Oh, do I love me some Rick Remender. Especially when it’s a continuation of his excellent Uncanny X-Force work and filled with crazy things like Xavier-brain-stealing Red Skull. Uncanny Avengers is basically just one long, complicated, continuous conflict across time and reality, between this new X-Men-infused Avengers team and the Red Skull, the Apocalypse twins, Kang, and the various henchmen gathered by each, all the while not-so-successfully trying to heal the ever-widening rift between mutants and humans and serving as the build up to a massive final conflict between the Avengers and Onslaught Red Skull, or “Red Onslaught”, as they so cheesily refer to him in the comic.
The art is also handled by some of the top talents in the industry, with the majority being done by the excellent Daniel Acuna, and with some great short stints by other bigshots like John Cassaday and Steve McNiven. It’s just about a perfect run all around and in theory it should have culminated in one of the most epic battles in Marvel history.
Unfortunately, in the end, what we got instead of that massive final conflict was Axis. Reading it all again in one shot was slightly less painful than the first time, but it still suffers from what has become the standard set of problems with Marvel events, all stemming from the same old one big problem where an otherwise talented writer had an idea for a big storyline, but that storyline ends up being taken and turned into an event, which in turn, inevitably leads to it being turned into a vehicle for pushing various company agendas and tie-ins. What should have been one of the most epic battles in Marvel history against a Red Skull with god-like powers turned into 3 issues of fighting Red Skull and then 6 issues going down a checklist of mandated changes and incomplete set-up scenes for tie-in titles. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver suddenly revealed to not be Magneto’s children anymore just in time for them to appear and become Inhumans in a movie universe with no Magneto in it? Check! Iron Man arbitrarily remaining evil so he can have a new Superior Iron Man book? Check! Sabretooth arbitrarily remaining good so there will be someone to stand in for Wolverine while he’s dead? Check! Throwing that godawful kid Nova in there for no reason whatsoever because oh god why won’t anyone buy this new Nova book about some whiny kid with severe learning disabilities? Check, check, check.
This book also came out on a semi-weekly basis when it originally released and it really shows in the art and the writing. This was about the most blatantly rushed comic I have ever seen. All the art, by a selection of 3-4 usually very talented and tight artists, looks unusually rough and unfinished. The dialogue is just a nightmare sometimes too. It’s even more noticeable when you read Uncanny Avengers again right before this that something weird was going on here. No more carefully crafted dialogue and thoughtful social commentary, as one would usually expect from Remender, just a bizarre amount of really uncomfortably awkward banter that has a quality level similar to what you’d expect to find scribbled on a bar napkin. I don’t know what happened here. Did someone in charge tell him “Look, Rick…your stuff has a little too serious lately. Put more jokes in this one for the kids, huh?” or did he just stop giving a shit entirely after it became clear to him that they were just going to be taking a huge dump on what he had originally had planned? I don’t know, but another volume of Uncanny Avengers volume has started since the end of Axis and his writing seems to have gone right back to normal again, so something was definitely going on during the unfortunately shoddy production of Axis.
Overall, Uncanny Avengers is at least still worth the read, despite the mess that was Axis, and I’m hoping that the new series will continue to wipe away the awful taste it left in my mental mouth. Maybe just wait a little longer until Axis is in the bargain bin before checking that part of the story out (or just download it, which I heard somewhere is a thing you can do, though I would never do or advocate such things myself! No sir, not me.)