Uncanny Avengers Annual #1: Review

Apr 2014
Rick Remender, Paul Renaud

Story Name:

(no title given)

Review & Comments

Rating:
3.5 stars

Uncanny Avengers Annual #1 Review by (May 9, 2014)
Scarlet Witch and Wonder Man's relationship relationship here is basically as portrayed in #5 and #7. It changed to 1 of physical intimacy in #13. But then that's probably part of what will be erased by #22. But since when have Rogue and Wasp been friends?! Has Wolverine fought *this* Ghost Rider before? Most of the Wolverine/Ghost Rider encounters I can find were with the Daniel Ketch version. Logan met the Johnny Blaze version while he was in Hell in 2010, but then they were allies. Wasp uses the word "mardy" which is a peculiar English word of a regional dialect. Also Mojo's previous TV show which the executives messed around with wound up with Antique Roadshow as 1 of its elements. Although there is a US version of this TV program, it's much more of an English institution. Where does Rick Remender get his English influence from? Online references to his wife being a tea-drinker make me suspect she's the source.

All the members of AotS apart from Dr Strange were inventions of the 1970's horror boom. The Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider is probably the most well-known and currently active member of AotS after Strange. In the last GR series he lost the role to someone else (again, female this time), but got it back in the end. He's currently been appearing in Thunderbolts where I believe he dies in this month's issue. So this appearance is probably before that 1. But then he'll probably get better sometime. Man-Thing's also a long-term player. His last major gig was as 1 of the previous version of Thunderbolts, and the Dark Avengers they mutated into. Satana the succubus was in there too. But since then she played a large role in the Hell on Earth War in X-Factor. Blade the half-vampire vampire-slayer has also been around for a long time. But lately he's got a regular spot as Spider-Hero/Ronin in Mighty Avengers. Manphibian is definitely the lightweight guy in this team. He had a 1-off slot in a 1-issue black&white mag Legion of Monsters in 1975. Then he came back for a bunch of appearances in this century, most prominently with a bunch of other supernatural characters (none of the above) in Punisher(!) and then with his companions in a Legion of Monsters mini-series.

This, like the recent Avengers Annual, is a humorous tale totally divorced from the current series. Thus I have no idea if this is before or after the Ragnarok/Planet X storyline where half the Uncanny Avengers are (almost-certainly temporarily) dead. But the question is probably irrelevant since that story is probably going to be made to not have happened. Mojo has usually been depicted a running Mojoworld, or even the Mojoverse, but his political power has always depended on the 'quality' of his TV programs. But here he is just a creator/director working for a TV company - although that *company* may run the world. The Body Shoppe is where people are cybernetically enhanced. It is usually seen as run by Spiral, usually as Mojo's subordinate. But the Avengers of the Supernatural don't seem to get changed by it.




 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Uncanny Avengers Annual #1 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
On Mojoworld Mojo is called before the executives of Mojoverse Inc to discuss the low ratings on his latest show. (Although the animated billboards outside all feature Mojo and his creations to apparent acclaim). It seems Mojo has been on the outs, and has only recently been brought back into the company on a trial basis.

Mojo counters their complaint by pointing out that they mutilated his original concept in order to pack in as many flavour-of-the-month features as they could. Ignoring him, they now claim that his failure is due to not fitting in with the latest craze - endless stories that add more mysteries as time goes on to hide the fact that they never answer earlier questions.

Mojo pitches his latest idea, Avengers of the Supernatural, and he's already kidnapped Blade, Dr Strange, Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze), Manphibian, Man-Thing and Satana to star in it. His Body Shoppe are working on them. The board immediately want to add Wolverine, real Avengers and zombies, and set it in a High School. But he'll take responsibility for any failure - which will be his last.

The next bit of the issue is overlaid with Mojo's narration as if it is part of his pitch for what should happen.

The Unity Squad are relaxing in Avengers Mansion. Rogue and Wasp are sunbathing by the pool exchanging gossip while Havok dive-bombs in. The subject of their talk is Scarlet Witch and Wonder Man. Simon Williams tries to get Wanda to accept his love for her, but the Witch still doesn't think it a good idea for them to be a couple. Captain America and Sunfire are playing pool while Thor and Wolverine have a drinking match and a fight.

These last 4 are suddenly attacked by Ghost Rider spouting oaths of vengeance. He slaps a slaver strip on Thor's brow, which immediately spirits the Thunder God away. Then he drags Wolverine outside with his chain and dumps him on the poolside 3. By this time the executives have already got bored with GR's vengeance talk, and Mojo promises to edit most of it out later. So it's already clear that Mojo, executives and us are seeing what is happening. With the enslaved Avengers of the Supernatural capturing and enslaving the Unity Avengers.

