REVIEW: ‘Avengers & X-Men: AXIS’ #4

(Marvel Comics, 2014)

Written by Rick Remender
Pencils by Leinil Francis Yu
Inks by Gerry Alanguilan
Color Artwork by Edgar Delgado

Last issue saw the bad guys come to the rescue as Magneto rounded up some of the biggest baddies in the Marvel Universe and convinced them to trade their black hats for white ones, if only on a temporary basis. Rick Remender has made character development and interaction the cornerstone of this story. Each of these characters has a clearly defined agenda; some more clearly defined than others but the driving force behind each faction whether Avengers or X-Men are meticulously detailed and evident in their actions. Of course every act is defined by the motivation and intention behind it, good or evil intent can make an action take on an entirely opposite meaning; it all comes down to the subtle nuances of character and that is where Remender excels so much over the course of the past four issues. Particularly in the case of Sam Wilson, not as a man but as the new Captain America; in the obviously unfamiliar terrain of being an icon, Wilson comes up a bit lacking especially in one poignant scene where he resorts to physical violence against Nick Fury. Wilson decrees he is not THAT Captain America and it is painfully apparent in that instance. Remender’s penchant for writing engrossing villains that border on anti-heroes serves him well once more as he finds unlikely allies in the darkest depths of the 616, however this time he has his work cut out for him with the return of a certain big blue meanie in this issue.

The fallout from Scarlet Witch and Dr. Doom’s inversion spell takes center stage in this issue particularly in the case of Kluh which is the name the inverted Hulk is now going by. Along with the new name Hulk is sporting a new look complete with spikey white Mohawk and glowing red trimmed armor, but the differences are far more than superficial. For instance the presence of Doc Green seems to be more or less utterly nullified as Kluh has reverted back to a more primitive monosyllabic speech and with this one would assume must come a diminished intellect or at least ability to reason out complex problems. Everyone is more than a little disillusioned at this point in the narrative which is normal for Scott Summers but a sullen nature is not the norm for many of these characters. Remender’s story is certainly an emotionally charged tale, its bleak at times but always intense. The dialog is full of urgency while maintaining a genuine sense of authenticity of character. This is a fast paced narrative built on drama and fortified with action.

Once again I am completely blown away by Leinil Yu’s stunning artwork. Yu’s imagery is dynamic and full of energy that drives the plot even when the action is of a dramatic nature. However, when the scene calls for over the top pandemonium no one delivers the goods like Yu. His inventive use of panels lends his page compositions a cinematic sensibility that works extremely well with this type of book. Edgar Delgado’s colors bring a heightened sense of the dramatic through his moody use of shadows but when the scene needs a kick of color he electrifies the page with brilliantly vivid choices from his limitless palette. The finished effect is gorgeous; this is truly one of the most talented creative teams working today. One look at this issue and you will see why.

Axis is built on a painstakingly detailed foundation, equal parts continuity and characterization. Remender is an architect of storytelling, he builds narratives more than just writes them and the proof is on the pages of this story. There is a sense of the epic event but more as an undercurrent moving the elements of a complex, poignant and deeply dramatic story along at an enthralling pace. The art is breath taking at times for the detailed emotions evident on the characters faces and at other times for the sheer kinetic energy imparted by the dynamic imagery. This is just plain great sequential art storytelling by a brilliant team of creators who want nothing more than to tell a great story, you do not want to miss this one True Believers. (4.5/5)


Shawn is an aspiring writer/ artist who has been reading, collecting and living comic books for over 30 years. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, their son, lots of cats, dogs and other various finned and furry friends.

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