Going, going, gone! The game is over and the winner may surprise you… or maybe not if you are aware of my bias towards a certain visor-sporting mutant. Find out how the game ended in epic fashion down below, but before that I’ll share the MVPs of our game of baseball for both sides. Avengers split their MVP award between Iron Man (4 for 6, three singles, a double, a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and a run) and Spider-Man (3 for 5, two singles, a triple, two walks, and three runs). Iron Man played a big role in this game for the Avengers by solving the three-way riddle connecting the Phoenix, Scarlet Witch, and Iron Fist. Spider-Man stepped up his game when it mattered most and was personally responsible for taking down two of the Phoenix Five members. The X-Men’s MVP goes to the man on the mound, Cyclops, but not necessarily for his pitching performance. Cyclops took control of the game in the last two innings when he was forced to field all the positions himself. Cyclops, with the help of the Dark Phoenix, struck out a total of 16 Avengers and in the end went 10 for 14 at the plate. Say what you will about his method, but at least Cyclops successfully played his part in saving the mutant race. If anybody is interested in seeing the actual score card I kept, I’ll be posting an event review on my personal blog site, and you can also hear some in depth coverage of the whole event in the latest Mixed Marvel Arts Podcast: No More AvX.
Avengers vs. X-Men #12
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 with Mark Morales & Adam Kubert
Colors: Laura Martin with Justin Ponsor
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover Art: Jim Cheung, Mark Morales & Justin Ponsor
Variant Cover Art: Adi Granov; Adam Kubert & Justin Ponsor; Jerome Opena & Dean White
Inning Summary: Before the final assault on Utopia, Tony Stark gathered the Avengers in K’un Lun and explained his belief that the Phoenix Force was connected to the Scarlet Witch’s hex-based mutant ability. When Wanda decimated the mutant population with her declaration of “no more mutants,” the Phoenix Force took notice and created Hope, the first mutant born since M-Day. These two contrary powers represent a cosmic Yin and Yang and Tony has faith that if Hope and Scarlet Witch work together they can defeat the Phoenix.
Unfortunately, Hope is more interested in fighting the Scarlet Witch and blaming her for the destructive path that Cyclops followed. Captain America and Iron Man arrive to witness the end of Hope and Wanda’s altercation, displeased to see the two fighting. Cap pulls Hope aside and asks her what she plans to do if the Phoenix still comes for her and why the Avengers should trust her. Hope asks Captain America not to get in her way. She’s tired of training and ready to meet her destiny, no matter what that means.
Now on Utopia, the Avengers are dealing with the rise of the Dark Phoenix, embodied by Cyclops. The oceans are burning, lava spews forth from the ground, and fire rains from the sky. Cyclops punches the Hulk from Sydney, Australia to Sacramento, California, and Thor is launched into space by an optic blast. Avengers and X-Men work together around the world to save civilians from the Dark Phoenix’s destructive powers.
The Avengers swarm Cyclops and Wolverine sinks his claws into his head. Cyclops floors the Avengers with a radial explosion and then takes to the skies. Nova tackles Cyclops in the air and they crash to the ground. Cyclops rises triumphant but is greeted by Hope and the Scarlet Witch. The two heroines work together by channeling their personal frustrations into their attacks and overwhelm Cyclops. The Avengers and a few key X-Men assemble to follow up the assault.
For a moment, Scott Summers regains partial control of his mind and begs for the Avengers to kill him. The Dark Phoenix emerges once more. The ground breaks apart as a bird of flame rises from the cracks in the Earth. A familiar figure walks towards Cyclops in the flames. Cyclops believes it’s Jean Grey asking him to let go. The Scarlet Witch and Hope strike once more and knock out Cyclops. The Phoenix leaves Scott, and Hope is drawn to the cosmic entity.
Hope turns her body into flames and takes off around the world with Iron Man in close pursuit. Hope begins to fix all the wreckage caused by the Dark Phoenix. Dressed in the outfit of the White Phoenix, Hope returns and addresses the Avengers. She claims she will not falter and will save her people. Wanda approaches Hope and tells the young mutant that Hope’s destiny was having the strength to let the Phoenix go. The two hold hands and declare “No More Phoenix.” The Phoenix Force leaves Hope and disperses across the globe.
