The Secret Empire having been crushed, the Unity team of Avengers and X-Men would like to catch a breath, but there’s tension in the air. Wanda, the Scarlet Witch, had been possessed by the Demon Chthon – not for the first time – and fought on the side of an evil Captain America. Her brother Pietro, Quicksilver, is perturbed by her wish to rejoin this team of Avengers.
And Rogue is downright opposed to the idea.
As for the other existing members, Emily Guerrero, Synapse doesn’t know what to make of it, Janet Van Dyne, the Wasp, is vaguely amused, Human Torch Johnny Storm advises Rogue to take a ‘wait and see’ attitude, and Brother Voodoo is totally cool with basically good folk occasionally being forced to do bad things.
This is a bunch of heroes that doesn’t need a break so much as a distraction. Enter Graviton.
This isn’t an Earth-shattering issue, and that’s one of the reasons I like it. Graviton provides a bit of mayhem, but most of this story is heroes interacting in a way that feels like classic Avengers – and after all those years of scripts by Brian Bendis and Jonathan Hickman, I’m really ready for some solid superhero soap with a side-helping of slam-bang action.
On the one hand, Rogue comes across as a massive hypocrite, begrudging post possession Wanda’s presence when she herself was given a chance by the X-Men after years of villainy while in total control of her own mind. Yes, she previously blamed Wanda for the death (that should probably be ‘a death’) of Professor X, but it’s not like he hadn’t been to the Land of Nuts a time or 12 himself. There can’t be many heroes who haven’t been possessed, or gone temporarily bonkers, at some point – heck, Quicksilver has a long history of skirting the line between good and evil, Jan married Hank Pym knowing he’d had a drug-induced psychotic break, the Human Torch’s sister became a bondage queen named Malice… this is not a team whose members should be judging.
On the other hand, it makes for some fun interaction, and I can’t see this conflict hanging around. Jan, certainly, is perfectly placed to mediate between the two mutant heroines, having worked with Wanda for most of her heroic career and, more recently, with Rogue – she can take them both shopping or something.
I’ve not seen much work by Jim Zub, his indie scripts having passed under my radar and his Thunderbolts series at Marvel having been dropped by me after a couple of issues, mainly due to the art. But I really like his work here and will be tracking down any non-Secret Empire previous issues by him; there’s a deep knowledge of the Marvel Universe on display, and enjoyable character work. Scarlet Witch flirting with Brother Voodoo?
Johnny Storm lying with Rogue on her bed and not making a move? Pietro using the word ‘cheeky’? I think I’m on board for awhile, at least long enough to learn how Synapse fits into the team… apparently she’s an Inhuman with telepathic powers, and I do enjoy a good telepath.
Sean Izaakse is an artist I don’t know at all, but I’m an instant fan of his sharp, clean storytelling. Everyone is on model – well, I’m assuming Synapse is on model – while he makes some fun choices, such as having Quicksilver run upside down, something we don’t see speedsters doing enough.
The emotions are well-conveyed, for example the way Wanda plays with her hair as she’s having a moment with Brother Voodoo, who’s apparently blushing.
And I do like the demented grandeur of Graviton. It’s just a shame Izaakse has to draw Marvel’s current version of Johnny Storm, with a costume that makes him look more like the original Torch than a longtime member of the Fantastic Four. The 2017 Johnny also gets coloured with a yellow tinge to his skin, as if he has jaundice; it’s not a good look for him, so I hope that if the excellent Tamra Bonvillain remains on this series, she tweaks him back to health (I’d love to see him back in the red outfit he wore for a while in the 70s). I like her efforts on this story, which features some lovely orange skies to evoke dawn. Or dusk. I dunno, I just like the look. And as a Fan of a Certain Age, it warms my heart to see Wanda with the black hair she sported in the early Silver Age
The lettering of Clayton Cowles is as splendid as ever, while the cover by RB Silva and Jesus Aburtov is a terrific tease for the story. I don’t know what the upcoming Marvel Legacy business will do to Uncanny Avengers, but as I like the creators, the characters and the tone, I hope the answer is, not too much!