In an already divisive crossover, "AVX VS" might be one of the most divisive comics to be published this year. Where some loved its purely technical approach, others found it utterly devoid of interesting content. But if there's one thing everyone should be able to agree on, it's that "AVX VS" #6 is the most entertaining issue of the series by a considerable distance.
In part, that's because the book breaks the constraints of its regular format. Previous issues featured two 10-page fight scenes in which Avengers fought X-Men. This time, there's a lead 10-pager in which Hope and the Scarlet Witch finally throw down, but the remainder of the book is padded out with short, (mostly) gag strips by some of Marvel's top creators.
The lead story, by Kieron Gillen and Jim Cheung, suffers slightly due to the rather nebulous powers of its main characters. The script isn't without Gillen's now-trademark moments of comedy, but even Jim Cheung's fantastic work struggles to make several pages of vaguely-defined energy manipulation seem like a relatable threat. The fight skews towards becoming a wholly abstract battle of wills, and only a well-placed, precisely executed punchline saves it from being just that.
The rest of the issue is sub-divided into the funny and the not-so-funny. Bendis and Mahfood's one-pager is a welcome reminder of why the pair should team up more often. Kathryn and Stuart Immonen's "Science Battle" is an instant one-page classic. Hastings & Chabot's battle of the custodians piece is another. The book's final strip, a Pixie and Squirrel Girl piece (by Dan Slott and Katie Cook) reveals the terrible secret of "AVX VS" and is worth the cover price alone.
However, it's not all top-drawer stuff. Deodato Jr.'s contribution is unrepentantly slight, looking more like a spare piece of "Uncanny Avengers" promo material than anything else. The "Spider-Woman Vs. X-Women" piece by Jeph Loeb and Art Adams' manages to patronize both its audience and its stars with some weakly justified prurience. Luckily, nothing else comes close to being a misfire, and in a book with so many contributors that's a hit-rate worth celebrating.
It feels like unhelpful shorthand to praise a comic for being fun, so even though that's what "AVX VS" #6 is, let's instead praise its other qualities: it's humorous, inventive and routinely gorgeous. Best of all, it puts together unusual creative teams and gives them the space to do what they do best -- and as any comic reader knows, that's where magic comes from. It's no surprise "AVX VS" #6 is full of exactly that.