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April 8, 2013

The Uncanny X-Piles 134

Welcome to the 134th edition of the Uncanny X-Piles, where we give you our thoughts on the week’s worth of X-Men books!

The X-Piles

Numbers next to each title are the cumulative ranking of the latest issue out of a total of 40. Numbers in parentheses indicate the previous issue’s rating. Blue indicates a raise in the chart from last issue; red indicates a drop; green indicates the book stayed put.

1. Uncanny X-Men: 40 (39)

2. All-New X-Men: 37 (36)

3. Cable & X-Force: 35 (23)

4. Uncanny Avengers: 34 (28)

5. Wolverine : 32 (30)

6. Savage Wolverine: 28 (25)

7. Uncanny X-Force 26 (20)

8. Gambit: 25 (27)

9. Wolverine and the X-Men: 25 (20)

10. X-Factor: 24 (25)

11. Age of Apocalypse: 23 (26)

12. X-Men: 21 (23)

13. Astonishing X-Men: 13 (28)

14. A + X: 9 (11)


A + X #6
Writers: Peter David & Mike Costa
Artists: Giuseppe Camuncoli & Stefano Caselli

It’s hard to give a serious review to a comic book that doesn’t even appear to take itself seriously. And I don’t mean in the good way. There’s parody and then there’s just laziness. This book is most definitely the latter.

It’s not like there aren’t good creators on here. Peter David and Mike Costa aren’t bad writers by any stretch of the imagination. I’m not a fan of Camuncoli, but Caselli is one of my favorite recent Spidey artists. However, this is some of the worst work I’ve seen from these folks.

Both stories are about card games. I, for one, have never been a fan of the Marvel poker games, mainly because they’ve never been used to further a story, but more as a silly plot device to get the Thing and Wolverine arguing. In the first story, Captain Marvel and Wolverine are playing a game when they end up getting a lame villain involved in the game. The second story has Thing and Gambit teaming up to con some con-men. That second story could have been a great thing to use in a story that actually means something.

I’m not sure who this book is for, but it’s not me. Perhaps it’s for kids who aren’t used to seeing these characters together. But overall, it’s just a wasted opportunity to make really great stories about these characters working together.

Along with some other recent drops, “A + X” is officially dropping off the X-Piles.  –JJ

Cover: 3/10 Writing: 3/10 Art: 3/10 Relevance: 0/10 TOTAL: 9/40

Astonishing X-Men #60
Writer: Marjorie Liu
Artists: Matteo Buffagni & Renato Arlem

The bad part of doing a cross-over with two dying books is that they will most assuredly drag down the other one. Poor Marjorie Liu is getting saddled with these two other albatrosses, and the only thing living up to its name is in this atrocity is “X-Termination.”

I almost long for the days when they cancelled a title abruptly without trying to wrap up the loose ends. Instead, Liu is having to juggle the over-bloated casts of two other books, plus create a credible threat to the X-Men, all without losing her own characters in the mix. Her strength lately has been her work with her group of X-Men and their dynamics, and because she’s having to work on this crossover, she is hamstrung.

This story is not worth reading. It reminds me of that mini-event they did a few years ago where there were weird beings from another dimension or time or reality who messed with the original X-Men and the present X-Men. Obviously, that made an impression on me since I remembered it so well. This story is pretty much that, except these ludicrous teams have to join forces to figure out how to stop them by using the Apocalypse death seed which the AoA team just got finished prying from Weapon X’s hand. It’s painfully unoriginal, and you can tell this is simply the death knell for these alternate characters. By the way AoA Sabretooth dies in this issue…again.

The art in this issue is nothing to write home about. Buffagni gives a nice debut but Arlem’s work doesn’t fit the spandex types.

My main hope is that we don’t hear that this title will be following the footsteps of the other two. That would be a real shame. –JJ

Cover: 5/10 Writing: 4/10 Art: 3/10 Relevance: 1/10 TOTAL: 13/40

“Gambit” #10
Writer: James Asmus
Artist: Clay Mann (w/ Leonard Kirk)

Last issue, Gambit escaped the Club with No Name with Joelle and a package containing blueprints and access codes to a secret research facility where it’s rumored that the late Baron Von Strucker had unlocked the secrets of Life and Death itself. In this issue, Gambit agrees to help Joelle gain those secrets to save her dying daughter.

James Asmus must watch a lot of action movies. The “Gambit” title has been consistently pulling inspiration from classic big budget action flicks since its first issue. Even the dialog is liken to something you’d find in most Michael Bay directed scripts. Asmus has done a great job with developing the Joelle character into a formidable and compelling Femme Fatale opposite the Ragin’ Cajun. James also manages to offer readers a bit of a treat in the final page of this book that Gambit fans won’t want to miss.

Clay Mann continues his tenure as main artist on “Gambit” with a little bit of help from Leonard Kirk on this issue. Kirk’s contribution blends rather seamlessly with Mann’s art style. It was rather difficult to tell who drew what. I think there is only one page I could tell for certain was Leonard Kirk’s work. Mann’s artwork is fairly detailed throughout and a lot of care obviously went into all the background and foregrounds to help give this book a realistic feeling setting. Fortunately, the interiors are much more exciting than the generic looking cover.

