Review: Avengers vs. X-Men #12

Cyclops was right. About everything. With the final issue of this mega crossover now upon us, I can say with clarity and confidence that Cyclops is the true hero of Avengers vs. X-Men. Oh sure, they want you to believe that Captain America is the real hero. And that Cyclops’ supposed ‘crimes’ are beyond redemption. But I’ve been saying it for a long time now: Marvel was unwilling to just make Cyclops a mustache-twirling bad guy. And this issue finally reveals why. Everything Cyclops set out to do in Avengers vs. X-Men was for good reason, and everything he fought for and people died for, will have been worth it thanks to the surprise ending of this series.

Avengers vs. X-Men #12

Avengers vs. X-Men #12 was a fantastic and exciting finale! It’s a little muddied with an over reliance on flashbacks, but the story is straightforward and the victory well deserved.

Comic rating: 5/5: Great!

In hindsight, I haven’t really liked most of the big crossovers at Marvel. I didn’t particularly care for Fear Itself last year. Secret Invasion was a dud. Civil War was alright, but Seige was quite dull. Avengers vs. X-Men, however, is one damn fine comic. Hero vs. hero, the fate of the world at stake! And even though the writers never really explored the deeper questions of faith and hope prevalent in the series, it’s still an exciting superhero comic. There were times I was annoyed with the series, and very frustrated at what Marvel was seemingly trying to say. But this issue alleviated all of my worries and frustrations with some solid follow through on Cyclops’ story arc.

Forget Hope, forget the Scarlet Witch, forget Captain America or Wolverine. Cyclops is the true star of this comic. He’s the only character who really grew or changed, who learned something from all of this. He’s the only character man enough to accept responsibility, while Captain America sticks with his petty bravado and arrogance.

This was a marvelous comic, settling all of my disputes in a big, bombastic climax. Although I’m not sure why Iron Man is featured so prominently on the cover. Join me after the jump for a full synopsis and more review.

We open with a flashback/recap to get everybody up to speed. Tony Stark is recapping the basic premise to the other Avengers, in a scene that is set ’72 hours ago’ while they’re all still in K’un Lun. This is set, I believe, almost immediately after Avengers vs. X-Men #10.

According to Iron Man, this all started way back in House of M, when Scarlet Witch used her chaos magic to declare “No more mutants” and take away almost all the mutant powers in the world. Mutants had been a growing minority numbering in the millions, but through Scarlet Witch’s magic, she turned all of them human, leaving less than 200 mutants left on Earth (most of them X-Men). It is now believed that the Phoenix – which has a history with Earth’s mutants – sensed this seismic change, and set out for Earth to reverse what the Scarlet Witch had done. It was the Phoenix Force that allowed for the birth of Hope, the first mutant to be born after Wanda’s magic whammy. And now the Phoenix itself came to Earth to help mutants.

I don’t think I need to point out that THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT CYCLOPS PREDICTED!!

Back at the start of this series, it was Cyclops’ belief that the Phoenix had come to Earth to restart the mutant race, with Hope’s help. The Avengers thought it was going to destroy the Earth, so they wanted to lock Hope away. And now even Iron Man believes that the Phoenix came to Earth to restart the mutant race. That is the Avengers’ platform now.

Cyclops: 1/ Avengers: 0.

So Iron Man says that the answer to defeating the Phoenix lies with Hope, Scarlet Witch and Iron Fist. He’s going to combine their powers in this wonderful new thing he’s discovered: ‘faith’.

Oh Thing, why are you even in this story?

We cut to Scarlet Witch talking with Hope in K’un Lun, trying to encourage her for the fight ahead. But Hope is angry at Scarlet Witch. It was her spell that started this whole mess, that set Cyclops on this path. Scarlet Witch agrees that it’s her fault, and she’ll have to carry that guilt with her. That doesn’t settle Hope any and they come to blows – which is how Captain America and Iron Man find them.

We then cut to the present, where Dark Phoenix Cyclops is laying waste to the Avengers and the X-Men!

The streets will run red with the blood of the nonbelievers!

The art is pretty damn good in this issue. Adam Kubert does a fantastic job. The action is spectacular, the characters are clearly defined, the expressive emotions are top notch. Cyclops no longer has that bright red thong. No complaints about the art at all.

