Cover Art: Adam Kubert & Justin Ponsor, Ryan Stegman & Matt Wilson
Inning Summary: The Avengers have hidden out in K’un Lun since the destruction of Wakanda. Over the week, Spider-Man has trained Hope, and Captain America has dispatched teams of Avengers on missions to locate and free their captured teammates. The Avengers’ numbers continue to dwindle, and Spider-Man is shocked to learn that Thor was taken captive after the Avengers’ latest raid. Hope expresses her desire to join the fight once more, but Spider-Man tells the young mutant to continue training. Spider-Man explains that being an Avenger means everyone gets a turn to step up to the plate and prove themselves, and that the key is being ready for it.
In the Verkhoyansk Mountains of Russia, Storm and a trio of X-Men stand at the base of Magik’s Limbo prison, which she created to keep the Avengers captive. The X-Men express concern for their teammates who are possessed by the Phoenix Force. Elsewhere, Emma has taken refuge in the Danakil Desert of Ethiopia where Cyclops approaches her and asks her to return to Utopia. Emma explains how heightened her telepathic powers have become, and how she feels the Phoenix Force corrupting her. She tells Cyclops that she has learned the Avengers are hiding in K’un Lun, and the leader of the Phoenix Five flies off. Emma quietly admits to herself that she’s worried about what she may do. Later, she interrupts a family dinner and kills the father for his part in murdering a mutant many years ago.
Storm arrives in Wakanda to assist the Avengers, but is greeted coldly by Black Panther, her husband and the ruler of Wakanda. Black Panther informs Storm that all X-Men have been labeled enemies of Wakanda, and as such, their wedding has been annulled. A somber Storm turns away, and asks her husband to tell the Avengers she would like to help. Later, Captain America and a team of Avengers, including Wolverine, Iron Fist, Dr. Strange, and Spider-Man, meet Storm and Professor Xavier outside of Magik’s demonic, volcanic prison. Using an invisibility spell and telepathic communication, the team of Avengers and X-Men invade the lair.
The demons are able to smell the intruders, and Magik becomes aware of the attempted breakout. Colossus and Magik teleport into the prison and confront the Avengers. The brother and sister make quick work of the Avengers, despite Professor X’s attempts to appeal to his former students. Spider-Man remembers his speech to Hope about being an Avenger, and takes it upon himself to confront the two members of the Phoenix Five on his own. Using his webs and speed, Spider-Man throws his teammates and their captured allies free from the cave. He kicks the ceiling, caving in the passageway which allows the Avengers time to escape.
Inside the mountain, Spider-Man tries his best to keep Colossus and Magik distracted, but his quips and weblines fail to penetrate their defenses. The two continue to punish Spider-Man, and Colossus demands the hero stay down before he’s forced to hurt him. Magik has grown tired of her brother always holding back, and orders him to cripple Spider-Man. Colossus expresses his concern that his sister is letting the Phoenix corrupt her, and they argue briefly concerning their powers.
Spider-Man picks up on the growing dissent between the siblings. A bruised and bloodied Spider-Man coyly reminds the two that when one member of the Phoenix Five falls, the remaining members grow in power. The temptation is too much, and Magik and Colossus turn on one another. The mountain prison explodes in a fiery burst of energy and the Phoenix Force abandons the two unconscious X-Men. The Avengers return to rescue Spider-Man, who collapses into Captain America’s arms. However, back in K’un Lun, Cyclops arrives from Earth by ripping open a dimensional hole in space. He has come to demand that Hope return home.
Color Commentary: Magik’s Limbo prison is a focus in this issue and a source of contention between many of the X-Men. It gets a lot of attention in the recent X-Men: Legacy comics where Rogue learns of the captured Avengers. Storm is disgusted by Magik’s tactics, but this isn’t the first time a questionable prison facility was used to contain super-powered opponents. The Negative Zone prison, used by Reed Richards and Tony Stark during the Civil War, was equally deplorable, and another example of the parallels between this event and that one.
Kubert has a lot of pretty splash-pages of action; including the X-Men taking down Thor, and Colossus and Magik confronting the Avengers in the prison. On other pages, Kubert filled the layout with multiple panels, some pages having as many as nine. It was effective in cramming as much action and scenery on the page as possible, but it resulted in some of the smaller panels receiving a bit less detail.
I’m glad they are showing Spider-Man actually training Hope, so the storyline set up in New Avengers isn’t abandoned. He’s putting her through agility and balance tests, but it’s apparent that Spider-Man’s real lessons are in what he can tell her about his experiences as a young hero. It’s nice to see that Spidey doesn’t put up with her attitude. I didn’t mind Aaron writing the Spider-Man-centric story, but it seemed odd that his two main jokes for Spidey were references to 80’s movies.
I enjoyed the use of Spidey narration boxes, but jumping between characters that didn’t use thought boxes, back to Spider-Man’s inner monologue was jarring. Spider-Man was the focus of the story though, so the other scenes, such as Emma’s cold-blooded murder and the annulment of Black Panther and Storm’s wedding, felt a little out of place.
The Box Score
Avengers: Despite crumbling marriages, the Avengers once again take advantage of the X-Men’s two errors and plate a handful of runs.
Batting: Single – Iron Fist (2) and Dr. Strange (2) are two of the Avengers that take part in the rescue efforts inside Magik’s prison. The team doesn’t initially do much against the Phoenix Five members, but they do set the table for the big hero of the inning to come up with runners on base.
