Uncanny Avengers lands on the darker side in issue #3. Granted, there wasn’t much sunlight in the first two issues of Rick Remender’s joint task force of Avengers and X-Men. As of right now, Red Skull has stolen Professor Xavier’s brain and bonded himself psychically to the deceased mutant leader. Now, Red Skull can use Xavier’s mind powers to do his evil bidding. That kind of power in the hands of the Red Skull. Things just got bad for the Uncanny Avengers.
Opening with after effects of the mutant Avalanche’s attack on New York City, the citizens are distraught, pissed off and full of anti-mutant hatred. Stepping up to the plate is Red Skull, who uses his new found mind powers to force the hatred of a city to swerve into full on psychotic break. New Yorkers not only start attacking mutants, but also fellow humans they are convinced are mutants. The carnage is violent and bloody and just about to consume the city when the Uncanny Avengers show. Now is the time for the good guys to prevail right? Wrong.
The heroes give it a good go, but they ultimately fail in the face of Red Skull’s new power. Remender does some interesting things in issue 3. He unleashes the animal side of Wolverine on Red Skull, ending in a severe wound for the Nazi leader. Remender also injects some real vicious harm into the action. The brutality here is a bit outside the standard comic book fare and it helps to bring Remender’s message home. The underlying theme is here is hatred and how even the smallest bit of it can render the greatest hero immobile. It nearly happens to Captain America. What’s worse, is that it does happen to Thor. Even one as noble as the God of Thunder falls prey to the forces of hatred.
What’s really interesting about Uncanny Avengers #3 is that it’s a perfect example of what should have happened with Fear Itself. What drives all of this is fear and hatred, and when the common man or a hero gives into that, it disables their abilities and renders them frozen. The idea of Thor full of hate or Captain America giving in to violent feelings of rage - that’s what makes Rick Remender’s work here so powerful and what made Matt Fraction’s Fear Itself fail so miserably. That emotional core - Uncanny Avengers #3 is strife with it, Fear Itself had zero.
John Cassaday’s art is not a win here, it’s way too sporadic. His Red Skull is amazing, so is his Captain America, but his general pencils are too simplistic. Cassaday does communicate action well during the fighting, but he doesn’t allow the shadowing to go dark enough. The overly basic backgrounds and stock character looks don’t reflect Remender’s dark themes. Overall, the art just doesn’t do the story justice.
(5 Story, 2.5 Art)