Writer: Kieron Gillen
Penciller: Billy Tan
Inker: Cam Smith
Colourist: Guru eFX
Letterer: Virtual Calligraphy’s Joe Caramagna
Previously, in Uncanny X-Men: The Avengers and the X-Men have been sent across the world in pursuit of Hope Summers, the supposed mutant messiah, who has escaped from Utopia in order to face her destiny as the host of the Phoenix, the cosmic force that is heading across the stars in order to bond with her.
Whilst the Avengers and X-Men fight, Hope has joined forces with Wolverine. They head to the moon in order to face the Phoenix head on, but Wolverine informs the Avengers, who meet her there. Emma Frost’s telepathy allows the X-Men to also arrive before the Phoenix does. The two teams face off once again, as the flaming firebird gets ever closer.
I feel like I should have a “Meanwhile” section here since this issue is set during the events of Avengers Vs. X-Men #5 and pretty much ignores Hope and the rest of the main X-Men. Instead, it’s acting as a character piece for a different set of characters, including Psylocke, Magneto, and the Five Lights. This is my favourite kind of tie-in, one which shows what’s going on behind the scenes from the rest of the story, instead of trying to fill in the gaps. This is something that Kieron Gillen excels at, given his success with the Journey Into Mystery and Uncanny X-Men titles during Fear Itself.
This issue addresses something that had fallen by the wayside with the arrival of the Phoenix, which is the role that the Five Lights play in Hope’s life – given that they were the signal that Hope could be the rebirth of the mutant series. It seems a shame that something so important has been forgotten, but this issue rectifies that by bringing the Lights back to Utopia to question Unit, which fills in what role they should be taking in the current conflict, as well as continuing with the Unit/Danger plotline that Gillen has been seeding for the past few issues.
We also get a look over at some of the mutants who haven’t been able to get to the moon to see how they feel, leading to some humorous scenes. One in which Psylocke and Magneto share a beer, and Dr. Nemesis gets to steal the scene with his famous wit and scathing sarcasm. It’s a poignant scene that shows that, despite the importance of the “main” X-team, there are plenty of other characters involved in this far-reaching storyline, and they may not all feel so happy about being forgotten.
Billy Tan fills in as guest artist on this issue, and his art has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years. Where once his name would make me tremble in fear of what I might find inside (I’m looking at you, Shadowland), his last few issues in the X-Universe, like Regenesis #1, were very good. Tan’s visuals are similar to Carlos Pacheco’s, the other artist who rotates on this title with Greg Land – I don’t know why they didn’t bring him in to help Pacheco out when he needed fill-in artists mid-issue before.
This has been the strongest Avengers Vs. X-Men tie-in I’ve read in an X-book so far since it takes a step back from the main storyline to give us a bit more detail on what’s going on elsewhere instead. By taking the focus away from the main events, it feels as if this title may finally start giving us something new, rather than retracing steps or filling in battle scenes as the previous few issues have done. By the look of the next few issues, this looks to be the case, with the focus shifting to Mister Sinister instead. If it continues in this vein, I see no problems upcoming.
GO Rating: 4/5