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Avengers vs. X-Men #8

Review by Paul Bowler

The Avengers have paid a heavy price for defying the will of the Phoenix Five, with all of their facilities closed down by the X-Men and Hawkeye seriously injured, Cyclops’ declaration of “no more Avengers” looks like it may be about to become a reality. In a bid to give Tony Stark and T’Challa more time to work on his Phoenix Killer, and keep Hope’s presence a secret in Wakanda, the Avengers use hit and run tactics to keep one step ahead of the X-Men. However, their plan to use magical decoys of the Scarlet Witch to confuse the Phoenix Five backfires when Namor battles the real Wanda Maximoff over the Pacific Ocean, and is easily repelled by her powers.

Humiliated by his defeat and the capture of Transonic, Namor is frustrated by Cyclops’ unwillingness to instigate further bloodshed. After a passionate tryst with Emma Frost, Narmor learns that she secretly knows where the Avengers are hiding – but has yet to tell Scott. Namor travels to Wakanda, determined to wipe out the Avengers once and for all, and his attack comes just as Wolverine and Hope are about to depart through Thunderer’s portal to the mystical city of K’un-Lun.

The action comes thick and fast in Avengers vs. X-Men #8 as Namor and his minions begin their assault on Wakanda. After Iron Man and Thunderer follow Wolverine and Hope through the portal to K’un Lun, with Stark urging Cap to use their “secret weapon” before closing the portal to prevent Namor following them, Captain America, Black Panther, and Iron Fist are left to defend T’Challa’s kingdom as a huge tidal wave crashes into the city. Fortunately the rest of the Avengers arrive in time to help defend Wanakda: but even a combined attack by the Red Hulk, Vision, Dr Strange, Thor, and the Thing cannot contain the Phoenix Empowered King of Atlantis. He snaps Red Hulk’s arm like a twig and unleashes a devastating Phoenix blast that leaves the Avengers reeling. Thor fires a volley of lightening, distracting Namor long enough for The Scarlet Witch to strike, and it is her power that ultimately defeats Namor.

Having watched the battle from Utopia the rest of the Phoenix Five arrive by Siege Courageous as Namor’s Phoenix energy seemingly rejects him, tearing itself free of its host, to merge with Cyclops, Emma Frost, Magik, and Colossus. While the X-Men bask in the glory of their new powers, Captain America uses a teleportation device Stark had given him to open another portal to K’un Lun. The Avengers escape to join the others, leaving the Black Panther alone, his homeland in ruins, as the X-Men hover overhead. But before they can act, Professor X contacts Cyclops telepathically, warning his former students that they must end this madness, or he will do it for them!

Brian Michael Bendis handles AvX #8’s action packed smack down between Namor and the Avengers with ease, with a number of characters jostling for space, he does a fine job of driving the plot as events dictate. This is the Avengers most desperate hour yet, with desperate times calling for desperate measures, and it takes the combined efforts of the mighty Avengers most powerful members to weaken Namor enough for the Scarlet Witch to deal their first decisive victory.

With Adam Kubert on pencils and John Dell’s inks, the ferocity of Namor’s attack on Wakanda is stunningly realized – perfectly capturing the scale of this immense battle. This is the first time we have really got to see the Avengers take on one of the members of the Phoenix Five; the battle is furious and brutal, especially when Namor savagely breaks the Red Hulk’s arm!

The Scarlet Witch is still the Avengers ace in the hole when it comes to fighting the Phoenix Five, Wanda is beginning to play a much more pivotal role as Hope sidelined for much of this issue in K’un Lun, its good to see the Avengers finally gain some ground against the X-Men after being on the ropes for a couple of issues. The fact that the Phoenix Force seemed to reject Namor is perhaps this issues most startling revelation. It certainly make you wonder just who is controlling who when it comes to the Phoenix Force, which makes Scott’s assumption that they can wield this cosmic power and use it to reshape the world something of a misnomer. The Phoenix Force has an insatiable appetite for the raw emotion of its hosts, and its beginning to feels as if it is starting to play the members of the Phoenix Five off against each other.

A thoroughly enjoyable and action packed issue, this issue has a really epic feel to it now that the stake have risen so high. While the Avengers are regrouping in K’un Lun, Avengers vs. X-Men #8 draws to a close with Cyclops, Emma Frost, Magik, and Colossus facing the telepathic warning form Charles Xavier to cease and desist, or face the consequences. This ultimatum has been a long time coming, but we are left wondering if Professor X’s intervention will mark a significant turning point in the conflict or become a terrible portent of the onslaught to come…