Ryan Stegman – Uncanny Avengers vol.3 #1

I don’t think I have to introduce Ryan Stegman to you because I already did in a previous post (see Inhuman), but for a quick reminder, Ryan Stegman signed an exclusivity contract with Marvel editions in 2010, and since he’s worked on Superior Spiderman and Inhuman. He is now working on an Avengers title, Uncanny Avengers. This team of Avengers is composed of Steve Rogers, Rogue and Doctor Voodoo – who were already on the pre-Secret Wars team – in addition to Spider-Man, the Human Torch, the NuHuman Synapse and their most controversial new member, Deadpool. The Unity Squad’s first goal was to prove that, following the events of Avengers versus X-Men, the mutants and the heroes can work together – which they more or less did. Now they’re confronting to a new challenge. They have to show the world that the Inhumans are no threat, and can be trusted to work with side by side.

Unfortunately, their first enemy seems to be a NuHuman himself. His fist victoriously punching out of his cocoon is the first glimpse we have from this new enhanced man. We can already talk about Ryan Stegman‘s style with this first panel, and say that his human proportions are even more exaggerated than before, on Inhuman for example. Look how the forearm’s muscle is inflated compared to the very thin elbow and wrist. The second panel allows us to see the all body : each arm’s muscle is bloated, and the arm is wavy. But the victory of the escape from the cocoon soon lets the fear take over. The fear of being different, of feeling different, and above all the fear of the new powers. What does he feel, now that he’s discovered his hidden origins ? The man is no longer a member of the human race, he is a descendant of an Inhuman. A similar feeling might be felt by a new mutant : him too, because of the persecutions and the debate on national television, might not feel part of the human race. Even if a NuHuman is a descendant of an Inhuman, who’s himself a descendant of genetically modified humans by the Krees, and a mutant is a genetically different human, they are different from the basic humans, and therefore threatening towards the human race. The worst is maybe that the Inhumans, unlike the X-Men, doesn’t have an Inhuman detector, thus the Inhumans are most likely to be left alone.

Ryan Stegman - Uncanny Avengers #1 p.2
Ryan Stegman – Uncanny Avengers #1 p.2 © Ryan Stegman / Marvel

After their first fight against the Super-Adaptoid, the Unity Squad made a public appearance during a press conference. This is just like the first team did after defeating Red Skull in Uncanny Avengers vol.1 #5 p.13, by Rick Remender and Olivier Coipel. Once again, Steve Rogers is speaking at the microphone, surrounding on stage by his teammates. The members of the Unity Squad are equally spread around Steve Rogers, just like the old team was around Captain America. But this time, the team counts less true recognized heroes, and more subversive characters : the mutant Rogue, the NuHuman Synapse and the bloody mercenary Deadpool. Steve Rogers himself isn’t at his best : he’s no longer Captain America – the burden of this name has fallen on Sam Wilson – and he has aged. How can we explain the choices of Steve Rogers about the team, especially when it’s about Deadpool ? Desperate times desperate mesures ? I think we’ll have to wait until the next issue to find out why Deadpool is in the team – besides the merchandising that Steve points out on page.17.

Ryan Stegman - Uncanny Avengers #1 p.13
Ryan Stegman – Uncanny Avengers #1 p.13 © Ryan Stegman / Marvel

The next page allows me to talk about the effects the T-mist has on mutant biology. If the purpose of Storm’s team on Extraordinary X-Men (by Jeff Lemire and Humberto Ramos) – of which the first issue will be released in November 4th – is to find a cure to this poison, we already have a glimpse of what it does on Rogue. Her skin is covered with pustules, which only an anti-terrigen solution is able to suppress temporarily. This solution is only a regulator, its keeps the mutants stable but not cures them. Like any sick-person, she’s tired of drinking the medicine that does not cure her, but keeps her alive. It’s been eight months since the world is back from Battleworld, and maybe eight months that she’s fighting against the T-mist poison. She’s exhausting, collapsed into her chair, her hand in her forehead. How long will this keep going ? Does a cure exist somewhere on Earth ? In the Universe even ? Ryan Stegman gives Rogue’s body a wavy look, she seems more liquid than solid, as she was on the verge of quitting her fight.

Ryan Stegman - Uncanny Avengers #1 p.19
Ryan Stegman – Uncanny Avengers #1 p.19 © Ryan Stegman / Marvel

Luckily for him, Quicksilver is not affected by this poison, because he’s not a mutant anymore as we learned on Uncanny Avengers vol.2. Running like the wind, he’s carrying Synapse to the hospital. Just like Rogue’s body, Quicksilver’s has this flickering look, but this is a way Ryan Stegman found to represent Quicksilver’s speed. He even added some ribbons-like drawings behind Pietro’s back to enhance the idea of speed. It reminds me of Medusa’s hair and the way Ryan Stegman used to draw it (see Inhuman).

Ryan Stegman - Uncanny Avengers #1 p.24
Ryan Stegman – Uncanny Avengers #1 p.24 © Ryan Stegman / Marvel

There is much to say about this first episode of Uncanny Avengers. And many questions about which I hope we’ll have an answer : why the terrigen mist is sickening the mutants only now ? What happened in Battleworld to Susan Storm and Reed Richard for Johnny to be on the Unity Squad ? Will Deadpool be able to adjust to the team ? If this is a promising start for Gerry Duggan and Ryan Stegman, I hope this will not be a repetition, with this time the Inhumans, of the first Unity Squad, since their first enemy seems to be an Inhuman.

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