(Editor's Note: Slight Spoilers Spotted Dead Ahead!)
There is a division between those that see the Phoenix Force as the end of the world and those who dream it to be the beginning of a new one! But the division is not as simple as merely Avenger vs. X-Man. There is a deeper separation within the mutant race, one that even Team Cyclops and Team Wolverine can't encapsulate. There is a difference between "team" and "family," and only now is the mutant race realizing that even a schism cannot separate them for long!
Christos Gage gives us the perfect amalgam of characterization and high octane action in this issue, falling directly within the flow of Avengers vs. X-Men and not involving flashbacks — no other crossover book has so far! We see the teachers of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning ponder their places in the current war. While most of them stay to give the students a semblance of normalcy during this time of chaos, both Iceman and Rachel Grey leave to join Cyclops against the Avengers. Meanwhile, Falcon, Moon Knight and She-Hulk arrive at the school in order to "check-in" on the X-Men and make sure they won't cause any trouble in the future. As hindsight is 20/20, maybe Falcon should have chosen his group more wisely, as it is his team that breaks rank first and brings the war down on children!
More than just another smash mouth issue, Gage writes an intelligent story dealing with the worries of a "family" and their actions. The individual choices are hard and yet, cunningly in line with each characters sense of self. There are no drastic deviations in character - like some other crossover books - and it helps the story feel realistic and true. And when the inevitable battle does ensue, it is powerful and exciting with an undercurrent of hatred and confusion. Truly, a pitch perfect offering from Gage that will resonate throughout the other X books!
Not only is Gage's tale fantastic, but Rafa Sandoval's art solidifies it as one of the best books this week. Sandoval is completely underrated for the talent he posses. Clean, crisp lines that give off a vibe of hyper excitement in even the most mundane sequence, Sandoval takes every page to the next level! Utterly, fantastic!
This issue has everything that a comic book reader craves in one small package! You will ponder, you will wince and you will cheer when Moon Knight gets put down like a rabid dog! So, drop three bills in the plate and worship on bended knee in the House of Gage and Sandoval! 'Nuff said!