Avengers vs. X-Men #7
Review by Paul Bowler
The Phoenix Five have begun to reshape the world at will, creating a stark vision of Xavier’s dream by enforcing their will over the people of Earth – declaring that there will be no more war or violence between Mutant and Man in this Worldwide Pax Utopia. Until now the Avengers have avoided a direct confrontation with Cyclops and his X-Men, but after a meeting with the President they decide to launch a covert attack on Utopia to kidnap Hope – believing her to be the key to the Phoenix Force.
But the plan fails; Cyclops and Emma Frost easily defeat the Avengers. It is then that the Scarlet Witch appears before them, causing Cyclops to recoil in pain at her touch. She tells them of her terrible visions of the future, before gathering Hope and the fallen Avengers to her side, and teleporting them all to safety – leaving a furious Cyclops to make a chilling vow: “No more Avengers…”
Issue #7 of Avengers v X-Men opens as the Phoenix Five begin a campaign to brand the Avengers as a Global Terrorist Network by systematically attacking the Avengers on all fronts: closing down the Mansion, Avengers Tower, and the Avengers Academy. Cyclops is desperate to take Wanda Maximoff out of the equation, she is the biggest threat to the Phoenix Five, and they still blame her for her actions against the X-Men during House of M
Magik and her team of X-Men make the first bid to intercept the Avengers as they struggle to regroup. Soon the Avengers are fighting for their lives until the Vision falls in battle, which spurs the Scarlet Witch to unleash her full power against Magik – leaving the Phoenix Empowered Mutant reeling in agony. Emma Frost uses a Siege Courageous to join the fray, but Wanda has been weakened and her fellow Avengers wounded, leaving Captain America no choice but to call on Dr Strange to pull them out of danger. Hawkeye distracts Emma Frost to buy the Master of the Mystic Arts enough time to casts his spell, but Clint is horrifically burned by the Phoenix Force when Emma attacks him, forcing his team mate’s to abandon him and teleport to safety.
Dr Strange’s spell ferries the Avengers to Wakanda, where they have secretly hidden Hope from the X-Men. Tony Stark and The Black Panther have also been monitoring the battle to try and find some weakness in the Phoenix Force – which he hopes will enable him to make the necessary modifications to his gigantic Phoenix Killer battle suit. While the Avengers learn more about the Phoenix Five from Hope, Cyclops berates his fellow X-Men for harming Hawkeye – ordering that they use their immense power to heal his horrific wounds.
After their briefing with Hope, The Avengers decide to go on the offensive to try and throw the Phoenix Five off balance in a bid to buy Stark and T’Challer more time to work on the Phoenix Killer. Thanks to Hope they now know how much the Phoenix Five fear Wanda Maximoff, so with the help of Dr Strange and his Enchantment of Ikonn (A spell that will create the illusion of disguising one member of each team to look like The Scarlet Witch) they successfully lure the X-Men to New York, The Ukraine, The Artic Circle, and most crucially the Pacific Ocean – where they capture Transonic as the real Scarlet Witch fights Namor and summarily defeats him!
Just as Stark’s analysis of the Phoenix Force and Wanda’s unique energy signature begins to reveal some startling results, and a possible connection between them, Iron First arrives with Lel Kung: The Thunderer of K’Un Lun, who warns them that the Phoenix will consume them and all The Celestial Cities of Heaven if they don’t let him take Hope and train her to face her destiny.
Still smarting from being defeated, and Transonic’s capture, Namor clashes bitterly with Cyclops on Utopia, who refuses to take a more proactive stance against The Avengers. The enraged Ruler of Atlantis later has a secret liaison with Emma Frost, and she reveals that she has already used her telepathy to find The Avengers in Wakanda – and that she hasn’t told Scott…
As the Avengers plan their next move, The Black Panther gets some chilling news from one of his guards that a massive wave has risen up from one of the lakes and is now rushing towards them – with Namor riding it as he prepares to destroy them all!
Matt Fraction has a lot of characters and plot threads to juggle in AvX #7, the story is really starting to have an epic feel to it now, and its great to finally see Wanda cut lose against the Phoenix Five. It is also interesting to see the cracks that are beginning to form amongst the omnipotent X-Men, none of them have the same level of control as Cyclops, with Namor and Emma in particular already beginning to be subverted by the primal nature of being a host for the Phoenix Force. We begin to realize what Hope already sensed what was coming, and her help proves invaluable to The Avengers. Amidst all this frenetic action, Matt Fraction manages to nicely underplay the scene between Tony Stark and T’Challer, where Stark wallows in his own self importance – by apparently preparing to use the Phoenix Killer on a suicide mission against the Phoenix Five -only to be given a swift reality check by The Black Panther!
The action in Avengers vs. X-Men #7 comes thick and fast, providing a real showcase for Olivier Coipel’s artwork, as we are treated to panel after panel of no-hold-bared action between The Avengers and X-Men. Some of the battle scenes between The Scarlet Witch and The Phoenix Five members are truly awe inspiring, and really help amp up the drama and tension – particularly when Hawkeye suffers terrible injuries after attacking Emma Frost.
My only qualm with this issue is the fact that the previous “search for Hope” has now been supplemented with the search for The Scarlet Witch. I hope this will not be the main pot thread for the next few issues, as this second act has shown great potential; and I wouldn’t like to see it become just a globe trotting search for Wanda Maximoff.
Avengers vs. X-Men #7 really sees the series firing on all cylinders, both in terms of storytelling and artistic quality, definitely one of the best issues so far!