Over at the Jean Grey School, the Stepford Cuckoos are in Cerebra and are patching everyone together telepathically. The Dark Phoenix power has grown beyond Utopia, and it’s tearing apart the whole world! There are fires and explosions and volcanoes and everything else all over the world! Captain America and some of his team are racing…somewhere…in a Quinjet, and he tells them that he doesn’t have time for an 11th hour speech! They just need to know that the world doesn’t end on their watch!

We then get an international montage as Dark Phoenix races around the world causing damage, and somehow the various heroes are able to keep up. The Hulk crashes into a sidewalk in Sacramento. Spider-Man and Angel save people on a bridge in Beijing. Gambit and Hawkeye fight to save Paris. Thor and the Dark Phoenix battle over the Himalayas. A whole mess of quick action scenes, the kind of stuff we saw earlier in the series. It wasn’t very good then, and isn’t very exciting now.

The Avengers gang up on Dark Phoenix in the Himalayas, but he easily casts them aside as he declares that he’s going to burn the world to cinders and start fresh. And he says that there is no room in his new world for the likes of them.

Iron Man tells Captain America that it’s time for the Hail Mary. Cap gets on the radio and asks if there’s anyone left standing who can hit the Phoenix hard and get him into position?

Nova comes out of nowhere!

So where has he been for the past 11 issues?

That may have actually meant something if it was Ritchie Ryder, instead of whatever new Nova Marvel is trying to push on us. But I’ll just pretend it was Ritchie Ryder, and that he just kicked some major ass!

Though after they crash, Dark Phoenix picks himself right back up, while Nova is knocked out. But now he’s in position for Scarlet Witch and Hope to launch a dual-attack! Thankfully, Iron Man provides a little exposition as to what’s happening: Scarlet Witch’s choas magic is the only thing that hurts the Phoenix. So while she is using it, Hope is mimicking that magic, and focusing it into a version of the Iron Fist, which she learned during her training in K’un Lun.

And then we get a scene that firmly establishes Cyclops as the hero of this comic.

As he does battle with the Avengers, Scarlet Witch and Hope, Cyclops takes over narration for a single page. He explains how all he wanted to do was change the world, so that mutants could use their powers to do more than fight Sentinels, and that his children (Cable and Rachel Grey) didn’t have to be time-traveling freedom fighters. He wanted to usher in an era of peace – and he did! He worked miracles. But then something went off track…

And in the midst of battle, he has a moment of clarity, and the real Cyclops is able to push through the Dark Phoenix.

Thank you.

There it is. The proof that Cyclops is not the one doing this. It’s the Dark Phoenix, and has been all along. It’s just using Cyclops, the way it used Jean Grey to destroy a whole galaxy all those years ago. It’s using Cyclops now. He’s not to blame. With everyone beating on him, the real Cyclops is able to peek through and has enough clarity to know that the Dark Phoenix needs to be stopped.

Cyclops: 2/ Avengers: 0.

But guess who blames Cyclops and only Cyclops in the end? But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Cyclops’ brief hold on the Dark Phoenix ends, and the monster once again emerges. He starts to go supernova, shouting and burning to high heavens. But then he gets a visitor…

Marvel being clever with their ‘return of Jean Grey’ tease

The spirit of Jean Grey returns to help calm Cyclops and the Dark Phoenix down enough for Hope and the Scarlet Witch to deliver the finishing blow. They blast Cyclops, and the Phoenix Force leaves his body, then it calls to Hope…

We flash back to 71 hours ago, and a pep talk between Captain America and Hope. He tells her that at the start of this conflict, he sent Avengers to Utopia (and started this whole mess) in order to stop the Phoenix from taking Hope as its host. Now Iron Man is telling him that they want the Phoenix to take Hope as a host.

Cyclops: 3/ Avengers: 0.

Hope tells Cap not to try and stop her, and Captain America asks why he should believe in her.

Sure enough, as soon as the Phoenix leaves Cyclops, it possesses Hope. And sure enough, once Hope has the Phoenix, she flies around the world fixing all the damage that the Dark Phoenix caused. She puts out all the fires, repairs the infrastructures, all that good stuff. Hope uses the Phoenix power for good. Which is exactly what Cyclops was training her for at the start of this series. Until the Avengers came and got all up in his face about it.

