Do you remember the Avengers vs X-Men crossover from way back in 2012? I sure do – I really, really enjoyed it. There’s something about putting those two teams at each others throats that often leads to some fun storytelling. I loved using the Phoenix as a plot device, placing its power between five notable mutants (Cyclops, Emma Frost, Colossus, Namor and Magik) who want to do benevolent work, but can’t help but be corrupted by the Phoenix. The series’ biggest moment, and one that stuck for at least a couple of years was when Cyclops killed his father figure and mentor, Charles Xavier. I remember being shocked when it all happened.
Of course, you can’t keep a good mutant down. Xavier eventually returned, as did Cyclops, who was apparently killed during another big crossover, Death of X.
So why the trip down memory lane? Well, the latest issues of both X-Men and Avengers feel to me as though they are working in Avengers vs X-Men territory.
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Phil Noto
In this latest issue, following the X of Swords storyline, Cyclops is put front and centre as he makes “a fateful decision.” In this case, it’s to form a new band of X-Men. While reforming the team is nothing new (perpetual change should be the X-Men’s motto), Cyclops makes the bold decision of having the citizens of Krakoa vote on who will make the team. As a leader, Cyclops has learned so much about wielding power over the past ten years, and this decision feels like the logical extension of all his experience.
From a storytelling perspective, I’m absolutely interested in seeing where this goes. Typically in team books, be it X-Men or Avengers, etc, it’s some big event that leads to line-ups or new formations. Here, Hickman maintains the political bent of his storytelling and I love it. The Election of the X-Men should play out over the coming months, leading into the Hellfire Gala later this year. A great story is one that is full of possibilities, and X-Men #16 sets the stage perfectly.
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Javier Garrón
Meanwhile, while the X-Men are getting out to vote, the Avengers are dealing with the return of the Phoenix force to Earth, as it searches for a new avatar. Heroes and villains are put into competition, the winner to ultimately be bestowed the honour.
To be honest, I’ve definitely felt Phoenix-ed out the last few years. The concept has often felt like an easy out for writers to latch on to, and after Avengers vs X-Men I definitely thought letting it lay for an extended period would be a wise move. Plus, over in X-world, we just finished with the X of Swords competition, so another one feels just a little too familiar. Jason Aaron is one of the best writers in the business, though, and if he feels there’s more stories to be told with the Phoenix, I’m happy to give him the benefit of the doubt. And if the new Phoenix avatar sticks around for longer than one storyline, all the better. Meanwhile, I’m here just for the gorgeous art by Javier Garrón, who makes every fight scene in the book pop.
As you can see, both the Avengers and X-Men books have their roots in Avengers vs X-Men, and however their stories turn out, here’s hoping their impact is as enduring.