The Stepford Cuckoos report that new mutants are being detected by Cerebro. Spider-Man encounters a new mutant in China and he reports the news to the Avengers. A depowered Cyclops stands up, ashamed of what had just transpired.
Later in a specially-designed prison cell, Captain America meets with Scott Summers. Scott takes full responsibility for all actions, including those of his teammates who went rogue after the battle. Captain America tells Cyclops that he is in no position to speak for anybody else anymore. Cap tells Cyclops that the mutant was right about the Avengers not helping the persecuted mutant race.
Now that mutants are appearing on a global scale again, new Avenger teams are being formed. X-Men and Avengers will work closer than ever. Encouraged by this news and the emergence of new mutants, Cyclops considers this a new age for both mutants and Avengers. Captain America berates Cyclops for considering this struggle a victory. Wolverine, who watched the interrogation from the corner, passes on the opportunity to confront Professor Xavier’s killer, merely stating that he has a eulogy to give.
As Wolverine and Captain America leave, Cyclops reminds them that the Phoenix must always sow destruction before there can be rebirth.
Color Commentary: It’s taken a while, but I have finally found a reason to agree with Hope. I completely agree with the fact that the Scarlet Witch is the cause of all the problems, including Cyclops’ journey down this ill-fated path. Hope and Scarlet’s little fight was unnecessary though and that just further showed Hope’s immaturity. Their fight was elaborated on in AvX Versus #6 and was pretty entertaining. It was nice however to see Hope put aside her issues and help save the world. Even though Hope’s training was a big focus of this event, there wasn’t a lot of time spent on showing that. The fact that she was finally able to control the Phoenix was an indication that her training had in fact paid off. It was a little convenient that Hope was able to undo all of the destruction caused by the Dark Phoenix, but this fix made more sense than the Dues Ex Machina that reversed the events of last summer’s Fear Itself.
I found this to be a clever wrap up to the “No More Mutants” storyline which has been playing out since 2005. Scarlet Witch’s connection to the Phoenix worked out pretty well even though that theory was entirely based on Tony’s leap of faith and there was no official connection. I also don’t understand why it was necessary to destroy Cyclops’ character in order to solve this problem but I am willing to overlook it since it was necessary to show Hope the corruptive nature of the Phoenix. The main downside to this story was the Phoenix’s connection to the Iron Fist. It did not seem necessary to the overall story and it probably could have been left out entirely which could have trimmed the event down from the twelve issues it took to tell.
Even though this issue revolved around the fall of one my favorite characters, there was still a lot to like. Kubert delivers some of the series’ best artwork in this issue. While not every page is sharp and detailed, there is a lot of content in this book and Kubert handled it all himself. The constant rain of fire, the pain and grimace on everybody’s faces, and the exploding Earth all made the action that much more dynamic and urgent.
One scene which stood out in particular was when Hope and the Scarlet Witch knocked out Cyclops. It was reminiscent of a stained-glass window thanks to the layout and yellow outline of the panels. It also had a somewhat religious feel to it, including the way Cyclops fell backwards with his arms spread out.
Jason Aaron also handled the script of the final chapter pretty well. A lot of characters had a chance to speak up, and Aaron showed a good grasp of all of them. Tony’s explanation of the connection between Wanda and the Phoenix brought people up to speed in the beginning; Cyclops’ narration boxes helped make his fall even more tragic and heart wrenching; and in the end Captain America and Cyclops had a conflicting conversation showing how neither side can really claim a victory in this altercation.
The Box Score
Avengers: The Avengers get a boost this inning thanks to the assistance of the rest of the X-Men. It was sad to see Cyclops shoot characters like Iceman, but I appreciated the panels which showed the two teams working together to counter the destruction Cyclops was causing around the world. I enjoyed the fact that Gambit and Hawkeye were teaming up, as if they were promoting their solo comic titles that had recently launched this fall.
Batting: Single – Iron Man (3) gets credit for his discovery of faith and making the connection between Hope, Wanda and the Phoenix. Iron Man also takes center stage on the cover wearing a new suit, but that appears to just be a red herring since nothing came of that on the inside of the book. Thor (1) and Hulk (1) also get hits for their efforts in confronting Cyclops. Even though they were tossed around, the Avengers’ heavy hitters managed to survive some of Cyclops’ worst attacks.
