Marvel NOW! Preview: Uncanny Avengers

Marvel announced the October launching initiative Marvel NOW!  Similar to last year’s New 52 from DC Comics, MN! plans to release new ongoing series and new jumping on points to many of its beloved franchises. Unlike the New 52, continuity will not be removed and the titles (about 20 or so) will be released on a weekly basis for four to five months, rather than just a single month.  DC kicked off the New 52 with its flagship title Justice League by the dream team of Geoff Johns and Jim Lee.  With Marvel NOW!, in the wake of the ongoing Avengers vs. X-Men event, Marvel combines the two franchises for the first time in the new series Uncanny Avengers.

UA has one of the most unusual and potentially awesome creative teams I’ve seen in a while.  The series will be written by Rick Remender, current writer of Secret Avengers and the critically acclaimed Uncanny X-Force.  With a team comprised equally of Avengers and X-Men, Remender seems to be a great pick to lead this series towards it’s October release.  Remender is joined by superstar artist John Cassaday, who worked with Avengers movie director Joss Whedon on Astonishing X-Men.  Remender and Cassaday also worked to redesign costumes for the key characters including Havok and Captain America.

The premise of the first arc (which is being kept mostly under wraps) involves the return of the Red Skull, or at least his mind.  His brain is preserved from WWII and put into a new body, which leads him on a new conquest: the death of all mutants.  Meanwhile, Captain America is trying to put together a team of Avengers that will better help end conflict between humans and mutants.  Though it isn’t revealed how the team comes together, the Uncanny Avengers will be composed of Captain America, Wolverine, the Scarlet Witch, Rogue, Thor, and team leader Havok.

Since this takes place after the massive war between the Avengers and X-Men, tensions are still running high between both teams.  Remender has commented on Thor not wanting Rogue to be a part of this unit, given her past as a villain (she’s fought the Avengers on more than one occasion).  Remender has also commented on Captain America feeling as though the Avengers haven’t done enough to help mutants through their hard times.  One member, Wolverine, will be greatly changed from the events of AVX (and the ongoing Uncanny X-Force storyline “Final Execution”) that will lead directly to the start of Uncanny Avengers.  How Havok, younger and lesser known to his older brother Cyclops, fits into the leadership role of this team remains a mystery.  Finally, Scarlet Witch will continue on her road to redemption, which won’t be easy given her villainous roles in “Avengers Dissembled” and “House of M” which caused the deaths of three Avengers and the depowering of all but 200 mutants, respectively.

I remain mildly enthusiastic about this series.  Remender has been praised for stories with high stakes and huge payoffs, so having him held this new flagship series is a smart move.  While Cassaday is set to draw this series, for how long remains a mystery (Uncanny X-Force features a growing list of rotating artists).  I really enjoyed his work on Astonishing X-Men and look forward on his take on this team of X-Avengers.  The goal of this series, uniting the Avengers and X-Men worlds, is an ambitious one, given how separated the two universe have been up until AVX.  I look forward to seeing how this dynamic duo pulls this book off when it launches in October.