Readers that follow the stories of the Avengers and/or the X-Men are very aware that Captain America and Wolverine aren’t the best of friends. When the battle between the Avengers and X-Men started, it was very surprising to see that the Cap and Wolvie were fighting on the same team. But it was obvious that this uneasy alliance couldn’t last forever. In Avengers Vs. X-Men #3, the latest chapter in this epic series, Captain America takes center stage and things finally come to a head for him and Wolverine.
It’s Ed Brubaker’s turn on this issue. His previous work with Captain America has been met with success, both critical and financial, and has been responsible for several of Brubaker’s awards for writing, thus making him the obvious choice for this chapter. No one can deny Brubaker’s abilities to tell a story and to tell it well. His choice to change gears here and drop most of the action was inspired. This is an interesting, dramatic and necessary chapter of the story but it is also the slowest. In leaving most of the fighting out, Brubaker shows that his talent lies not only in telling an action-packed story, but also in his restraint to not overwhelm readers with more than necessary. While the first two issues delivered on action and blood, this issue focuses more on just the storytelling, giving us only one fight, and provides readers with a moment to get their bearings and take in what is happening. The dialogue flows exactly as it should, and the writing is consistent throughout. Unfortunately, when it comes to comics, the story and the dialogue can only carry it so far before the art has to carry some weight. This is where this issue stumbles.
John Romita Jr. has a list of comics under his belt much longer than most artists in the industry can boast. In his almost 35 years in the industry, Romita Jr. has worked on everything from The Amazing Spider-Man to Kick-Ass to The Gray Area and dozens of other titles in between. Considering this level of experience, his work on this series has been truly inconsistent and is definitely not some of his best. The characters seem to change in appearance every few panels, his shots tend to get a bit muddy when we are faced with more than a few characters at a time, and the art is just a bit too cartoony for a book with this level of seriousness. His work on Issue #1 was really not great, and lacked a bit of sophistication. It appeared in Issue #2 that he had found his footing and other than a few panels, his work on that issue was very good. In Issue #3, though, it seems that he has slipped back a few steps. Marvel is currently running a sister series entitled AVX: VS., which completely removes the plot and treats readers to only the fights contained in the Avengers Vs. X-Men series. The AVX: VS series decided on Adam Kubert to take on the art duties, and the art is brilliant. The problem with that is seeing Kubert’s artwork gives readers a taste of what the Avengers Vs. X-Men series could be if given the appropriate artist. As of now, Avengers Vs. X-Men is a good series. If the artistic tasks had been assigned to a more appropriate artist, the series could be great.
Scott Hanna and Laura Martin have both done all that they can here, and as with the previous issues, Martin has really succeeded in her choice of colors. The subtlety of blues in her skies, the reds she uses to give us a sense of anger, even the colors in the characters uniforms are all prime examples of the direction that this series should be going. If there is a saving grace when it comes to the artwork, it is at the hands of Martin. The brilliance of her colors almost makes you overlook the less than stellar work done by Romita Jr. Chris Eliopoulos also does another amazing job with his lettering, giving the characters their own unique voices while providing us with the ambient noise necessary for the reader to completely submerge themselves into the story.
All in all, while this is the most interesting chapter in the series so far, and provided the inevitable fight between two strong minded heroes, when it comes to the art, this issue just falls short and truly takes away from the story. As mentioned, Martin really does her best to save the art but there is only so much she could do. While this is still a great series and one that readers are sure to continue through its 12 issue arc, one can only hope that going forward Romita Jr. either tightens his work up a bit, or that a different artist steps into his shoes to give this series the attention that it deserves.