Marvel NOW! is here at last, and just like any major movement in the Marvel Universe, it calls for a new Avengers team! But this one’s a bit different. For starters, Brian Bendis isn’t the name on the cover this time around.
So as the first foray into Marvel NOW!, how did this issue hold up? Good omens or bad? Read on for my review!
This issue follows right off of the conclusion of Avengers vs. X-Men, which ended last week, and here’s where I have to mention that I didn’t read it. Yeah, I know, it’s the big summer event and it was making waves in several of the books I was reading monthly, but I’ve gotten the old “Event Fatigue” and didn’t feel like spending $8 each month keeping up with the series. Sure, I know what happened, and I’ve read pats of it and seen plenty of art thanks to the lovely internet and tie-in issues of Uncanny X-Men and Wolverine and the X-Men, but I don’t have the first hand experience that comes from having read the book. Let me just say that this didn’t hold me back from enjoying this book one bit.
Right from the beginning Rick Remender outlines everything you need to know about the recent event; Scott Summers got the Phoenix Force, it made him go coocoo bananas, he killed Professor Xavier, he was stopped, and a lot of new mutants started popping up around the world. Pretty standard stuff. And now that there’s been a big death, we have a big funeral, and who better to do that than everyone’s favorite Canadian furball mutant, Wolverine. As we all know, Logan’s been headmaster of a new school for mutants since last year, after the Schism that separated him from Scott. With Scott locked away, Logan is more or less the biggest voice in the mutant world, and he’s intent on keeping the Professor’s hopes for peace between humans and mutants alive. However, he also knows how badly the X-Men and all the young mutants failed him and his hopes. It’s rather sad, but it’s a speech that holds a lot of truth, and in it, Logan outlines exactly what the mutant world needs to do, especially now that their numbers are rising, and why he can’t be the one to lead the way. Just as Remender reminds us in Uncanny X-Force, he reminds us that Logan, Wolverine, is a killer, and a publicized killer isn’t exactly who the world needs to look towards as a beacon of hope for mutants. Enter Alex Summers.
In the months leading up to this issue’s release, we were told that it’d be Havok leading this new team, but the reasoning as to why wasn’t exactly there. It became clear in the last couple of months exactly why Scott wouldn’t be involved in the new book, but still, why Havok? Remender tells us why, and it makes sense, but he still shows the hesitance that Alex has in taking this new role, which has to make him one of the first people to even attempt to say no to Captain America.
The final large section of the issue deals with the other two members, Rogue and Scarlet Witch. Scarlet Witch was pretty much the switch that caused the entire last decade of Marvel stories to begin back in Avengers Disassembled when she caused the destruction of the team and the death of several members. Then she decimated the number of mutants on earth during House of M, and things really haven’t been the same for the mutants since then. Obviously, there’s still going to be some bad blood, even if it was years ago, but she’s redeemed herself and it seems she’s about ripe and ready to hit the front lines once again (which I believe she showed in the conclusion to Avengers VS X-Men). Rogue doesn’t think so, though, and she’s not shy about telling Wanda why. This section was the one I thought was weaker among the three. Remender’s handling of Rogue was the least convincing of all these characters, so I’m hoping he gets a better grasp on her later on, but for now, he seems to be trying to milk her dialect too much. Scarlet Witch, though, is a really important character, especially to the previous era of Marvel Comics, so Remender at the least gets points for having her on the team. The interesting part about that is she’s representing the Avenger side of things rather than the X-Men side. In fact, she seems to be against the X-Men and the way they’ve been handling things, at least as far as her dialogue with Rogue shows.
The conclusion to the issue brings about a rather disturbing scene that introduces the villain we knew would be behind things in this book; Red Skull. He’s back, and while his plans haven’t been fully revealed, they are directly related to the fallout of Avengers vs. X-Men, and it’s without a doubt going to lead into a very interesting story.
John Cassaday (Astonishing X-Men, Planetary) joins Remender on art, and delivers a bit of his signature widescreen style. Fans of his work on Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men will see more of what they loved back then, but he’s yet to have been given a lot of impressive scenes to illustrate, given that this issue was mostly dialogue and setup for what’s to come. He doesn’t necessarily get the grand scale scenes that he’s illustrated in series like Planetary in the past, but hopefully those things will be right around the corner, and Remender will utilize his new partner in crime to his full potential.
Cassaday’s new costume designs for the team are mostly what stand out in the issue. Cap has a sort of amalgamation between his old costume and his Ultimate Marvel duds, while the Scarlet Witch is out of her old swim-suit and cape and in a new full body suit with a crimson trench coat Meanwhile, Thor gets to stretch his muscled arms and has some punk-rocker looking gloves and cuffs, and Logan’s suit seems to be exactly the same blue/yellow he’s been in.
Havok, though, has the biggest change in appearance. In a suit that echos his costume of old while infusing it with modern designs, I have to say his impresses me the least. Yeah, actual pants and boots are in, while spandex have since been thrown out the window, but something about his new suit just doesn’t do it for me, and I miss the pure black costume from back in the 80s. Plus, I’m just not digging the mask. I’m a real sucker for that 80s costume where the white designs were raised from the mask, but I also like the more recent one where the crown was open, showing off Alex’s blonde hair. I’m sure with time I’ll grow to like it, but as for now, I’m not so attached to Havok’s new clothes, which kind of sucks given that he’s supposed to be playing team leader here.
Overall, Uncanny Avengers’ first issue does it’s best to act as an introduction to a new era of Marvel comics. There’s that feeling that previous first issues of big books (New Avengers after ‘Disassembled’, and Avengers after ‘Siege’) have had, but there’s also a definitive difference. You can feel the initiative being taken to try and bring the X-Men and the Avengers together, whereas in the past when Bendis reformed the Avengers in New Avengers volume one, the only reason Wolverine was even put on the team was because they happened to run into him on their first mission. Even then, the character was hesitant because of his existing role on the X-Men, which outlined the fact that the two groups hadn’t come together before like they are now. We close the door of one era and open one into the next, and I have to say that it’s a pretty successful issue that introduces a lot of food for thought. The Avengers and the X-Men are together in a world where mutants are starting to flourish once again and the good Professor is dead. Now I’m just looking forward to seeing how the Red Skull plans to ruin it all.
GO Rating: 4/5