Friday, 11 April 2014

Uncanny Avengers Vol.1: The Red Menace (Marvel NOW!) Review

Uncanny Avengers Vol. 1: The Red Shadow (Marvel NOW!)

"So, who's the tall guy taking this photo?"
"Shuddap, we're Avengers!"
Writer: Rick Remender

Artists:  John Cassidy, Oliver Copiel, Laura Martin.

Collects: Uncanny Avengers #1-5

Background Information:

Marvel NOW! really got kicked off by an event called Avengers Vs X-Men- it’s exactly what it sounds like. The X-men, through contact with the phoenix force (remember in the third X-Men movie how Jean Grey went nuts? It’s the force that makes that happen), became a little more nasty than usual and the Avengers, being the more popular franchise, save the day by defeating them.

Uncanny Avengers is the first official book of the Marvel NOW! line and focuses on the fallout of Avengers Vs X-Men. The world now hates mutants even more than they used to and the man most dedicated to stopping that, Charles Xavier, is dead.

Dead as a doornail.

A dead doornail.

Okay, I’m drifting off a bit. Back to the review!

Review

Much like Justice League in DC’s New 52, Uncanny Avengers is Marvel NOW!’s flagship title. And like  Justice League Vol. 1: Origin was enjoyable, but less-than stellar, The Red Shadow is entertaining, but ultimately feels like it’s going nowhere.

No matter what powers other heroes may
have, they'll NEVER be able to throw
Optimus Prime at bad guys.
So humans hate mutants. That’s bad, in case you were wondering. And you know what? Captain America thinks it’s bad to. So he assembles a group of Avengers made up of equal part mutants and superpowered humans- a symbol of human/mutant unity. In the meantime, though, WWII baddie the Red Skull has removed the brain of Charles Xavier and is forming his own team to spread hatred and intolerance for mutants.

Call it a spanner in the works.

Okay, so the first thing to like about The Red Shadow is the choice for the cast of characters. Rather than ride the wave of popularity that characters like Captain America and Thor, Uncanny Avengers really makes this book about the mutants; Cyclops’ brother, Havok takes centre stage as the leader of the new team, while the most character drama happens between Rogue and Scarlet Witch- two mutants who can’t trust each other as far as they can throw each other. Even Wolverine- who has been in both the Avengers and X-Men camps- plays a relatively small role. Don’t get me wrong, Captain America, Wolverine and Thor all have major moments in the book, but this isn’t their book by a long shot.

Choosing Havok as team leader was a really interesting choice. There are a ton of more popular characters in the X-Men that could have lead the team, Beast, Colossus, Storm, Iceman, Gambit, the list goes on, really. It was great to see writer Rick Remender utilise such a left field character and make him feel like he really mattered to the overall story. He goes from not being sure about his ability to lead the group to being annoyed when Captain America tries to lead the team behind his back. It’s a great amount of character development for someone who was always considered to be the less interesting of the Summers brothers.

However, the story feels like it doesn’t go anywhere. This has to be the only Marvel story I’ve ever read where Thor can go mad and attack the rest of the team, where Red Skull can drive the world’s population mad and it still somehow feels like it doesn’t amount to anything. The main story arc is over too soon, and for all of the character development, there’s nothing here that really hooks you on to the second issue.

Hey, you guys remember that story
that is much better than this one?
The art is also a problem here. It’s not bad, but Marvel NOW! has made its mark by letting each artist leaveHawkeye and All-New X-Men feels distinctive and looks fantastic. It seems strange, therefore, that the art in The Red Menace looks like typical comic book fare. This isn’t helped by the fact that Red Skull’s team is composed of possibly the ugliest, most ridiculous-looking supervillains that I have ever seen. Thankfully, some clever panel design alleviates some of the otherwise unspectacular art. One of the best scenes involves Red Skull describing his plans for mutant genocide against a scene that very closely resembles the classic cover of X-Men: Days of Future Past. It’s a nice touch that will resonate with older readers, even if new ones may be confused.
their own distinct mark on the series they work on really look distinctive. The art in books like

The Red Menace is a book with plenty of potential, but it’s far from the best first outing that Marvel NOW! could have had. It gets a four out of five dead doornails.

****

+ Nice to see an Avengers book that doesn’t focus on the main Avengers.

+ Choice of characters is spot on.

+ Havok makes an interesting leader.

- Art looks too standard to be interesting

- Some awful bad-guy designs.

Alternate Option: New Avengers: Everyone Dies


Another Marvel NOW! Avengers book, if you want another one.