"Uncanny Avengers" #11 by Rick Remender and Daniel Acuña marks the latest chapter in the ongoing struggle between the unified Avengers/X-Men team and the forces of Kang and the Apocalypse Twins. Yes, in case you're wondering, that story is still going on. Perhaps that's a little harsh, but it's fair to say that this storyline has taken a while to reach its point, and a heavy focus on its time-hopping villains hasn't helped. In this issue, their plan is finally revealed, and unfortunately it's not a very convincing, as they seek to turn one of the "Uncanny Avengers" to their cause with apparent success -- "apparent" because it isn't that believable at all.
The problem lies not in the choice of character, but more in the execution of the defection. For this twist to work, the reader needs to be at least as plausibly convinced that the Apocalypse Twins are actually in the right. However, for all the time readers have spent in their company, that still isn't the case. It feels like a bluff from the defector, partially because it's delivered as the cliffhanger moment rather than an in-story twist. When a shock development relies on a several-week gap immediately afterwards to carry it, it's often an indicator that what happens next isn't going to be as interesting as the speculation about what might happen.
For the most part, "Uncanny Avengers" #11 spends a lot of time circling its own ideas and delivering exposition, which makes it a weaker read than previous instalments. The Apocalypse Twins are reasonably charismatic and interesting as villains go, but this book is at its best when dealing with inter-team dynamics. The material between Sunfire and Rogue is the strongest by far, led by personality rather than plot and bringing much-needed grounding to an otherwise operatic story.
Acuña's artwork does well to make an issue full of exposition into something as readable as this, but it's still fighting an uphill struggle. Acuña's full environmental range is put to use as he realises entire worlds in a single panel, while his ability to render the unnerving and unsettling gets a serious workout. Nothing here looks bad, but Acuña's work is so good that the exposition actually feels even more over-written than usual, which is a shame.
"Uncanny Avengers" #11 is still some way away from being a bad comic, but with this series, it's always hard not to feel as though the creative team is falling short of their capabilities. Readers expect more from Remender and his collaborating artists, not because it's not good, but because they've spectacularly risen to the challenge in the past. Considering the book was originally pushed as the "flagship" for Marvel NOW!, it should at least be challenging pretenders to that throne. As it is, this issue doesn't feel like it's putting up much of a fight.