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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Saturday Morning Comics 12 IV 2014 - Uncanny Avengers, Vol 1: The Red Shadow by Rick Remender, art by John Cassaday & Olivier Coipel

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Title: Uncanny Avengers, Vol 1: The Red Shadow
Series: Uncanny Avengers
Authors: Rick Remender, art by John Cassaday & Olivier Coipel
Copyright: 2013
Pages: 136
ISBN: 9780785168447
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Twitter: @Marvel
Format: Hardcover
Available: May 7, 2013
Rating: 3/5 stars

  • Wolverine
  • Havok
  • Cyclops
  • Captain America
  • Thor
  • Avalanche
  • Scarlet Witch
  • Rogue
  • Goat-Faced Girl
  • Dancing Water
  • The Insect
  • Mzee
  • Honest John, The Living Propaganda
  • Living Wind
  • Dangerous Jinn
  • Red Skull
  • Sunfire
  • Wasp
  • Wonder Man
  • Grim Reaper

I guess this was supposed to be the flagship title for the Marvel NOW initiative? It was the first on-going title to be released post-AvX, an amalgamation of Avengers and X-Men characters merged into one team (because, what spells more money for Marvel these days than the Avengers and the X-Men?). Anyway, I more or less ignored it, for what reason I'm all not that sure (I'm sure it had something to do with the fact that they've got Wolverine in yet another book - seriously, if there is one character in the Marvel universe that is overused, it's Wolverine). Anyway, I'd been reading the Marvel NOW X-Men titles, and really enjoying those, and then I jumped ahead a little and read Infinity, and holy crap, that impressed the hell out of me, so I thought maybe I needed to backtrack a little and pick up the Avengers collections as well. Figuring I should just start from the beginning, I went ahead and started with Uncanny Avengers.

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Picking up directly after the events of AvX, we open with the funeral of Professor X, who was murdered by Cyclops during the Phoenix Event. Wolverine offers the eulogy and walks off. Havok visits Cyclops, just to shame him some more? I don't know. Maybe to set the tone of Captain America wanting to talk to him about forming an Avengers unit consisting of Avengers and X-Men, to show the world that regular humans (even the super-powered variety) can work hand in hand with mutants. Cue the first of many far too convenient events that seem only to be thrown in to make the plot move in the direction Remender wants it to: Avalanche (who was lobotomized for an unknown reason prior to this) attacks the area conveniently right outside where Thor, Captain America, and Havok are discussing the new Avengers team, and Havok, who was previously against the idea, sees the need for the team now. (Wolverine might have been involved in this fight, but I don't remember, and I don't have the volume in front of me, and I'm not going to dig it out.)

Meanwhile, Scarlet Witch comes to pay her respects at the grave of Professor X, and Rogue shows up and they fight because Rogue is pissed with Scarlet Witch over the whole House of M mess. Suddenly, a whole slew of new villains show up and beat the crap out of Rogue and Scarlet Witch, take them prisoner, and take something Xavier's grave. Turns out, it was his body.

The Red Skull is behind all of this (a frozen clone from the 1940s), and he wants Xavier's brain, to fuse it to his own so that he can steal Xavier's mind control powers and turn all the humans in the world (or at least NYC) against mutants and start a war against the humans and mutants. (Honestly, I'm not even quite sure why this is happening. They needed a villain, one that has ties to both the Avengers and the X-Men, so came up with this ridiculous idea of the Red Skull basically turning himself into a mutant, in order to cause the world to go mutant-hating crazy). Long story short, of course the good guys win and that's the end of the first three issue arc. The Red Skull falls next to a puddle of water (conveniently) and one of his minions (who I think is a mutant, so why he doesn't want to kill her is a little vague) can travel thru water, so she happens to be right in that particular puddle, and the Red Skull escapes. Convenient.

I think maybe this story suffered from trying to rush too much story into too few issues. I think I would have like to see the build up of tensions between Captain America, Havok, and Wolverine about this new Avengers team over a little time, but instead we basically got the whole thing done in a few panels in the first issue (the Avalanche bit) and everyone was good to go.

The next two issues in this volume deal with the Wasp (who I thought was dead) and Wonder Man (who I also thought was dead), showing up to be this new team's marketing department. Basically, it's their job to make the team likeable and look non-threatening, because mutants (including creating a line of clothing based on their costumes - really?). They plan a press conference to show the world how nonthreatening mutants are, and if the Avengers will have them on the team, then of course they can't be bad at all. Cue the Grim Reaper popping up out of the crowd of journalists (I mean, seriously - nobody saw a guy standing in this crowd, in a black costume with a cape, giant pointy things come off of his head, and a FREAKING GINORMOUS SCYTHE FOR A HAND?! Seriously?!) and screaming something about being pissed with Scarlet Witch for bringing him back from the dead and him not being able to die. (When did all of these people come back from the dead? Death must be pretty pissed that she can't seem to keep a handle on everybody who's kicked the bucket in the Marvel Universe. Just saying.) He beats the crap out of everybody, except Rogue who borrows Wonder Man's powers and punches the Grim Reaper and apparently kills him (so much for him claiming to be unable to die two panels earlier). So, naturally, now it still looks like mutants can't be trusted with their own powers. And that's the end of the volume.

So... there's probably plenty of other stuff that went on in this issue that I'm not recalling, but I think it's pretty clear I was underwhelmed with the whole thing. It could be that I don't really follow the Avengers comics, so don't really know essential background info that would help make sense of all of this, but then I think about Infinity, and how that story tied in a whole lot more than what this volume did, and I could follow that and was kept intrigued by what was going on, maybe it just really was the writing for me. I don't know that I've experienced a lot of Remender's writing before, and I know a lot of people like his stuff, but I felt there was too much rushing going on, and too many convenient events going on than was necessary. It was just way too forced and rushed for my liking. The art was great, however. John Cassaday and Olivier Coipel are up to their usual best (Coipel has really been becoming a favorite of mine over the years), so there are no complaints there.

I'll probably be picking up the next volume eventually, as I'm interested in how this ties in with the future Avengers series to build up to Infinity, but I think I'm going to looking out for the other Avengers titles first, and get back to this series when I've run out of the other series to read.

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