This is a heartwarming story about two men who have worked together for over half a century (technically). The story opens with a flash back to WWII where Captain America and Namor team up to fight against the Red Skull and Nazi soldiers. The issue ends with everything coming full circle with both characters in the present: two friends who are now fighting against one another on opposing sides of the Avengers Vs. X-Men event. I really thought it was a great moment to see these two working together, and to witness Captain America's fervent belief in his history and friendship with Namor, and that their relationship and brotherly love might be enough to change his alliance. The great thing about Captain America is his sense of hope that he has that really permeates through his character in this issue. As the reader, you begin to understand and appreciate the long history that these two men have had with one another. I felt it was really beautifully captured in the moments, the layout and the dialogue of this issue.
The pacing of this issue was absolutely perfect -- and it needed to be in order to impact the reader the way that it does. It is also coupled with the gorgeous art of Mike Deodato who captures the emotions of these characters really, really well.
I loved the banter between Reed Richards and Captain America -- particularly the moment where Reed states there are two sides to this issue and that Rogers is only looking at one. The implication that Reed is looking at the situation from an outsiders perspective is accurate since the Fantastic Four have been relatively absent from the AVENGERS VS X-MEN story; but it's also one that I felt was appropriate. It makes sense that Reed -- the scientist -- is able to look at the situation from above; stepping out of it and looking at all the possible outcomes and reasons. It also makes just as much sense that Captain America would take this sort of hard-lined perspective.
As usual, Tony Stark is present to lighten the mood -- a character that Bendis knows how to write very well. His conversation with Charles Xavier was an interesting one; and it was nice to see Charles' perspective laid out the way that it was -- his feelings about Scott and Scott's decisions really coming to light.
I'm totally nitpicking here but I don't recall Captain America ever having been a founding member of Marvel's Illuminati. The roster for the group consisted of Black Bolt, Charles Xavier, Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic and Namor -- but not Captain America. Granted, the existence of the Illuminati was recently revealed so maybe that changed, but I don't remember it ever being specifically stated that Steve Rogers was a member. And I certainly wasn't expecting him to play leader of the group.
Reed Richard's dialogue was great here, save for that moment where it just didn't sound like Reed. As a scientist, I think Reed would have followed up his argument with Captain America with a list of facts as proof and evidence of what he believed, and that simply didn't happen. Overall the interaction and the discussion between the two characters was great, but it would have been even better if Reed were given the opportunity to back up some of his statements with evidence.
Bendis put a lot of thought into depicting the staring on Captain America and Namor's relationship, and it was good of him to address the fact that Namor is both a mutant and a member of the Avengers. There was never a moment where I felt Namor would have said "OK, I'll fight for the Avengers," but I still thought it was interesting to see the way he reacts to Captain America. It was also good to see that there is a mutual level of respect the two characters have for one another -- a sort of brotherly love -- and that even that is stronger than their opposing perspectives; or at least strong enough to keep them from killing one another for a minute.
Althpugh it's not vital to your AVENGERS VS. X-MEN reading experience, I did find that it was a valuable read and I'm glad they addressed some of the things we see in this issue. I would even go so far as to say that it is one of my favorite issues to come out of the AVENGERS VS. X-MEN story line; so if you're looking for a good, self-contained book that relates to that event, then this will not disappoint you.