Rick Remender (Writer), Daniel Acuña (Artist/Colorist)

The Story: With the teams divided and searching in their own ways for what is going on with the children of Archangel, the horsemen of death each gather their own specific target.

The Review: There will always be a gap between generations when it comes to appreciation of a particular title. Every fans of a certain franchise always will look up to a certain era or a certain writer when it comes to the very best representation of what they like. Some people prefer the Chris Claremont era of Uncanny X-Men, while others loved when Grant Morrison went in with his New X-Men, as the future may see the construction of a generation that will praise the Bendis era with All-New X-Men. Each team, characters and general franchise in superhero comics have been handed down throughout the years to others, with some resonating with their audience and their time. However, does Rick Remender, with his dual X-men and Avengers team make something that caters more to one group or the other?

In ways, it is admirable to see him try to combine two of the biggest franchise that Marvel has the right to. In a purely conceptual level, this is a book that could work in a big way, as some of the biggest characters comes together to fight threats that are new to some of its member, creating a melting pot of the best that Marvel could offer. In theory, the fact that Captain America, Wolverine, Thor, Havok and others need to fight the Red Skull, Kang, the children of Archangel and other likely foes to create a better reputation for mutants is sound as it should be exciting.

However, while the concept is grand, there are some problems in its execution, which can be seen in this issue. One of the bigger one, so far, is the narration and some of the bizarre throwbacks Remender use in its dialogue and explanation of events. In a way, this title tries to emulate both the old Avengers and Uncanny X-Men comics, providing us readers with narration enhancing the visual effects as well as somewhat melodramatic dialogue that makes things somewhat akin to a soap opera, a practice that was very popular in the 70’s and 80’s in comics. While it is an efficient and sometime well-handled throwback to those comics, it can be sometime a bit too much, even used in ways that slow down the pace and effect some scenes have. While the way some of the characters talk gives the readers a touch of mystery and a good showcase of their personality, it is also rife with tons of exposition and an over-abundance of melodrama, creating something that may be a bit goofy at times. It is, I suppose, the very point of such a practice, yet it does its job a bit too well as it just slows down or dumb down some of the better elements of the issue.

There are, after all, some very big and neat development in this issue, as we see the four horsemen of Death confront some of the members of the team while they are split up on a ideological principle. The way some of these characters handle these changes and situation provide for some interesting moments, like Captain America acknowledging the fact that he spent a lot of time in Zolandia, with Remender making use of the fact that he is the current writer of the Sentinel of Liberty. The interactions between some of the characters are indeed handled with care, with the Thor versus Sentry and Wonder Man versus Grim Reaper scenes being highlight of the issue. Some of the other interactions are brought down a bit by the melodramatic highlights, like the Havok/Scarlet Witch scene, yet despite the fact that the dialogue is perhaps a bit too much at times, there is no doubt that Remender gets just who these characters are.

However, as much as the character work can be solid, it wouldn’t mean much if said personalities couldn’t find a conflict or an environment in which they could clash and prosper, in which case the plot make them advance. On that front, there is nothing to be unhappy about, as the story is not only progressing in a way that is satisfactory with its revelations, it is also filled with surprises, some that are very much filled with potential for advancement or for scenes that could be worth it in the long run. Remender, like many writers of our generation, plays the long game, yet he knows that he needs to keep the readers interest with each instalment. With the horsemen of Death appearing, conflict brewing up, animosity showing its face and the use of several elements from both the Avengers and X-Men lore, Remender knows how to keep the reader’s attention thanks to a good mix of action, surprise and plot progression.

There is someone else who is good at keeping the reader’s attention, though: Daniel Acuña. His art and color work here is splendid, as he is able to give us a plethora of different environment and character designs that are wholly different, yet mesh them together without anything clashing in ways that destroy the enjoyment of the art. From underground cities, the Avengers Mansion to the deepest depth of space and alien world, he is able to draw them all with credibility, using his colors and sense of composition to transition aptly between each scenes. The way he draws powers, impact and the eerie feel some of the characters have is well-done and does credit to his talent. However, if he possess a weakness, it would the fact that he seems a tad limited in terms of clarity when it comes to facial expressions. His painted work, while very beautiful to look at, isn’t the best when it comes to be overtly detailed when it comes to characters and object in the horizon. He does manage the illusion of details when it comes to object, yet even some of the characters don’t manage so well, even up close. Still, it’s not something that detract too much from the visual enjoyment of the issue, albeit an artist of his calibre could do better.

The Conclusion: While the overuse of melodrama in the dialogue and in some of the interaction between characters comes as a distraction, the solid plotting, action and character work, combined with the rich art and color work from Acuña makes this a good addition to the ongoing saga Remender is building at Marvel.

Grade: B

-Hugo Robberts Larivière