Cyclops: 4/ Avengers: 0.

Hope then returns to the Avengers and X-Men as the new White Phoenix!

I still prefer when Tommy was the Green Phoenix

She tells them that this is her destiny, and that she will use the Phoenix power to be the savior of mankind. But then the Scarlet Witch interrupts her. She tells Hope that this is not the why, not the reason Hope was chosen to host the Phoenix. She was chosen because Hope is the only one with the strength to reject the Phoenix. Together, Hope and the Scarlet Witch declare “No more Phoenix,” and they cast the power aside.

We then see the Phoenix flame spreading across the world. What’s it doing, you ask? The Stepford Cuckoos can tell you:

It’s reigniting the mutant race.

I look forward to the many thrilling adventures of Stone Fly Girl

So in the end, Hope uses the Phoenix to restart the mutant race.


Cyclops: 1,000,000/ Avengers: 0.

Speaking of Cyclops, he’s arrested and locked up in a ruby quartz prison. Sometime later, Captain America and Wolverine have gone to meet with him and have a sit down discussion about all of this. Cyclops says he barely remembers much, but he knows that he tried to destroy the world and that he killed Professor X. Captain America is particularly snooty about it. But Cyclops doesn’t let that bother him, he mans up and accepts what he did as the Dark Phoenix, even though he wasn’t in control.

Could Cap look anymore sourpussed in that picture?

We learn that the other members of the PhoeniX-Men are still at large, as well as several other Cyclops supporters, like Magneto. Cyclops tells Captain America to let them be, that he takes full responsibility, even for the stuff that Namor, Magik and the others did on their own. Captain America tells Cyclops he can’t do that, though he does admit that the Phoenix was as much to blame as anyone. Captain America even admits that he’s partially to blame for not doing enough to help mutants in the past.

Cyclops: 1,000,001/ Avengers: 0.

We also get a little tease about Captain America putting together a new mixed Avengers/X-Men superhero team. I’ll definitely be picking up Uncanny Avengers when it comes out later this month.

Let’s dwell on that earlier bit a moment though: Captain America accepting some responsibility. What about responsibility for his other actions? Captain America is the one who led the Avengers into war with the X-Men in the very first issue in order to arrest Hope. But then in this issue, he’s fighting for the Phoenix to possess Hope. Does he apologize to Cyclops for starting the fight? Or for not believing him in the beginning? Of course he doesn’t. Captain America is also the one who wouldn’t stand aside and let the PhoeniX-Men make the world a better place. He had to keep poking them with a stick because he couldn’t admit he was wrong. And all the evil that the PhoeniX-Men did (the attack on Wakanda, the evil Avengers prison) was as a direct result of Cap continually leading the Avengers in attacks on them.

Will Cap accept any responsibility for any of that? Of course not. This is all Cyclops’ fault.

Cyclops tries to see the silver lining in all of this, but the sanctimonious Captain America won’t let him.

Real mature, Cap

Cyclops also points out that the Phoenix restarted the mutant race, so that he was right about that. He was right that the Phoenix didn’t come there to destroy them.

Cyclops: 1,00,002/ Avengers: 0.

Captain America again denies him that small victory by saying that only Cyclops was there to destroy them. Even though, as we’ve already seen in this very issue, it wasn’t Cyclops destroying anything, it was the Dark Phoenix. But Captain America, and everyone else, are still going to blame Cyclops. As if he’s responsible for what the Dark Phoenix did. Even though, as I point out again, Cyclops had perfect control of the Phoenix until Cap and the Avengers started prodding them.

But Cyclops lost the big fight in the end. And history is written by the winners. Captain America is the winner.

There’s a brief scene where Thor invites the new Nova to join the Avengers. But again, I don’t care about him if he’s not Ritchie Ryder.

Cyclops says that change never comes easy, there were always going to be sacrifices. He says that he would change places with Professor X in a heartbeat if he could. Captain America points out that the ends never justify the means.

Cyclops: 1,00,002/ Avengers: 1.

