Ending with neither a bang nor a whimper.
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.