WARNING: This review contains spoilers for the conclusion of “Avengers Vs. X-Men.”
With “Avengers Vs. X-Men” in the rearview mirror, a new era dawns upon the Marvel Universe in the pages of “Uncanny Avengers” #1, provided the members of the X-Men and Avengers can actually get along. Plenty of characters from both camps appear in this comic, but the focus really tightens around the six characters depicted on the cover of this issue: Captain America, Havok, Rogue, Scarlet Witch, Thor and Wolverine. Each plays a part, dealing with the death of Charles Xavier in his or her own way.
To seasoned Marvel readers, the concept of “Uncanny Avengers” — combining members of the X-Men and Avengers onto a single team — might seem like Captain America and Wolverine picking teammates for a flag football team. In fact, the rationale behind building the roster runs deeper, as Rick Remender describes through Captain America’s voice. The writer does a fine job finding the natural tones and dispositions for the six primary characters. He even has a chance to spotlight a few of them by calling upon Xavier’s ideal and projecting it through the filter of each character. Havok’s interpretation differs from Wolverine’s and again from Captain America’s.
John Cassaday’s Ã¼ber-detailed work makes the world in this comic believably real and brings tangibility through texture and emotion. This is most evident in the discussion between Rogue and Wanda, another scene Remender uses to define these characters, relying on his artist to drive the point home, which Cassaday does quite powerfully. That said, the extreme detail of Cassaday’s work does tend to render some things silly, like the chain-mail of Captain America’s uniform. It looks more like a dancer’s outfit for an experimental off-Broadway performance than a versatile uniform designed for agile combat. I find it odd that Cassaday would choose to pronounce the scales so decisively while making the helmet more sleek and closer to the depiction of Cap’s helmet from “The Avengers” movie. Some of Cassaday’s other costuming choices make more sense, like Rogue actually zipping up and Scarlet Witch sporting a more modest uniform. Laura Martin and Chris Eliopoulos round out the visuals, contributing nicely to Cassaday’s more traditional layouts without becoming burdensome or overbearing.
While it is true that every comic book issue is someone’s first — a statement that is magnified for comics with #1 on their covers — this issue is a daring introduction to both the Avengers and X-Men. Remender and company presume the reader joins this story with a certain level of familiarity and gets the action going full tilt. Newer readers are likely to be kept afloat by the smart, action-packed narrative that covers the vast range of the Marvel U in wide, sweeping strokes. This is a grand way to launch Marvel NOW! and there is certainly enough story and gorgeous art to necessitate a re-read or two. “Uncanny Avengers” #1 opens with a disgustingly engrossing scene and closes with an equally shocking cliffhanger as a longtime Marvel villain resurfaces. I’m hooked and I want more “Uncanny Avengers.” Now.