Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

Well, 2013 is here. The world didn’t end (big surprise). It’s time to start new things. I got a nice slew of comics for Christmas. Some of my favorites, including Daredevil and Gambit. But I’m particularly enthused about Uncanny Avengers.

It’s taken me a while to warm up to this concept. Initally, I was feeling a little spent on all of the Avengers books that have been cropping up. New Avengers has put Avengers fandom at critical mass, resulting in Dark Avengers, Young Avengers, Secret Avengers, etc.

The prospect of an Avengers team that really spotlights mutant-kind--the idea of putting some X-Men center-stage in the Marvel Universe rather than on the periphery--is very intriguing. I mean, some have already been there, but not THIS WAY. Cap, Thor and Wolvie’s new team is dedicated to helping lessen the tension between mutants and humans by showcasing mutant superheroes.

It’s a nice chance to see worlds cross. We can get a glimpse of the Avengers tangling with mutant types and we can see some former X-Men go up against some of the really BAD iconic supervillains that the Avengers tangle with, like the Red Skull.

What this comic has going for it first and foremost is the cast. They’ve made some smart choices to ensure that this comic has the potential to be interesting. Among the new team are:

Havok: I’m a long time Alex Summers fan. I felt that Alex’s brief stint with the Starjammers was a fitting place for him and I’m surprised that this kind of got tucked away so quickly. All that Marvel cosmic stuff--while excellent and well written sci-fi--never seems to stick in the context of their earthbound comics.

Regardless, I find Cap’s pick of Alex as the new team leader very compelling. He’s never wanted to be Scott and like he says, he isn’t Xavier either. He’s never been that comfortable with the X-Men. But as an Avenger, Alex might just end up a bit more distinguished from his brother.

Cap’s line in the first issue that Alex is a ‘government man’ is likely a reference to his time spent in X-Factor, the only US government sponsored mutant response team. Alex might just end up setting the new tone for the X-Men. Somewhere along the way, Scott’s X-Men got a bit more isolated from the human race, maybe even a bit fearful of them. Alex could end up showing us something new.

Scarlet Witch: While she’s always had ties to the X-Men, this mutant rarely seemed very central to anything important in the Marvel U. Ironic now that she has become one of the most intriguing and controversial figures in Avengers AND X-Men history. I like that Brian Michael Bendis finally established that Wanda’s mutant power IS dangerous and unbelievably powerful. I mean any mutant that can bend the laws of probability--of REALITY even--should be recognized as such.

Wanda has a lot of amends to make, but what’s intriguing about her right now is that she isn’t repentant about all the things you think she would be. Namely wiping out the powers of most of the mutant race. Her question to Rogue, ‘what’s so important about mutants being born?’ stops and makes you think.

To say Wanda has serious daddy issues is an understatement so it’s hard to say how much this is a legitimate point of view or how much she’s just acting out. I mean, she’s never exactly flaunted being a mutant and you could see her running off with the Avengers as a bit of a running away (with her father, who could blame her?).

Rogue: Excellent choice for this team. I don’t think it’s purely coincidence that Rick Remender and John Cassaday have Rogue outfitted in her old costume. A former Brotherhood member, Rogue had quite a few nasty run-ins with the Avengers before the X-Men adopted her into the family. I don’t know if she and Carol Danvers will ever be square, but she’s a mutant who’s walked a lot of different paths in her life.

Will Cap and the others give her the benefit of the doubt? Rogue has been a bit too much on the outskirts of the X-Men story lately and I’m glad to see her get some action.

Sunfire: This guy has NEVER stayed with a team for long that I know of. Not a bad guy per se, but Shiro seems to have a tough time playing nicely with others. Still, he’s a powerful mutant player. I know that recently, Sunfire actually came down on Sinister's side in the whole Messiah War thing. This surprised me and I don’t know how much Sinister tampered with Sunfire or some such. We’ll see if that’s a big deal down the road…

Besides mutants, there are a few intriguing returning Avengers as well:

Wasp: Finally back from the dead, Janet Van Dyne brings that old-school feel to the team. She’s been friends with Cap, Thor and Wanda for a long time and has plenty of experience even LEADING team’s of Avengers. So she’s a nice balancing factor.

Wonder Man: The most under-appreciated, absolutely WEIRD Avengers character there is. His origin and his powers have always been very, VERY complicated. The short story is that Wonder Man is essentially more energy than person. He basically doesn’t need air, food, or water and is pretty much indestructible. Simon hasn’t always had the best relationship with the Avengers himself and recently came to blows with Cap over whether or not the Avengers should even be around at all.

Just so we’re getting the general drift, most of these characters have something to prove or even to make up for. And that’s something that maybe we haven’t seen the Avengers do yet- give a rag-tag group of mutants a shot to prove themselves.

The mix of characters give this group a very conflicted, unformed feel. I’ll be interested to see if the creative team can tie them into something cohesive however. Right now, it’s hard to tell where this book is going exactly or what it’s going to be like down the road. This team still needs to feel like a team, but there’s a lot of potential here. Recommended read.