Pitching: I hope Captain America is proud of himself. Cap is the last mentor on Hope’s journey through the Marvel Universe and if he taught her anything, it’s to attack first and ask questions later. It’s a real shame that in the end Captain America admits that maybe Cyclops was right after all and the Phoenix was destined to possess Hope. Maybe instead of accusing Cyclops of being crazy in the beginning, Cap could have taken this stance and worked with Cyclops. It also comes off as hypocritical when Captain America allows Hope a chance to speak her mind when she becomes possessed by the Phoenix.
The hypocrisy doesn’t end there though. Keeping Cyclops locked up in his special ruby quartz prison and strapping a new power-blocking helmet on him is a bit of overkill. Cyclops is a powerful mutant, but without the Phoenix Force he shouldn’t be seen as that big a threat. It’s also a bit ridiculous that Cyclops, who has always been one of the biggest Boy Scouts, is the first antagonist Captain America doesn’t let go after their conflict. Cap let the Scarlet Witch leave with Magneto at the end of Avengers Disassembled, and at the end of Avengers X-Sanction, he let Cable go back home with Cyclops after Cable’s attack on the Avengers. I guess, unfortunately for Cyclops, Captain America finally learned his lesson.
Batting: Single – Cyclops (3) takes care of all the Avengers, big and small. Nova, one of the newest members of the Avengers, tries to keep the fight focused on Cyclops but he is no match for the power of the Dark Phoenix. I’m not sure what Cyclops meant when he told Nova that the young hero wasn’t supposed to be there so I assume this was explored in a tie-in issue. It was the one piece of writing that seemed out of place in this issue without some context.
Double – Cyclops (2) literally has his hands full with both Avengers and X-Men. He’s choking out Red Hulk while blasting Iceman with optic blasts. And even after being stabbed in the face by Wolverine, and clobbered by Caps’ shield, Cyclops still manages to wipe the floor with the Avengers without breaking a sweat.
Triple – Cyclops (2) handles the Avengers’ heaviest hitters with ease. While the rest of the Avengers tend to the destruction around the globe, Hulk and Thor step up to try and stop Cyclops. These two fights resulted in a nice sequence of panels. One panel shows Cyclops punching the Hulk in Sydney, Australia, and a few panels later you see the Hulk landing in Sacramento, California. Thor is likewise launched into space from the Himalaya Mountains over the course of three different panels. These were nice touches to the sequential art. However, Cyclops tries to get too aggressive with this triple and is thrown out at home.
Home run – Cyclops’ (3) fall from grace is complete, but that doesn’t necessarily make him wrong. In fact, Cyclops is proven right when the Phoenix reignites the mutant race around the world. It’s a shame that he had to go through such a drastic change, but if there is any character that can handle this burden, it’s Scott Summers. So this game winning home run goes to plain old Scott Summers, and not the Dark Phoenix.
Pitching: In the end, Cyclops did lose the final remnants of his control. Even though it took place during the Avengers’ final assault, I enjoyed the scenes of Cyclops remembering his past with Professor Xavier and Jean Grey. I was even touched by the memory of Wolverine and Cyclops working together as allies and Wolverine giving Cyclops a pat on the back. The use of Cyclops’ narration boxes during those scenes was also really effective in showing how Cyclops lost his way somewhere along the line.
It was nice to see Cyclops gain some semblance of control again and plead with the Avengers to kill him before he made it worse, similar to how things ended when Jean was corrupted by the Dark Phoenix. Emma may not approve, but it was nice that a vision of Jean visited Cyclops and convinced him to let his guard down, allowing Hope and Wanda to deliver the final knock-out blow.
This was a satisfying ending to an event which dragged on for a little too long. Not only did it bring Avengers vs. X-Men to a close, it also wrapped up a major storyline that had been lingering in the Marvel Universe for some time. The writing helped tie everything together, with the exception of the connection to the Iron Fist, and the art complimented the intense action beautifully. Cap’s realization that maybe Cyclops was right continued his flawed characterization in the story, and even though Cyclops was used as a scape goat so Wolverine could continue looking like the heroic X-Man, it was nice to see that Cyclops was vindicated in the end.
For the complete event review, rating, and AvX scorecard, keep an eye on my blog site where I plan on writing an article concerning the event as a whole and Cyclops’ current status in the Marvel Universe.