Thee Comic Column #61: Rick Remender & the Future of the Marvel U-SPOILERS

image courtesy of newsarama

Okay, you saw the big SPOILER in the title bar, right? I implore you, if you read Uncanny Avengers or even causally follow what’s going on in the Marvel U don’t take the easy way –  take the awesome way! Go pick up the books and read them as they are meant to be read. That said…

He’d been setting it up for thirteen issues – longer when you consider a lot of this is seeded in his Uncanny X-Force run – but last week when Rick Remender tweeted that November 27th’s Uncanny Avengers #14 was going to have a big impact on the Marvel Universe (tweet below) and that he was “looking forward to the hate mail” I got excited and began to re-read Remender’s entire UA run as a run-up.

#14 did NOT disappoint.

First: there is a lot of talk online that Mr. Remender has Rogue’s personality totally wrong, and that he’s just writing her the way he wants in order to propagate the events of his story.

I say wrong.

This goes back to where I came on with Chris Claremont’s Uncanny X-Men. Rogue was a bad ass, sometimes mean-spirited scrapper who was a team “go-to” when killing needed to be done. I would argue that Mr. Remender has simply shed the shackles of a lot of – in my opinion at least – unwanted continuity baggage that began with the Scott Lobdell-era of the X-Men (no offense Mr. Lobdell). Uncanny Avengers has taken the character back to a time before she was the pin-up, often sweet-as-pie southern bell and given her that “I was in Brotherhood of Evil Mutants” edge that so defined her during much of Claremont’s run. I’m not saying the fact that Rogue has evolved into a more complex character is a bad thing, however there’s been so many iterations of re-starts and kick-starts and what-not that I think the evolutionary tiers are what’s remembered and not the genesis of the character. Rogue may have been through an awful lot that has changed her as a person and an X-Man, but what we are today is ALWAYS partially based on who we were yesterday, whether we’re talking about the elements of our psyche/personality that we embrace or those struggle to move past. Wanda’s House of M sacrilege – as Rogue most definitely sees it – has brought out that angry brawler who is not afraid to kill to win.

image courtesy of comicbookresources.com

And now she’s dead. And so is Wanda, at Rogue’s hands. And so, apparently is Wonder Man. Wow – this issue really packed a punch. The way the series has built to this was mirrored in the way this issue escalated, a classic example of the microcosm mirroring the macrocosm to hard-hitting dramatic effect. The fact that absolutely EVERYTHING that could go pear-shaped has only adds to the clusterfuck feeling of this desperate battle and this is another thing that I think makes Mr. Remender’s run on both this book so far and Uncanny X-Force previously such masterful arcs – his ability to really endow his intricately-plotted story lines with a sense of desperation that has been missing for a loooong time from the X-books. As Wanda and Simon work their spell to undercut the Apocalypse Twins, and Rogue and Sunfire misread this as them helping the enemy, and Wolverine struggles with physical devastation and no doubt augmented by the psyche-shattering guilt over murdering his son, and Rogue fights to hold onto the anger that will drive her to defy her beloved mentor’s teachings in order to do what she thinks needs to be done, all bloody hell is shattering the panels and pages of this book, so that I felt a palpable tension run the length of my nervous system while I read it. A lot of folks online are saying Remender uses shock but to that I also issue a McLaughlin-parodying “Wrong!” The evolution of these dramatic events has been sowed deep over the course of several years of continuity now and what’s more, we’ve seen where this is going, and it is NOT good.

Well, not good for the heroes. But in the hands of a master storyteller such as Rick Remender, what’s not good for our favorite heroes is most definitely good for us, the readers. Rogue’s death was sad, yes, but it was also epic. Epic in the way that a character of her history and caliber’s death should be. And I’d sound naive if I didn’t acknowledge that no, Rogue is not the property of Mr. Remender, so there is definitely good money on the fact that she won’t stay dead forever, but in the context of our current Marvel U continuity I’m thinking she’s gone. And that’s quite a blow to the team and the X-Men family in general. But what’s more, I think there’s A LOT worse on the way.

image courtesy of comicbook.com

image courtesy of latimes.com

 

Based on several things I’ve read around the web lately I think we may be moving toward a Marvel Now! where Claremont and Byrne’s Days of Future Past actually comes to pass – not as another elseworld or time travel story, but as the actual, day-to-day Marvel Universe.

Now, that’s just a theory, but as Rich Johnston from Bleeding Cool reminded us back in February after Uncanny Avengers #4 gave us the “Three Months From Now” stinger, the Kitty Pryde from the Sentinel-hunted, dystopian future of Days of Future Past was specifically from 2013. With the teasers punctuating the impeding disasters taking place in Uncanny Avengers it seems like that may indeed be the future we are moving towards. Not exact, but pretty freakin’ close (see above comparison). And keep in mind even though ’13 is about up, with Days of Future Past hitting the big screen in 2014 it behooves Marvel to have orchestrated arriving at this moment in continuity slightly askew of the original story. And it’s still close enough to be impressive as all hell. Was this a case of intricately staged editorial plotting over the course of decades or did all the appropriate cosmic elements simply align at the right time? Common sense says the later, but the fan in me wants to believe the former. Alas, we will most likely never know.

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Flying in the face of everything we’ve seen there’s also something in UA #4 that may give hope that things are not quite as bad as they seem. In the aforementioned “Three Months From Now” flash forward that serves as epilogue to UA #4 Wanda is very much alive as she races along with Alex and Shiro toward Immortus’ bones and the reveal of Red Skull’s frighteningly bizarre appropriation of one of the worst characters in X-history. Where Onslaught is largely a by-product of the era that I find least redeemable in X-history (sorry, I NEVER bought that the traitor Remy Lebeau spoke so enigmatically of for years was Xavier – that just felt stupid and forced to me) here, wearing The Red Skull’s face and accompanied by a re-animated and trepanned Charles Xavier’s corpse he looks absolutely horrific.

So, where the hell is Uncanny Avengers #15 going to put us and how will it tie into the rest of the Marvel U’s continuity? I’m uncertain, however I’m feeling a definite charge of original ideas here the likes of which I’ve not felt from a major two comic in a while (and that carries around to some of the other titles as well, esp. what Brian Michael Bendis is doing with the X-Men, which also only serves to indicate that all this time travel is really prepping us for something INSANE). It’s the kind of writing that builds nicely on the legacy of continuity that has come before it, making Remender and his contributions – in this old school X-fan’s opinion at least – new classics that add immensely to the overall tapestry of a Comic book Universe that has captured the hearts and imaginations of so many and continues to help evolve the ‘super hero’ archetype into complex and sophisticated storytelling on a grand enough scale to honestly be called Literature.

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NOTE: Mr. Remender, along with Dean White, Brian Posehn, Gerry Duggan and Scott Koblish are all signing at Manhattan Beach’s The Comic Bug this coming Wednesday, December 4th!!!

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Can’t find a comic shop? You can always use old reliable Comic Shop Locator at 1-800-COMIC-BOOK. Or you can take some of my recommendations. If you live in the greater Chicagoland area I recommend any of the wonderful four locations of Amazing Fantasy Books. In Los Angeles it’s The Comic Bug. Las Vegas it’s Alternate Reality Comics. San Francisco? Try the Isotope Comic Lounge and if you happen to venture a little further North I’d say you have to visit The Escapist Comic Book Store in Berkley (with the wonderful Dark Carnival Books next door and owned by the same folks). Read on!!!

Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

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