Sunday, 14 October 2012
Comics: Uncanny Avengers 1
WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS
Big multi part comic events have always been an excuse to launch new titles and Avengers vs X-Men is no exception. With Charles Xavier hardly cold, Captain America tries to create a new team that includes Avengers and X-Men to try to heal the wounds that the recent superteam fight inflicted. Written by popular scribe Rick Remender and enticing hot artist John Cassaday back to the X-Men, hopes are high for a quality and stylish new read.
Issue 1 is good but not quite the classic we were hoping for. We start with a eulogy for Professor X delivered by new headteacher Wolverine. Remender writes Logan over on Uncanny X-Force and scripts his dialogue well, Wolverine delivering this sobering verdict to the assembled mutants:
"I'd like to tell you that even though Professor Charles Xavier is dead, his dream lives on. Tell you all some warm fairy tale 'bout the old man restin' secure his students are getting it right. But the truth is ... we failed him. Pushed him aside. Did it our own way. Chuck died without ever seeing his dream come true. An' there aint no undoing' that."
The rest of issue 1 is also downbeat; we get Alex Summers, Havok, visiting his brother Cyclops in prison. Scott is now a Hannibal Lector type, sat behind a red screen spouting about how he was right. Oh, how my favourite X-Man has fallen. Will we ever see the buttoned up but savvy strategist again? Outside, Havok is approached by Captain America and Thor. They want Alex to head up a new team that has both human and mutant Avengers in it. Alex demurs. Suddenly, Avalanche, a mutant with earthquake powers, starts a terror attack on New York and then calmly kills himself. What the heroes don't know is that Avalanche has been lobotomised and controlled by a mysterious enemy, one intent on stoking mutant hating hysteria.
Back at the Xavier memorial, the Scarlet Witch and Rogue have a set to. It was the Witch who almost made the mutant race extinct in the first place and Rogue blames her for starting the cycle of events that has led to Professor X's death and Cyclops's dive off the deep end. The Witch has little time for Rogue's guilt trip:
"I'm so bored with this martyrdom routine. This halo you X-Men so love to polish. Self described soldiers adorned in 'X' with no dedication to what it actually stands for."
Their cat fight is interrupted by some new faces, including goat-faced girl and another who promises that "no mutant shall escape the anger of my living wind!" Well, quite. They escape with their intended prize: the body of Charles Xavier.
And this is where I have real problems. I know that comics have grown up a lot and that, to my great regret, it's not kids who are buying them but middle aged saddos like me, but the final page, which shows the Red Skull holding aloft the brain of Professor X, his corpse laid out on a table, is totally in bad taste. This is a character who has been beloved by legions of children since the early 1960s. This kind of gratuitous scene has no place in a mainstream Marvel comic and the editing team should have put a stop to it, even if Remender had come up with it. It shows a lack of care for the work of all the other chroniclers of the X-Men, who have respected the character through the last 50 years.
So, I had decidedly mixed feelings about Uncanny Avengers 1. It had some good moments and Remender has proven over on Uncanny X-Force and Secret Avengers that he can write with grace and compassion. I'm prepared to forgive him this gross misstep. Hopefully Uncanny Avengers will settle down into a classic monthly read.
GK Rating: ***