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Avengers Vs. X-Men #4

Review by Paul Bowler

 

Having been thrown from a plane by Captain America and stranded in Antarctica, Wolverine has already begun the long trek back to civilization across the Artic Tundra, strapping the corpse of a Polar Bear to his back to protect himself from the elements. After following a trail of beer cans in the snow, Wolverine stumbles upon Hope’s aircraft. Hope has been waiting for Logan. Hope convinces Logan to help her break into AMI Worldworks and steal a rocket so they can rendezvous with the Phoenix Force on the moon, where she intends to use the Phoenix Force to reignite Mutantdom.

As Wolverine and Hope make their uneasy pact, the Avengers Outer Space Away Team has confronted the Phoenix Force on the inner rim of the Eridanian System. With his comrades fallen in battle, Thor now stands alone against the might of the Phoenix…

Back on Earth multiple teams of Avengers and X-Men have now converged at five separate locations around the world in search of Hope: Storm and Black Panther clash in Wakanda, old rivalries between Namor and The Thing resurface in Tabula Rasa, Latveria sees Daredevil and Spiderman struggling to hold back  Colossus, Hawkeye and Angel face off at the base of Wundagore Mountain as Ice Man runs rings around the Red Hulk, and Captain America leads his team to victory against Gambit and his fellow Mutants in The Savage Land.

While Cyclops’ team has regrouped at a Hellfire Club Safe House so Emma can use her telepathic powers to hijack Cerebra (After taking control of Toads mind) at The Jean Grey School of Higher Learning to monitor the combat from afar, Iron Man has returned to Avengers Tower to begin building a Phoenix Killer Weapon. Just as they begin to discuss the merits of Stark’s super weapon, Cap gets a mysterious communiqué that reveals Hope’s location. The Avengers withdraw; unaware that Emma Frost has telepathically intercepted Hope’s position.

Having stormed AMI Worldworks, Wolverine and Hope take a rocket and set course for the artificial Skrull environment on the Blue area of the Moon. Hope is shocked to find the Avengers waiting for her! It was Wolverine who called Captain America in The Savage Land, betraying her trust, and her intentions to his fellow Avengers. Before the Avengers can take Hope into custody, Magik teleports the X-Men to the Moon, but as both teams begin to square up to one another Thor suddenly crashes into the Moons surface – leaving everyone stunned as the terrifying spectacle of the Phoenix Force rises above the horizon!

Jonathan Hickman helms this fourth issue of Avengers vs. X-Men, and skilfully plays on the fledgling trust building between Wolverine and Hope. With the conflict taking place on a global scale this issue could easily have left the reader feeling a little short changed, but Hickman’s tight plotting and John Romita Jr artwork successfully gives you an overall view of the action whilst simultaneously building up to the climatic scenes on the Moon.

This issues most startling moments come when Thor valiantly battles the Phoenix Force in deep space after his fellow Avengers have fallen. The look on Thor’s face as he watches the Phoenix Force devour a planet to replenish its energy is one of awe and fear, a rare thing indeed for the God of Thunder. Seeing Thor utterly defeated by the Phoenix and sent hurtling into the lunar surface is also a genuinely shocking moment for this series.

But it is Logan’s betrayal of Hopes confidence to Captain America that really leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. I have always considered Wolverine as one of the most loyal X-Men, but after giving away Hope’s intended destination to Captain America he has committed the ultimate act of betrayal, and I don’t really see how his fellow Mutants will ever be able to fully trust him again. It’s a defining moment for Avengers vs. X-Men, and it will also be one that I feel will have long lasting repercussions for Wolverine when this current crisis is over.

Gambit may have been defeated a little too easily by Captain America for my liking, but overall Avengers vs. X-Men #4 is another fantastic instalment in this series, and the cliff-hanger ending is one of the best yet!

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