Avengers vs. X-Men #11 Review
Review by Paul Bowler
The Mighty Avengers have succeeded in defeating three members of the Phoenix Five: Namor, Colossus, and Magik. But their victories have left many Avenges seriously wounded, Wakanda has been all but destroyed, and the last remaining hosts of the Phoenix Force – Emma Frost and Cyclops – are now more powerful than ever. Cyclops then attacked the Avengers in K’un Lun, determined to force Hope to return to Utopia, but Hope used her new power – The Chaos First – to punch the X-Men’s leader all the way to the moon!
Having witnessed how unhinged Emma Frost has become on Utopia, torturing the X-Men and subjugating them to her omnipresent will, Magneto decides to send out a telepathic cry for help to the one man who might be able to save the world – Professor Charles Xavier.
After Captain America makes an appeal for help from the Incredible Hulk we learn that the Avengers and the X-Men have set aside their differences and decided to unite with Professor X to bring an end to the threat posed by Cyclops and Emma Frost. Rogue is the last ember of the X-Men to join Xavier in Wisconsin, she is unsure what reception she will receive, but is soon welcomed back into the fold by Professor X before the task force he has assemble with the Avengers and the X-Men makes ready to depart for Utopia.
Cyclops and Emma are now almost consumed by the power of the Phoenix Force as they survey all they have achieved from the gleaming towers of Utopia. This floating citadel was once the culmination of a dream made a reality, now it is a tomb of despair and greed, as its two rulers grow uneasy with the pitiful world they now rule over. Intoxicated by the limitless power they each possess, but also secretly crave to wield only for themselves. Sensing Professor X’s presence, Cyclops orders Emma to remain behind while he confronts his former teacher on the shores of Utopia.
Scott’s overconfidence is almost his undoing as he argues the merits of his new vision of Xavier’s dream, especially when he realizes that Xavier has shielded the Avengers and X-Men from his mind, but he is too late to repel their attack. Emma Frost rushes to help as Cyclops is floored by the combined might of The Scarlet Witch and Professor X, but she is felled by The Incredible Hulk. The Avengers press home the advantage, Magneto takes the full force of Cyclops’ counter attack, Thor is also brushed aside as Scott regains his strength, but he is distracted enough for one of Hawkeye’s arrows to streak though the chaos and find its mark. As Ice Man batters Cyclops to his knees Professor X tries to shut down Scott’s mind. In a last desperate bid to survive, Cyclops attacks Emma and steals her Phoenix energies – absorbing the full power of the Phoenix! He rises from the inferno of his rebirth and attacks Professor X, killing him outright in seconds, before transforming in front of Hope’s horrified gaze into the ultimate incarnation of fire and life incarnate – The Dark Phoenix!
We have seen some titanic battles during the course of Avengers vs. X-Men, yet none of them can hold a candle to the events that transpire in this penultimate issue. Brian Michael Bendis helms this outstanding foray into the darkest days of the Avengers and X-Men, united at last, nothing can really prepare you for the shocking conclusion of AvX #11. There have been rumours circulating about a “death” of a major character in this series for some time now, but the fact that it was Charles Xavier really took me by surprise. In some ways it almost mirrors the Professors last near fatal confrontation with the Phoenix, when he defeated Jean Grey after she became Dark Phoenix after being brainwashed by The Hellfire Club in Uncanny X-Men #136. Back then Jean actually helped him in their psychic duel, here he faces the young man who was like a son to him, and Scott Summer’s – although not an experienced telepath – is one of Xavier’s most exceptional students. Scott is like an angry son confronting a vexed father who is trying to set him back on the straight and narrow, no quarter is given, and none taken. Only when he has killed Xavier does he show any sign of remorse or regret; but that is soon swept away – along with his humanity – as he surrenders himself to the vast cosmic energies surging within him and becomes Dark Phoenix.
This action paced issue of Avengers vs. X-Men is superbly drawn: Oliver Coipel’s pencils are well complemented by Mark Morales inks, while the jaw dropping battle sequences are lavishly coloured by Laura Martin. There are times when the Phoenix energy almost seems to sizzle from the pages of AvX #11 as Scott and Emma fight the combined forces of the Avengers and X-Men. Its great to see The Hulk and Wolverine performing a “fastball special”, a momentous event in itself, and yes, Wolverine does get deep fried by a Phoenix blast again! I’m beginning to lose count of how many times Logan has had to regrow his flesh. Captain America has put together a crack squad to take on Cyclops, who he wisely perceives to be a greater threat than Emma, and his tactic of employing all the heavy hitters from both teams to wear Scott down almost works when Hawkeye’s arrow nearly takes him out.
Now that Cyclops has been transformed into the Dark Phoenix its beginning to look like there is no force on Earth that can stand against him, except for perhaps Hope, once chosen as the savour of Mutantkind, she now holds the fate of the world on her young shoulders.
Avengers vs. X-Men #11 has been the most enjoyable issue so far in this big season event. Although the series may have taken a few issues to find its feet, now that we can almost see them conclusively as a whole, this storyline has really managed to build on its somewhat flimsy premise and become something quite remarkable. The final conflict is set, and as the Dark Phoenix rises over the Marvel Universe once more only the combined strength of the Mighty Avengers, The Uncanny X-Men, and Hope Summers now stands in its way of complete universal domination.