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April 12, 2013

The Uncanny X-Piles 135

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Written by: Jeff
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Welcome to the 135th 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: 36 (37)

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. X-Men: 21 (23)

12. Astonishing X-Men: 13 (28)

13. Age of Apocalypse: 10 (23)


Age of Apocalypse #14
Writer: David Lapham
Artist: Andre Araujo & Renato Arlem

The fact that this title lasted 14 issues is a miracle in and of itself. Rick Remender had done a brilliant job of pulling the AoA back into our view in his “Uncanny X-Force” run. The AoA has such a revered place in X-fan hearts, how were they going to pull off a regular series. When I found out that the series would be featuring a team of humans in a strange, reverse status quo from our own X-Men, I was slightly worried. However, the work that David Lapham, Roberto de la Torre, and Renato Arlem put into these pages really impressed me overall. I kept wondering how I was enjoying this book when it was nothing like the traditional AoA nor like any other X-Men book out there. It turns out, that’s what made this book successful.

It was continually dark and hopeless thanks to the consistent tone of de la Torre and Arlem’s art. Lapham took these characters on dangerous adventures and added all kinds of crazy twists like stealing the head of Victor von Doom. There was great character development from the double-agent Donald Pierce to the father-issue-riddled Graydon Creed. All led by the mysterious William Striker, aka Prophet, this team had real potential.

That leads me to this issue. This shoe-horned crossover is everything AoA hasn’t been in the last 13 issues. There is no room for character development when you have 3 random teams of X-characters duking it out for panel space. Lapham, like Liu had to do in the previous part, has to focus on characters that aren’t his to deal with, and it sticks out sorely. The way the editors divided up the work is really strange. Lapham should have handled the departure of Sabretooth and Horror Show, not Hercules from X-Treme.

The artwork is inconsistent. Andre Araujo is a good artist, but when paired with Arlem, his work looks awkward. They should have stuck with Arlem to pull off this issue. Oh, and the cover is by Giuseppe Camuncoli, who is one of my least favorite artists. Why didn’t they get one of the other cover artists to do this?

And what’s with the “Chapter Five” heading at the beginning of this issue? I get that each issue has 2 chapters, but it’s still very confusing and unnecessary.

Overall, this story is a disaster. I would have preferred the last issue of this book to be #13 as it wrapped up the series much better. I understand why Marvel does these things to get a final bump on sales, but they could have kept their dignity by just canceling the title and letting it be done. –JJ

Cover: 2/10 Writing: 2/10 Art: 4/10 Relevance: 1/10 TOTAL: 10/40

All-New X-Men #10
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Stuart Immonen

The Uncanny X-Men pay a visit to the Jean Grey School to state their case and mandate, which also doubles as a recruitment pitch. Meanwhile Sabretooth, Mystique and Lady Mastermind go on a shopping spree after a cash withdrawal.

There’s not much left to be said about All-New X-Men that hasn’t already been expressed here on the Uncanny X-Piles at some point in the previous nine reviews. Read any of the four titles currently dominating our ranking chart and it’s easy to come to the conclusion that it’s a great time to be an X-Fan. Bendis, Hopeless & Remender are giving us fresh stories that we can all get excited about. Having Brian Michael Bendis on both All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men offers a strong continuity of characters and a seamless bridging of story elements that is easy to follow.

While the focus in this issue is on who from the Jean Grey School will defect to Cyclops’ newly operational Xavier School, Bendis manages to throw in some chaos and action in a few scenes involving Sabretooth, Mystique and Lady Mastermind as they set forth a plan to steal gobs of money all while dragging the X-Men’s name through the proverbial mud. And don’t think that just because there are serious things being discussed throughout the issue that Bendis couldn’t see fit to pepper some tasteful humor here and there (Krakoa steals the show at one point). The man is a master at balancing all of these elements in every single issue.

Stuart Immonen is a machine. There’s no doubt in my mind. So far he’s probably the only artist that has managed to draw Beast in his new form without having him look like a total goofball. Aside from that, most if not all of Immonen’s lines are absolutely perfect and crisp and the panel layouts are creative while remaining clear and easy to follow. The entire art team deserves a standing ovation yet again.

The bottom line is that if you can only pick two x-books to have in your pull list, they better both be from Brian Michael Bendis. The man is on fire. –SG

Cover: 8/10 Writing: 9/10 Art: 10/10 Relevance: 9/10 TOTAL: 36/40

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: All-New X-Men #10
continues to be one of my favorite books each time it comes out.
SpidermanGeekAll-New X-Men #10 delivers. ‘Nuff said.

Jeff Jackson




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