AVENGERS & X-MEN: AXIS #1
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Adam Kubert
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: October 8, 2014
With the March to Axis tie-in issues paving the way to the main event, Remender is able to hit the ground running with AXIS #1 and while things certainly start off with a bang, it’s an unoriginal and unfocused start to a story that’s been years in the making.
Picking up where Uncanny Avengers left off, Magneto has murdered Red Skull on Genosha and unleashed the psychic entity known as “Red Onslaught.” Now more powerful than ever, Red Skull plans to use Xavier’s telepathy and Scarlet Witch’s reality-warping to reshape the world in his image. Cue the reinforcements. Red Skull is as classic a Marvel villain as there is but he’s also painfully one-dimensional. He’s a Nazi madman bent on world domination, that’s his shtick. There’s nothing particularly wrong with that but such simplicity makes a weak antagonist for a major crossover especially one that has such things as mutant concentration camps as backdrops. His band of S-Men were at least visually interesting but having been taking out in the build-up issues, major players such as Magneto and Havok are left with no one to fight but spear-wielding Ahab in a scene that’s only memorable because the z-list villain inexplicably gains the upper-hand.
As always, Remender scatters great character moments throughout the intense action sequences but they get lost not in the fight scenes but in the sheer amount of characters that come barging through the walls by the end of the issue. It feels as if Remender has a story he wants to tell, has character beats he wants to hit but being that AXIS is a major crossover, he’s obligated to use every Marvel player currently available to him. It’s a shame because it makes the genuine character moments feel rushed and insignificant as readers get pushed to the next battle.
Adam Kubert has his hands full on art duties with lots of characters to draw and a mission to make Red Onslaught look threatening. He succeeds in the latter and you do get the sense that Scarlet Witch and Rogue are in over their heads due to Red Onslaught’s imposing design. However, many character designs fall victim to the massive size of the cast and Laura Martin and Matt Milla’s dull colors don’t help the many group shots stand out. A scene where Red Skull attempts to unleash Wanda’s powers looks downright unfinished. On the production side of things, there was a strange choice to place bland AXIS banners on the opening and closing pages of the books and I can’t begin to understand their aesthetic purpose.
Due to his long-term planning skills, Remender is often described as “the man with the plan” in the comics world. Unfortunately, this particular event may have been left to cook for too long, resulting in an overstuffed, scattered start. Although this is only the beginning, an uninspired cliffhanger suggests that next issue will only offer more of the same.
The Verdict: 6.0/10