Comics

Minimized Melodrama in 'Uncanny Avengers #5'

Ending with neither a bang nor a whimper.


Uncanny Avengers #5

Publisher: Marvel
Price: $3.99
Author: Rick Remender, Daniel Acuna
Publication Date: 2015-08
Website
Amazon

Anyone who has ever had a lousy holiday understands that the promise of a gift is sometimes better than the gift itself. There are those who take this promise and exploit it in the worst possible way. These are the parents who will give their kid what looks like a brand new X-Box One, but when they open it they find out it’s just a sweater wrapped around a brick. It takes a truly devious soul to do something like this to a kid. I won’t say that the story in Uncanny Avengers #5 is nearly as devious, but it’s built on a foundation of disappointment.

That’s not to say that the post-AXIS narrative for Uncanny Avengers has been bad. In many ways, the story flowed smoothly from the events of Avengers and X-men: AXIS by following up on the major revelation that Magneto was not the father of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. Ignoring the outcry and conspiracy theorists who claim this is a result of Marvel and Fox’s flame war, it’s a story that’s worth exploring. On a very basic level, it does successfully follow the Maximoff twins in their pursuit of the truth. Beyond that, however, there’s little success and a lot more disappointment.

Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch just learned something traumatic and profound about themselves. They went out of their way to find out the truth from the High Evolutionary, getting caught up in a full-fledged race war on Counter-Earth in the process. But from a substantive standpoint, it has all the makings of a less humorous version of the third Hangover movie.

The revelations have been bland. The action has been muted. The personal journeys of the characters have been stagnant at best. But Uncanny Avengers #5 still tries to bring all these forces together to realize what’s left of that potential. It gets some parts right, but not enough to make it feel as warranted as the third Hangover movie. At the very least, it completes the story and establishes an important turning point for the Maximoff twins. But anyone looking for bonuses is setting themselves up for disappointment.

The biggest flaw in this arc has nothing to do with the concept and everything to do with the structure. In the aftermath of Avengers and X-men: AXIS, the lineup for Uncanny Avengers changed. Newcomers like Vision and Dr. Voodoo joined the team, along with the new Captain America in Sam Wilson. That means none of the team dynamics established in the previous iteration of Uncanny Avengers carried over. That may work for a new Power Rangers series, but it doesn’t work here, especially when this series directly follows the events of AXIS.

Without those dynamics, there’s next to no team chemistry. The only conflict that has any dramatic weight is the Maximoff twins’ search for their true origins. Everything else becomes an unnecessary side-plot that adds little substance to this story. And without any of that team chemistry, those stories feel more like the filling of a cheeseburger than a meaningful contribution the plot. There’s little sense of tension or mystery. The end result is too predictable and nobody aside from the Maximoff twins say anything memorable. Even a bad Bruce Willis movie has a few decent one-liners. This had next to none.

The intricate details of this story were lacking. However, the bigger picture of this story remained intact to the point where the story still had some sense of resolution. This wasn’t about the Vision finding a new robot woman to fall in love with or Rogue struggling with having Wonder Man stuck in her mind or Captain America being turned into a Groot rip-off. This was about the Maximoff twins fighting the High Evolutionary in their search for the truth. In that fight, there was some meaningful action.

The High Evolutionary was probably the most well-developed character in this whole arc in that he provided insight into why he does what he does. His efforts to create the perfect creature led him to adopt a very callous, but understandable view towards what he considered failures. The Maximoff twins, being part of those failures, have to battle a man who casts them aside the way most people cast aside a burnt hot pocket.

It leads to a defining moment for Quicksilver where he establishes his value directly by beating the snot out of the High Evolutionary. It’s probably the most satisfying moment that Quicksilver has ever been a part of that didn’t involve humiliating the X-men. What makes it satisfying is the insight into how he sees himself in the context of these recent revelations. He can no longer blame Magneto for his problems. He has to confront them directly and he does that in a very literal sense with the High Evolutionary. It’s almost like therapy, but cheaper and less prone to a lawsuit.

This defining moment for Quicksilver helps give Uncanny Avengers #5 a sense of accomplishment. But beyond him and some dramatic lamenting by the Scarlet Witch, there’s little else worthy of note. In the same way the first season of Heroes gave the show value in light of terrible follow-up seasons, this issue gives some value to the overall story in this series.

As a whole, Uncanny Avengers #5 gives the overall arc the bare minimum it needs to feel complete. If it were a term paper in college, it would get a C-minus at best. It addresses the primary issues, but offers little else. Anyone looking for added value should stick to the dollar menu at the McDonald’s. Anyone looking for additional development into the struggles of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch will get exactly what they pay for.

5

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image