GILLEN Talks Phoenix 5 in Latest AVENGERS Vs X-MEN Postgame

***This article contains spoilers for Uncanny X-Men #17.***


As has been happening more frequently, only one Avengers vs. X-Men tie-in book was out this week, but it happens to be the climax of a story that's been building since Uncanny X-Men was relaunched with a new #1 last fall. So let's talk about it.


The Phoenix Five debuted in Avengers vs. X-Men #5, and started coming apart at the seams less than two months later in Avengers vs. X-Men #8. But while the main AvX series didn't get much time to spend on the Phoenix Five as a unit, Uncanny X-Men had a bit more space to show the team in action, as series writer Kieron Gillen discussed with us.

Newsarama: With the "Sinister London" arc wrapped as of this week's Uncanny X-Men #17, it occurs that this was the only story that really got a chance to show, at length — though there were several glimpses in the main series and tie-ins — what the Phoenix Five is capable of from a constructive standpoint. How important do you find it to the overall Avengers vs. X-Men narrative to show what the Phoenix Five can accomplish, when working as a functional unit as an ultra-powerful X-Men team? Since the Phoenix Five has already dissolved to just Two, did you find yourself wishing you had a little more space to work with them and present them with different challenges? And was Mister Sinister (and his self-created species) always your choice of target, since, presumably, it's not easy to find a credible threat to oppose them over the span of a story arc?


Kieron Gillen: Oh, this is totally going to be one of my rambling answers.

The short answers to your questions: I would find it very important, yeah — maybe a little, and yes.

For Uncanny X-Men, the key part of AvX was absolutely the "Pax Utopia" section. I'd have happily done a years' worth of Phoenix Five rebuilding the world stories and slowly worked the themes of corruption and power into it. There's clearly no time for that. Instead, I wanted to show the Phoenix Five as a logical extension of what the Extinction Team were already doing. They have the power, and they're going to go and use it. This is the chance to see the Phoenix Five as superheroes. It was showing that while everything had changed, in other ways, nothing have. This is still the team we've been following. In some ways, it's their finest hour. I also loved the poetry of the Phoenix Five climbing over the horizon, visuals out of Akira, soundtrack out of the Fuck Buttons' "Surf Solar." I could write cosmic god mutants forever.

But yeah — I could totally have used a little more space. Not necessarily challenges of force and philosophy like Sinister, but the nature of being top of the food chain of the planet. And the disconnect in the timing is the awkward thing about the run — this all happens before AvX #7, after all? When I wrote and planned this, I was writing thinking the issues would drop two weeks earlier. So #14 would have been between AvX #5 and #6, #15 would have been in the same week as #6, etc, etc. #17 was always going to be a little out of sequence, but the effect was more profound than I originally planned. The odd thing about the timeshift is that things I was doing as foreshadowing for the main AvX book actually ended up happening at the same time — for example, the temporary defeat of the Phoenix Five by Sinister is caused by Namor going off and disobeying orders. That would have happened before the Wakanda incident, etc.


And, yes, Sinister was the best serious threat (if not always serious manner) I could throw at them. I'd set up a link between him and the Phoenix in the second issue of the relaunch (when he was the first person to actually tell Hope about it), so his long-term plan was always going to be about getting hold of it. His failure actually was meant to act as counterpoint to the direction Tony is heading — where Sinister failed with his pure science, Tony has started to reach outside his comfort zone. But the biggest part of it was me thinking "OK — what on Earth could Sinister make?" And I just went to town. Who's a better host than the Phoenix Five? Well, let's make six of them. And then an exciting mass of mutant cocktails, treating the history of the X-Men as a shelf of bottles in a bar. That his plan was fundamentally flawed is neither here nor there.



Uncanny X-Men #17: While the main Avengers vs. X-Men series and many of the tie-ins have focused on the moral ambiguity inherent in the cosmically powerful Phoenix Five, Uncanny X-Men presented a sharp contrast by putting them against the inarguably evil and delightfully crazy Mister Sinister. In the climax of the story — from Gillen and artists Daniel Acuña and Mike Del Mundo — sees the Phoenix Five score maybe their biggest unqualified win, shutting down Sinister's species of self thanks in part to his misunderstanding of the Phoenix force. Plus, Psylocke makes it abundantly clear that she's a bloody ninja.

Worth noting:

- Not sure if this is the first time that an X-Men comic has used a play on words based on Nimrod the future Sentinel and "Nimrod" the composition by Edward Elgar, but it seems notable either way.

- Line of the week? Emma Frost: "Get a move on, you tiresome Englishman. You make me regret ever affecting this accent."



Two AvX books are out next week: AvX: Vs. #5, featuring a battle between the once-happy couple of Black Panther and Storm, plus Hawkeye vs. Angel (preview here); and Wolverine and the X-Men #15, with Logan leading mutants — including some formerly aligned with Cyclops — into battle (preview here).


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