Captain America asks Wolverine if he has anything he wants to add, but Wolverine doesn’t. He’s got a eulogy to give.

So at least we’re spared Wolverine being overly sanctimonious. And thankfully Cyclops doesn’t sink to their level and admit they were right. Because they weren’t.

The issue ends with Cyclops pointing out that, when it comes to the Phoenix, there must first come destruction before the rebirth.

And we see Hope on the old Utopia, which has been fenced off by SHIELD. She says it’s a beautiful day before flying off in her jetpack, while a single rose grows in the ground…for some reason.

I assume ‘roses’ and ‘jetpacks’ are a metaphor for something?

And so Avengers vs. X-Men comes to an end. It wasn’t a perfect story, and definitely didn’t need 12 entire issues, but it was a good read. I have been entertained throughout. The art was consistently stellar, the writing was good, and the story was definitely as epic as it should be for such an event. Though I would have liked to have seen a larger focus on the actual changes created in the world. We got one single panel where Cyclops said that the people of the world loved the PhoeniX-Men, but that was it. There was very little exploration of what all of this fighting meant for the world. I guess to make room for more fighting.

The story made some kind of logical sense, as long as you don’t pick it apart too much. The Phoenix was a classic Marvel adversary, and clearly Marvel had been building up to this story for several years, what with the Scarlet Witch and Hope having semi-prominent roles over the years. This made for a nice parallel to House of M, where Wanda took away the mutant powers.

And it does a fine job of setting up Uncanny Avengers and the new Marvel NOW! campaign.

So yeah, this story was exciting, well-drawn, epic and pretty darn cool.

In hindsight, I think I like the complicated question of who is right and who is wrong. Clearly Cyclops is right, but he was made the villain of the story. While the writers didn’t really explore that to any depth, it’s still rather novel that the villain is the one who is right, and that the ‘heroes’ are the aggressors and in the wrong. At least I think that’s how this all played out. The story is written very frustratingly. And maybe that’s because it was written by five different writers, each juggling alternating issues. But parts of it were written with such glaring bias towards Captain America, while the overall story had Cyclops in the right. It just led to some annoying bits here and there.

But now at the end, we know Cyclops was right all along. Even if Captain America refuses to admit it.

About Sean Ian Mills

Hello, this is Sean, the Henchman-4-Hire! By day I am a mild-mannered newspaper reporter in Central New York, and by the rest of the day I'm a pretty big geek when it comes to video games, comic books, movies, cartoons and more.

Posted on October 4, 2012, in Avengers, Comics, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. I agree. Hopefully Cap’s next death will be slow and painful. Cyclops was right. He got everything right and Cap and his gang came in and screwed up everything because they were ignorant. And in the end Cyclops gets locked up while other Avengers who have done bad things like he Scarlet Witch, Wolverine, Iron Man and Thor get to walk free. In the Children’s Crusade Cyclops said that he’d bring SW to justice for her crimes. But Captain America said that he’d bring her to Justice because ‘the Avengers take care of their own’. Since then the Scarlet Witch wasn’t locked up and she wasn’t put on trial while everyone treats Cyclops like he was Doctor Doom.

    Cyclops is the real hero of the story. Captain Fascism was the real villain. Hopefully someone breaks Cyclops out.

    • I bet that’s what they’re saving Magneto for down the line, the breakout. But you just know Cap is never going to acknowledge all the mistakes he’d made. Imagine if, in issue #1, he’d gone to Cyclops and Hope in the spirit of friendship and teamwork instead of in the spirit of kidnapping Hope by force. I blame Wolverine for…a lot, actually.


      AMEN to that bro.

  2. I think that Nova is Sam Alexander, the Nova in the “Ultimate Spider-Man” cartoon, apparently they figured that if they went all the way to make Nick fury’s son black and also called Nick Fury they might as well put the new Nova on the comics.
    Also I agree with Captain America being a jerk, I want an issue where Reed Richards see into others dimensions and show Cap that if he had restrained himself from attacking the x-men the world would be a paradise.

  3. The event as a whole was OK. Best of the Avengers-based events of this Bendis era. It put more focus on characterization in the main book than the other events did, even Civil War.

