This article was originally published at Comics Bulletin on March 9, 2016.
A couple of weeks ago we tooks a look at Marvel Comics’ current lineup of X-Men comics reviewing each of the five significant titles (Extraordinary X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, All-New X-Men, Old Man Logan, and All-New Wolverine). This was written under the nominal excuse of discovering whether Marvel really planned to cancel the line. That’s all a bunch of rumor mongering nonsense from comics clickbaits sites though. In actuality it was a way to review a series of titles and perform a “checkup” on the health of a brand.
This week we will be setting Chase Magnett on another assessment of Marvel mainstream titles. However, this time he’ll be taking a look at those with the greatest connection to Marvel Studios: The Avengers. So how are the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes performing? Are they involved in quality comics or putting out the same saddening mediocrity we observed in the X-line? Stay tuned to find out.
Uncanny Avengers #6
Written by Gerry Duggan
Pencils by Carlos Pacheco
Inks by Dave Meikis, Scott Hanna, and Mariano Taibo
Colors by Antonio Fabela with Richard Isanove
Letters by Clayton Cowles
You can use the adjective “serviceable” to describe comics with a variety of tones. It can be said to mean something checks off all of the expected boxes, or that a comic provides enough value as to not be dismissed, or that it just qualifies as the thing it claims to be but brings no joy with that fulfillment. Uncanny Avengers #6 falls firmly into that last camp. It is a comic that is technically proficient enough to never cause great confusion, but on both a plot and entertainment level it fails to deliver anything greater than an attempt at either. It is a serviceable Avengers comic only in that is can be clearly defined as a readable Avengers comic.
The core conceit of the issue is one that provides ample opportunities for jokes and strange action beats. Deadpool and Quicksilver return to Avengers Mansion, now a themed hotel packed with costumed tourists, in order to stop the Wrecker. They have to both save civilians garbed like familiar heroes and stop a villain that can dramatically overpower either of them. It is played for a lark, which makes perfect sense given both the characters and scenario. However, the setting itself fails to ever come to life. The only visual gags on display are the most obvious ones available, like a couple dressed as Vision and Wasp preparing to copulate. It’s all painted in broad strokes and relies on the same essential joke that appears at the very start of the comic when a tubby Hawkeye appears. Ample opportunities for cleverness and background jokes are wasted with the closest thing resembling humor in the visual setup being some poor sap who actually decided to dress as Doctor Druid.
In spite of Gerry Duggan’s acclaimed run on Deadpool, there’s very little being done with the character here that could qualify as funny. Just like the visual cues, Deadpool’s jokes played against straight man Quicksilver are so broad as to be designed as funny for everyone and land for probably no one. He states the obvious to the reader and delivers jokes, both in dialogue and panels, with a wink and nudge. Deadpool here is the Jeb Bush of funny superheroes asking his audience to “Please laugh.” His resolution to their fight with Wrecker is uninspired and raises the question why it took a 22-page, $3.99 comic to tell this of all stories.
The b-plot of the issue focuses on the newest Avenger Synapse and her plight as an Inhuman. After the revelation that the genocidal villain Shredded Man is her grandfather, she is taking sometime to herself when the Inhuman royal family seeks her out. What follows is an enormous exposition drop punctuated with a lackluster action sequence also serving to deliver even more exposition. Even readers not already force fed the new status quo of mutants and Inhumans at Marvel Comics will be amply caught up to speed by the end of Uncanny Avengers #6. Almost half of the comics length is dedicated to providing a recap of this status quo and tie-in to the various Inhuman books launched at the end of Secret Wars.
Synapse continues to look more like a required tie-in to this Inhumans marketing push than an actual character. Despite spending so much time with her, the closest Uncanny Avengers #6 comes to providing depth is that she feels alienated and is very sad about her situation. Her internal workings are as poorly explained as her powers are here. The closest she comes to providing any sort of personality is a couple of forced pop culture references that are supposed to pass for something clever or relatable.
Penciler Carlos Pacheco’s work with three distinct inkers is surprisingly smooth. While there are noticeable shifts in style they largely occur between scenes preventing any interruptions to the flow of the story. The page designs on display read in a generic fashion with nothing in panels to spark imagination or make action sequences feel particularly exciting or funny. It’s another example of serviceable work with a story being told, but nothing about that story making a case for why it’s worth telling.
That level of delivery is actually Uncanny Avengers #6 at its best. When it manages to feel like a perfectly standard superhero team comic, it doesn’t feel like an advertisement for Inhumans comics that Marvel should stop trying to make happen or a minor adventure that hardly entertains and barely ties into the series ongoing narrative. If you’re dying to fill time, then this will do the trick, but that’s about the only objective it is likely to satisfy.