Uncanny Avengers #01
Uncanny Avengers #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Rick Remender
Penciler: John Cassaday

The MarvelNOW! era officially begins with the launch of Marvel's self-proclaimed new flagship title: Uncanny Avengers. Having written one of Marvel's most critically acclaimed books of the past two years (Uncanny X-Force) Rick Remender is the ideal choice to helm the book that sets the Marvel Universe and its two biggest franchises in a bold new direction. And for the icing on the cake? Industry legend John Cassaday steps out of retirement to take on art duties. This book had more than a bit of hype to live up to, and I am pleased to say it does not disappoint.

Beginning with a sequence that is not for the squeamish, Remender quickly establishes that while this title is much more mainstream than his usual body of work, the threats his protagonists face will be no less strange and terrifying. From here we receive a tour du force of the characters that will comprise the book's main cast. Wolverine delivers a eulogy for Charles Xavier, Rogue and Scarlet Witch clash over where the blame should be placed for the current state of mutant/human relations, and a shadowy villain begins to marshall his forces.

Remender's best work in this debut issue is with the character who came as the most surprising addition to the team, Scott's younger brother Alex Summers aka Havoc. Remender clearly outlines Havoc's mindset in a confrontation with his older brother that does not vilify Scott the way some similar scenes have, nor does it redeem him. From there Havoc receives a surprise visit from Captain America and Thor and it becomes clear that his arc for this title will be his attempt to finally step out of his brother's shadow.

John Cassaday hasn't penciled a monthly comic book since his work on Astonishing X-Men with Joss Whedon, and he has been sorely, sorely missed. Cassaday's pencils walk a perfect line of hyper-detailed, gritty realism and kinetic displays of fantastical super powers and over the top action. There's a page during the fight sequence where each of the three panels are so exquisitely beautiful and such big fist pumping moments that any one of them would have made for a dazzling two page spread, but Cassaday manages to pack all three into the same page without sacrificing any impact.

With a book as high profile in terms of concept and creative talent as Uncanny Avengers, it would be very easy for the hype to exceed the actual execution. Uncanny Avengers #1 delivers all that was promised and more. This is a book deserving of the title of Marvel's new flagship, and perfectly sets the tone for the new era of MarvelNOW!

Grade: A-

Tags: Uncanny Avengers
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