Uncanny Avengers is a direct byproduct of Avengers vs X-men. The last few pages of AvX, Steve Rogers admits that the Avengers and X-men relations had always been separate and that he could do better by mutants. From there, he recruits Havoc, Alex Summers, the brother of the now convicted Scott Summers (Cyclops) to lead a group of half X-men and half Avengers. The lineup here is what brings everything together into a fascinating story that is more than just action.
The Uncanny Avengers consist of leader Havoc of the X-men, Rogue, Scarlet Witch, and Wolverine. The Avengers side consists of Captain America and Thor. After the death of Charles Xavier in AvX, several X-men are more affected by the demise of their leader by his nearly adopted son, Scott. They also hold the Scarlet Witch responsible for bringing the mutant population to near extinction as well.
This dynamic of emotionally charged internal conflicts leads a great first issue of this new series. Without giving the ending away, be prepared for a surprise ending which could carry it’s ramifications for issues to come. I’m yet to see if the roster will fluctuate much like other team-based series, but this current lineup will have my attention until mentioned otherwise.
It isn’t uncommon in the comic community for characters to be retconned (Retro-active continuity) or new characters under the same name to be introduced. If I had a nickel for every version of the Avengers since it’s creation, I’d be a rich man. Captain America was frozen after WWII to make up for the time difference today, it wasn’t originally planned that way. Iron Man was originally hurt in Vietnam, now it is Afghanistan. The stories change, the characters may change, but at the core we’re still in love with the plight of Spider-man or the ever changing color skin of the Hulk.
Marvel NOW is not a retcon of the Marvel Universe. This is not the New 52 by DC by any means. Yes, there are new number one issues with new artists and authors in each series, however they do not start fresh (at least most of them). Iron Man is the same Iron Man we saw during Matt Fraction’s run as an example, but with a new author and artist on the launch, we get to see new stories and a fresh take on Tony Stark, not that Matt Fraction’s was bad at all.
With the new NOW series, we are offered some fresh number ones with new characters. These examples include the upcoming Nova series and a fresh take on Guardians of the Galaxy by Brian Michael Bendis, who is also ending his run on Avengers. New Avengers and the Avengers are scheduled to pick up and run, with New Avenger’s promotional materials showcasing what appears to be the Illuminati! Deadpool will be taken over by several writers, especially stand up comedian Brian Posehn.
Along with these fresh takes, we do get to see Nick Fury Jr and Agent Coulson take front and center. Ironically, Nick Fury Jr takes on the look of Samuel Jackson, of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, who was chosen due to his likeliness being used in the Ultimate Marvel imprint many years prior. This ‘son’ of Nick Fury 616, however, is of african-american descent and brings up a lot of questionable choices, hopefully we don’t see too many cinematic features flow into the comics, but we are seeing some of these start to exist.
Is Marvel NOW a last ditch effort for the publisher? No, it doesn’t feel forced or unnatural either. Its just a rearranging of properties and their respective creative teams, which never hurts. This shake up could bring about a new energy and excitement that will sell comics and entice new readers who could use a great jumping on point.
From the ashes, life is reborn. This metaphor applies fairly closely to how Marvel has handled the Avengers vs X-men (AvX) comic book event for 2012. Referring back to the House of M and Dark Pheonix events that rocked the Marvel U by essentially reducing the mutant population to a handful of stragglers, AvX brings back those key players into a story unlike any other.
The premise follows the Avengers and X-men as they both attempt to intercept the Phoenix Force as it approaches the earth. Last time, Jean Grey under the influence of the Dark Phoenix, became nigh unstoppable but was ultimately defeated causing the Phoenix force to return to the cosmos. As it arrives back at the Earth, the Avengers band together to destroy the powerful and evil entity before it causes more harm than good. Meanwhile, the X-men lead by Cyclops on Utopia, rush to welcome the Phoenix and use its power for the supposed god. Even I’m worn out by the premise and word ‘phoenix’ already.
Through the AvX saga, multiple marvel writers and artists were tapped to flesh out the story from issue to issue. These ‘dream teams’ all met in one place and worked out the initial plot, and each author was giving a few issues to write. This method is very unique as a typical arc is written by one author with a head penciler and a few guests as it progresses. However, changing from one author and penciler from one issue to the next, made the 12 issue series feel a bit rushed and disjointed, moreso than other events like Dark Reign and Siege.
The most standout issue involved Spider-man against Colossus and Magik, siblings both granted with different abilities, and the ultimate goal of eradicating the Phoenix force from the 5 X-men who had gained the power. Told through Spidey’s perspective, his brutal beating taken from these two is enough to make anyone cringe as the pages turned.
Ultimately, the event was has lasting ramifications on the marvel universe, at least the 616 universe, as the appearance of the Phoenix and manifestation within Scott Summers lead to the ultimate battle between him and Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch and Hope, the first mutant born after M-day. Without giving the ending away, the death of major characters and introduction of old ones again may provide more story variety in the future, especially with the upcoming release of Uncanny Avengers (review in the future).
If you’re suffering from event fatigue, this may be a huge miss for you, however for those who felt Fear Itself suffered from lack of issues, this may fill that craving. Check out issues from some of my favorite authors (Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction) or do it for the artwork alone, either way theres something for everyone.