Secret Empire Tie-In! With most of the Unity Squad trapped in the dark force bubble covering New York, it’s up to Rogue, Synapse, Wasp, Torch and Dr. Voodoo to get to the bottom of the calamity surrounding them.
Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Kim Jacinto
Publisher: Marvel Comics
When it comes to tie-ins to company-wide events they can go one of two ways: offer a unique perspective on a certain element of the main story that sheds light on an important facet of said arc, or just show some nonsense that happens on the periphery of the main storyline. Judging from the first issue (of 2) of Uncanny Avengers’ tie-in arc, it looks like this will be the latter. I feel like the resolution of the dark force thing will come in Doctor Strange, meaning books like UA (and The Defenders) are just spinning wheels for the time being.
Unfortunately, this means the return of my least favorite version of Rogue: pessimistic/introspective Rogue. The whole issue is littered with bits of her morose, self-doubting internal monologue and it’s just a little tiring how often they go to the well with this character trope. To be fair, writer Jim Zub takes a fairly familiar tone with Johnny Storm as well. You’d figure with something like 60 years of continuity, he’d stop reading like an obnoxious little brother trying to be in a Mountain Dew commercial at some point. Character flaws are not the only familiar trope in this arc, as it looks like we’re going to see the “mystic gets overtaken by darkness” cliche in the next issue as well.
One interesting development that I am actually looking forward to being fleshed out, however, is the introduction of Spider-Man D-listers Shocker and Scorpia into the narrative. It only makes sense that some of NYC’s villains would be trapped in the bubble with our heroes, so seeing how street-level schmoes like this will interact with our team–especially now that dark force monsters are coming out of the woodwork–is something I’m looking forward to.
Kim Jacinto’s pencils are a high point, giving a fun mix between Leinil Francis Yu’s gritty sketchiness and Andy Kubert’s strong line work. It’s unfortunate that storyline necessity has sort of hobbled inker Tamra Bonvillain’s ability to contribute meaningfully to the aesthetic, but she does what she can with the purples and blues she’ll have to rely pretty heavily on during this arc. Both do great work with the characters’ faces though, particularly the non-masked women, who manage to look distinct despite some similar hairstyles.
This is a decent enough issue, but a forgettable tie-in all the same. The art team isn’t given a lot to work with but still finds ways to shine, and Zub keeps things pretty safe with familiar (if tired) characterizations that suggest he’s working under some fairly strict (and limiting) editorial guidelines.