Rick Remender sticks around on this issue, but shares writing credits with Gerry Duggan, most recently known at this point for his work on the hilarious current Deadpool run. This book is anything but a delightful romp. It picks up after Wolverine went back in time and changed the Age of Ultron into something much, much worse and unites the two leaders of the Uncanny Avengers in a world that the Avengers no longer exist in. Havok and Rogue command the Morlocks in the sewers and Steve Rogers descends in order to bring out Caliban to face a murder charge. But in this world, neither Havok nor Rogue can see how a disfigured mutant could possibly get a fair trial and before the matter can be settled, Uriel and Eimin set upon Colonel America under the orders of Kang. The dialog this issue is a great deal snappier than in previous Uncanny Avengers, partially due to their being no "narrator" voice, but also due to the more hectic, desperate tone that the book strikes. Every line of dialog serves to push the story forward or establish the world the characters exist in, and every line of dialog succeeds wonderfully. I actually don't think I've understood any of the Age of Ultron worlds as much as I now understand this one and with so little space used to explain it. It even does a great job of justifying, on two different levels, why Kang doesn't just go back in time and kill his enemies in infancy.
Adam Kubert steps in on art and his sharp features and defined linework are much better suited for this hard edged tale than the fantastic Daniel Acuna's would have been. The characters move gracefully and stand strong, their faces contort and grimace, and everything just seems to fall into place where it needs to be. Frank Martin's colors, likewise, nearly leap off the page and that's not an easy thing to accomplish when the vast majority of your book takes place on a spaceship or in the sewers. The colors make even grim darkness seem alive and vibrant.
My only complaint, and it's a very, very minor one, is that I wish there'd been a little more variance in the character costumes. This story seems to be set very soon after the dissolving of the Avengers, but it's still strange to see Havok in his standard "open facemask" costume and even stranger to see Rogue sporting her current "cape and hood" look. One of my favorite things about alternate dimension stories is seeing familiar characters with different looks (which the rest of the "Defenders" absolutely have).
This is easily my favorite Age of Ultron tie-in. The dialog is brisk, the art jumps and the story it tells actually develops the villains from the main universe. We get to learn exactly how and why the Apocalypse Twins became as ruthless as they did and it's very interesting seeing them behaving a bit more naively and even a little compassionately at times. They're written in this book as though they actually WERE children, which is in stark contrast to their dour, almost funereal tone in the main Uncanny Avengers storyline. This book is worth picking up whether or not you care about Age of Ultron.