AXIS Epilogue & Secret Wars Prelude Review & Spoilers: Uncanny Avengers #1 (2015) By Rick Remender & Daniel Acuña For Marvel’s Avengers NOW!

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UNCANNY AVENGERS {2nd Series} #1 Spoilers & Review
“Counter-Evolutionary, pt. 1” (20 pages)

Story by: Rick Remender
Art by: Daniel Acuña
Letters by: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Covers by: Daniel Acuña, Gabriele Dell’Otto, Skottie Young; José Ladronn; Salvador Larocca w/ Israel Silva; Pasqual Ferry w/ Jason Keith
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

The eagerly-awaited follow-up to AXIS is here!! Just in time for Secret Wars! Worthy of the hype? Read on!

All-new on-goings should in essence be labelled as maxi-series since the re-launch button is pressed more than trying to turn back time. Once again, with feeling, this title hits the stands with a different line-up, different direction, and altogether different path in the ever-changing Marvel Universe.

The first page takes place at an intergalactic bar. Anthropomorphic individuals are partaking in drinks. An elephant man (get it?), a cheetah and a bear (there’s a joke in here somewhere) are chewing the fat and downing some drinks. Humans (or “pink sacks”) are lowly looked upon in this new locale. The elephant man sneers at humans’ low-evo mojo and the pathetic attempt to reach the “Big Man”. Put it in a pretty little bow and you get New Men who work for the High Evolutionary!! Spoiler! The beer-guzzling cheetah mentions how he can easily outrace the human speedster when ZZIIPP, enter Pietro Maximoff a.k.a. Quicksilver. No weapon to harm him.

Despite his joviality, Pietro is taken aback by his animal counterpart’s speed. The race is on!! The elephant man really despises humans by referring to them as “dumpster babies”. Prejudice still permeates through the ages and is pervasive in all corners of the galaxy. Scarlet Witch cuts in ready to give a bar fight worthy of any story.

Pietro narrates his current situation as he pursues the wily cat-man. Now that he and Wanda realize that Magneto is not their progenitor, the thirst for the truth burns inside. He views Wanda’s need to know as a fascination whereas for him it’s an obsession. Same coin, different sides. The cheetah is a formidable foe for Pietro since he breaks free of his grip. I love how he uses the analogy: “A dodo seeking to outpace a hummingbird.” It’s quite handy to have a probability hex-caster like the Scarlet Witch not only as a sister but as a deus ex machina. Just as Pietro begins to interrogate the dodgy one of the High Ev’s whereabouts, a mysterious hitman takes down all three.

**[roll beginning credits with title card and recap]** That was quite the teaser/cold open!

Rogue’s turn to narrate. She briefly summarizes (quite succinctly) all that happened in volume one of the series. Aside from her, all-new players are on (the) board: FalCap, Dr. Voodoo, and Vision. The Android Avenger has developed quite the personality over the last few years. He’s no longer a bucket-of-bolts lacking in feelings. He has quite the repository of sarcasm and biting humour. Who better than to make a snarky remark about the newest line-up for the Avengers Unity Squad? Plus, he labels Scarlet Witch’s disappearance as a sabbatical and sees no need to ring the alarm for her absence. He also is on the mark about her power set. She’s way too unstable to be around, even on the best of days. FalCap Sam agrees with Vizh. Rogue is thrilled at their willingness to help. Dr. Voodoo throws in his two cents and comments on the disturbing duality of Wundagore Mountain, the ‘birthplace’ of Pietro and Wanda Maximoff.

Sabretooth is set free to act as tracker for the troubled twosome. The mystic doctor points out that Wundagore is replete with vile magics entrenched in the soil and that the mountain itself houses portals to many dreadful realms. Sabretooth leads them to an abandoned facility (what else is new?) In order to spotlight everyone’s usefulness, Vizh is up to bat. He easily accesses the computer and interacts with it. They are familiar with each other. Vizh tells the team that the siblings have traveled to Counter-Earth. After pulling up a hologram of the planet, Vizh asks Dr. Voodoo to teleport them there. As Jericho begins the incantation, a robotic sentry knocks him down suggesting they abandon the old gods and pray only to the New Men. Luckily, Jericho isn’t unconscious and he finishes the spell.

The last eight pages focus on each of the five members as they recount their fates. Dr. Voodoo is the first. He wonders about his teammates. A dead spirit from C-E knows who he is and guides him to the Council of the Restless Dead. Jericho realizes that his arrival was pre-determined.

