One of the challenges presented to a new reader by an established comic book chronology is being aware of the past history while keeping up with the multitude of crossovers and team-ups. The combination of these elements makes for a rich mythology and great character development but can discourage unfamiliar readers from picking up a new-to-them title. I've enjoyed getting back into the Marvel Universe with my reintroduction to well-loved characters through post-Civil War II events. I read tons of Spider-Man, Punisher and Wolverine as a teen back in the mid-80's...but left it behind once I got a driver's license and needed my cash for dating. (Ah, the sweet, sad naiveté of youth, how it blinded me to the importance of comics in my life.) If you are anything like me and are a bit intimidated by the burden of what you may have missed, Uncanny Avengers #14 is a great place to pick up. It doesn't explain everything, but it covers a lot of ground.
By way of past events:
Captain America has formed the Avengers Unity Squad, a joint force of Avengers, X-Men and Inhumans. Rogers is doing this to encourage a sense of peace in the public's eye, seeing as how messy things became post-Civil War. The problem is that none of these factions are really working together. Red Skull has returned and is plotting his Big Move, which should be where the team is placing its efforts. Instead, a small group within the Unity Squad is going off-book. (I'm sorry, Unity Squad sounds like a motivational speaking group that uses cheer-leader techniques to stop bullying during a junior high assembly, not a hero group)
Cable and Rogue secretly team up with Sebastian Shaw and Toad to steal cure technology from the US Army. There is a gas called Terrigen Mist that can remove a mutant's abilities, and they want to nip that in the bud.
And with that, we've covered the first page of the comic. See? It can be a lot of work to catch up, but we're there! And we did it together!
The meat of the issue follows Rogers as he tries to stop Cable & Co. It is black and white to him; they've broken the law and stolen US government property and must pay the price. As one can imagine, this does not go down peacefully.
As well as this plot, we see Tony Stark taking desperate measures to come to the aid of his dead friend, graveside at that. Brother Voodoo is forced to confront his dead brother, Daniel, who has finally taken the matter of being dead very personally. (More on them in a bit)
I don't usually follow team-ups but this one was really fun to read. Team-ups seem to dominate the Marvel Comic Universe of late. The titles are numerous and can eat up so much money if one were following them all. Right now, this team-up does a good job creating a fun story that is adding to the depth of the Marvel Universe. The multi-character approach is great for storytelling--throw a bunch of characters together and make them work together. Ensure that no one gets along and you have a great vehicle for conflict, the best way to move a story along, I feel. This issue highlights this premise very well.
Famed for not being a part of the team is Deadpool, but to his credit, he seems to be doing his best to play along. His character arch was very satisfying in this issue, and Roger's biting condemnation of Wilson at the story's end leaves Wade's future as a Unity Squad member up in the air, along with the entire Unity Squad.
This issue also does something that I like--the Comic Universe is pointing us in the right direction so as to be prepared for upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe character appearances. The end of the Deadpool movie pretty much promised Cable, and the upcoming Doctor Strange film will no doubt introduce some lesser known characters. So if you want to be able to enjoy these coming-soon films (without sitting through the movie and hearing everyone else cheering and wondering "What did I miss?" when an Easter egg is dropped), take note from current comic issues and do some digging into the backstories on folks like Jericho and Daniel Drumm.
Check out Uncanny Avengers #14, in stores now and on Marvel.com.