Shawn Hill: The ominous hints of Inversion dropped last issue are in full flower now. At least it’s comforting knowing not everyone is in their right mind when Captain America socks Nick Fury in the jaw, for daring to disagree about where best to keep the defeated Red Skull. Inversion means reversal from the norm, and our team of heroes is acting kinda crazy. All except for Green Hulk, who doesn’t understand what’s going on but knows he doesn’t like it. Is he immune? That would be a break for these heroes to catch in this litany of disaster. At least the Skull Sentinels were quickly dealt with.
Also acting weird? Carnage, who saves a family of hostages in a decidedly Spider-Mannish way. Even Peter can’t figure that one out. But worse of all is what happens when Jarvis decides to defend Red Skull from the Avengers’ unilateral choice of a final solution for the defeated Nazi. That’s as intensely wrong (who ever disagrees with Jarvis?) as Tony spreading a nano-infection in San Francisco, or as Storm and Cyclops uniting without question with the revived Apocalypse for mutant rights, and indoctrinating their students along the way.
It does explain Alex losing his mind and dumping Wasp so decisively last issue, though. Something has happened, and while it’s in a way just a gloss on what we’ve seen before (remember when mystical Norse weapons possessed hero and villain alike? Remember when the Phoenix force split five ways and tried to fix the planet?), it’s pretty chilling to watch the ruthless results unfold this issue.
Jamil Scalese: It’s all about the flip-flop in this issue, and I think the flip kind of flopped.
I’m still very much interested in the Inversions but the issue is marred by some very broad strokes. “The Red Supremacy” was set primarily on Genosha and in the denouement AXIS #4 skips all around while also setting up more plotlines. What irks me is how Remender’s plot avoids addressing the fate of the Red Skull/Xavier switch, specifically if Wanda and Doom’s spell worked and what exactly went wrong.
Remender writes persnickety characters well, I’d dare say it’s one of his fortes. The antagonizing Avengers are cruel and foul but also surprisingly one-noted. Imposing the will of Jarvis is blasphemy! There’s little nuance to Cap/Odinson/Wanda/etc attitudes, and we don’t really spend enough time with any character to really find out how exactly they’ve turned their respective philosophies inside out. The closest we get is Stark at Giants Stadium, and that will addressed more in Superior Iron Man than in this series.
To answer your question on Hulk, if you remember he was in his super smart “Doc Green” persona in AXIS #1 so he went dumb and kind of passive in this ish. I’m slightly interested in the newest persona, Kluh, a psycho, foul-mouthed version of Hulk who seems to revel in destruction. The idea is pretty goofy but I’m not totally dismissive of his appearance. Could make for a neat antagonist later on.
Shawn: It was one note in Avenger’s highrise, but that just made the reversals all the more chilling for me. Total Invasion of the Body Snatchers time. SHIELD clearly didn’t know what to do with it, as used as they are to arguing with nicer Avengers. And I still may need to re-read AXIS some more, because it took me all morning to realize all of this is coming out of the Inversion spell. You may have hit on the secret yourself, however; it wasn’t Wanda and Stephen’s spell, as begun: it was Wanda and Doom’s spell at the end that made the difference. Who’s to say he didn’t write some kind of devilish subroutine into it to bend things his way, or towards chaos, or whatever? Wanda knows how much he loves to manipulate her, but she was distracted and under duress already.
As for the Xavier/Skull revival/reversal; well, we already know Charles’ mind was at work in Genosha to save the capture Anna Marie; I think whatever happens Remender has a bigger reveal planned down the road a little. Who has the Skull if it’s neither X-men, Avengers or SHIELD?
Jamil: Let’s not forget about the fourth group, the villains from last issue. We see Carnage clearly has changed and get a hint of Magneto’s disposition, as well as Hobgoblin in a tie-in. If the spell worked that means Xavier is in control. That’d be a freaky twist, the love-filled leader of the X-Men trapped inside Marvel’s incarnation of hate and despair.
Part of the poor execution is the merely serviceable art by Yu who again offers up mediocre layouts. Carnage’s scene with the Squid (who Remender loves beating up) is a fun moment but the action is a little messy. I’ve always liked the way Yu draws Spider-Man but I’m not a fan of how he sometimes skimps on the drawing the full costume, tedious webs and all. Similarly, the moment when Kluh breaks through should stream a lot better, but its a hard sequence to sink into as the action does not line up. We never actually see the macabre Hulk hit anything though it appears all the Avengers are scattered by his sudden attack. The artist is a great talent but I’m eager for the Dodsons to jump in and change the look.
Nearly every recent Marvel crossover has had a dip in quality in the middle and this is no different. Here’s hoping things tighten up. In Remender We Trust.
Shawn: There was a big “GWADOOM!” in the Kluh sequence that I couldn’t quite follow. I guess when he hit Thor? Who still has lightning despite no hammer? But Kluh himself looked great, very New Mutant Hulk. “I”m the Hulk’s Hulk!” doesn’t make the most sense ever, but is in line with the transformations we’re beginning to see.