    But my biggest gripe has been the way we kept getting told that Scott was losing control, when that was never shown until the final two issues. Cap, here, was particularly annoying. The Avengers, and particularly Cap and Iron Man, were the direct cause of everything that went wrong. All of it. They got everything wrong every step of the way. Every single step, things ended up going the complete opposite direction they wanted. Luckily, the opposite of what they wanted was the direction things needed to go, but still.

    And they don’t even get the moral high road here. Twice, they assaulted Utopia, attacking the X-Men in their home, for the express purpose of abducting a teenage girl in the X-Men’s care, without caring what that girl wanted. When Cap showed up on Utopia with his total lack of a plan (Step 1: Take Hope. Step 2: ??? Step 3: The world’s saved!), did he ask to talk to Hope? No, he demanded Scott hand her over, without actually giving him a reason for why he should, beyond “because.” And then when the X-Men were saving the world, making it an objectively better place, ending famine and war, providing unlimited clean energy . . . the Avengers launched another assault. They didn’t send someone to talk to Hope, to figure out what she wanted. They just went in and tried to grab her.

    Scott was the most reasonable voice throughout this event. Him, Hope and Wanda are the heroes here, while the Avengers were just a bunch of screw-ups who nearly caused the world to be destroyed while implementing a plan that would’ve prevented the rebirth of the mutant race.

    But Cap still gets to take his victory lap. He still gets to lecture Scott. And no one will point out Cap’s own sins during this event.

    Bah. I like Captain America, but he’s just annoyed me throughout this event, and I wish someone would’ve called him out for his actions. I’d love for Consequences to feature, say, Storm telling him off. That’d be great. Cap goes to thank her for helping against Scott, and she tells him off. Points out all the things he did during AvX, and tells him he should be ashamed of himself. Or get Hope to do it. She could say that, now that it’s all over, how stupid was he to attack Utopia in order to abduct.

    But that won’t happen, sadly. Instead, we’ll probably get X-Men wondering how they ever could’ve sided with Scott, and apologizing to Cap and the Avengers for fighting them.

    • Yeah, Storm would be excellent for telling off Cap. I’d also love it if Iron Man admitted he was wrong in front of Cap. That would feel really nice too.

    • I agree with absolutely everything you said here. And we just know that nobody is going to call out Cap for his crap, not even Cyclops. Because Cyclops is better than that. He’s not going to sink to Cap’s level.

      And the Cap love is already starting. Captain America is the great leader who is going to put together the combined X-Men/Avengers team. He’s the great visionary now. He’ll probably take credit for bringing mutants back as well.

      • I’m trusting in Remender’s writing. The preview of Uncanny Avengers #1 is out, and the dialogue is hilarious; I literally cannot wait for Rogue to start snarking.

      • Cyclops’ memories were erased by Xavier.

  4. What Storm should do is kick Black Panthers ass. He dumped her for basically standing by her family. he put their peoples lives in danger by bringing a war into their country that his friends started. Ive always said that they could have done better with Storms love life. Maybe now they will.

    The Avengers are always going after things that didn’t really affect them. If anything for years the Avengers have been if not out right aggressors on mutants than they were behind the scenes making their lives hell. Now Captain America has the blazing audacity to say that he should have stopped the hate on the mutants from happening. REALLY?! I applaud cyclops for not laying him out right then and there. Its like hes saying that all the years the X-MEN fought for the rights of their people was just child’s game, and it was this event that made their issues important because it wasn’t an Avenger trying to kill everybody because she had a temper tantrum.

    oh well. All I can say is as long as they didn’t kill off Cyclops and gave me a hint to the real jean coming back (if only in my mind) at some point ill keep buying their comics. Maybe they will expand on the Age of X idea and not make it seem as such a cop out. maybe.

    • Storm and Black Panther was always a dud. But you’re right, she could really use a good, quality romance. For such a prominent X-Woman, Storm’s love life has always been rather weak. I mean, she was in love with…Forge? Maybe? Then forced into marriage with Black Panther that never went anywhere.

