Uncanny Avengers #14
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Steven McNiven, John Dell and Laura Martin
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by David Pepose
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
This is it. The beginning of the end.
Uncanny Avengers #14 marks the culmination of a lot of arcs Rick Remender has been carefully developing since this title began, and the result is an emotional, frenetic battle royale between the Avengers, the Apocalypse Twins and their resurrected Four Horsemen. Remender, along with artist Steve McNiven, pulls no punches in this issue, as he delivers one of the most tense superhero books I've read in some time.
The reason why this issue works so well is because while the premise of Uncanny Avengers has been the Avengers/X-Men "Unity" squad, the actual theme of the book has been anything but. The Avengers and the X-Men have been distrustful of one another, have been divided, have been at cross-purposes with their own secrets and baggage. Playing up Marvel's rich back history, Remender has shaken up this powder keg, and Uncanny Avengers #14 is where it explodes. Will the Scarlet Witch and Wonder Man complete their spell to bring a cavalry of mutants to save the day? Or will Rogue and Sunfire execute the Witch with extreme prejudice? Or will the actual bad guys stop both of them from their goals? The dramatic term is called "unity of opposites" - each side's goals are mutually exclusive. And it's maddening to watch.
Considering that this series has also played up the theme of time travel, thanks to the Apocalypse Twins and their father, Kang the Conqueror, there's also that sense that Remender hasn't showed his hand completely yet. There are a lot of intense moments to this issue, and some might stick, and some might go right out the window - similar to Joe Kelly's Obsidian Age arc in Justice League of America all those years ago, the real trick is where is Remender going to go from here. But along the way, Remender continues to draw attention with some great moments here, particularly his introduction with Kang the Conqueror, as he recruits heroes and villains including Venom, Arno Stark, Ahab, Deathlok and Doom 2099 to his as-yet-unknown cause, as well as the sheer emotion that Wolverine displays when his failures as a leader and a father come back to haunt him.
Bringing Steve McNiven onto the book for art is a smart move by editors Tom Brevoort and Daniel Ketchum. Not only does McNiven's A-list status bring additional attention to the book, but his clean linework brings a spectacular, show-stopping kind of feel to this book's big battles. That said, it does take a little while for him to warm up - his first few pages feel a bit sketchy, reminding me almost of New Avengers' Billy Tan than one of the visionaries behind Civil War. The book's second half, however, really heats up, especially once a torn and tattered Wolverine leaps into the fray, his claws ready to slice up his wayward, resurrected son Daken. McNiven also really sells the emotional beats in this comic, particularly the looks of anguish on Wolverine and Rogue's faces when the worst happens.
In an era of slow storytelling, Uncanny Avengers continues to impress, making sure that readers never feel cheated. This issue is no exception, even with the occasional hiccup in the art - with a ton of action and some incredibly high stakes, this battle royale between man and mutant is reaching a fever pitch. If you read one Marvel book this week, make it this one.