Uncanny Avengers has been a strange beast since its launch. On paper, the idea's an obvious one: a team made up of X-Men and Avengers to sow the seeds for mutant/human harmony, but coming up with threats that legitimately impact both sides hasn't been easy as evidenced by a shaky first arc involving the Red Skull and Professor X's brain. Rick Remender, though, quickly got his feet planted and has been holding the line on quality ever since with an intriguing story of the twin children of Apocalypse that ties back into the days of Thor being an arrogant boaster. The last few issues have been a treatise on brutality as we've seen the roster lose a chunk of its members to the machinations of the Twins and their Four Horsemen of Death (Plague, Famine and War are, at time of printing, inconsolable), but if there's anyone who can make a dent in their plans, it's Thor. Remender does his due dillgence, taking us back to Earth to show that, yes, they ARE aware of the giant, cosmic death entity about to obliterate their world and are taking steps to prevent it. It's a brief scene that segues perfectly back into the main storyline with Wasp, but it's appreciated. It helps show that this is still a larger universe and that the other heroes aren't just sitting on their hands, letting the title characters handle things. With a severely shrunken cast, we mostly focus on Wasp and Thor and their two ways of trying to avert catastrophe: one overt and one covert. I'll leave it to you to guess which is which. I always enjoy it when a writer can justify someone like Wasp or even Captain America being on the same team as people who can shoot cosmic energy out of their hands or godlike beings. Not every problem can be punched away and sometimes that's not even the best nor most effecient method.
Steve McNiven returns on pencils, bringing his trademark eye for incredible, small details as well as hard-hitting, absolutely savage action. McNiven is one of the few artists who seems to capture a FIGHT in mid-action. It's chaotic, it's spilling over in every direction, even someone like Cap who fights with near-perfect efficiency is lashing out desperately and Thor, of course, is practically kinetic energy personified when he unleashes Mjolnir. John Dell and Jay Leisten are the inks that bind all of these glorious images together and give them their beautiful sense of cohesion and their jagged, sharp, crystal-clear looks, which brings me to Laura Martin on colors. This is a profoundly dark book, both in terms of content and literal lack of light, but Martin still makes the colors sing with a beautifully macabre look. There’s a lot of real beauty amidst, and sometimes because of, all of this violence because of how the characters look and feel from panel-to-panel.
It is, on one very specific occasion, hard to tell exactly what’s going on. It involves Thor and Uriel and, while I don’t need to give it away, it feels like we jump very abruptly and make use, to extremely great effect, of a completely unknown device. I’ve looked back three issues for some context on what, exactly, the thing is, but have come up empty. I BELIEVE it’s the device that’s keeping the time stream from being meddled with, but it just seems to suddenly appear as we see the room at several different angles, and it isn’t there. This would’ve been easy to overlook, but it’s basically the emotional climax of the book and feels like there are panels or pages missing, giving the reader some slight whiplash.
This book remains easy to recommend, flaws aside and really must be read to be believed. I know it’s comics and deaths are always reversible, but I can’t hold a decision like that against them proactively, and I’m shocked with the boldness with which this story is being told and these decisions are being made. Not just for the shock value, but how well they integrate with the plot and how well the plot integrates with the rest of the Marvel U without needing any tie-ins to remain interesting. This book stands alone amazingly, but if you’re a longtime Remender Marvel reader, it’s absolutely amazing to see the payoffs from as far back as Uncanny X-Force.