This is definitely one of the stranger collections of Horsemen of Apocalypse. Made up entirely of the dead, all of whom have a very close connection with certain members of the Uncanny Avengers: Sentry was killed by Thor during Siege, Banshee was killed by the actions of Havok’s brother Vulcan, Grim Reaper is Wonder Man’s brother and was killed by Rogue (that's a two-fer!), and Daken is Wolverine’s son, slain by his father’s hand, or at least his boot. Rick Remender has a way of writing Daken especially that tweaks the heartstrings just slightly, even though, and most likely because, he wrote also Wolverine’s justification for killing him. Still, you do almost pity the boy while he rips at his father with entropic claws and venomous words. There’s some sorrow and a little bit of horror to be had there, but the imagery that the Sentry conjures is pure terror and one of the most frightening things I’ve seen in superhero comics. Remender continues to write these characters with their own individual voices, despite juggling an enormous cast of highly opinionated humans and mutants. He even has time to pause in some of the most intense fighting of the week to let these characters breathe, develop and express themselves.
Daniel Acuña returns on wall-to-panel art and it would have been difficult to find an artist more suited to the muddied, dark grimness of this book. There’s no tie-in with Marvel’s giant event going on here, but the consequences are still cosmic and the action is still absolutely frantic and hard-hitting. Acuña is, of course, responsible for the moment I mention above as being so terrifying and it’s an amazing combination of anatomical detail and out-and-out madness that makes it so great. The character design for the Horsemen is, across the board, absolutely amazing with enough subtle changes to highlight their new mindsets and power, but still completely recognizable as who they used to be. But one moment wouldn’t be enough, certainly, which is why it’s great that every panel is filled with incredible detail and animated, active characters. Acuña knows how to emphasize small things without having them dominate the page, letting the overall pace and tone take over.
As much as I enjoyed this issue, it’s very much a filler. It’s an incredibly entertaining fillers I’ve read, but it’s not quite enough to fully justify it. Certain members of the Uncanny Avengers are out of commission and simply remain on the sidelines, neither advancing nor retreating. Many of them plan their next move, but fail to execute on anything and still others engage in interesting and emotional battles that have hints of greatness to come, but no greatness in the moment. The action, when taken in individual panels, is beautiful, but it’s also very stiff and lacks the illusion of motion.
The above complaints stand, but this is still a highly entertaining and well-crafted issue. The action may be stiff, but the individual panels are still gorgeous and sometimes a book needs a nice, stable holding pattern issue. I’m definitely still anxious to see what happens in the future of this book, especially with the last few pages here, and can’t wait to read more, but this particular one felt like it was dragging its feet. That said, it’s still an absolutely great book and well worth picking up.