This issue marks the official beginning of Marvel NOW!, which transforms the Marvel Universe in new, unexpected ways. While it is not a reboot, contrary to what you might have heard, it is a new beginning of sorts, as it is a good jumping on point for new readers and promises to boldly go where Marvel has never quite gone before. Will this new experiment succeed or will it be a flop? Only time will tell.
Picking up pretty much right where the ending of Avengers Vs. X-Men left off, Uncanny Avengers #1 begins with a mysterious figure experimenting with someone’s brain. Who this is and why they’re doing it is never quite explained in this issue, but it’s guaranteed to have some serious repercussions to both humans and mutants alike. Going into it any more would spoil a very shocking final page, so I won’t say anything else. Only that it’s very disturbing and not for the faint of heart. After this brief prologue, we get a glimpse of Charles Xavier’s funeral and how his death is affecting the X-Men, as they face a bleak and uncertain future. A somber Wolverine delivers his eulogy and, despite his powerful words about Xavier’s dream, he can offer no words of comfort. Only his regrets that they’ve all failed their beloved teacher. His words have an impact on all involved, including a pensive Magneto and an angry Alex Summers, a.k.a. Havok, who is trying to come to terms with his brother basically killing Xavier, while under the influence of the Phoenix Force. Alex visits an incarcerated Scott Summers, a.k.a. Cyclops, in his cell and, while Scott is regretful that his actions took such an unfortunate turn, he still believes that he was right and that Xavier’s dream is outdated and no longer applies to modern day mutantkind. This upsets Alex, who takes his leave after giving his brother a few choice words on the matter. Later, at the request of Captain America, Alex meets with him about a proposal to form a team of both Avengers and X-Men, with Alex leading the way on the X-Men side. A reluctant Alex tells Cap that he feels he isn’t qualified, but future events hinted at on the final page will almost surely sway him to see things Cap’s way. There is also a brief scene between Wanda Maximoff, a.k.a. Scarlet Witch, and Rogue at the gravesite of Xavier, which sets the stage for how their relationship will be for this series. Rogue blames Scarlet Witch for everything leading up to Xavier’s death, since she was responsible for the waning mutant population at the end of the events of House of M and Cyclops’ failed attempt to rebuild mutantkind. As far as Rogue is concerned, Wanda’s actions indirectly led up to everything bad that has happened lately. After a snide remark from Wanda, Rogue socks her in the jaw. Wanda, however, will not fight back. She, too, blames herself for what happened. While this angry, abrasive new Rogue is a bit uncharacteristic for her, I do know that people can change after being affected by someone’s death. Still, why did it have to be Rogue? There was a time when it would’ve been Wolverine, but I suppose he’s grown into a leader, which Xavier always believed he could be. Bold new changes, indeed.
This series also marks the welcome return of John Cassaday to the X-Men universe. His all-too-brief, but iconic, run with Grant Morrison on Astonishing X-Men is beloved by many fans, myself included. He’s right at home here and I can think of no one better suited to this book. While his realistic and detailed pencilling is as great as ever, I have to admit that it’s going to take some getting used to some of the new costume designs for certain characters, such as Havok, Scarlet Witch, and Rogue. While the changes aren’t necessarily drastic, they’re noticeable enough almost to the point that they’re unnecessary. I know I’ll get used to them, though. I mean, I don’t hate them. It’s just that, at this point, I prefer their previous looks. Still, Cassaday is a talented artist and I look forward to reading this series with both he and writer Rick Remender involved. Regretfully, I’m not as familiar with Remender as I’d like to be, but I have enjoyed what I’ve read by him. As with many #1 issues, this one isn’t perfect, as the book is only beginning to find it’s footing. However, it does introduce many intriguing notions and has me very much looking forward to Marvel NOW! 8/10 for this one.