Cap and Sunfire have found time to get into costume before following the action outside. But only to see the other 5 AotS arriving, with Dr Strange announcing their group name. Satana steals part of Sunfire's soul, but Cap takes down Blade and Manphibian with his shield. Until Dr Strange assaults him with nightmares. Wolverine is fighting Ghost Rider, with Wasp kibitzing.

Recovered Blade dodges the cosmic blast Rogue 'borrows' from Havok, and uses his bat form to enslave them both. Man-Thing sneaks up and his tendrils put slave strips on Jan and Logan. Strange tells Cap that his team are tired of the Avengers protecting humans while ignoring the plight of innocent monsters.

Simon and Wanda at last join the fight, and Scarlet Witch ensnares Dr Strange. But Satana slaves them both. The whole Supernatural team surrounds Steve Rogers until Stephen Strange does the honours for him.

Despite the preceding events being supposedly scripted and recorded, we only now get to Mojo's new TV show Martian Transylvania Super Hero Mutant Monster Hunter High School. And Simon Williams is the (enslaved) scriptwriter.

Steve Rogers and Thor are football jocks and Jan and Wanda are cheerleaders. Steve and Wanda have just broken up, and Thor's suspicious about Jan who's paying too much attention to Alex Summers. Alex, Logan, Rogue and Shiro are leather-clad outsiders.

The chief executive interrupts Mojo's direction to demand that Ghost Rider turn evil. And Wanda, who loves him, will have to kill him. Mojo objects that they haven't even got as far as showing Wanda and Johnny's relationship yet.

Meanwhile Wanda goes to the library, which Stephen Strange likes to call his sanctum sanctorum. There he is running a roleplaying game with Blade, Manphibian and Satana. Man-Thing is in a corner as a potted plant. Wanda asks about Johnny Blaze. Stephen  warns her not to fall in love with him - he's possessed by a demon. Unfortunately it's too late for that advice.

Wanda runs out and meets Johnny. They've been seeing each other for a while, and she tells him she's pregnant. Johnny is shocked, because of the demon that would result in the mixing of their powers.

But this isn't in the script. And neither is Blaze turning into Ghost Rider. Who really is worried about what their child would be. And he rides off on a vengeance spree.

Meanwhile the other characters have reverted to their costumed selves and recover from their slave state. Wanda attacks Mojo and tells him that his meddling has made the Spirit of Vengeance take over Johnny Blaze completely. The heroes are about to leave Mojoworld to its fate, but Mojo persuades them to stay and save the innocent inhabitants. (And he can film it.)

Ghost Rider flies his flaming motorbike up to the artificial moon that looks down on the studio. His penance stare makes the Mojoworlders writhe with guilt. And their fear ignites Man-Thing. Dr Strange says their only chance is for Satana to tempt(?) the Spirit of Vengeance out of Johnny Blaze. She agrees to do it, even though she fears being stuck as Ghost Rider if Johnny won't take the Spirit back afterwards.

Mojo's commentary correctly predicts that the plan won't work, but as usual the heroes will prevail anyway. The board aren't worried if Mojoworld gets destroyed - they make most of their money from multiversal syndication rights. And anyway they're insured.

The heroes attack Ghost Rider en masse, but soon leave it to Thor to handle the now giant-size Ghost Rider. Then Sunfire drops Satana on GR, but she fails her appointed task. Then Man-Thing tries to quench the fear at its source. But fails too.

Scarlet Witch now confronts him, but only as a distraction while Rogue uses her power to do what Satana couldn't - suck the Spirit of Vengeance out of Johnny Blaze. The Spirit immediately tries to control her, and she begs Blaze to take it back. After a moments hesitation he does so, but now it's back under his control.

Dr Strange takes the heroes back to Avengers Mansion. Leaving the executives to argue over whether Mojo's program was any good or not.



Paul Renaud
Paul Renaud
Paul Renaud
Art Adams (Cover Penciler)
Art Adams (Cover Inker)
Jason Keith (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Clayton Cowles.
Editor: Daniel Ketchum.

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Blade
Blade

(Eric Brooks)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange

(Stephen Strange)
Ghost Rider
Ghost Rider

(Johnny Blaze)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)
Thor
Thor

(Odinson)
Wasp
Wasp

(Janet Van Dyne)
Wolverine
Wolverine

(James Howlett)

Plus: Havok, Manphibian, Satana, Sunfire.

> Uncanny Avengers Annual: Book info and issue index

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