This week we unwrap the finales of Marvel’s latest event and the Batman & Robin storyline “Robin Rises”! Are they bright shiny toys, or lumps of coal? Find out NOW!
Avengers & X-Men: AXIS #9 (of 9) (Marvel Comics)
Avengers & X-Men: AXIS has come to an end, and has once again “changed the face of the Marvel Universe as we know it”.
Except, it kinda didn’t. Sure, events happen in the finale of Rick Remender’s story, but none of the moments hit as hard as they could, and the whole thing feels very rushed, especially with four credited artists on the issue (Terry Dodsen, Jamie Cheung, Adam Kubert, and Lienil Francis Yu).
This issue is essentially a long battle, as Steve Rogers attempts to get the Red Skull (who has Xavier’s mind in control) out of Manhattan in hopes of finding a way of reversing the inversion spell that started this whole event. Of course, this is easier said than done, as Rogers has to make his way through the Avengers’ battle with Apocalypse and the X-Men, and avoid Sam Wilson’s Captain America, who’s hot on Rogers’s tail.
Remender’s script is kind of all over the place, and also takes some pretty big narrative leaps in order to fit in everything he needs for this finale. It’s also hard to place AXIS in Marvel’s current continuity, as the fight between Loki and Thor takes place on the moon, which still has Mjolnir firmly implanted on it’s surface (I’m pretty sure that the events in the current Thor comic take place right after Original Sin, but I could be mistaken). Regardless, this is only one of a few instances that make you scratch your head while reading AXIS. Yes, you find out why Tony Stark still acts like a douche, but the two characters that he protects from the reverse inversion spell didn’t leave me saying “wow”, or all that intrigued for that matter.
In regards to the art, it all looks pretty nice. However, mashing Jamie Cheung, Lienil Francis Yu, Adam Kubert, and Terry Dodsen into the same book doesn’t work. They’re all great artists, but it’s really jarring looking at a few pages by Dodsen, then flipping the page and seeing Kubert’s work, then Cheung’s on the next page. Marvel would’ve been better off just picking two of these artists and having them split the book down the middle. I understand that Marvel doesn’t want to have their big event finale be delayed, but come on, you couldn’t have come up with a better way than this?
I had pretty high hopes for Avengers & X-Men: AXIS, and unfortunately Rick Remender and his artists couldn’t meet them. Maybe I’m just getting burnt out on Marvel’s events. While it had an original concept, AXIS’ execution was pretty sloppy, and in the end, there wasn’t a huge universe wide shaking event (although watching Tony be a bad guy will be pretty fun). I was really hoping that Rick Remender could avoid the “Marvel Event writer curse”, but I guess even the man who wrote Uncanny X-Force wasn’t able to defeat it. Ah well, at least it was still better than Age of Ultron.
Robin Rises Alpha #1 (DC Comics)
Not to be left out, DC’s also ending a major event this week. While it’s a bit of a smaller event, Robin Rises Alpha is a way more satisfying finale than the one I previously reviewed. Batman and Robin writer Peter J. Thomasi’s final entry in the Batman’s saga of reviving Damian is an action packed and emotional finale, and the art by Andy Kubert is pretty impressive as well.
Picking up after the events of last week’s Batman and Robin, Bruce Wayne has succeeded in reviving his son from death thanks to technology from Apokolips, only to succumb to injuries sustained by using the volatile HellBat armor. Thankfully, Bruce is only out of commission for a few moments, which is good, because Kalibak appears through the open Boom Tube in the BatCave and wants payback. What follows is a pretty spectacular battle between the son of Darkseid and the Batman’s allies. It’s also a great showcase for the changes that Damian has undergone since his new resurrection.
Peter J Tomasi’s script balances action, humor, and heart perfectly. He leaves ample room for our characters to reconnect with one another, but also knows when it’s time for these characters to start throwing punches. There are some killer action scenes, but also plenty of moments between Damian and Bruce (and Damian and Alfred) that may even leave you a little choked up.
Andy Kubert’s artwork starts off pretty rough, but quickly turns a corner within a few pages. Kubert delivers some absolutely jaw dropping action scenes in this issue, and while his facial work still looks a little wonky here an there, it’s leagues better than his Damian: Son of Batman work. As good as the action scenes are, Kubert really shines in the quieter moments at the end of the issue, which callback to earlier issues of Batman and Robin in a really fun way.
Batman & Robin is a criminally underrated book, and Peter J. Tomasi is a criminally underrated writer. While Batman gets a ton of praise (and deservedly so), it’s important to point out that Batman & Robin has been just as strong as Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s monthly masterpiece. I wasn’t surprised that Robin Rises Alpha kept up Tomasi’s stellar track record, but I’m happy that it does. I know that a lot of people jumped on this title with this storyline; hopefully they stick around and see what’s next.