The bottom line is that the “Gambit” title has been consistent. It offers nothing really outstanding, but it doesn’t disappoint either. It’s been fun to read and doesn’t require the reader to be knowledgeable on years of X-Men continuity.-SG

Cover: 6/10 Writing: 8/10 Art: 7/10 Relevance: 4/10 TOTAL: 25/40

“Uncanny Avengers” #5
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Olivier Coipel

Fantastic! That is about the only word needed to describe this fifth issue of “Uncanny Avengers”. If you felt like there was something missing from the first four issues, look no further. This is the issue where the team roster and its mandate get concretized. Also, keep an eye out for the appearances of two classic Avengers villains.

Rick Remender seems to have taken extra care in crafting what will come next for the Avengers Unity Division and this is clearly evident in the roster he has chosen which are beautifully illustrated in classic John Cassaday form on the cover. Remender’s focus in this issue is on Alex Summers and his place on the team. Havok’s perpetual cycle of self-doubt is still very much part of his character, but readers can feel that with so much more at stake, he is rising to the occasion as leader of the team and even manages to deliver an inspiring press conference speech before the doodoo hits the fan in the final pages. Well done Rick, you’ve made me like Havok.

Olivier Coipel helmed the pencils here and the reader gets a visual treat. The level of detail that is in every character’s face is astounding. Coipel seems to be experimenting with hair styles as well, but it all adds a touch of convincing realism to amplify the emotions being portrayed on individual faces. I can’t help but feel that he also put a bigger chunk of his efforts on Scarlet Witch and Rogue because they are both simply beautiful in this book, but in a very subtle sort of way.

Inks and colors just bring all that detailed work to life and some of those panels just leap off the page thanks to them.

The bottom line is that this issue was the missing puzzle piece since this title launched five issues ago. Remender dropped a seed in the first two pages and a bomb in the final two while everything in between was absolutely captivating and bursting at the seams with character and story progression. It’s all here. Issues one to four gave us the pre-opening credits scene, while issue five is where “Uncanny Avengers” gains traction and momentum.-SG

Cover: 8/10 Writing: 9/10 Art: 9/10 Relevance: 8/10 TOTAL: 34/40

Uncanny X-Force #3
Writer: Sam Humphries
Artist: Ron Garney

It’s been an interesting few issues with our new team of X-Force members and their encounter with the time traveling Bishop. Once again the character is after a little girl and a team of X-Men are trying to stop him. The last time we saw Bishop he was doing the exact same thing so that already makes the premise a bit shaky. Though for the most part Humphries has given us an element of mystery surrounding Bishop’s return and with the cliffhanger at the end of this issue things are looking up for this title.

Another area of concern for me is the actual team dynamic going on here. As individuals Humphries is writing these characters quite well. He gives a bit of origin information about Psylocke and Spiral that hits the important parts relevant to this series. It’s just that this doesn’t feel like a team book yet. There has to be a reason for these guys to stay together after this arc wraps to make this anywhere near purposeful.

Garney’s artwork is consistently strong as the action and storytelling is handled very well. As good as the majority of the book is it’s the sequence in Bishop’s psyche that really stands out. Garney’s style shifts completely which really sets the tone that you’re definitely someplace otherworldly.

It’s still very early in the series and though it’s got it’s rough spots Uncanny X-Force is a solid title for now. We’ll just have to see how long it takes to get it’s legs underneath it and take off -IS

Cover: 6/10 Writing: 7/10 Art: 7/10 Relevance: 6/10 TOTAL: 26/40

Wolverine & the X-Men #27
Jason Aaron
Ramon Perez

This is an example of a writer just having some good ole fashioned fun with a particular story arc. Wolverine and his class are still in the Savage Land and while he’s tied up the students are left to the tutelage of his brother, Dog. Though Logan’s brother has a hidden agenda the great part about this issue is that Aaron puts more focus on the kids and the rest is just background. There’s a very good amount of character development going on here that makes these lesser known students fun to get to know.

Perez provides some very strong visuals throughout the issue. He keeps the story moving quite well and at a solid and fast pace. Though I will say that Glob Herman and Eye Boy will look ridiculous no matter who is drawing them.

Aaron keeps this issue pretty entertaining and it’s a nice shift in tone. Especially when most of the other mutant based titles are in pretty serious story arcs now. Hopefully if Aaron keeps this up we’ll need less Wolverine to carry this book and more face time for the students. A solid and fun read for those who enjoy a little comedy with their action. -IS

Cover: 6/10 Writing: 7/10 Art: 6/10 Relevance: 6/10 TOTAL: 25/40


Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week
Jeff: With Oliver Coipel on Uncanny Avengers #5, this book finally felt like it was on track!
Infinite Speech: Uncanny Avengers #5 has stepped it up!
SpidermanGeek“Uncanny Avengers” #5 is exactly what was missing from this title since its launch. Now we’re getting somewhere!

Jeff Jackson

Infinite Speech





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