I'm going to start with what seems like an irrelevant moment, but stay with me on this. Rick Remender finally injects some levity into what has been a VERY dour book by having Captain America’s hearing compromised. This seems like it will, ultimately, be a very minor plot point, but I truly cannot emphasize how hilarious I found it that he just keeps screaming all of his dialog. Most notably after Wasp gives Havok a quick peck on the cheek, Cap shouts, “SHE LIKES YOU!” It’s an old, old comedy bit, but damned if Remender doesn’t find ways to make it hilarious all over again. AND he manages to make a major breakthrough in spite of it, cause he’s still awesome. Besides that, we get to see what exactly Scarlet Witch and Wonder Man have in store for the Apocalypse Twins’ plan, as well as each other. Thor saves an entire world in record time while Daken beats the absolute living HELL out of his father both physically and mentally. This is easily the emotional heart of the issue as Wolverine feels incredible remorse for what he feels he had to do, but a revelation by Daken absolutely shatters what’s left of Logan’s resolve. Again, Remender has a talent for writing this vast array of characters so pitch-perfectly that even those who get barely any page time (Thor) seem fully fleshed out and even developed. Again, there’s not much new development, but this isn’t the arc nor the issue for growth, it’s a great time to solidify and that’s exactly what he does. And he does it, for the most part, consistently.
Daniel Acuña’s art remains fantastic, evoking surreal, fantastical imagery that’s just muddy enough to be incredibly bizarre, but never forgetting that this is sci-fi, not fantasy, so there’s a sharpness to a great deal of the background images, even when the characters are his usual style. The contrasts work well and look absolutely gorgeous as do the characters’ expressions and body language. The colors are muted and murky, but that’s absolutely appropriate for a book like this and a style that’s a big risk, but a risk with a big pay-off.
SOME SLIGHT SPOILERS CONTAINED
There are two things that happen in this issue that I object somewhat to: the first is that Wanda and Simon just sort of fall into bed together. It’s been very clear that Wonder Man has strong feelings for Scarlet Witch, but this very much seems like a “neither the time nor place” situation, and a passionate embrace seems like it would’ve been more apropos. I mean I’m no prude, but they’re in the belly of the beast and have a major spell to power and cast respectively. The other has to do with Daken’s revelation to Logan, which is that Sabretooth engineered, and surreptitiously recorded, Wolverine’s killing of his son. I can’t even begin to describe how little sense this makes (Wolverine killed his son because his future self told him that Daken was not only beyond saving, but would murder every single one of the Jean Gray students in of the MOST heart-wrenchingly tragic moments of Remender’s Uncanny X-Force run). To be fair, the issue already implies that Daken and the Apocalypse Twins are lying, but Wolverine buys the lie with INCREDIBLE economy. I’m still willing to let the book have it be untrue, but I definitely have concerns.
I don’t know what the future holds for this title, but this issue is still an absolutely great one. I didn’t even mention Wasp and Havok taking down Dark Banshee in the opening pages, and it’s one of the best scenes in there. This book’s transformation from a concerning trend to a must-read is one of the most gratifying in Marvel NOW and an absolute joy to see. Rick Remender was one of my favorite writers, between X-Force and Fear Agent, with a solid Secret Avengers run, and it’s great to see his talents continue in a high-profile team book. Daniel Acuña, I’ve mentioned before, was an unlikely choice for a high-science fiction styled traditional superhero book, but he’s worked out to a tee, proving himself an extremely versatile artist, and whether or not my concerns wind up having any weight, this is still a great issue with some incredible moments.