The promise of the Wasp back on an Avengers team put this book straight to the top of my reading list. Comic-book-killed in some crossover awhile back, she returned last year, and here she is – strain and on John Cassaday’s cover you can see Jan perched on Cap’s bath mat – flanked by fellow new Uncanny Avengers Sunfire and Wonder Man. This could be good …
Not everyone is delighted at Alex’s being leader; the Scarlet Witch thinks she should get a shot, as a mutant who’s been an Avenger for years. Rogue, on the other hand, reckons Alex deserves a kiss on the cheek, in a great day-in-the-life issue of the type team books once did regularly. Characterisation is to the fore as writer Rick Remender gives almost every team member their moment … only Thor is backwards in coming forward. There’s some good work as Remender negotiates the mire of continuity to get his members in place – while Wonder Man has to be moved away from Brian Bendis’s recent mischaracterisation, the incoming Sunfire is still brain addled from being one of Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen for awhile. Happily, Wolverine – also a one-time Horseman, it’s sort of an X-Men hobby – helps Shiro come to terms with his mental state in a Tokyo-set scene.
There’s action too, courtesy of party crasher the Grim Reaper who – in another piece of continuity mining – is upset at brother Simon renewing his contact with Scarlet Witch Wanda. He launches an impressive attack on the Avengers with his Techno-Scythe-Thingie, giving the team a chance to show the public how mutants and non-mutants can work together.
It also gives Olivier Coipel the opportunity to show how he handles this book, and after the somewhat stiff visuals of Cassaday’s opening arc art, the stripwork here is pure pleasure. Whether you want an imposing Kang, a lunatic Grim Reaper, an acrobatic Captain America or a surprisingly sexy Wonder Man, it’s all here. I’ve been a fan of Coipel since his days on the Legion of Super-Heroes and he’s only gotten better – just look at the body language on display above (click on image to enlarge).
Mark Morales is the best inker I’ve seen on Coipel, bringing a spiky delicacy to the linework, while the colours of Laura Martin and Larry Molinar are outstanding. This art team is so good, they even manage to make the most familiar of Wolverine poses look fresh.
With #5, Uncanny Avengers has its first great issue. Remender seeds sub-plots and negotiates character and continuity with the deftness of Steve Englehart. He shows how the team plans to approach its mission, bidding to persuade us that this book really does have a reason to exist beyond extending the Avengers brand. He gives us an Obligatory Fight Scene with a point, as the Grim Reaper reminds us how complicated the Avengers’ relationships are. And by having the Avengers cut the US Government leash, he hints that this is one Marvel book that will escape the interminable Maria Hill/Nick Fury Jr scenes that pollute current titles (remember when heroes were smart enough to fight a bad guy without having to be told?).
Coipel and co, meanwhile, enrich Remender’s script with classy, classic work studded with individually great panels that build to a satisfying bigger picture. For the first time in a long while, we have an Avengers book that looks and feels like an Avengers book. It’s nicely assembled.