Comic Book Review – Uncanny Avengers Volumes 3 & 4

Uncanny Avengers Volume 4: Ragnarok Now
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Steve McNiven, Salvador Larocca, and Daniel Acuna
Uncanny Avengers Volume 5: Avenge the Earth
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Daniel Acuna

The Apocalypse Twins hold Earth in a massive crisis. They have slaughtered a Celestial using a weapon Thor was tricked into forging centuries earlier. They have resurrected fallen heroes and villains to create their Horsemen of Death. They are holding Scarlet Witch hostage to use in their effort to destroy the Earth and create a new world for mutantkind. Havok, the brother of the mutant terrorist Cyclops, uses his role as team leader to try and redeem the family name as well as stop the impending end of the world. Kang the Conqueror, the man who shaped the Apocalypse Twins into the beings of evil they became, is now a target of their wrath and uses his time travel abilities to visit and recruit various figures from possible futures.

As we’ve looked at Remender’s previous work, his stories have been a bit more intimate. Venom and Punisher focus on characters who are part of small-scale stories. Even the more epic series, Uncanny X-Force and Secret Avengers, tell stories that are earth-shattering yet hidden from the general public’s eye. With Uncanny Avengers the scope of Remender’s Marvel work has significantly expanded. He still works to keep the core of these tales character-driven whether it’s the volatile relationship between Scarlet Witch and Wonder Man, the coming into his arc of Havok, and the dark revenge of Daken against Wolverine.

The problem comes when Remender doesn’t seem to get the characters he’s working with. There’s an exchange between Havok and Captain America that feels very off and gag where Cap is temporarily deafened that is merely a one-note joke. The Apocalypse Twins are never fully developed beyond mustache-twirling villains despite Remender’s best attempts to give them a tragic backstory. Their ties to Kang are woefully undeveloped and needed more time in the oven. This is a shame because the Twins are the continuation of the mind-blowingly good Dark Angel Saga. I desperately wanted this next chapter to build on the dark epic nature of Remender’s Uncanny X-Force but alas it fizzles out.

In Avenge the Earth we get an alternate reality where mutants are in charge, in particular, the Apocalypse Twins. It had only been about seven years since House of M, a universe-wide event where Scarlet Witch gave the mutants possession of the Earth. That makes Remender’s world feel like an inferior retread. The focus of the first few chapters in this volume is the marriage of Havok and The Wasp, as well as their daughter. It’s relatively obvious that Marvel wasn’t going to allow Remender to destroy and reshape reality like this permanently, so the weight of the story isn’t there. We know that by the end of volume 6 a big reset button is going to be hit and all of this will be gone.

By the time Kang shows up we know that time travel is going to happen and these events will be reversed. We also understand that the conceit of Kang acting as a hero is laughably false and that in a couple of pages he will reveal his true colors. The most frustrating thing about this whole Apocalypse Twins story arc is that it is everything wrong with decompressed comics. This is a tale that could be told in a handful of issues being stretched out to three collected volumes. With all that content the villains remain underdeveloped, and little of consequence remains to carry over into the final volume of the series. It’s clear that this was a story Remender was deeply invested in, it’s just a shame he didn’t fill us in on the backstories of characters that were crucial for our investment.

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