Written by Rick Remender
Art by Daniel Acuña
Lettering by Chris Eliopoulos
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by David Pepose
'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10
"Do you ever wonder if you're being too harsh?"
It's a fair question, and it's one that a friend of mine asked me recently. I review comics because, ultimately, I want better comics. I want to see as many excellent comics as my eyes can take, and sometimes that means praising the good stuff, and sometimes that means calling out when something looks rushed or doesn't pass the rules of story logic or narrative structure. But it's easy to wonder if maybe sometimes you're getting jaded. If maybe you're getting too harsh. If maybe you're expecting too much out of the capes-and-tights crowd.
And then I get to read books like Uncanny Avengers. And they help me remember why I do this job. They help remind me what kind of awesome comics I want to see in today's marketplace. And they demonstrate that it is possible for awesome comics to exist — you just have to be talented as hell to make them.
In a lot of ways, Uncanny Avengers is the book thatreads the most like an Avengers book. It definitely earns its spot as a flagship title, as Rick Remender juggles not one, but two factions of Marvel superheroes, not to mention the time-traveling über-villains that are putting them through their paces. A lesser writer might be seen as self-indulgently self-referential for his use of continuity, but Remender manages to dig up Wolverine's dark past in Uncanny X-Force, only to give it even more fallout — if you thought losing Warren Worthington to Apocalypse was bad, what do you think happens when Captain America discovers you killed a kid? That's the man/mutant schism right there, and the fact that Remender keeps finding new ways to touch upon it keeps this series tense and exciting.
But it's not just the character histories that make this book so good. (Although it totally helps.) The sheer sense of scale for this book is pretty astonishing, as well. And this is considered a breather — but then again, considering the last issue ended with a nuclear explosion, everything else is downhill, right? But Remender gives these Avengers a global reach, whether its Captain America and Wonder Man tag-teaming against Sudanese rebels or Rogue and Scarlet Witch sparring physically and philosophically in the Danger Room. (If your hackles were raised by Alex Summers' speech in Issue #5, well, get ready to take some antacids, because Remender goes back to that well with a vengeance. It's thought-provoking, and I love it.) There's no wasted pages here - thingshappen here, and it's all to progress the story and get us deeper inside the heads of our heroes.
It's funny, thinking about the art on this book. Daniel Acuña is so good, he's not just great - he's so great, you literally can't even imagine having had reservations about his artwork six months ago. From the very first panel, with Wolverine standing alone in a wintry forest, this comic gushes moodiness. Acuña just deftly straddles that line between clean classicism and something a little darker, a little dirtier, something sordid and caked with bad blood and history. In other words, it's a little bit Avengers, a little bit X-Men. While occasionally his pages can get a little stifled trying to accommodate Remender's dialogue, there's just such an energy to his pages — Wonder Man's swaggering entrance into South Sudan, for example, is the best moment the character's had in years.
So back to the critic's question — how much expectation is too much expectation? When does wanting the best from your chosen industry turn into having an unrealistic, unattainable pursuit? Can they all truly be winners? Certainly not — but there are some books that, by virtue of their being printed, are asking the audience a question: Is this more of what you want to see? And ultimately, while voting with your wallet is the best and truest way to get your voice heard, it's never a bad thing to be engaged. It's not always easy — again, it's easier to put out a subpar product under deadline than it is to really agonize over a superior work, even in the face of diminishing expectations — and it's not always easy to read said product.
And maybe that's why it's so much fun to readUncanny Avengers. It not only promises big names, big talents, big actions and big drama, but it delivers. It's the kind of superhero book that other superhero books should be watching - and should be emulating. Even if it slips - even if it causes a thousand angry Internet posts - there's more care and craft to this book than I might see in a half-dozen of its closest competitors.
So. Am I being too harsh? I don't know — maybe. But if I am, blame Rick Remender and Daniel Acuña. After all, they're the ones setting the bar.