The series has taken a new direction as the playing field has changed. Several X-Men are now powered by the Phoenix Force so does that mean there's no hope for the Avengers?
This series has definitely had its ups and downs. The idea of both teams fighting each other over Hope Summers and the arrival of the Phoenix Force set the stage for a grim battle. What resulted was a series of brief glimpses at fights between members of both teams. We've been seeing Cyclops and Captain America stand their ground in what they believe is the correct course of action. Cyclops has been making several speeches on how mutants are now being persecuted and all this is really just a way to try to control or hold mutantkind down.
With the Phoenix Force fragmented and attaching to five different X-Men, there's a new set of questions raised. The Phoenix Force was always too much for one person to contain. Could the fact that it's split make it more manageable? Then again, if the Phoenix Force is near infinite power, dividing infinity by five still results in an infinite amount of power that could be too much. We also have to look at why were these five chosen by the writers? Are they the perfect choice to contain the power or is one or more a weak link in this chain that will result in the inevitable catastrophic outcome?
While the issue deals with the newly powered X-Men using their power and the reaction of the Avengers and world, it's clear that something else is brewing. Besides the X-Men and the Avengers, we still have two unknown factors: Scarlet Witch and Lei Kung. Also, if you've seen the previous teaser for this second half of the series, you have an idea of something else coming.
This issue also brings about a change in the art team. Olivier Coipel, Mark Morales and Laura Martin make this feel like a completely different series. There are a lot of characters here and it's great to see Coipel's interpretations of everyone along with the fact that several X-Men and Avengers have been given tweaks in their costumes due to the circumstances of the story. It almost feels as if we're seeing a bunch of action figure variants with all the familiar characters, but in a good way. Marvel's marketing team should have been all over this in terms of merchandise to tie into this crossover.
Gradually we've been seeing Cyclops become more and more…extreme in his way of thinking. He does have the future and survival of mutants on his mind but often feels as if his decisions and comments are rooted in hysteria. He has a big burden on his shoulders and clearly he's reminded of the loss of Jean Grey and most likely even Cable while trying to do what he thinks is best for Hope and mutants.
Speaking of Cable, we're still waiting for hints of events leading to that desolate future Cable saw in AVENGERS: X-SANCTION. Are we going to see all the tech used that Cable and Blaquesmith discovered in the Avengers Mansion in the future?
It's clear that the Avengers can't just sit back and watch the X-Men operate with the power of the Phoenix Force but I can't tell if it's admirable or insane that they think they can stand a chance fighting against the X-Men in possession of the power.
This is starting to feel like a completely different series for several reasons. Besides the change in art from John Romita Jr. to Olivier Coipel, the structure of the series has changed. Thankfully we're not seeing random battle after battle between members of both teams and it's back to feeling like there is more of a story going on instead of just seeing match ups that fans may have been wanting to see. The odds are not stacked against the Avengers but that adds to the suspense of the story. In the first few issues, it felt as if the Avengers kept getting the upper hand. Now that the tables have completely turned, we're back to wondering how the entire series will unfold. I started losing interest but I am hooked once again. With other players besides the X-Men and Avengers starting to show their hands, we're getting a sense that this could be the big story that it was meant to be. There are many unknowns and I am back to being kept in suspense waiting to see what's next. The series is back on track to where I want it to be. Thankfully we only have to wait two weeks for the next issue.