Uncanny Avengers #1

The roster of Rick Remender and Daniel Acuña's team in "Uncanny Avengers" #1 is more inline with a group that might have appeared on comic book racks in the 1990s under a title like "Ultraforce" or "Secret Defenders." The pedigree to claim the mantle of Avenger can certainly be argued, especially with a roster that includes Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Vision and Captain America. Rogue, after serving on the Unity Squad, could also make a strong case to be considered an Avenger, but the requirements to be a member of Marvel's elite superhero team flex quite a bit to include Sabretooth and Doctor Voodoo.

I can see where this roster would grate on "diehard Avengers fans," but this is Remender doing what he does best: writing the comics equivalent of jazz and finding his own way to give readers new ideas, thrills and adventures. This collection of personas and powers is either going to thrill fans or alienate them quite early on, but readers need to pack their patience and give Remender a chance to show them something different.

That difference isn't simply in the roster. Remender doesn't dwell on the personalities and the mix of good, bad and reformed; he throws this group into an adventure and drops the readers in with them. There is no great big bad here to punch in the face. Instead, Remender offers readers a mystery couched in an adventure tale that happens to be populated with costumed explorers. Certainly, these are not prototypical Avengers, but this is a fun, wild adventure. Remender trusts his readers to have some familiarity with the concepts and characters presented here, choosing to drive the plot forward rather than celebrate grand exposition.

That works nicely for artist Daniel Acuña, who has a strong handle on the diversity present in this roster. His take on Brother Voodoo has yet to fully congeal, but there is no mistaking the other characters present, regardless of the fact that letterer Clayton Cowles opts not to tag every character in his or her first appearance on panel. Eventually, through collaboration between Remender, Acuña and Cowles, the reader meets everyone and begins to learn their voices.

Acuña delivers the strongest, most off-the-wall opening to an Avengers title in recent memory as Remender's story sends Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch to Counter-Earth, where they encounter the New Men - the animal/human hybrids of the High Evolutionary's forces. This opening sequence features Quicksilver in a high-speed scrum with Ja'Rou, a cheetah-based New Man. Acuña drops enough subtle detail into Ja'Rou's designs to define him as a cheetah as opposed to a leopard, jaguar or ocelot. Thanks to Acuña's strong storytelling, sharp detail and tight page construction, the first six pages of "Uncanny Avengers" #1 reads like the comic book equivalent of a high-octane, huge-budget, CGI-laden summer blockbuster. From there, the action simmers down a bit but Acuña's work does not, as he provides form and function to the world Remender crafts around this ragtag bunch of characters.

"Uncanny Avengers" #1 is a bizarre concept with which to launch a title, but the "Avengers" brand does carry some cache. Remender, Acuña and Cowles give readers enough action and atmosphere in this first issue to wage a convincing argument for the roster and present a whole new world for readers to explore alongside some fan favorite Avengers. There doesn't appear to be a clear-cut agenda for this title beyond the driving plot of this first issue but, if the remainder of this series is anywhere near as fun, I'll be reading anyway.

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