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Uncanny Avengers #1 – Review

By: Rick Remender (story), John Cassaday (art), Laura Martin (colors), and Chris Eliopoulos (letters)

The Story:  Cap tries to form a new team embodying Xavier’s dream of co-habitation as Havok pays a visit to his brother, Wanda and Rogue come to blows, and the Red Skull gets up to some really grotesque stuff.

The Review:  For those familiar with Rick Remender’s work, this title is very different from anything we’ve seen from him prior.  With John Cassaday’s slick, polished artwork, this is the big, flagship Marvel Comic sort of book.  Rest assured, however, that Remender nonetheless nails it, giving us an issue that almost feels like an issue from an event.  That said, while Remender’s usual weirdness takes a backseat, it’s still very much there, giving the book a real edge to it.

While the “big event” feel to the book certainly lends it some superficial appeal, the real strength to this issue is the dialogue.  Now, I understand that for some, this may not mark a successful first issue, which is often associated with giant explosions and a ripping pace; you don’t really expect the highlight to be the quiet, cerebral conversations.  However, this is what Remender gives us, demonstrating that he is capable of subtlety in  his writing where required.  There are three big scenes here:  Wolverine’s eulogy for Professor X, Havok’s visiting his brother in prison, and Rogue confronting Scarlet Witch over Chuck’s grave.  To put it simply, Remender knocks it out of the park on all three fronts.  All the scenes are sincere, have emotional heft, and feel genuine.  For the eulogy, Logan’s brutal bluntness and lack of sugar-coating is perfect for the character and emphasizes the tragedy.  Havok and Cyclop’s conversation is a great scene where two sides argue but don’t quite seem to connect with one another, leaving for a frustrating dialogue where neither side seems to come out a winner.  As for Rogue and Wanda, well, Rogue basically gives voice to all the people who say that Wanda got off light.  Both Wanda and Rogue get in some epic burns on one another.  Between all three scenes, what’s most impressive is just how uncompromising Remender’s dialogue is – his characters really go for the throat and rip into each other and there words are really biting and really personal.  It’s great stuff.

I will also say that Remender writes Red Skull brilliantly as well.  He sort of takes the Skull in a creepy, eugenics based direction that makes sense while emphasizing the twisted, cerebral nature of the Skull as a villain.

The fact that Remender hides and downplays his trademark weirdness for so long only makes it more effective when said weirdness does show up.  The new bad guys he introduces, for instance, have really cool and inventive powers.  Of course, there’s also that last page which, if you’ve spent ANY time on the comics corner of the internet, you’ve likely already had spoiled for you.  It’s a gigantic wtf moment that comes out of left field straight from the mind of the guy who wrote Fear Agent and Frankencastle.  It’s so gratuitous and over-the-top and downright crazy that it’s hard to believe that Remender actually had the balls to go there.  It’s certainly a cliffhanger, I’ll say that.

As far as Cassaday’s artwork goes, I still can’t say that it’s at the level of his work on Astonishing X-Men.  That being said, it’s also some of the best stuff I’ve seen from him in quite a while.  Aside from feeling super-polished and “big budget,” Cassaday’s work just has a tremendous sense of drama to it.  Given how character-focused this issue is, that’s a definite boon.  Also, Remender does give us one action scene here and Cassaday illustrated action sequences, even fairly simple ones like the one here, are always inherently satisfying to read.

Conclusion:  Marvel NOW is off to a rock solid start with this one.  A character-driven, introspective read with a gigantic wtf of a final page.

Grade: B+

- Alex Evans

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6 Responses

  1. I also didn’t enjoy this book. Maybe I had high hopes, ‘cos of the hype – but it fell flat to me. For one, the Avengers come across as bullies. It’s not about working with the mutants – it’s about the mutants working FOR the Avengers, period, and they have no say in the matter. Cap and Thor are cold and smug. I felt Thor was written in an Avengers movie way too, which didn’t help (felt un-Thor-like).

