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INFINITE IMPROBABILITY: 'Uncanny Avengers' ushers in Marvel relaunch


February 19. 2013 7:28PM
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Brainwashed supervillain causing earthquakes!


The dead exhumed from the grave!


Human and mutant sacrifice!


X-Men and Avengers, living together ‚?? mass hysteria!


These are just some of the events contained within the pages of ‚??Uncanny Avengers‚?Ě No. 1, the new ongoing series by Marvel Comics that takes place after the fallout of this summer‚??s ‚??Avengers vs. X-Men‚?Ě crossover event. For years, comic companies have been trying to ease in new fans to the comics while pleasing those who have been loyal since childhood, and while ‚??AvX‚?Ě may have seemed like the perfect way to do that, ‚??Uncanny Avengers‚?Ě may (hopefully) be a better one.


Big crossovers sell books, sure, but they‚??re also incredibly confusing. ‚??AvX‚?Ě should have been a great jumping-on point, considering both teams have had hugely successful blockbuster movies in the past few years that could potentially rope in casual fans. Instead, it spawned spin-offs, tie-ins, a prologue, and an epilogue while including more than just two major teams squaring off in an epic battle, as promised. Even as a longtime reader, I felt like this was too much of a good thing, not just for my head, but for my wallet as well.


Subplots aside, the teams were mainly fighting over the return of Phoenix Force, a cosmic entity that possessed X-Man Jean Grey in two of the greatest comic storylines of all time. This time, the Phoenix is after Hope Summers, and the X-Men and the Avengers have different plans to handle the situation that put them at odds with each other. Lots of punching ensues.


To make a long, convoluted story short, the Phoenix is stopped, but Cyclops, consumed by its power, kills his mentor, Professor X, and is placed in prison. Captain America, taking Cyclops‚?? words to heart, vows to do more to help the mutant race by forming a joint team of Avengers and X-Men with the help of Cyke‚??s brother, Havok, though they‚??ve shared so many members over the years that this doesn‚??t seem like much of a change.


The change, Marvel promises, is in Marvel NOW!, a company-wide relaunch that is supposed to, yet again, attract new readers. Can they do it this time with books like this one? I guess that depends on writer Rick Remender and artist John Cassaday more than it does Havok, Cap, Thor, Wolverine, Rogue, and Scarlet Witch, the team that graces the cover of the first issue.


While the team-up seems inevitable, given the groups‚?? close history, its villain is an even more obvious choice ‚?? Cap‚??s longtime arch-enemy, the Red Skull. Who better than a racist Nazi to attempt to ‚??eradicate the mutant menace?‚?Ě His plan is just as twisted as his face, but rather than spoil it for you, let‚??s just say it involves surgery and the recently deceased.


It‚??s only 22 pages, but I‚??m already enjoying the story much more than ‚??AvX‚?Ě for the simple reason that it‚??s simple ‚?? both sides have clear motivations and are acting exactly as their respective characters should.


Wolverine is bitter, taking the Professor‚??s death pretty hard. The Captain and Thor immediately act like the heroes they are by owning up to mistakes and taking action when the first phase of the Skull‚??s plan begins. Havok is angry with his brother, but he‚??s reluctant to take his place. Scarlet Witch and Rogue start fighting almost immediately, seeing as Rogue blames the Witch for setting earlier events in motion that led to this critical point. And the Skull, of course, is just as merciless and maniacal as ever. Even if you hadn‚??t read the backstory, you know what‚??s going on almost immediately through the dialogue and brisk storytelling.


So why am I describing all this to you a month after its release? Because the second issue is due out this week, so if you have even a passing interest in these characters, this may be a good time to hop on board. I can‚??t promise that the rest of the series will be handled as well, since ‚??AvX‚?Ě turned out to be a muddled mess, but I‚??m willing to make mine Marvel NOW! over a full-blown reboot back to square one. Just ask DC Comics fans how well that worked out for them.


There are digital ‚??extras‚?Ě scattered throughout the issue in hopes of pushing comics into the app age, but it‚??s a solid story, not a gimmick, that is going to sell me on this one. As NOW! continues its rollout in 2013, I guess we‚??ll see if it, too, contains the former or the latter.


 


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