Written by MATT FRACTION
Art by JOHN ROMITA JR. & SCOTT HANNA
Colors by LAURA MARTIN
Letters by CHRIS ELIOPOULOS
The Phoenix is here and it is not pleased. With issue #5 of the series, readers finally get to the good stuff and it was worth the wait. Everything has led up to this moment and when things don’t go the way that either team was expecting, we finally get to the all-out war between the Avengers and the X-Men.
Matt Fraction knows the X-Men intimately, having worked on their main title in the past. He is able to think like the team and understand how they would react and why. This fact does not stop him from stepping right into the Avengers’ heads while he acts as referee between the two teams though. In this issue readers are presented to a narrative through Hope’s perspective as the Phoenix arrives. She asks us a simple question to put things into perspective – The name of the man that pressed the button that dropped the atomic bomb was Thomas Ferebee; would his name matter to those that were killed by the bomb? Hope, in this case, pressed the button when she felt that she could contain the Phoenix. In the end, though, once the world has been destroyed, it no longer matters who was wrong. Somehow, this simple truth is lost on the teams, and through Fraction we see how this feud was bubbling beneath the surface for years. In this issue it is no longer just a fight. The teams are out for blood and Fraction presents it in a way that is both heartbreaking and exhilarating. Readers that have already chosen their side may find themselves switching their allegiance once we see how quickly blame is thrown and by whom.
Knowing the importance of this issue, John Romita Jr. keeps things tight and presents readers with his best work on the series so far. This is two issues in a row in which Romita has taken his time and given readers the work that they should expect with a title like this and while it may a bit too early to call it, he may have finally found his footing. His action shots are tight, his stills are wonderful, and he has paid attention to every detail in almost every panel. Laura Martin continues her impressive run, breathing life into every panel and presenting us with a Phoenix that is both beautiful and frightening. Her choice of colors continues to be inspired and her understanding of these characters transfers through when we see her interpretation. She has consistently provided top notch work since the first issue and there really is no sign of her slowing. Chris Eliopoulos also continues his fine run with this one, providing readers with the perfect sound effects to put them right into the action and giving voice to the various characters. This series includes a huge cast and providing each character with its own distinct voice is a chore that many could not rise to. Eliopoulos succeeds here smoothly and flawlessly.
All in all, issue #5 is the most successful issue of this epic series to date. While that may not be saying much, it does encourage readers of the series to continue to its finale. Now that all of the buildup is out of the way, one can only hope that from here on out we will see nothing but great work from all involved.