Avengers & X- Men: Axis
Superhero sides- swap smackdown
Release Date: OUT NOW!
Publisher: Marvel Writer: Rick Remender Artists: Andy Kubert, Leinil Francis Yu, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson
The success of the controversial Superior Spider- Man storyline, in which Spidey was taken over by Doctor Octopus, has obviously got Marvel thinking: “If we did that with Spidey, why don’t we do it with everyone?” The result is Avengers & X- Men: Axis, the latest splashy event comic to hit the market, and a saga which proves once again that excess isn’t always a good storytelling tactic.
The preliminary set- up of this nine- issue miniseries is that thanks to a massed battle to stop the Red Skull ( who’s stolen the dead Charles Xavier’s brain and hijacked his powers), a desperate spell mounted by the Scarlet Witch and Doctor Doom causes reality to change. Suddenly, virtually all of Marvel’s heroes begin embracing their darker sides, while their villains and adversaries find themselves motivated to fight for justice.
On the face of it, the series is a potentially fun way of reversing the usual status quo, but five issues in and Rick Remender’s script has forsaken an actual story in favour of random melodrama and big- scale setpieces. Superior Spider- Man worked because it evolved into a smart exploration of what it means to be a hero, whereas Axis settles for everybody switching almost instantly to “Evil mode”, sacrificing any hope of subtlety or interest along the way.
Matters aren’t helped by Axis being the least new- reader- friendly comic Marvel has published in some years. Instead of being largely self- contained, this is actually the climax of a story arc that has been running across Remender’s two- year stretch on Uncanny Avengers, and also follows up on plot- threads left by the tragic climax of 2012’ s Avengers Vs X- Men.
Remender then makes things worse by taking three issues to properly start the story, kicking things off with a 70- page battle sequence that’s so relentlessly action- packed it leaves the whole series feeling overbalanced. Even once the battle is over, the story is pitched at such a frenetic level it’s like listening to an endless drum solo, while certain plot devices feel like an over- enthusiastic five- yearold has grabbed the reins ( especially the reveal of Kluh, an additional and dangerously psychotic alter- ego for the Hulk).
At the least, the visuals reach a high standard: Andy Kubert brings a clear sense of energy and verve to the battle scenes in issues one and two, Leinil Francis Yu adds welcome grit and atmosphere in three and four, and Terry and Rachel Dodson take over with their usual stylish approach in issue five. There’s never a point where Axis isn’t impressive to look at, but while recent Marvel event comics like Infinity and Original Sin felt like they were genuinely ambitious, Axis is a demented jumble of ideas that’s failing to cohere into a satisfying story. Saxon Bullock
Axis will lead into the relaunch of Uncanny Avengers in January, with an all- new team mostly comprised of ex- villains.
Everyone switches almost instantly to “Evil mode”
Puddles were Mini Iron Man’s nemesis.
Red Onslaught: like Red Skull, but with more tentacles.