This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on January 29, 2015.
Early in Uncanny Avengers #1 Rogue narrates that “the Avengers Unity Squad has been decimated.” In fact, it’s almost the inverse of that (fellow English nerds will recognize that decimation historically refers to the destruction of 10% of something). After the events of Axisonly two members of the team remain: Rogue and Scarlet Witch. The toll of Marvel’s latest crossover is felt more here than in any other title, and the new team that has been assembled in its wake reflects the difficult process of reconstruction.
The constant between both volumes of Uncanny Avengers is writer Rick Remender’s love of high concept science fiction. The highlights of the previous volume contained elements of time travel, alternate realities, and other big concepts. These also feature prominently in his current independent work like Low and Black Science. Remender appears to recognize what worked best before and embraces it from the start here. Elements of space travel, genetic enhancement, and a sprinkling of mysticism combine for an exciting fresh start.
Daniel Acuña’s art is a perfect fit for the grandiose concepts discovered in the opening pages of Uncanny Avengers #1. His sense of design speaks to a childhood love of Tron with geometric designs, and plenty of strong, bright lines. The Vision is a perfect example of this sensibility. Parallel lines radiate and reflect off of one another across his body, making his costume appear to be the result of a mathematical equation. The issue incorporates elements of magic to balance the science fiction, and Acuña’s designs these pieces are a compelling reflection of sleek new costumes like that of The Vision. Brother Voodoo incorporates natural, earthen components to his wares. Both his outfit and accessories have a rough edge to them, providing a human touch absent in many teammates’ costumes.
The coloring in Uncanny Avengers #1 is done by Acuña as well, providing him complete control over both the visual storytelling and design. Complex, layered outfits and cityscapes are well served by his digital coloring. Overlapping elements are crafted to create purposeful gradients, adding texture across shapes. There is something truly super about his designs; they radiate unimaginable energy and technological magnificence. The opening scene in which Quicksilver races against another speedster is beautifully presented with two blaring neon streaks of light.
Remender formats the issue to provide an introduction to the entire new cast, giving each team member at least one page that could be considered their own. The script makes it easy to present a thesis for each individual, making clear their role on the team and relationships within the group. This strategy is a double-edged sword though. There are 7 characters to introduce in only 20 pages of story. Some dialogue obviously serves exposition first and character second. No one on the team feels like a fully formed character quite yet either, leaving bare bones to be fleshed out in later issues.
The thematic core of Uncanny Avengers emerges clearly from the first issue though. This is a team comic about a dysfunctional team. In the first volume of Uncanny Avengers, the group was presented as dreamers attempting to present an impossibly easy ideal of coexistence who were then torn apart. Here the team is already at one another’s throats. They are being forced to reconcile differences from the start in order to succeed. Rather than working backwards, this incarnation of Uncanny Avengers will be about the struggle towards unity. That goal makes the bickering and sniping between team members in this issue much less aggravating than in other team books where it is the status quo.
Uncanny Avengers #1 emerges from Axis as a stronger story than the previous series and event that produced it. The eclectic mix of characters, exciting premise and ideas, and beautiful presentation create a debut with a lot of potential. Where it goes from here is unclear, especially with the looming deadline of Secret Wars, but this may turn out to be one of Marvel’s most improved series of 2015.