By: Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction & Jonathan Hickman (story), Jason Aaron (story & script), Adam Kubert (pencils & inks), John Dell & Mark Morales (inks), Laura Martin & Justin Ponsor (colors), and Chris Eliopoulos (letters)

The Story: The Scarlet Witch and Hope take on Dark Phoenix Scott Summers for all the marbles.

The Review: No one will ever accuse AvX of being subtle, nuanced, or even particularly smart writing.  That being said, it never really aspired to be more than it is.  So really, how much you enjoy it, and how much you’ll enjoy this issue, is really largely dependent upon your feelings about big event comics in general.  For myself, I honestly had fun reading this issue.  It wasn’t anything exceptional, but I enjoyed myself.  It was a solid, cathartic conclusion to the story and, yeah, AvX winds up being about a hundred times better than Fear Itself.

In many ways, there’s a sense that AvX goes full circle.  With zero issue, the focus was solely on Hope and Wanda and then, much to my disappointment, they sort of got tossed aside.  In the finale, the focus is back squarely on them with the fate of the world in their hands, as it’s made clear that only they can take down Scott.  On the one hand, I actually thought that the action scene between Scott and Wanda and Hope was a little too brief, but looking at the long-term, this issue has done wonders in establishing Hope and Wanda as major players and heavy-hitters in the Marvel Universe.  I’m cool with that and, really, who doesn’t want more prominent, strong female leads in Marvel Comics?

For Hope, this issue actually made me care about her, shockingly.  There’s a real “coming of age” feel with this issue as her narrative arc closes.  It feels like the whole “Messiah” chapter of her life reaches its culmination here and ultimately closes, allowing her to find herself, reach her full potential, and turn the page on her life.  It’s the culmination of all those years of Jean Grey comparisons and hearing about how important she is, and her destiny and such…and it also allows us, and her, to move on from that.  In that sense, the Hope/Messiah story’s finally finding closure here proves cathartic.

I also like where the issue leaves Cyclops: imprisoned and simultaneously riddled with guilt and self-justification.  Aaron writes his dialogue well after the dust settles, a man burdened by blood and hate attempting to find meaning and the positive side to his actions.

Kubert’s art, meanwhile, is as strong as you’d expect.  As I’ve said in previous reviews, Kubert just has a style that is well-suited to giant event comics.  He’s great at depicting big, bombastic action and his work is well-detailed.  I also like how he subtly changed things up during the flashback scenes, giving them a looser feel to the battle scenes, making them feel more relaxed and less intense.

Honestly, my favourite thing about this issue is that it’s not just Hope turning the page, it’s Marvel as a whole, in some ways. AvX #12 really feels like Marvel closing the book on the Quesada era and moving into the Alonso one.  Given this, the fact that this book is being followed by a relaunch makes sense. AvX #12 really does put a cap on the stuff that’s been lingering since House of M, resetting back to a new status quo no longer shaped by that event.  The “no more mutants” status quo that lasted throughout Quesada’s tenure is dealt with, bringing the mutants into a whole new era. AvX #12 sort of feels like an unburdening in this respect: an undoing or changing of what’s been the status quo for the last 8 years or so and a resolution to a plot that’s been hanging for almost as long, with respect to hope, thus leaving the future wide open and uncertain, and isn’t that exciting?

Conclusion: It’s not the greatest comic in itself, but there’s something innately satisfying about this issue that feels like a weight’s been lifted by the end of it.

Grade: B

-Alex Evans