AVENGERS vs. X-MEN Post-Game, Week 11: The Phoenix Five

***Good advice: Don't read this if you don't want Avengers vs. X-Men #5, Uncanny X-Men #13 and Avengers Academy #31 spoiled.***


The first act of Avengers vs. X-Men if officially over, and along with it came a significant development that you may have heard a thing or two about.  

This week, we're looking at Avengers vs. X-Men #5 by Matt Fraction and John Romita Jr., Uncanny X-Men #13 by Kieron Gillen and Billy Tan, and Avengers Academy #31 by Christos Gage and Tom Grummett. And… go!


Fitting the scale of the events of Avengers vs. X-Men #5, we're breaking Post Game tradition by asking not one, but two questions this week, starting with Matt Fraction, the writer of AvX #5 and no stranger to discussing Marvel event series with us.

Newsarama: Matt, an important part of the early going of Avengers vs. X-Men is that there really wasn't a true "villain" — depending on your perspective, both the Avengers and the X-Men could be said to have defendable positions. But the fact that five key X-Men are now Phoenix hosts has obviously changed the game significantly. Though it's clear now that they're going to be using their powers for good (at least at first), the natural inclination for any reader would be that this could go very wrong very quickly. So does that make the X-Men, or at least these X-Men, effectively the antagonists at this point? Or has the story gotten to a point where the traditional good guy/bad guy continuum isn't really relevant?



Hopefully you were as caught off guard and surprised by the idea of a mutant wave of Phoenix-enabled crusaders as we were at the Bendis dining room table when we came up with the idea. What comes next is anybody's guess. What happens when the world thinks the X-Men are the greatest heroes alive and the Avengers are dangerously out of step? How do those five deal with near-omnipotence and a cosmic consciousness taking root in their minds? How do their friends react? Their enemies? How does the A possibly V the X from here on out? What if it's more complicated than A = Protagonist and X = Antagonist?

What of Wanda and Hope? What's up with K'un Lun? How does Tony Stark reconcile failure on this scale? How does Professor X feel about this? Or Magneto?

And most of all — whose side is the Phoenix on?

It's the end of the first act. Now we're into the good stuff.

And hey! We've also got words from Marvel senior vice president of publishing and AvX editor Tom Brevoort, on the physical transformation of "the Phoenix Five." (Parts of this quote appeared in our "Transforming Heroes: The New Event Series Trend?" piece from Thursday.)

Nrama: Tom, seeing Cyclops, Emma Frost, Namor, Colossus and Magik transformed into the Phoenix Five suggests that physical transformation might be something of a trend at Marvel and beyond in recent years. There was The Worthy in Fear Itself, everyone getting Spidey powers during "Spider-Island," and the "Hulked Out Heroes" during World War Hulks. Would you say that's more of a genuine coincidence — just the right direction to go in for each given story? Or perhaps a testament to something larger; seeing these recognizable characters in new forms being a testament to the gravity of the story and a clear, visual indicator to the reader that something different and important is happening? Or maybe it's way simpler than that, and it's just cool to see familiar heroes in a different way?


Tom Brevoort: I don’t know that I think this is a trend per se — more of a reflection of the fact that the audience tends to care the most when things happen to our key heroes. So putting the characters through transformations of one sort or another is an easy go-to move. That said, it’s used to a different effect in just about all of these stories, so I don’t feel like it’s a specific bit that we’re repeating again and again — more akin to a riff that we’re utilizing in different ways depending upon the story.

All superhero comics are full of riffs of this sort, everything from heroes fighting heroes to heroes being hated or mistrusted by the people they serve and save. And this wasn’t a plan — it’s a bit of a coincidence that this similarity exists in all of these stories. But that very repetitiveness is what makes it a trope.



Avengers vs. X-Men #5: Well, if you've read the above, you already know the big news: Rather than Hope Summers, the Phoenix has ended up bonding with five X-Men. That's not all, though (though it is a lot) — there's plenty of fighting on the moon, including more of Thing vs. Namor (those guys really don't dig each other) and unconventional pairings like Hawkeve vs. Emma Frost. We also check back in — for a panel — with Scarlet Witch, plus get a glimpse of Professor Xavier and his son Legion in Ibiza (where else would a man of means go if he's going to be off-screen for a little bit?).


Uncanny X-Men #13: Gillen and Tan show the quieter moments of the ongoing battle, plus some of the consequences — like Psylocke's broken arm and Storm's declaration that Black Panther might be better considered an "estranged husband" (given that he's shown to have knocked her unconscious, who could blame her?) If it wasn't clear before, Magneto states that most every major mutant is now fighting with the X-Men, except for Wolverine, Quicksilver and Beast — "Benedict Arnolds of our time." Spinning out of Avengers Academy #31, the Generation Hope crew arrive on Utopia and hear a surprising story from Unit — who evidently has Danger under his control.

WonderCon 2012: AVENGERS vs X-MEN
WonderCon 2012: AVENGERS vs X-MEN

Avengers Academy #31: Finally, the Avengers Academy students and the Generation Hope gang fight! Well, they pretend to, at least, which is Tigra's compromise in letting (most of) the mutants leave while it looks like they "escaped." Also: The mindwiped Sebastian Shaw shows signs that he might not actually be as bad as a guy as he used to be, plus Striker isn't down with Hercules' acting skills.

Worth noting:

- For those keeping track (me, I guess), Avengers vs. X-Men #5 is 22 pages of story, as have all issues of the main series thus far.

- This week in AR app enhancements: A quick video from Matt Fraction about the issue's ending, plus one from an unbilled Stuart Immonen about his design of the Phoenix-killer armor.

- Anyone else confused for about 1/10 of a second whenever that Farmers Insurance ad with comic book J.K. Simmons appears in the middle of an issue? Just me? OK.

- Though Avengers Academy #31 wraps that arc for now, the book continues to tie-in to AvX later this month, with Emma Frost — Phoenix-powered, as we now know — showing up to take issue with the Sentinel hanging out on the school grounds.



Three Avengers vs. X-Men titles hit on June 13: AVX: VS #3, featuring Thing vs. Colossus and Black Widow vs. Magik; further developments with The Protector — and Walt Simonson drawing Thor — in Avengers #27 (preview here); and Frenzy takes the spotlight in X-Men Legacy #268 (preview here).


Got an Avengers vs. X-Men-related question you'd like us to ask in a future installment of the Post Game Report? Find us on Facebook or Twitter.

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