(Marvel Comics, 2014)
Written by Rick Remender
Artwork by Adam Kubert
Color Artwork by Laura Martin
Lettering by Chris Eliopoulos
Continuity geeks rejoice! We have finally been rewarded for all of our unyielding adherence to past events and the effects they have had collectively and individually on the Marvel Universe. Rick Remender’s big nine issue event spins directly out of the last issue of his Uncanny Avengers series however that is not where this tale begins, not by a long shot. To say that Axis is a sequel to AVX would not be entirely correct either, although an understanding of that story is almost mandatory to begin reading Axis but it goes even deeper than that, it is the pay-off to many years’ worth of storytelling by Remender and a host of other Marvel scribes. This is the one we have been waiting for; Remender mines the hallowed halls of Marvel mythology and builds his narrative firmly upon the stuff of legends. This is where all of our persnickety perseverance in holding fast to the infallibility of continuity is at long last satisfied. Oh sweet redemption, finally all of that lore, long forgotten by most, left to the remuneration of the recap page by the rest but stored away in our brains, like those crates at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, now thanks to Rick Remender, all of those details are now the foreword to what could be the most epic Marvel event since Civil War.
If you have been following Uncanny Avengers at all you know that Red skull has been up to some pretty insidious plans involving the brain of deceased X-Men leader Charles Xavier that all came to a major cataclysmic culmination in the most recent issue when Red Skull became Red Onslaught and gained the telepathic power to influence the populace on a global scale. Remender does a great job of keeping the action centered on the characters of Uncanny Avengers with the addition of Iron Man, while slowing allowing the story to include a wider and more diverse cast, this is particularly clever when dealing with such an epic story because it gives the massive events a sense of intimacy that would otherwise be lost. The action begins with the heroes in pitched battle against one another while under the telepathic control of the sinister Red Onslaught. The crimson faced foe proves to be a challenging adversary as he pits team mate against team mate, spouting heinous racist rhetoric all the while. His brand of blatant evil bordering on the metaphorical provides the perfect catalyst for the Summers’ Brothers reconciliation. In the books most poignant moment Alex and Scott Summers set aside the differences that have for quite some time now threatened to destroy their familial bond. It’s that kind of reconciliation that is at the core of this issue; the coming together of family and team mates, even those who don’t see eye to eye, X-Men and Avengers alike united to overcome a malignant evil for the greater good and the safety of the world.
Remender’s cast is made up of many characters who have very recently undergone upheaval in their own books; Thor, now deemed unworthy to wield Mjolnir carries his old battle axe, Steve Rogers who has relinquished the mantle as well as the shield of Captain America to Sam Wilson now serves in an advisory capacity and perhaps most conspicuous of all is the absent Wolverine, who at this time can only be assumed dead. Although we have scarcely had time to digest these major changes, Remender takes us full steam ahead, never once looking back to mourn the dead or heal fresh wounds. This is a story of the future of the Marvel Universe, built steadfastly upon the past and fought for in the present by heroes, fallen and lifted up again to live on whether by their deeds or by those of the ones they inspire.
The dialogue is so impressive in this book because by the end of the issue Remender is handling quite an extensive cast, however he manages to find each character’s individual voice; every personality comes through. The interactions are genuine especially the witty exchanges and moments of humor precisely timed to lighten the tone when needed. Surprisingly, Vision has one of the funniest scenes involving his very literal interpretation of humor. The entire cast each has their moment to shine; Havok and Rogue have several pivotal scenes, Tony provides the snarky barbs and Scarlet Witch is her usual tough as nails self; while certainly an epic scaled event this book has plenty of smaller moments that give it heart and drama to spare.
Adam Kubert does a fantastic job of keeping pace with Remender’s break-neck velocity. Kubert’s intelligent use of panels and overall page composition provides a cinematic flow that works in perfect harmony with the lightning fast narrative. His attention to detail and dynamic staging give the action a depth of dimension that is further enhanced by the dazzling colors of Laura Martin and Matt Milla. Their pallets provide a vivid pulsating energy that brings Kubert’s already vivacious imagery even more to life.
Axis is that rare blend of emotional drama and larger than life action; Rick Remender injects an ample amount of humanity into these superhuman characters. A tale that traces its beginning back before AVX and has filled every issue of Remender’s Uncanny Avengers now gets the event treatment such an epic story deserves and the best part is that he takes every arc that has come before into consideration, they are the building blocks of this massive event. It is because of the longevity this story has that the first issue of Axis can hit the ground running, there is no need for lengthy set-up and meticulous exposition, which has already been done to perfection. Now we can strap in for the thrill ride that awaits us in this climatic chapter in Avengers/ X-Men history. (5/5)
Shawn is an aspiring writer/ artist who has been reading, collecting and living comic books for over 30 years. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, their son, lots of cats, dogs and other various finned and furry friends.