This is the smackdown we have all been waiting for folks: Rogue vs. Ms. Marvel. But instead what we get is an attempt by Christos Gage to have a fight that doubles as a moral lesson taught by Carol Danvers.
This is a run of the mill issue. Main character intercepts distress call, which ends up in an ambush with another hero that ends up in a fist fight due to miscommunication; it’s a tried and tested formula. Granted the X-Men and Avengers are at war and therefore Rogue’s jump to violence is justifiable, but it is still an uninspired plot.
Gage gets to show a post Phoenix Five world and it is nice to see that some of humanity don’t share The Avengers distaste for this new world order. In fact having Rogue treated like an Avenger by the bridge workers at least deposits the idea that some people welcome the change and adds credence to the X-Men’s position. Gage also uses this new status quo to at least give us some insight into what some of Wolverine’s side think about this situation. Iceman is understandably happy with it all stating, “finally we made the dream come true.” His scene is only small, but Gage manages to infuse it with a sense of relief, which is fitting as Iceman has been fighting for that dream since the beginning. Gage also gives the same relief to Rogue who is happy to no longer be hunted.
Of course, the love-in ends when Ms. Marvel turns up. Gage makes sure to really hammer home Carol Danvers side of things. She has a logical view and Danvers dialogue will do a lot to convince even the stalwart X-fan to question how long this will all last. But the flip side of that dialogue is that it highlights the whole crossover’s feeling that it is heading for an inevitable and predictable ending. This all could be a massive red herring, but such pontificating doesn’t make this issue anymore interesting. Danvers’ side of the argument outweighs Rogue’s because the X-Man isn’t given a convincing counter argument. Another reason Danvers point of view wins out is due to the actions of the utterly sinister Magik. The little blonde dresses like a dominatrix, wields a flaming sword and creates a prison out of a piece of a Hell dimension. She doesn’t really come across as a benevolent force for good.
But the main thrust of the issue is the fight between Ms. Marvel and Rogue. David Baldeon does his best to deliver a fun and exciting sequence. However, it is just another fight scene with no real stand-out moment. He does execute a well-paced and clean book that allows the fight to at least come across as a frenetic brawl. Both Rogue and Ms. Marvel are depicted as gritted teeth warriors, each one expressing shock, pain and determination through Baldeon’s pencils. However there is a lot of energy blasts and signatures emanating from the combatants hands, and in Ms. Marvel’s case her feet. Baldeon’s usage of them crowds some of the panels. On the whole, the art is serviceable, though.
The art and the writing come together to make a very average book. Nothing happens within its pages that you haven’t seen before. It moves along at a great pace and it entertains to a point, but you will forget it in an hour. As for its connection to Avengers vs. X-Men, the issue merely pushes ahead with ideas already present in the main event title. Ms. Marvel comes across as a rational voice and reinforces the idea that the Avengers are heroes. The cliffhanger blatantly signposts Rogue’s course of action next issue and doesn’t do anything surprising, much like the rest of the issue.