The idea behind Rick Remender and John Cassaday’s new “Uncanny Avengers” series feels reasonable enough; a new squad of Avengers that includes some members from the X-Men to help smooth over mutant relations in the wake of “Avengers vs. X-Men.” With “Uncanny Avengers” #2, though, we’re starting to see one of the problems that seems to be dogging a lot of the new Marvel NOW! titles: slow pacing.
Remender takes his time in getting us to the reveals this issue. I’m not saying everything needs to be delivered up front, but in many ways the first half of the issue feels like it’s just reiterating what we’ve already seen. It’s space that feels like it could better be used to get the main plot rolling forward. When it is revealed, the bare bones are rather standard. It does fit the Red Skull’s general method of attack, though, and it’s little bits like the name of the Red Skull’s enabler that will stick out and shine.
For someone who’s been writing Wolverine in “Uncanny X-Force” for a while now, Remender’s Wolverine doesn’t quite sound right. An internal monologue with lines like, “Giant damned scar in bold type across the heart of the world. Broadcasting the root of this catastrophe through a bullhorn,” feels like parody rather than the character in general. It’s balanced out by Remender’s utilization of Rogue, both in terms of personality and power usage. He comes up with a clever trick for Rogue’s absorption power to escape captivity, for instance, and I was delighted to see Remender give us a flashback to when Rogue first joined the X-Men. It was a dramatic and startling moment back then, and it’s nice to see that moment where Professor Xavier put the entire school on the line for Rogue being remembered in feelings of strong loyalty and sorrow towards him. Even the Red Skull gets a good bit of characterization, talking about how to him 1942 was mere months ago.
Interestingly enough it’s the Avengers half of the cast (Thor, Captain America, and Scarlet Witch) who get the least amount of attention here. Rogue admittedly gets the bulk of the spotlight this issue but for a character who gets a lot of page time, Scarlet Witch is quickly put into a situation where we don’t get much of her actual personality on display. Again, it’s a little odd because “Uncanny X-Force” has shown us how well Remender can juggle the cast of a team book, but so far we aren’t quite getting that.
Cassaday’s art is nice if a little stiff in places. It’s moments like a disaster recovery scene where he’s at his best; large vistas crammed with heroes and survivors, side-by-side. It’s full of people but it still somehow feels like it’s in motion. Compared to a later scene set in a hot tub with one person swinging a bottle at another, and everything is posed and lifeless. As soon as you turn the page, though, we’re back into something more energetic, like Rogue’s escape sequence. With a little more cohesiveness this could be a great looking book, but right now it feels like half of the pages just didn’t get the attention they deserved.
“Uncanny Avengers” #2 isn’t a book that’s going to convince anyone to change their minds about reading it. If you’re the book’s target audience, you’ll almost certainly stick around for issue #3. But if you were already on the fence, or not thrilled with the first issue, this isn’t going to pull you back into the fold. I like the little ideas that Remender peppers the book with, and for me it’s that inventiveness that makes me want to stick around through the first storyline. But so far, the book isn’t hitting the heights that Remender showed readers in “Uncanny X-Force.” Hopefully that larger-than-life feel will show up before long.