    I also don’t get how a mature-readers book is the flagship of a new publishing initiative that’s about getting new readers onboard. What if you’re a new reader but a teen? Marvel obviously only cares about one target market now. The opening and closing pages too – was there any need for any of that? Both served no point.

    I found the last page distasteful. W/o spoiling it for anyone’s whose not read it – it made me feel sad that said character’s not coming back. Marvel have absolutely destroyed the X-Men concept and brand, for no reason than to make the Avengers be dominant.

    I had high hopes too, because of the creative team. But their art and dialogue didn’t feel organic, didn’t gel for me. Both felt cold, detached; like they’d been stitched together – or belonged to two separate books.

  2. It’s funny…..It just shows how tuned out I am on superhero comics because I thought this was dreadful. First, I can’t fathom how they gave this art gig to Cassaday when you look at all the guys they have under contract who are still in their prime. I’d love to see Cassaday get it back to the guy who drew Planetary, but I’m not holding my breath.

    Plus, I just loathe the whole thing with Cyclops locked up. It’s dumb. Everyone else who gets possessed and screws things up just gets to wander around, but Cyclops has to be locked up? Cap just sounds like a prick, d-bag.

    I don’t get Havok being the pick to lead the new wave. I mean….the guy has always been a B-list X-Men and was in space for years. Makes no sense that he’d be “the guy”. It’s the kinda thing that makes me wonder how many other mutants turned down Cap off panel. Why not Storm or Iceman or Kitty or Beast if Wolverine is too icky?

    And I’m sick of the Scarlet Witch thing…..Just make her go away.

    I’m just coming to the conclusion that these comics aren’t for me anymore. I mean, there are a few that rise above (Batman, Wolverine and the X-Men and a few others), but this just told me that Marvel doesn’t want my money. They’re writing comics for someone else now…

    • Sometimes a break is needed from superhero comics. During the fall and spring semesters, I’m forced to take hiatuses because of the workload (I have 7 classes and 115 students at the moment!) But the time off helps when you come back–everything is fun again.

    • I’ve heard the point raised about Cyclops quite a bit, given that this is a universe where Magneto, Wolverine, Wanda, and Tony Stark run free and Norman Osborn was even given a position of power.

      The way I look at it is that Cyclops’ not being jailed for his crimes would just be following a long line of illogical precedent. That doesn’t change the fact that it’d be in itself, well, illogical. Complaining about Cyclops’ being in jail not making sense is akin to complaining that you were imprisoned for murder because the last five guys who committed murder got off. Doesn’t change the fact that you killed someone and murder is against the law, prior miscarriages of justice notwithstanding. Accusing Marvel of inconsistency here is basically saying that they’re wrong just because they finally got it right instead of continuing on with their further path of wrongness.

      As for Havok, he’s there because Remender wants him to be. In situations like this, I like to allow the creator that freedom – better he stretches credulity a little in order to get to write a character he really wants to right than have a character pushed on him by editorial just because that makes more sense.

      With Wands, your comment is a little strange because you make it sound like she’s EVERYWHERE or there’s too much of her…when she’s been gone for years. Then again, I’m biased, what with Wanda basically being my favourite Avenger as a kid.

      • also, one thing that’s ambiguous is just how possessed Scott really was. Given his unrepentant manner, I think it’s relatively apparent that he was more in control of his actions than, say, Bucky Barnes when he was under Soviet control or Daredevil during Shadowland.

      • I see and accept all of your points. I think it just comes down to the fact that I’m looking at this through urine-colored glasses….it makes me see the flaws that I ignore when I’m basically enjoying the work. The flaws are always there, but sometimes you can roll with them and sometimes you can’t.

        It may be that I just need a break from this stuff. That’s kinda happening anyway. I’m barely reading any of these comics anymore. However, I always hold out hope….I downloaded Uncanny Avengers right away and read it. I wanted it to be good for me….but it just wasn’t.

        I just think they’re making comics for other people now. I’m not going to bitch about it. I’m just going to spend my money on other things.

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