Uncanny Avengers launched back in October with the intention being to combine Marvel’s two most popular franchises: Avengers and X-men, to become the flagship Marvel book. Since then it has faced a few problems. The series has seen frequent delays and bizarre writing choices. After 4 issues I have decided I’m over it.
Rick Remender was drafted as the writer, after a successful run on Uncanny X-force, once the black sheep of the X-men franchise. He brought some interesting ideas to the table, bringing in the villain Red Skull (who you may remember from the Captain America film) and giving him some new powers to make him a real nemesis for this new team of Avengers. Red Skull has decided to purge the Earth of mutants using mind control to turn regular people to his side. After an initial TV broadcast seen across America, his plans seem to get incredibly small scale. Or at least this is how it appears, as he’s only shown influencing one street in New York to attack mutants.
The artist John Cassaday, fantastic though he is, works at such a slow pace that the series is always delayed. Even with this extra time to draw the series, his artwork still feels rushed and is not up to the standard he produced only 5 years ago on Astonishing X-men, after which he retired. As his return to comics, the first issue was greatly anticipated and for the most part didn’t disappoint, providing some striking visuals. However, while close-ups and the big details looked fantastic, crowd scenes and long shots looked rushed. This trend continued throughout the issues to come.
As part of this new series, Cassaday was also asked to create new costumes. The ones which worked best were the least changed to be honest. Captain America’s just saw a little more detail and a streamlined helmet. Wolverine, Havok and Thor are only minor variations on their classic outfits. Scarlet Witch saw her cape changed for a long red trench-coat/dress thing that looks pretty damn impractical. I also have no idea how that M stays on her head. Rogue’s costume is quite bizarre while also a variation on a classic, featuring a green and white design that includes a long sealed hooded top. When drawn right it’s a good look but at times it makes her look misshapen, particularly around the hips. I also think she looks ridiculous in it when the hood is up, as it often is.
The biggest problems started in issue 3. After waiting an extra month for Cassaday to illustrate the series, it appears that Remender just never stopped writing. The issue is filled with long prose throughout, that serves no purpose. It literally describes the events exactly as pictured, as well as pulling you out of the narrative. I would also say this is the most rushed looking issue with characters looking off model and some events being hard to decipher. From what I’ve seen on forums this is where many readers dropped out, frustrated that after so many delays this is what they received.
For some reason I still had faith in the team, feeling that the next issue was worth my £2.50 investment. After another 6 weeks it finally arrived. The god-awful prose seems to have become a regular feature, dragging the story right down. The artwork was a step up but still not exactly John Cassaday’s finest. Comparing it to any issue of Astonishing X-men, it looks almost lazy in fact, like he’d totally given up. By this point in time it had been revealed it would be the final issue for Cassaday, with him being replaced by a more consistent artist. While they claim this had always been the case, it had been solicited that he would be the regular artist as opposed to simply the first of many.
The plot added to the conclusion of the first arc, and I found by the end I cared very little. This is partially due to the delays. Wolverine is still obsessed with Xavier’s death in this issue, whereas it happened months ago and he has been seen getting over it. The team literally just forms at the end, yet they’ve been shown in operation across the Marvel universe – being the main Avengers team. In short the delays have totally ruined the flow of the story.
The fourth issue featured a preview of things to come over the next few years of this comic, which hardly filled me with confidence. Essentially Remender has decided to set up another dark future for the X-men, as apparently there just aren’t enough already, bringing back one of the worst villains from the 90s in the process.
So I’ve decided I’m finished with this series. No matter where it goes from here I’ll be investing no more money in this failed project. In short I’m done, I am so done.