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Avengers Vs X-Men #3

Review by Paul Bowler

After Hope was momentarily touched by the Phoenix Force Wolverine suddenly found himself missing a few layers of skin after the young mutant attacked him as she made her escape. Logan awakes in agony, his flesh still regenerating, only to discover that the X-Men have inexplicably surrendered to The Avengers. With the battle for Utopia seemingly over, Iron Man voices his concerns to Captain America over his decision to incarcerate the X-Men – pointing out that they are infringing their captives rights in much the same way as Civil War once did for The Avengers.

Having escaped to San Francisco, Hope sets about building a portable device that will prevent Cerebra from tracking her – effectively scrambling her actual coordinates with the conflicting readings from five separate locations around the world. Back on Utopia the mutant Illyana returns in the guise of Dr Strange and successfully frees the Extinction Squad of X-Men and uses her teleportation powers to whisk them away to safety. The X-Men are quick to capitalize on their head start over The Avengers, alliances are forged and broken on each side as divided loyalties hang in the balance, and soon both teams are scouring the globe in search of Hope.

The standout moment this issue comes after Captain America and his team take off in a plane to begin their search for Hope. Now that he knows Wolverine planned to kill Hope, Captain America confronts Logan, which leads to an epic no-holds-barred fight between Mutant and Avenger. The savage battle ends with Captain America smashing Wolverine in the face with his shield and throwing him out of the plane in mid-flight!

Three issues in and it falls to Ed Brubaker to assume the writing duties of this more low key issue, with much of the intergalactic backdrop concerning the approaching Phoenix Force sidelined as Wolverine takes centre stage. It’s a nice change of pace after two issues of grandstanding and bawling, and Brubaker does well to hold the story together – making the most of this lull in the action to flesh out the characters and rein in the massive story arch. For the most part he is successful, but as is the nature of such expansive crossovers, you are left feeling that you are not seeing the whole picture. Avengers Vs X-Men #3 is now very much a part of a much wider story, and it will inevitably leave some of the plot strands to develop in the relevant Marvel titles involved.

The art by John Romita Jr also seems to benefit from not having so many characters jostling for space on the page, lending himself to a more refined layout than the previous two issues, and he really manages to capture the savage ferocity of the fight between Captain America and Wolverine – which in turn proves to be one of the most exciting skirmishes yet.

Avengers Vs X-Men #3 might not have the powerhouse spectacles of the series opening instalments, but it sets the scene nicely for the next round of worldwide showdowns between the Avengers and X-Men!