Shawn Hill: This issue is a step up in quality from the last few, enhancing crude action moments with more clever dialogue and more pointed attacks in general. It feels a bit less rushed, and starts to bring home some of the points hinted at in previous outings. We get to see more of Steve and Jarvis, who turn out to be especially key to advancing the plot. We also get to see a few unexpected revivals (as opposed to the surprisingly brutal murders in previous issues), at least one noble sacrifice, and some hints of where this story is actually heading.
The art doesn’t quite live up to the script, as though Yu’s panel layout is very dynamic, many of the players (especially the big strong guys) prove hard to distinguish. And while the witches (Wanda, Amora, Ororo) get some key moments, their poses are more static than dramatic. Still, feeling Thor, Loki and the Summers brothers are in character again (even if inverted) goes a long way.
Jamil Scalese: Yu’s sloppiness mars this otherwise great issue. The action in AXIS has been plentiful and this comic follows the trend, but it’s a fairly messy affair. For the second time in this series he has drawn a character so hollowly and flavorless it’s made the speaker indistinguishable. His art is a series of gnarly pin-ups but the sequential flow is notably bad. The whole Thor fight makes little sense, and there’s a bit with Kluh and Rogue that could have been way cleaner. Leinil Francis Yu is a great artist but I didn’t love his AXIS efforts. Then again, I feel like the general art direction on this series has lacked continuity and quality.
A lot of plot lines reach their crescendo here and I’m drinking it up. We scuttled through a lot of pages to see how the Inversions would reset the board and how exactly some of the bigger threats would be handled. I love how Remender has jumbled up the battalions, there’s a lot of indiscriminate smashing and thrashing going on and it stirs a confusing cocktail of emotions. Stark and Wilson murderously proactive, Creel throwing down with the heavies one-on-one, Cletus Kasady sacrificing himself for the greater good, there are a lot of good bits that give this event much needed definition.
My favorite development is the return of Brother Voodoo, a move I’m betting the writer has been planning for quite a bit. I recently ran across the ill-fated Doctor Voodoo: Avenger of the Supernatural by Remender and Jefte Palo, and aw man, is that an excitable romp through the mystic realms.
Shawn: That revival of Brother Voodoo (whose time as Sorcerer Supreme was anti-climactic; but I’ll have to look up that Doctor Voodoo trade!) echoes the revival in Avengers World of another beloved character who was gone too soon (which you covered last week, and what a nice done-in-two story it was. If anybody “gets” Remender, it’s Nick Spencer). I’d say both events may be the most positive outcomes of this story, though I don’t know if I understand what deals were made to get Voodoo and his brother back. And it’s definitely a clever way to deal with the threat of Scarlet Witch, who apparently has an infinite source of chaos to tap into whenever her mood turns dark.
But Amora and Loki as allies using their intellects against a befuddled Thor, Creel taking on the biggest of the bad guys, and Carnage in his unlikely, even distasteful team-up with Spidey, all moments that show Remender had powerful character snippets for everyone this month, even Apocalypse/Evan, for a few brief seconds.
Jamil: The rotation of characters has kept the book fresh but also has hurt its focus. We’ll see if the ultimate result of the juggling act is a success on Christmas Eve. The big cliffhanger, Steve Rogers wearing a Captain America exosuit (a relic from the Mark Gruenwald era) while rescuing a suddenly pale Red Skull sets up the finale nicely. AXIS has not been perfect but it still holds a solid premise at the core and a knockout ender could save the day.
Tie-In Tie Up!
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