As has been pointed out to me before, Rick Remender writes the long game. He's a writer that believes in actions having consequences— serious consequences. The latest chapter of Uncanny Avengers demonstrates this, well, marvelously. (Spoilers below.)
Kang's time-travel plot from last issue worked like a charm. Several Avengers have arrived before the disastrous events of chapter #14. Wanda has yet to begin her misguided, disastrous Rapture 'spell', nor is Rogue on the warpath. For the first time in ages, our heroes are getting along. Like a team. It's downright uncanny.
On the Earth, a number of heroes try to delay the Celestial Executioner from destroying the planet. The timely arrival of Captain America and company aborts their slapdash plan with an even slapdasher plan: everybody pile their powers on to Rogue. Stat.
The Apocalypse twins are none too pleased with the abrupt change in events. (You'd think two evil masterminds raised by Kang the Conqueror would be used to changes in the game mid-stream. Oh well.) Things get worse and worse for the villains, which is actually kind of hilarious. It's almost always gratifying to watch supervillains panic, post-'Nothing can stop us now!' braggadocio.
Beyond that, Rogue does the truly astounding. I've been hoping that Rogue would do good work despite her anger, and this issue holds the payoff. Daniel Acuña and Dean White do a terrific job of bringing these planetary stakes to life in vibrant, vivid detail.
Then, Thor strikes a killing blow to a cosmic being. He's grown, considerably. A younger Thor would revel in such 'glory', our matured Thunder God takes no pleasure in a necessary evil to save the planet. (Which is legit. The Celestials only wanted to destroy Earth because that same Axe, Jarnborn, has already been used once to kill one of their own. This brings the score to 2-0.)
Enter Kang the Conqueror, who sicks an obedient Deathlok on Thor, plummeting them both into the molten vein of a dying Celestial.
It takes a truly spectacular villain to turn a hero's good deeds into fuel for his own machine. It takes a mastermind to do it after destroying, then saving, the planet. Kang has always been about longterm effects, which makes him the perfect plaything of Rick Remender. Kang manipulated events to create Jarnborn as a superweapon. He reared the Apocalypse Twins into villains insidious enough to strike down the Avengers. He nudged the future to create a latter-day group of Avengers, desperate enough to work with Kang in order to save the world.
The result? Kang, standing triumphant, soaking up the Celestial lifeforce to become his ultimate self. That... that's never good.
The Uncanny Avengers may have averted one apocalypse, just to enable a worse one. Whatever happens next is going to be intense, and I can't wait to see it.
How about you?