Writer Rick Remender’s multi-year tale of A plus X wraps this week. Instead of going out on a high note, it gets things on and over with out of mechanical obligation- like a road-weary rock band just looking to push through one last gig. Although slightly redemptive from immediate dips in that it throttles ahead action-heavy, the conclusion of “Counter-Evolutionary” still leaves a lot on the table.
In terms of best foot forward, the art is the way to go. Kris Anka delivers a sleek and elegant cover complete with a soft, watercolor-y palette that belies the symbolic peril of the High Evolutionary scattering the Avengers Unity Squad from atop a globe. This one simple image pretty much sums up the current volume. And you didn’t even need to open the book. Thank you, pretty picture. (No, sincerely…)
Inside, though, things darken up quite a bit. Regular interior art powerhouse Daniel Acuna continues to turn out super-intense visuals. For the most part, his layouts and use of hyper-saturated colors give the eye something compositionally provocative on a panel-to-panel level. However, a lot of his figures lack a certain amount of detail and/or definition, particularly the deeper one delves into any given background. It may be a small blessing in disguise that this is the last issue because Acuna’s work is starting to exhibit that he needs a well-earned break.
The impending end of the run is also apparent in the railroaded pacing. After spinning wheels for the better part of two or three issues, it’s like Remender suddenly remembers he has an Avengers team at his disposal. Fittingly (and ironically), the Unity Squad does something it rarely ever achieves: a successful rally! Small victory silently noted for the finale, eh?
Before anybody gets self-conscious about premature high-fivin’, there’s still tons of dangling plot points and damn it if Remender can’t help himself from continuing to sew more. This wouldn’t be an entirely bad thing, however one needs to take into account his penchant for dragging out character arcs and leaving changes high and dry. To which, anyone looking for satisfactory resolution to the whole ongoing Wonder Man situation, you will continue to go wanting.
The other thing is Secret Wars. It’s no secret that Marvel is poised for a big refresh. It’s kind of a given that everything is on the table for reinvention. As it is, Uncanny Avengers (or an analogue) is curiously absent from the roster of titles during the event. Therefore, it’s hard to gauge exactly how much forward investment Remender really has in the characters and franchise. Cryptic prognostications may just amount to nothing more than hot air.
So what was the point of all this? In another era, this short-run volume would be labelled as a “Limited Series”. Furthermore, it probably should be packaged as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch solo title. With the exception of the Vision and his somewhat forced “romance”, the Avengers are set dressing and incidental at best- particularly the dwindling mutant faction. Maybe then, presentation would be a little more up-front and expectations can adjust accordingly. Instead, the only true “unity” found here is that readers and creators alike can sigh a relief that it’s over…