The themes of Remender’s multiple “Uncanny” titles come together in a devastating issue
This issue of Uncanny Avengers has been well hyped this week as a game changer, promising plenty of death and status quo changes. Needless to say, there are spoilers ahead.
With that in mind, I was pleasantly surprised to find a great deal of plot development and character work done in the first half of the story. Comics involving the deaths of longtime superheroes are quite often excessively morbid for the sake of shock. Many times, an issue will act entirely as one big fight scene, culminating in the hero’s death. Even worse, the deaths often feel inorganic and unnecessary.
A little more than halfway through the issue I had to marvel at the work Remender had done setting up this issue. The consequences and themes of this one story feel as a whole not just with the Uncanny Avengers series thus far, but even going back to Remender’s Uncanny X-Force run. The death of the Scarlet Witch at Rogue’s hands is a natural, and heartbreaking, moment that has built organically from the very first issue.
So too, is Wolverine’s story in this chapter. Wolverine knows all too well the consequences of killing from his days leading X-Force. He is wracked with guilt over having to kill Daken in Uncanny X-Force. Wolverine is supposed to be the one capable of shouldering the burden of murder, but even he hasn’t had the same stomach for it since killing his own son and seeing the death of his mentor. Worse, he knows what the burden of murder can do to those less prepared for it than himself. His X-Force team, and the individual teammates, crumbled under the guilt of what they had done.
Wolverine has to stop Rogue from making the same mistakes.
The scene where Daken is holding back Wolverine from saving Scarlet Witch’s life and Rogue’s soul is devastating. The resurrected Daken, a painful reminder of perhaps Wolverine’s greatest failure, prevents Wolverine saving the two women. There is further blood on Wolverine’s hands, and he has again failed.
Suffice it to say, I thought the first half of this book was brilliant.
Unfortunately, the second half of the issue falls prey to some of the same problems that often crop up in the major death issues.
From there, Rogue is brutally murdered by another of the Horsemen. Wonder Man then sacrifices himself to complete the spell that Wanda was working on to stop the Apocalypse Twins. All of this action happens in a blur of storytelling and much of it just feels muddy. Some of the problem here lies with Steve McNiven. Taken on a character to character basis, this is still the old McNiven you have come to love. But taken as a whole, panels are too packed and because of the chaotic nature of the action, the drawings look rushed. I think the brunt of the problem lies with Remender’s script though which runs at too brisk a pace after the death of Wanda. This issue could have used a few extra pages at least.
But by far, my biggest complaint with this issue is the death of Rogue. Where as the death of Scarlet Witch was poignant and earned, Rogue’s death felt cheap and gimmicky.
Rogue has just committed murder against an innocent. She ignored Wolverine’s warnings and acted brashly. Rogue’s death not only alleviates her from having to deal with the consequences of her actions, but also comes across as juvenile in its gore and how out of nowhere it feels.
All that being said, there is the eternal comic book door of superhero deaths and resurrections. None of the characters who were apparently killed are even confirmed dead. But even if it turns out that Wolverine’s healing factor saved Rogue at the last minute, it wouldn’t take away from how over-the-top and unearned the death was. In fact, it would probably just make that sequence even more annoying knowing it was solely meant for the shock.
Whether taken at face value or not, Rogue’s death is blight on an otherwise powerful, fantastic issue.
Rick Remender (W), Steve McNiven (A) • Marvel Comics, $3.99, November 27 2013