Kaitlyn Booth

Avengers & X-Men: Axis #5: Not Even A Little New Reader Friendly

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Avengers & X-Men: Axis #5, by writer Rick Remender and artist Terry Dodson, might be one of the least new reader friendly events in years that makes so little sense even seasoned fans might not understand what is going on.

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Avengers & X-Men: Axis #5 cover by Jim Cheung via Marvel.com

Avengers & X-Men: Axis #5

WRITER: Rick Remender

ARTIST: Terry Dodson

COLORIST: Laura Martin and Matt Milla

LETTERER: Chris Eliopoulos

PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics

RELEASE DATE: November 12, 2014

Try this comic for yourself, delivered right to your doorstep: Avengers and X-Men Axis #1 (of 9), Avengers and X-Men Axis #2 (of 9), Avengers and X-Men Axis #3 (of 9), Avengers and X-Men Axis #4 (of 9), Avengers and X-Men Axis #5 (of 9)

Avengers & X-Men: Axis #5 is an ongoing Marvel mini event that brings nearly the entire Marvel universe together against one adversary. Charles Xavier has been murdered and Red Skull has harnessed the telepathic powers of the X-Men founder to psychically spread a wave of hatred throughout the entire world. Will the Avengers and the X-Men finally set aside their differences to deal with this new threat, or will their past troubles get in the way?

I spent the better part of the last half hour trying to write a summary for Avengers & X-Men: Axis (or just Axis for the sake of this review) because it’s not a series I can really explain. I say that not because it’s some sort of epic that transcends words, but because I don’t have any idea what’s going on! I consider myself a rather large Marvel fan, and I have tried to stay on top of the major changes that continue to happen in the Marvel universe. I haven’t had a chance to read Original Sin, but I know what consequences have stemmed from that series. I know why Sam Wilson is Captain America and why there are multiple groups of the X-Men running around. If I’m not reading a series, I at least try to follow the major events since everything is connected.

With all this knowledge I should have been able to pick up issue #1 of Axis and have no trouble understanding what is going on, yet here we are five issues in and I still could not begin to tell you what’s going on. There is a running joke in the comic world that comics are much weirder than the casual fan really knows, and that’s fine. However, the entire part of the Marvel NOW re-branding is that Marvel is trying to pull in new readers. The argument is that is has never been a better time to get into comics because a lot of books are fairly “new reader friendly” which is what Marvel wants. They are building an entire empire based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, their cartoons, and even Disney Infinity. However, an event like Axis is the opposite of what Marvel Comics should be producing. If your fans have no idea what’s going on how are you supposed to draw in new readers?

This might have something to do with writer Rick Remender who doesn’t seem to have any consistency when it comes to the quality of his storytelling. On one hand I absolutely loved his limited series Winter Soldier: Bitter March, but I found the Age of Ultron to be incredibly boring and hard get into. His current run on Captain America has been extremely problematic with various storylines ignored and sales dropping dramatically. I’ve got his new run on Captain America sitting on my desk, so I’m curious to see if this is going to be another Bitter March, or Age of Ultron when it comes to writing.

These events are also happening far too close together. I was still getting side stories from Original Sin when I picked up Axis #1. These things are happening far too often and they are losing their weight. The universe wide events used to be something to look forward to, but now I wish they would stop so we could focus on individual plotlines. Marvel seems to have forgotten that people fell in love with these characters not because we got to see them fight each other or team up, but because we watched them slowly evolve. There isn’t evolution in an event because it’s all spectacle.

The thing I can liken Axis closest to is Civil War only Civil War at least made sense on a basic storytelling level. However, the legendary event is also one of the most out-of-character pieces I have ever read in Marvel Comics. Civil War is the reason that the entire 616 Comics Universe hates Tony Stark, and why he has become one of the most unlikable characters. Axis seems to be doing the same thing, only they are trying to turn everyone into an unlikable jerk. Why are the X-Men suddenly all gung-ho to go to war against humanity and the Avengers? Why is Sam Wilson slapping people? Why did someone think the phrase “I am the Hulk’s Hulk” was a good idea? And why is the “twist” so obvious and such an incredible cop out to hand wave half of this plot away?*

Avengers & X-Men: Axis is the jumping point for a lot of new series including All New Captain America, Captain America and the Mighty Avengers,  and The Superior Iron Man. This worries me because it’s very hard to start something great when there is such a shaky foundation. I’ve given Axis five issues to change my mind, but it only seems to be getting more and more confusing. If you’re interested in anything that has come “from the pages of Axis” then you’d be better off looking for a wikipedia summary than reading the actual books. A wikipedia summary is probably going to at least be concise.

*I don’t know if I am right when it comes to the twist, but I have a pretty good feeling. I hope I’m wrong.

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