Wednesday, April 10, 2013

New Comics Wednesday: Uncanny Avengers (Marvel NOW!)

Image © Marvel & Subs 2013
I've mentioned before that I'm really more of a DC fan than Marvel when it comes to actually reading comics (the movies are another issue), but for today's New  Comics Wednesday I'll be reviewing a Marvel title with a new issue that came out today - Uncanny Avengers.

Many of you probably did a quick double-take when you read the name of the title, or might have assumed I made a typo. But, nope, the book is called Uncanny Avengers and it was one of the very first title's in Marvel's "Marvel NOW!" initiative from last fall, when they relaunched most of their titles with new #1 issues (sound familiar? Maybe they should have called it "NOW 52" or something like that. And, yeah, I think Marvel NOW!, complete with exclamation point, is a stupid name, too).

So, let's get into the book and see if it's something you might be interested in.

What's It About?
The book is a direct follow-up to Marvel's big 2012 event called "Avengers vs. X-Men." If you haven't read that story, you don't necessarily need to go look for it in order to read Uncanny Avengers, but you might want to at least check out a Wikipedia article on the storyline. It's also recently been republished in an inexpensive trade paperback version.

The main thing you'd need to know is that at the end of AvX (as the hip kids call it), the world is somewhat divided between the mutants and non-mutants. A lot of stuff happened to make people, once again, fear the mutant population, even though only a small handful of them actually did anything bad and many mutants actually tried to help make the situation better.

Captain America, in particular, realizes that as the leader of the Avengers, he and the team have actually not done enough to help the mutants to integrate better into society and to show humanity that they really have nothing to fear from mutants even though they're "different." So, he starts a new initiative - the Avengers Unity Squad - which is to be made-up of a few members of the Avengers and a few members of the X-Men, and he picks the mutant Havoc (aka Alex Summers, brother of Scott Summers, better known as "Cyclops") to lead the team.

The team members consist of Captain America, Thor, the Scarlet Witch, Wolverine, Rogue, and Havoc. A few new members were added in the last issue (#5), including Sunfire, the Wasp, and Wonder Man.

There's a lot of great character development in the book, as we see how the heroes deal with the mistrust that it's obvious they still have against each other, as well as coping the death of a "very important person" in the fallout of AvX, and realizing that most humans still hate and fear them. It's also very interesting to see Captain America take a back seat to Havoc, and having difficulty not correcting Havoc when he sees the mutant make a leadership decision that is most likely a mistake.

Who Are the Creative Team?
Fan-favorite author Rick Remender writes the series, freshly off his critically acclaimed run on Uncanny X-Force (the version just before Marvel rebooted it for Marvel NOW!).

The art for issues #1 -#4 was done by John Cassaday, an award-winning artist with many works under his belt, particularly a highly nominated and awarded run on Astonishing X-Men. Cassaday's work is almost cinematic in style, but with a nice level of detail.

In issue #5, Olivier Coipel provides the pencils, inked by Mark Morales. Coipel's style is a bit different from Cassaday's - cleaner, a little more flowing, and somewhat more stylized.

Issue #6, which just came out today, features yet another artist - Daniel Acuna, who provides both pencils and art. I'm not exactly sure why Marvel keeps making changes in the art on this book, and I haven't gone to my shop to pick up today's copy yet so I can't comment on the art in this issue.

Cool Bits
I pretty much covered this above, under "What's It About?" but it actually is kind of cool seeing a team made up of members of both teams working together, but not necessarily always getting along. Plus there are lots of great scenes that pay-off long-time comics fans with little nods to things that have happened in the past in Marvel Comics, such as why people still mistrust Wanda (the Scarlet Witch), why Alex Summers was specifically chosen to be the face of the team, the difficulty of Logan (Wolverine) convincing Sunfire to join... these are all things that can of course be ignored by a first-time reader, but they are nice additions to people who have been following comics for a while.

Who Will Like It?
This book is actually a great stand-alone title that can help you jump into the "new" Marvel universe (which is actually not really new in the same sense that DC's universe is new in the post "New 52" world). Of course, it definitely ties into many other titles Marvel is currently publishing, so you can quickly find yourself reading (or wanting to read) many of the other X-Men related titles, in particular All New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men. But it's a great introduction to the post-AvX world that all of Marvel's main titles now take place in.

If you like comics, particularly superhero comics, then you'll love this book. It's got great writing, a good story, strong character development, and (at least for the first four to five issues), really great artwork that showcases the various heroes.

If you're brand new to comics and have never read a comic before, I'd hesitate to recommend this title only because there is a lot of background and history that could turn off the casual reader who might become frustrated by constant references to things that they haven't read or heard about. That said, as I mentioned before, I fell away from reading monthly comics for more than 20 years - only reading the occasional trade paperback or out-of-continuity storyline - and I picked this up pretty much right away.

Any Good Fodder in Here for My Role-Playing Games?
Well, obviously, if you're running a supers-type game, there's plenty you could grab from this and use as inspiration for your game.

The bits on how the team came together (which is pretty much always a requisite in a #1 issue of any team-oriented book) could definitely provide some ideas in how, as a Games Master, you can have your party come together no matter what genre of game you're using. The old "you meet at a tavern" has just been done to death, so this could give you some new ideas.

The first main storyline, which runs through issues #1-4, has some great examples on how people with mind-control powers can be used in games - either as ideas for a player character or as an adversary for your players. Again, this can be applied to many different types of games that have the potential for mind control powers (whether via spells, psionics, latent mutant genes, etc.). There's some really interesting and clever things in the story involving a long-time Avengers adversary and how he goes about amplifying his mind control powers.

Is It Good For Kids?
I'm going to say "no," but as always, it's up to the individual parent. The book itself is rated as "Teen +" and it of course features comic-book violence, and there are some definitely scary parts that could be off-putting to little kids - the mind control bits, in particular, where you see heroes under the control of the villain and they watch them attack other heroes. It's not always exactly explained what's happening but as a reader, you just kind of figure it out. There are a few disturbing scenes involving some surgeries and organ transplants, and that kind of thing.

  • Format: Monthly 28-page full-color issue
  • Where to Buy: Try to buy it at your local comics shop. If you don't have one, try a bookstore or convenience store, or you can also buy digitally on Comixology and read it on your mobile device.
  • Price: $3.99 per issue, which also includes a digital download code for a free issue of another Marvel Comic on Comixology
  • Rated: Teen+
  • More Information: The official Marvel Site for Uncanny Avengers

Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Drinking: Tap water
Listening: "Daisycutta (Featuring Kool Keith" by 7L & Esoteria


  1. I started liking it, but then they went in a wired direction with the artwork, and that just made me not like it anymore

    1. Yeah - as I mentioned in the post, I'm not really sure why they keep messing around with different artists each issue. Hopefully it'll get back on track soon. Still haven't read yesterday's issue so I'm not sure what's up with it yet.

  2. I haven't really read any of the Marvel Now, but I probably should.

    1. It's like pretty much any publisher - some of it is really good, some is okay, and some can easily be skipped. Uncanny Avengers and All New X-Men are my two favorites right now, although I really liked where they were going with Thor and I've heard nothing but great things about Hawkeye - it's consistently rated in the top rankings every week. Uncanny X-Force is also good, but part of that is based on me having met the writer and him being really cool to my daughter at a signing at my local comics shop. I doubt I would've picked it up otherwise.

      Other than that, I haven't delved much more into Marvel NOW!.


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