Uncanny Avengers #5

With new members joining and a press conference pitching the team to the Marvel Universe's public, "Uncanny Avengers" #5 feels more like a first issue of a new series than the first chapter of a new story arc, thanks in equal parts to the enthusiasm Rick Remender pours into these characters and the meticulous illustrations by Olivier Coipel. The ranks of this Avengers iteration are boosted by three as Wasp, Wonder Man and Sunfire all suit up. Of course, this builds upon the events of the first four issues of the series, but it also reaches further into the past to Remender's other Marvel works, bringing Pestilence and the legacy of Archangel to Marvel NOW!.

The issue opens showcasing Coipel's art in a three-page sequence that expands the threats facing the Avengers while mixing in a distinctly Remender-crafted addition. Kang the Conqueror shows up to divert the evolution of the spawn of Apocalypse, Uriel and Eimin, prodigy of Archangel and Pestilence. The Akkaba beacon is mentioned as summoning Apocalypse's minions and Remender hits on that later, during the recruitment pitch Logan throws at Sunfire. As Logan puts it, "I like the idea of having a walking atomic bomb with me." There's no doubt Remender is plotting out a long game, as he did in "Uncanny X-Force," and that Sunfire's addition to the team wasn't just done to pad the ranks. Remender ignores none of the history between Wonder Man and the Avengers or Sunfire and Wolverine, and all the while, he provides his artist ample opportunity to draw cool characters in cool situations.

The comic book is pure joy for fans of any of the characters contained within. Rogue has some spectacular, sassy and even surprising moments (including the shock ending), and Wolverine pops his claws and gets to use them as Coipel draws the Canuck in a scrap with the Grim Reaper. Coipel's art is so sleek and clean, wonderfully stylized and keenly matched to this roster that it's a thrill to see Sunfire trying to help Wonder Man into battle. Laura Martin, with an assist from Larry Molinar, colors Coipel's work the way it was meant to be colored, and the end result is a book that looks as good as it is fun to read. If it hadn't just snowed in Michigan on Monday, I'm pretty sure this would be my first summer reading comic, either on the floor in front of the box fan or in the hammock out back.

"Uncanny Avengers" #5 picks the title up from the nasty trip it recently endured with untimely delays and lesser quality art than expected, dusting it off and reminding readers what it can and should be. In addition to providing a fun story with great artwork, there are messages to be found and the necessary dramatic conflict, like Havok referring to the "M-word" and the team not quite gelling at this point. Sure, there's an awkward scene where Cap should just be playing the role of cheerleader but instead it's tinged with romantic undertones, but that's really the worst of it. Remender and Coipel provide plenty of other awesomeness to enjoy throughout the rest of the issue.

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