It is absolutely staggering how much content Rick Remender has crammed into this issue without making the issue seem overstuffed or directionless. The Uncanny Avengers, after learning Wolverine sanctioned not only the use of lethal force, but lethal force against a child (who, granted, would be the next Apocalypse) have split down the middle of those who think Wolverine’s actions were justified and those who think he shouldn’t even be on the team anymore. Both groups have decided to investigate the goings on of the Apocalypse Twins, and both go about them differently, but they both meet with the same result: catastrophe. Remender has created an interesting and very realistic internal conflict within a team that already has plenty to go around, but he’s also done something brilliant in forcing characters who would have no other reason to interact to be on a small, tight-knit team together. One of my favorite parts of this issue is seeing Rogue interact with Thor and Havok chatting with Scarlet Witch. These are characters that wouldn’t really have reason to do more than smile politely if they passed in the hall, so the situation is presented almost comically, but it also has a great impact and is self-aware enough to realize how disparate the elements of the team are.
Daniel Acuña is back, handling the art from top to bottom and bringing his vision of the horrific new Horsemen to stark, startling life. This is an issue that doesn’t have much in the way of action, so it’s interesting to see Acuña’s painterly style put to use on a lot of exploration, dialog and calmer scenes. The last few issues have moved at a fairly intense clip, and while things are still not exactly “relaxed” for any of the characters, this issue definitely dials it back and sets up a lot to come in the future.
This issue is a little too much setup and not quite enough payoff. Of course set up is necessary, but there needs to be a balance struck and I don’t think this issue nails it quite on the head. It’s got a ton of potential energy, which makes me extremely excited for what’s to come, but I can’t review based on what I haven’t read, so for this one issue, there simply wasn’t enough happening. It’s a lot of meandering, exploring, and introductions (which is odd, because everyone who might be a shock was introduced both last issue and on this issue’s cover, which lessens the impact). I’m not saying the issue doesn’t have enough action, it’s just that the action doesn’t seem consequential in the moment and only serves to set up whatever happens next. As part of a tapestry, it’s great, but as a singular entity, it’s a bit lacking.
Even a lot of meandering can’t eclipse what is a great read and some amazing characterizations. Remender expertly juggles each and every character, ensuring that most, if not all, have at least a few moments in the spotlight, which makes this an easy book to recommend as there’s almost certainly someone in here you’ll wind up liking. Sunfire, especially, is having a renaissance over the last couple of issues, and that continues well into this one. He’s a surprising and integral part of the team who joined a little late, but feels like he’s always been there, and the same with Wonder Man, whose new pacifism makes him an odd addition to a team that is definitely willing to punch its way through problems. I thought that Williams simply coming back after literally trying to take the team apart and just shrugging and apologizing was disingenuous, so it’s nice to see that the character has actually changed and is sticking to his guns on the notion that the Avengers, as they currently are, don’t work. Coupled with Acuña’s superlative art that perfectly captures the unreal horror of what’s going on, this book is still easy to recommend.