First, let's be clear that the artists are not to blame. Yes, with each, "Act," change (i.e. every few issues) the artist shifts for the series. John Romita Jr. did his usual thing and did it quite well, and Adam Kubert (who has my sympathies for his father's recent passing) has turned in snazzy stuff. Plus Oliver Coipel always is a delight to look at (his drawings, not the man--though he isn't ugly or anything). Yes, this has been one fine-looking comic. The problem is the writing.
|Copiel is an amazing artist.|
I've been able to even ignore the fact that the X-Men wanting the Phoenix to come to earth because they think it will help them instead of utterly destroying them like it has all the other planets comes off as kind of crazy when put in context--when it comes to breaking down the flaws behind the very idea of the story Tim O'Neil does a spectacular job. Yes, I was even able to ignore the glaring problem of much of the plot itself.
When this series first started you could say if you sided with the X-Men or the Avengers. There were parties at comic shops for whichever side people chose with pins and the like. Some stores had cake. It looked like this was going to be a fairly even fight with everyone getting a say. Then the series started and it was boring. Everyone was standing around arguing about how the Phoenix was dangerous and because Hope somehow (it's never really been explained well, at least to my knowledge) has a link to the Phoenix she needs to be protected by the Avengers or something. This is an idea the X-Men who live on the Utopia island don't like, so Cyclops starts fighting Captain America and blah blah blah until we somehow end up on the moon.
Then in the middle of the series five X-Men got the power of the Phoenix and went to work changing the world. That's a clever fake-out, but you have to be careful to not make these all-powerful beings look like bad guys. Guess what happened?
Yes, things were slightly interesting as the X-Men started to make the world better...but then they started hunting down Avengers and putting them in weird and terrible prisons. Then the X-Men started going into people's houses and ripping their minds apart with psychic powers because the people had wronged mutants decades ago. Oh, and THEN some of the Phoenix Five (though the number keeps dropping as when one is defeated the others gain their power, but do you really care?) essentially tried to kill Spider-Man. The X-Men basically became fascistic jerks.
|Do as I say, or else!|
I would say this comic has the same problem as Marvel's Civil War event, in that you are clearly supposed to agree with one side--but then again in Civil War we agreed with Captain America even though Tony Stark was really the one who was right if one were honest about it. Stark was just being a...well, fascistic jerk. He was cold and mean about the whole registering-heroes-identities business, but he had a point. In this case the X-Men aren't even really right in any way however. Yes, they are making the world better from a standpoint of how they are fixing worldly problems such as hunger or energy crises along with bringing peace...but they are "giving" us this peace by enforcing their terrifying rule and any benefit they provide to people comes with the caveat that you have to be blindly obedient.
|Complain about the Phoenix-powered X-Men and you end up here.|
Basically we are being told, "That whole Schism event we did? Let's make it moot!" along with, "You like the X-Men, so how about we call them Avengers in an attempt to get all that Avengers money from anything with that title supposedly selling better than anything with an X-logo!" Seriously though, this reeks of an attempt to boost X-Men sales by giving them the, "Avengers," insignia after resetting their developments of late through some drastic means such as the Phoenix.
|This is what happens when you put the word, "Avengers," on an X-Men book and throw in some normal humans.|
The shift to the classic-style X-Men started with the fallout from House of M where mutants were made into very limited numbers just like the old days. The Schism event with Wolverine and Cyclops having a beak-up in their friendship and views on mutants changed things up a little, but with those Phoenix-powered X-Men looming over everything its becoming clear that this is a deck-clearing exercise for the X-Men that other comics are going to take advantage of by hopping on the Marvel NOW bandwagon along with Cyclops (unless they kill him off or something), Wolverine, and the rest of the X-gang.
Perhaps this re-launch will be great and the mess that is AVX will just have been the birthing pains. That's my hope at least, because right now we've got little more than underdog Avengers and dictator X-Men. I mean, worst-case scenario they bring Jean Grey back or something equally stupid.