Uncanny Avengers #26 Review

 Jim Zub
 Sean Izaakse
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Cover: R.B. Silva & Jesus Aburtov

Publisher: Marvel Comics

A review by Nico Sprezzatura.

As Secret Empire winds down with its penultimate issue, the rest of the Marvel Universe returns to normalcy. Well… whatever normalcy a post-HYDRA Captain America could produce, anyway.

The conclusion of yet another major event carries ramifications for the broader MU, and this week’s Uncanny Avengers #26 deals with the restoration of a beloved hero corrupted during Secret Empire. But does it function as a good jumping-on point for those of us just tuning in?

We should probably start with some context. During Secret Empire, Wanda Maximoff – better known as the Scarlet Witch – was possessed by a demonic force called Chthon. Under its influence, she joined the HYDRA Avengers. And now she’s back to normal!  

Having not read any of Secret Empire or the current volume of Uncanny Avengers up to this point, I’m uniquely qualified to critique the issue. I know the broad strokes of things (what’s been happening in the event, who the Avengers Unity Squad are) but I haven’t been following either comic. However, being a fan of both the Avengers and writer Jim Zub, I decided to give Uncanny Avengers #26 a try.

With Chthon expelled from her body, Wanda is back to her normal self and looking to rejoin the Avengers. If you didn’t read James Robinsin’s recent Scarlet Witch ongoing, you might not know that this is actually quite a big deal. After going on a global sojourn to “fix” broken magic and reconcile some truths about herself, Wanda decides she wants to be an Avenger once more. It’s taken nearly a year for that revelation to pay off, but Uncanny Avengers #26 finally picks up that thread.

Of course, the whole “possessed by a demon” thing kinda sullied her heroic return a bit, but what’s done is done, right? Wanda’s evil turn in Secret Empire is addressed and discussed within the issue by her prospective teammates. While Doctor Voodoo – having been mind-altered himself during the event – is sympathetic to her situation, Rogue isn’t as willing to forgive and forget. Before the two women can really talk it out, though, they’re interrupted by a familiar supervillain with some unfinished grievances towards them.

For someone like myself who hasn’t read the past 25 issues of Uncanny Avengers, I have to say I enjoyed this issue. It’s definitely the first half of a two-parter (as well as a stop-gap before the soft Marvel Legacy relaunch) but I think it’s ultimately a fun, character-focused issue.

Outside of some action towards the end, it’s a fairly tame issue that’s dominated by conversations between characters. As long as you read the recap page before diving in, you shouldn’t be too lost.

(If you’re not familiar with the Unity Squad, they’re an inclusive Avengers roster that boasts Avengers, X-Men [and, as of this volume] Inhumans working together. It’s a fairly diverse team, all things considered – one with lots of women in particular. By my count, they actually outnumber the men, and isn’t that kinda nice? And there’s also a decent bit of ethnic diversity here, too: the Maximoff twins are Romani Jews, Doctor Voodoo is Haitian, and Synapse is Latina.)

Having previously written the most recent Thunderbolts run, Jim Zub seems like a natural for an Avengers comic. As someone who enjoys his work (i.e. Figment for Marvel’s Disney Kingdoms imprint, and his creator-owned Glitterbomb from Image) I think Zub deals best with character work, and there’s plenty of that on display here.

It’s been awhile since Pietro and Wanda have served on a team together, and I’m especially curious to see how their dynamic develops in future issues. Zub also writes a pretty good Rogue – having promoted herself to team leader after Steve Rogers quit the team, it’s fun to see how the headstrong mutant handles leadership.

Sean Izaakse’s art is also very nice. There’s a great sequence of panels at the start that captures Pietro’s uneasiness toward his sister following the whole possession ordeal, putting us in his perspective as Wanda tries to assure him that she’s back to normal. Each character looks distinct from one another, too, which can be a major problem in ensemble team books like this one; it helps that none of them really share the same powerset or visual aesthetic.

(That new Quicksilver costume design, though, it just not good. But it wasn’t Izaakse’s own doing, so I won’t hold it against him.)

Tamra Bonvillain provides her usual great colors for Izaakse’s illustrations. She’s easily one of my favorite colorists in the business right now, so seeing her color work on this issue was yet another draw to pick it up. There’s a wide range of palettes throughout the issue, from warm sunset tones to cool dusk blues. Her rendering of Rogue’s signature green pops throughout, too, while Human Torch’s flame body looks great when he’s in action.

Clayton Cowles’ letting is similarly reliable, making Zub’s conversation-heavy script easy to parse and follow on the page. That sounds like it should be a given, but good lettering is essential to the comic-reading experience, and Cowles always turns in good work.

The Verdict
Check it out! With fun characters, a good story, and quality artwork, Uncanny Avengers #26 is a great jumping-on point for true believers of the Avengers brand.

Nico Sprezzatura
Nico Frank Sprezzatura, middle name optional. 24. Schrödinger's writer.

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