Triple – Spider-Man (1) lives up to the lesson he tried to teach Hope earlier in the issue: every Avenger has an opportunity to shine. Spidey clears the bases with his heroic sacrifice, and comes around to score on an errant throw by Magik. The panels didn’t do justice to the scene of Spidey causing the cave-in, as I was unsure of what was happening at first. He must have been moving insanely fast as well, in order to get all of his teammates out of the way before Colossus and Magik had a chance to stop him. Spider-Man takes quite the beating because of his decision. His abuse at the hands of Colossus, especially the face shattering punch, made me cringe with each blow.
At first, the decision to make Spider-Man face off with two characters way beyond his abilities seemed like a cheap attempt to give Spider-Man a chance to be the hero and his own issue. But after reading how he succeeds in this mismatched battle, it makes sense that it would have to be Spider-Man. The other Avengers may have been able to stand their ground as well, but Spider-Man’s constant banter and quick thinking was the key to turning Colossus and Magik against each other. This was also a great display of Spider-Man’s determination to never quit in the face of adversity.
Strikeout – Iron Man (1) has locked himself in a room, determined to find the connection between the Phoenix, Iron Fist, and Scarlet Witch. Despite striking out and being absent from all the action, he still reaches base because of the X-Men’s miscues. I was entertained by Tony’s incessant repetition of the forces in play while sitting among stacks of books and melting candles. Coupled with Black Panther’s incessant suggestion that Tony look to the spirit world, it reminds me of Sherlock Holmes, another character Robert Downey, Jr. has recently portrayed in the movies.
Pitching: Captain America and the Avengers are rallying together, with the help of a few X-Men. Cap’s team is able to push across several more runs with their heroic raid on Magik’s prison. The Avengers will need all the manpower they can get for their last few innings.
X-Men: X-Men are jumping ship, and the Phoenix Five are beginning to fall. After witnessing Namor’s downfall, all the attention turns to Colossus, Magik, and her demon-infested prison. The X-Men continue to lose control and fail to score any runs for the fifth time this game.
Batting: Walk – Havok (1) took the place of Beast back in the sixth inning and seems to still be supporting his older brother, Cyclops’ cause. Havok seems to be poised to be one of the mutants who will be in a good place after this event concludes. He was teased as a member of the new Uncanny Avengers team.
Double – Colossus (2) has been used as a tortured character many times in the past, especially since the last big comic event, Fear Itself, when he took over the powers of the Juggernaut. In a recent Uncanny X-Men comic, Colossus unsuccessfully tried to convince Cyttorak to denounce him as his herald, but Cyttorak enjoyed the extra destruction and chaos brought about by Colossus bonding with the Phoenix Force. Now Colossus, normally a skilled artist, struggles with the corruption of both the forces inside him. He wants to help, as evidenced by trying to give whales legs, but he continues to lose touch with his humanity, resulting in the whales perishing on the shores of the Bering Strait. Colossus seems to be the only member of the Phoenix Five, other than Cyclops, who desperately tries to maintain control of the corrupting power.
Strikeout – Rogue (2) is lost at the plate, as well as in her comic X-Men: Legacy. After trying to free Ms. Marvel from the Limbo prison, Magik removes her from the field by teleporting her to an alien world.
Defense: Ejection – Colossus and Magik. Tempers are flaring as the game gets into the late innings, and the siblings are tossed from the game for arguing calls – not with umpires, but with each other. Their feud sidelines the X-Men’s two biggest contributors to the game so far.
Pitching: It’s pretty much over for Cyclops. He has lost control of the rest of the Phoenix Five, and the rest of the mutant race is beginning to place the blame for their atrocious actions solely at Cyclops’ feet. Despite all of this, Cyclops still only comes to K’un Lun in search of Hope. He’s not there to fight the Avengers, and if Hope wanted to leave than I’m sure he’d be fine with returning to Utopia and not attacking the Avengers.
Cyclops can’t force Hope to stay with the X-Men; he just wants to ensure the Avengers aren’t trying to use her against them, which they are obviously trying to do. A lot of the blame for this event can be put on Cyclops because he trusted characters with questionable histories such as Namor, Magik, and Emma, but at this point, I’m sure Cyclops just wants to go home and be left alone.
Cyclops’ personal relationship is about to be put in a precarious situation by the Phoenix Force once again. His former wife was constantly at odds with the power of the Phoenix, and now he will most likely lose another romantic partner to the corruptive nature of the galactic entity. Emma is afraid of the power building inside her and is struggling to keep it in check, so my guess is that Emma will be the character who dies by the end of this event.
Cyclops is also losing Storm, another trusted officer. Storm has been one of Scott’s less-than-enthusiastic team members since the X-Men’s Schism, so it’s not surprising that she would eventually turn to the Avengers’ side as well. Storm never wanted to stay with Scott, but Cyclops pleaded with Storm to stay at his side to help keep his band of mutants in check. Ever since then, Storm has been looking for reasons to distrust Cyclops, so it was only a matter of time before she turned her back on him.
This was an entertaining issue with a focus on Spider-Man and the fall of two more of the Phoenix Five. Because of the mismatched contenders, it was more than just a fight book. It offered a closer look at the three combatants involved in the action, and what makes them tick.