Best Shots Extra Reviews: AVX: VS #6, GREEN LANTERN #13

 

AvX: Vs #6

Written by Kieron Gillen, Brian Michael Bendis, Kathryn Immonen, Mike Deodato, Jr., Ed McGuiness, Christopher Hastings, Jeph Loeb, Jason Aaron, and Dan Slott

Art by Jim Cheung, Mark Roslan, Mark Morales, David Curiel, Jim Mahfood, Mike Deodato, Jr., Ed McGuiness, Jacob Chabot, Arthur Adams, Marte Gracia, Ramon K. Perez, Jordie Bellaire, and Katie Cook

Letters by Joe Caramagna

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by George Marston

'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

As Avengers vs. X-Men wraps up this week, so too does it's "all killer, no filler" sister title, AvX Vs. In this fairly lighthearted final issue of AvX: Vs, we're treated to an expanded glimpse at the conflict between Scarlet Witch and Hope, along with a host of hilarious and beautifully rendered vignettes depicting unseen, alternate, and just plain off-beat scenes from the AvX spectacle.

In the book's main segment, the long embattled mutant Avenger the Scarlet Witch comes to blows with Hope, the mutant scion everyone believes will play a hand in re-igniting the mutant species which Scarlet Witch infamously reduced to a handful of members at the end of . It's a long time coming, and while there have been moments and hints of the conflict since the two found themselves on the same side of the conflict, this is really where the knockdown, drag-out fight happens. While some of the fight was glimpsed in Avenvers vs. X-Men #12, what happens here shows a little more of the scope of the conflict, and the personal nature of the rivalry between the two. As Scarlet Witch struggles for redemption, Hope struggles with the possibility of a destiny that she may not be able to fulfill. Kieron Gillen really brings it with his script, and his sardonic, almost bratty take on Hope is one of my favorite portrayals of the character. A standout moment is when she headbutts Wanda, proclaiming, "'No more mutants'... No more nose!" One of AvX's major victories is placing Hope as a character that stands alongside the Marvel Universe's heavy hitters, and Gillen was one of the main writers to shape her character. Jim Cheung also proves why he is one of the best artists in Marvel's stable, and uses his skills in drawing teenagers to make hope look youthful, powerful, and even mischievous. As with Wanda, when Captain America and Iron Man appear briefly, Cheung's take looks absolutely definitive, even through only a handful of panels. This is a skillfully rendered, and well-told addition to the scope of AvX: #12.

Then, there are the handful of small-scale stories, parodies, and pages that make up the second half of this book. Rather than focusing on a second throwdown, AvX: Vs. #6 uses it's latter pages to showcase some brilliant and hilarious... let's just say "outtakes" from AvX. From Brian Bendis and Jim Mahfood's insult volley between Cyclops and Captain America, to the Immonen's brilliant, single-page "AvX Science Battle!," to Squirrel Girl and Pixie unwittingly playing "Heroclix" with Avengers and X-Men figures made from the Puppet Master's clay, nearly every vignette delivers laughs, terrific and, occasionally unconventional, art, and another compelling reason that this, along with Kaare Andrews's inspired story from issue #4, will be the part of AvX that you'll return to most often. Other segments include Havok besting Captain America in a single panel because, according to the captions, "the X-Office put this book together," Domino using her knowledge of pressure points to fell the Red Hulk, a single page throwdown between the X-Men's janitor, Toad, and the Avengers' butler Jarvis - wherein Toad utters my favorite line of the book, "Toad get Miss White all the computer." - Hawkeye creepily daydreaming about his girlfriend, Spider-Woman engaged in combat with various X-Women (spelling out a little too much about what may have made this series work for some fans), and finally, a brief tousle between Iron Fist and Iceman, brilliantly drawn by Ramon K. Perez and Jordie Bellaire. The second half of AvX: Vs #6 is like the DVD extras. They aren't the reason you bought the series, but they certainly add value and entertainment after the fact.

Overall, AvX: Vs was not the most essential component of Marvel's 2012 event. Its focus solely on fights that couldn't quite make it into the main title ensured that, often, the book would be primarily style rather than substance. Surprisingly, however, the creative minds behind various portions of the mini-series found freedom to create profoundly different and interesting glimpses at these characters without the shackles of continuity heavy exposition, or editorially mandated story drivers. Even if you didn't read the other five issues of AvX: Vs., even if you didn't read any of AvX at all, the talent on display in this issue is more than worth the purchase price. If anyone doesn't smile at the final page, where Squirrel Girl and Pixie find out their innocent game may have wider-reaching ramifications than they could have ever imagined, then they may have a bigger problem than finding great comics.

 

Green Lantern #13

Written by Geoff Johns

Art by Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy, Mark Irwin, Tom Nguyen, Keith Champagne, Marc Deering, Alex Sinclair and Tony Avina

Lettering by Steve Wands

Published by DC Comics

Review by David Pepose

'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

Who is Simon Baz?

Mechanic. Street racer. Suspected terrorist. And now, a member of the interstellar police force known as the Green Lantern Corps.

Beyond that, though... well, our hero is still hazy. Writer Geoff Johns and artist Doug Mahnke don't take many chances with this new hero after the Guantanamo Bay-inspired #0 issue, but instead lay down plot points to try to raise the stakes.

On the run from the federal government after the Lantern ring broke him out of prison, Simon Baz is still a bit of a blank slate in this book. To be honest, Geoff Johns focuses on just about everyone but him in this issue — President Obama and Amanda Waller lay on the exposition about the previous four Lanterns, Simon's sister gives him at least some sort of human touchstone to threaten him (besides incarceration), a hint of mystery as to Hal Jordan and Sinestro's current predicament, and there's a nice cliffhanger that should lead to a thrilling action-heavy issue next month. As far as plotting goes, Johns is going basic but strong — in particular, I love the Jordan/Sinestro riff on the iconic Abin Sur induction speech to the Green Lantern Corps.

The art is a good foundation for this, strong but not altogether radical. Doug Mahnke's artwork looks particularly clean, and while occasionally the details are a little weird — Simon's sister Sira works for the Secretary of State's office, yet walking in it looks like a bank, and the energy of the pages gets oppressive with Alex Sinclair and Tony Avina's dark color palette at the end of the book — it's still very easy to take in. Simon's costume, with the bold shoulder design, is particularly nice to look at, and I think will lend itself well to combat once the action heats up.

It's a slow burn, and it doesn't shoot for the moon — yet — but this is also a case of Geoff Johns doing his homework. He's set up just about everything he needs to launch Simon Baz on his troubled path of heroism... except a clear mission statement. By virtue of him being a Green Lantern, we know Simon is worthy, that he will become a force for good, but there's nothing driving him like Hal's theme of "conquer fear" or Kyle's "imagine anything." If Johns can create a strong metaphor for Baz, we'll be on to something amazing. But can even DC's designated hitter come up with that potent kind of magic twice?

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