  5. There’s a lot of hate for Cap in here. Although i’m not much of a fan of his, I can’t get 100% behind the whole ‘Cyclops was right, Cap was wrong’ feeling in here either. If Cap and the Avengers stayed out of the whole deal (and let’s not forget that the Phoenix enitity is a vastly dangerous and hard to control power, i can’t imagine them not trying to take action to protect themselves against it) and just allowed Cyclops to do his thing, there is no guarantee that Hope would have been able to contain and control the Phoenix force to initiate the changes she did at the end of book 12. For not only did the Scarlet Witch help her in that regard, but i gotta think that some of Spiderman’s mental coaching helped her a bit too. That whole ‘With great power….” speech. Who’s to say she wouldn’t have gone dark phoenix like Jean and Cyclops did, or been corrupted by it like, oh, every other person that had some of that power (i’m looking at you Namor, Colossus et al.). I don’t think one can make the claim with 100% surety that things would have been awesome without Avengers intervention. I think (some of them) played an important part. As for the idea that Xaviers death (and probably many civies off-panel) is a fair price to pay just so a bunch of former mutants can have their powers back, meh, not too sure about that either. Sorry to be Devil’s Advocate.

    • Devil’s Advocate away, my friend! I love playing Devil’s Advocate.

      And they didn’t just give former mutants their powers back – though I may have been mistaken in the actual review. The mutants who lost their powers don’t actually have them back, or at least that’s what I’ve heard in some interviews with the writers and editors. What Hope and the Phoenix did was restart the mutant race, so that new mutants will appear and will be born.

      And I totally agree with you. There’s every possibility that Hope wasn’t ready at the start of the series, but then it wasn’t up to Hope or Cyclops when the Phoenix would arrive. He was doing his best to train her as best he could. What Captain America should have done was show up to help, rather than show up and demand that he was taking over. Then the X-Men and the Avengers could have worked together to train Hope, and she would have access to tutelage from both teams, preparing her to handle the Phoenix.

      Of course, then we wouldn’t have a comic. But analyzing the story and the choices that the characters make is the entire point of reviewing and talking about a comic.


      Hope you don’t mind if I leave this link here :’D~

  6. The end doesn’t justify the means. Cap was willing to take take Hope offworld to prevent the Phoenix from bonding with her and possibly destroying the world. Wolverine was willing to kill Hope to prevent the Phoenix from bonding with her and possibly destroying the world. The Avengers invaded Utopia unprovoked to kidnap Hope so Tony can study the Phoenix and find a way to destroy it.

    Are you serious, Cap?

    • I am a little annoyed how everybody’s totally cool with Wolverine’s plan to kill Hope behind everybody’s back. Cyclops kills Professor X in the midst of battle while being possessed and controlled by one of the most powerful and malevolent beings in the universe, and now he’s a pariah. Wolverine would have murdered a young girl in cold blood without giving her any sort of chance, and that’s totally OK.

  7. Lets not forget the surmounts of people Logan’s killed in the past on his own and in his respective groups. Not including the others in the Avengers who have done equally dark and shady things of their own free will and without. Why are they walking free getting to call themselves heroes when Cyclops in the same said situation gets the you are evil card. It wasn’t even the Phoenix X-men but Cyclops as apparently he controls the world by breathing out loud. He makes people do his bidding free will be dambed. I just want equality here. Scott deserves better than what he getting. A higher power just double edge sworded him and he cant even fall back on his supposed friends for support. Beasts “I told you so” thoughts pissed me off just as much as Steves holier than thou attitude. People need to be slapped.

    • Part of me thinks Marvel is going somewhere with this. But then they’ve always had everybody look the other way with Wolverine’s killing. Heck, Beast left Utopia and turned his back on Cyclops because he found out about X-Force. So Cyclops shut it down. Wolverine then takes it upon himself to start it back up. But when Beast finds out that Wolverine is running X-Force now, alongside running the school, Beast has absolutely no problem with it. Lotta conflicting hypocrisy. But I’d still like to think Marvel is going somewhere with it.

  8. hopefully.


      nah, it’s just godawful writing, like iron man beating Magneto or Colossus losing on purpose to rulk, or Namor losing to the thing.

  1. Pingback: Review: Uncanny Avengers #1 « Henchman-4-Hire

  2. Pingback: Cyclops Continues to Be Right « Henchman-4-Hire

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