One of the most popular trends in sci-fi and superhero TV shows is the “Monster of the Week” format. Tracing its roots back the The Outer Limits, and popularized by Scooby Doo, Monster of the Week shows have one-and-done villains that don’t impact the overall story of the series, but give our heroes something to do while the larger narrative marinates a bit in the background. The motif is pretty prominent in the comic world as well, and there is no Marvel character better suited for the one-off appearances that come with the trope than the Juggernaut. Don’t get me wrong, ‘ol Jugghead is a varied and nuanced character that has been the subject of some interesting stories and developments…it’s just that those are super few and far between and he really exists to be the sub-Hulk strong guy that is menacing enough to seem like a challenge but gets beat all the time to show how capable our heroes are — what wrestling fans know as a “Jobber to the Stars.” Don’t believe me? In this month’s issue of Uncanny Avengers, Juggy’s already in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody when he escapes to get stomped by the Unity Squad. A Unity Squad that doesn’t even have Johnny Storm.
If you remember last issue, everyone’s like, third favorite Sorcerer Supreme (shout out to Nina the Conjuror) Brother Voodooo called out to the servants of Cyttorak, a Lovecraftian elder god whose jam is destruction, to help rebuild Avengers Mansion. Why you’d implore servants of a god of destruction to help with your construction project I don’t know, but any port in a storm I guess. So Jericho’s machinations magic up some friendly little helmet guys called Cyttora, who start moving around rubble like a squad of crimson-capped doozers. So far so good. The thing is, BroVoo asked a little too loudly for servants of Cyttorak, meaning dude’s favorite servant, Juggles the clown, is sprung from the pokie and ready to knock around some Avengers. Now most of the team has had to deal with Juggy before so they know the drill. They run through all the classics: send the small one in to confuse him; have the strong one try to face off with the immovable object then use his own momentum against him; and the speedster runs in to take off his helmet so the psychic can shut him down. The thing is, even my main man Jugg-a-lug learns from his mistakes from time to time, and has prepared for just such an occasion…
Naturally this exacerbates things a bit and Juggs lands a good shot on team newbie Synapse, while she’s stuck like a deer in the headlights. Not a great start to your career in superheroics, but to each his own. Rogue then makes quick work of Juggernaut, Voodoo sends the Cyttora to drag him back to whatever version of hell their master calls home and all is well and good…well except for the fact that Synapse is all kinds of messed up from her encounter with the Marvel Universe answer to Beautiful Bobby Eaton. Quiksilver, predictably, pitches a fit and gets a dressing down for being a little shit (and, essentially being kinda responsible for the injuries his lady friend sustained) then runs off with his tail between his legs. Rogue and the remnants decide to keep the band together and we fade out on a shot of a convalescing Synapse holding a love note presumably left by Pietro.
So yeah, all in all a fine job running in place for series scribe Jim Zub, and no I don’t mean that in a negative way. It’s a brief little jaunt where the characters all act like themselves, there are no ostentatious attempts at being meta and fun, if brief, appearance from the D-Lo Brown of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Not every issue is going to blow the doors off a series and redefine the Marvel universe, and this is a fine Monster of the Week episode from a writing standpoint. Where things fall apart, however, is the artwork by guest artist Juanan Ramirez. Familiar series artist Sean Izaakse handles the first half of the book with his trademark style, and everything is fine. It’s dynamic and dramatic and takes moments to explore minute details like Marko’s smirk as he faces off with Rogue or the grimace on Quiksilver when he sees Synapse go down. It’s all good until they send Cain to hell.
Then it all goes to….well to hell, because Ramirez’s pencils are so amateur that you wonder if he’s like Joe Quesada’s nephew or something. His pencils have all kinds of problems, whether it’s the storyboarding (there’s a perspective shot of Quiksilver standing up in the shadows that is just really poor) to the body proportions (Poor Janet Van Dyne appears to be suffering from some hyper aggressive kind of encephalitis) and then there are the faces. Oh man, the faces. They’re just so monumentally bad. Rogue is meant to be one of the most beautiful women in comics, so tell me what the hell is going on here?
Then there are sequences where it’s clear that he only knows how to draw one feminine face…
I’ve looked him up and while he does have some great pieces on his personal blog, faces are sort of a ubiquitous issue in his work. He may grow into a stronger artist in time, but for now, maybe he isn’t ready for a marquee title.
Is It Good?
Art issues in the second half aside, this is a decent outing for the Unity squad. Synapse’s injury probably takes her and Quiksilver off the team for the foreseeable, but otherwise this was a fine Monster of the Week issue featuring the Marvel universe equivalent of Iron Mike Sharpe getting trounced by Rogue for about the dozenth time in his career as a professional villain. See you next month when Brother Voodoo attempts to become Lover Voodoo.