Vision chastises himself for not warning the team of the sentry even though he had noticed. He admits that he has unresolved anger towards Wanda which made him extremely distracted. He marvels at the level of tech the planet possesses and compares it to his own advance life-form as well as that of Ultron’s. A ‘telepathic’ voice calms him and coos in his ears. How freaky is it to see that a female counterpart sits nonchalantly welcoming him into the fold. Best line uttered: “It is a poor Eve that does not know her Adam.” Robot sex about to unfold?? Stay tuned, true believers!!

Rogue awakens in a stupor. Someone is feeding her applesauce. The alien looks like a cross between a gnome and the Grand Vizier. The power absorber is securely fastened. It’s obvious she will be part of some horrific experiment. The scientist informs her that the ionic energies within her are what interest him. He rambles a bit saying that his superior should’ve heeded his observations in that mutants are the key to the New Men’s salvation. At any rate, Rogue is immobile because he has inverted Simon’s ionic energy to use gravity against her. Good news: Rogue is free of Simon’s subconscious.

Sam finds himself trapped along a thicket of branches and vines. He muses how he thought this mission was going to be standard/routine. He should’ve known better than to kid himself given the outrageous situation he is now facing. An alien monster extends a limb and turns one of the captors into wood upon contact. Sam struggles to no avail. He is pierced by the creature.

Last but not least, the newly-inverted Sabretooth. He too is in awe at the level of perfection that surrounds Counter-Earth. Just as he’s being attacked by the animal-like inhabitants and labelled as ‘gene trash’, he notices a lack of scent coming from the most perfect being: the High Evolutionary. Suspicion confirmed!! H-E throws in a wonderful turn-of-phrase: “My New Men will deal with this old vermin.”

And there you have it! Issue one in a nutshell. HHHHHMMMMM….I adore the Avengers in any incarnation. Anyone who’s an avid reader will know that Rick Remender plans very long arcs. He weaves these massive tapestries that flow from disparate ends into connective threads. To say that this is just the beginning is overstating the obvious. The only real AXIS content is the fact that Pietro and Wanda have no clue in identifying their father, and Sabretooth being on the side of angels. Any Avengers team has to face the biggest of the baddies, the vilest of the villains, the acme of adversaries. This is no different. Remender is purposely toying us with his subtle and overt comments on humans, mutants, and mutates. Genetics is the common denominator.

Remender is very faithful to the characters under his guidance. He doesn’t forget even the most minor or insignificant. Case in point: Dr. Voodoo. Rick wrote a mini-series spotlighting the Houngan Supreme back in 2009 sub-titled Avenger of the Supernatural. He has made it a point to make him a full-fledged Avenger on this team. The humour in this issue is more predominant than I realized given the grim-and-gritty look and feel of this first issue. Every single member gets to crack wise. Every one!! I guess if I were involved in super-heroics and all the crazy that comes with it, (a) I wouldn’t be fazed, and (b) I’d have to throw around quips as a coping mechanism.

Daniel Acuña was a frequent collaborator in the previous series. In fact, he illustrated the bulk of the run [13 of 25 issues, more than half]. At times, his pencils and colours blend horribly. There is not much distinction between either as evidenced with the Vision’s costume, the red background of the Quinjet, and when the members are all huddled together in the Wundagore facility. In contrast, his separation of light beautifully showcases Pietro’s costume in a cool speed sequence on pages 2-3, and as Sabretooth gets his bearings on C-Earth. I dare say that Acuña is channeling King Kirby with the depiction of the alien turned to wood on page 18, panels 1-3, and Victor’s visage on page 19, panel 1.

Clayton Cowles is a virtual calligrapher all the way! The elegant font on the plain black background that serves as the title of the story as well as the recap page are prime examples. He easily captures each member’s narrative thoughts and ups it on the onomatopoeia.

I’ll be with this book for the long haul. There wouldn’t be much excitement if everything were hunky-dory and easily resolved. That being said, equal amounts of time are given to each character for the sake of ‘flushing’. There’s intrigue and suspense peppered with jokes. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t consider this to be a splashy debut. The first volume was the lynchpin for the Marvel NOW! initiative. This one is an adjunct to the Avengers NOW! grouping.

I give this book a 7 on the High Evolutionary scale.

primate to techie

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