Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: John Romita Jr.
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Many were not impressed with the last round of Avengers vs. X-Men. Personally, I didn’t mind it. It was a bird’s-eye view of the unfolding battle. With Avengers vs. X-Men #3, however, we get exactly what I was hoping for; a little more substance to go with the spectacle. It’s here that the “plot thickens”, to borrow an old cliché. Both sides still seem pretty extreme in their beliefs about what the Phoenix Force may or may not do, making it hard to really pick the “right” side of this conflict, but this issue certainly makes things a bit more interesting as we go from war to The Fugitive.
Hope is on the run, and with her disappearance, an unofficial truce unfolds between the Avengers and the X-Men as both sides race to reach her first. This driven, obsessive behavior still seems a bit over-the-top and under explained (I’m still not clear on why everyone is so desperate to find Hope, no matter what their reasons are), but the change in direction is refreshing as we don’t just get more of super heroes vs. super heroes. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that Wolverine may not be as firmly on the side of the Avengers as we thought (and he’s not really on the side of the X-Men either). In fact, his motivations get the most explanation out of anyone here, which should make his wild card status interesting to monitor as the rest of this story unfolds. After all, he was willing to kill someone he dearly loved in order to stop the Phoenix Force once, so you know he won’t hesitate to do whatever’s necessary to stop it this time. Sadly, Hope’s role in all of this isn’t expanded upon much yet. To really give this series some heart, we really need to get some focused time on her and how all of this is affecting her. Right now, she feels more or less like a glorified plot device.
Of course the whole reason this battle is happening is because both sides sincerely believe what they believe. I’ve heard it said when someone sincerely believes something, it would be wrong to say that such a belief is wrong (rather circular reasoning on the behalf of moral relativism). Besides, if we live in a world of non-absolutes, couldn’t both sincere beliefs be correct? Sure they could, if we lived in a world of non-absolutes; but we don’t. The simple fact of the matter is the Phoenix Force cannot be the rebirth of the mutant species and the destruction of the world; it must be one or the other (or perhaps even something else). Even comic books realize that absolutes are just a part of life. You may sincerely believe that gravity has no effect on you and you can fly like Superman, but unless you’re a comic book character, jump off a building and you’ll find that you’re sincerely wrong in your belief and you will absolutely fall. Some people sincerely believe Jesus was a good moral teacher; nothing more. However, he claimed to be God. Now someone who claims to be God is either a liar (which would disqualify them from being a good moral teacher), or crazy (which would cause into question the validity of any of his teachings, and thereby disqualify him as a good moral teacher), or is telling the truth (which would make him much more than just another good moral teacher, and someone whom it would be absolutely dangerous to ignore). The point being, sincere belief doesn’t make something True. Truth makes something True. Redundant sounding, perhaps, but true nonetheless.
I still don’t think that the Avengers vs. X-Men event has reached the epic scale I was hoping for. Despite the imminent threat of the Phoenix Force, I’m not really feeling like the stakes are all that high. There are some intriguing developments in AvX #3, but for this event to succeed, I really need to feel the scope of what all of this might mean. We get some hints of it here, but hopefully the series won’t linger too long before shining the light on Hope and why exactly she and the Phoenix Force are at the center of all of this fighting.
Score: 5 of 7
A BIG thanks to Astro-Zombies for providing the material for this review. Learn more about them at astrozombies.com.