No sooner are we done with Jason Aaron’s Original Sin than we find ourselves on the March to Axis with Rick Remender. The focus has been pretty tight in these last few issues as Axis approaches. Havok (complete with scarred face), Rogue (complete with Wonder Man power-set) and Scarlet Witch team up with Magneto to take on the Red Skull and his S-Men in a mutant concentration camp. Ahab, a holdover from the big Kang arc sticks around too; relishing the chance to enslave mutants all over again (Ahab hails from a future where he has tortured and enslaved mutantkind.)
Man, the Red Skull is such an awful person; it is so easy to hate him. This issue is mostly from Scarlet Witch’s point of view, as she tries to work through her complicated feelings towards her father, Magneto. I get that Remender is putting us in her head, but some of the tension of the action sequences gets bogged down by all the narration boxes. I would have liked a tad more of Wonder Man in these issues too. If he’s going to live on only in Rogue’s head, maybe he could get a bit more dialogue? Rogue is truly best with this power set; the super strength and durability just work so well for her. Watching her slap around the S-Men then recover after the Skull’s final attack is just plain exciting.
I’m sorry, Remender, but I’m just not feeling Havok these days. The guy is just too generic of a hero for me to buy into this hero’s journey too much. The scarred face, the forced romance with Wasp, it just isn’t making enough of a difference. Havok works best as part of a big team, and setting him on this mission with such a small team is not gonna do it for me. I think Alex Summers works best when dealing with overbearing alpha males, so without Cyclops or Captain America to rage against, Havok seems sort of lost.
Magneto plays a tremendously important part here. I loved the scene where he turns things around on the Skull, and he has some fantastic monologues and quotes while taking down the S-Men. It also seems like Magneto might be responsible for creating the new Red Onslaught (the Red Skull/Onslaught hybrid starring in Axis). I’m not sure I understand how that transformation happened; hopefully Axis 1 will explain it.
Daniel Acuna is one of my top 5 artists, perhaps top 3. I love seeing him draw Rogue busting heads and Magneto tossing around metallic projectiles. When Magneto delivers his fists-only beating to the Skull, Acuna does a great job showing the destruction of the skull mask. I do wonder if the art or coloring was changed on that big splash in the Skull’s camp. I think mutants were hooked up to something, but I’m not sure what. Maybe some art changes were necessary to keep this appropriate for teens?
So Axis is coming next week. This “March” has me interested, but not tremendously excited. Red Onslaught doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, and the Skull is going to need to explain his sudden boost in power if he’s anchoring a mega-crossover on his own. The lead-in is GOOD, but I’m worried about 8 more issues Red Skull-based conflict.