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The Mad Titan: Intermission – Uncanny Avengers #1

This month, I’m on a journey to learn more about the comics version of Thanos as a celebration of his triumphant debut in Avengers: Infinity War. Last time, I dove into Jonathan Hickman and Jim Cheung’s ambitious, beautifully drawn Infinity #1 that sought to create a sci-fi epic that spanned the entirely of the Marvel cosmic universe. This time, though, we’re taking a brief break from the big, purple, population killer known as Thanos and giving some love to the Avengers. Now, while my Thanos-centric reading this month truly is a journey to find new content, that is not the case for this piece. I’ve probably read more Avengers comics than any other superhero title – I love the team, the history, and, when done right, the interactions between Earth’s mightiest heroes. I enjoy the other Marvel group titles – X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Inhumans, etc – but nothing does it for me quite like the Avengers. I thought, as speculation begins about Marvel Studios possibly/eventually bringing in the X-Men to their Cinematic Universe, it might be fun to – while taking a break from reading up on Thanos – to revisit a title that combined the best of the Avengers and the X-Men for a unique team-up. Uncanny Avengers #1, titled New Union, is written by Rick Remender, drawn by John Cassaday, colored by Laura Martin, and lettered by VC’s Chris Eliopoulos. The first thing I want to say about this issue is that it has perhaps my favorite Thor line from this era of the Avengers. Just… appreciate it with me for a second: I have so much love for Basic Thor, you guys.  All right – let’s dig in. The storyline spins out of Avengers vs. X-Men, a company-wide crossover event that saw the death of Professor Charles Xavier at the hands of one of his own: Scott Summers, AKA Cyclops. The mutant community is shaken to its core by the loss of its two leaders, and the Avengers – the traditional Avengers – see the possibility of a dangerous vacuum forming. Captain America and Thor approach Alex Summers (Havok), the less popular brother and the disgraced Cyclops, and invite him not to join the Avengers, but to assemble his own team of Mutants and Avengers that he leads as one force. With their conflict behind them, Cap is trying to build bridges, knowing that the alternative leads to fighting, death, and misery. It’s tough goings for this would-be team of Avengers, who don’t so much assemble in this issue as they, all separately, fight to survive. It’s an action-packed issue with a lot going on, much of that being super heroes and villains punching each other in the face a lot, but it also takes time to lay out the emotional stakes. The history of the characters is rich here, without feeling as if it’s a series that leans too heavily on past events. The team promised to us by the cover consists of Captain America, Thor, Wolverine, Rogue, Scarlet Witch, and Havoc – and instead of rushing to follow through on this team-up, Uncanny Avengers #1 shows these scattered heroes on their own journeys. Destined to converge, of course, but not quiet yet – and, with the shadow of the Red Skull looming over them with a plan about as nasty as they come, dark days seem to be ahead for this newly formed team. Even with the serious tone and the genuine emotion with which the characters are written, this is one fun read. Rick Remender’s Uncanny Avengers is exactly what I look for in a superhero comic, and what I genuinely believe that fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe look for in comics and struggle to find: a character-driven blend of humor, action, and pathos. That’s the key, to me, and maintaining that balance is what makes every MCU movie work – and what creates the basis of a terrific superhero comic. This is the stuff that can truly create new life-long readers. NEXT UP: We’re back for one more dive into Thanos’s broken psyche with a glimpse into his recent solo series with Thanos #13.

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