Welcome to the 148th edition of the Uncanny X-Piles, where we give you our thoughts on the week’s worth of X-Men books!
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. All-New X-Men: 38 (36)
2. Savage Wolverine: 33 (23)
3. Uncanny X-Men: 32 (33)
4. Uncanny Avengers: 30 (28)
5. Cable & X-Force: 30 (19)
6. X-Men: 28 (34)
7. Uncanny X-Force: 24 (22)
8. Astonishing X-Men: 23 (28)
9. Wolverine and the X-Men: 20 (30)
10. X-Factor: 16 (20)
11. Gambit: 16 (8)
12. Wolverine : 14 (16)
Astonishing X-Men #64
: Marjorie Liu
: Gabriel Hernandez WaltaIíll put it out there first and foremost; if you arenít a fan of Bobby Drake, thereís a good chance you will not care a lick for this story. Even if you are a fan, you will have to plow your way through the horrible art to find enjoyment in this story. If you could read it with your eyes closed, Iíd recommend that option.
Donít get me wrong, I think Marjorie Liu is a fantastic writer. She really gets to the relatable human side of our favorite band of mutants. Sheís reaching deep into the core of what makes Iceman tick here. The unfortunate side of that is that some, maybe most, people just wonít care. The problem with giving Iceman the spotlight in this particular fashion is presented as both protagonist and antagonist, which means that either way; youíre rooting for the wrong guy. But in the very least, you should be able to gain a greater appreciation for the character, no matter what comes next. I just wish that this particular issue would have been more interesting or fun to read, because it just felt dry. Kind of like a thanksgiving Turkey that smells incredible, but without the gravy and cranberry jelly, ends up tasting like drywall.
Bobbyís potential level of power is put on full display through Marjorieís script, but delivery of that fails at the hands of artist Gabriel Hernandez Walta. I somewhat enjoyed his style in the previous issues during the quieter moments right up to the point where Iceman essentially takes over the world. This might be personal opinion, but I really did not care for his interpretation of what ice shards should look like. And why does Gambit look so clean cut all of a sudden? In a suit and tie, no less. I see some obvious John Romita Jr. and Walt Simonson influences, so if their art is your thing, then you might find more enjoyment in it than I did. I also had a problem with Bobby sprouting ice wings for some reason. It looked unnecessary, especially when he took Mystique to the edge of the stratosphere on an ice column.
Phil Noto delivers another jaw dropping cover though. Simply gorgeous.
The bottom line is that Astonishing X-Men #64 is the conclusion to an Iceman-centric chapter that is likely to appeal only to hardcore fans of the character. Marjorie Liu emotionally dissects Bobby Drake, but thatís about the only interesting part of this entire issue. The fight scene with Thor fell flat and the rest of the supporting cast was given nothing to do. –SG
Cover: 8/10 Writing: 6/10 Art: 1/10 Relevance: 7/10 TOTAL: 23/40
Uncanny X-Men #8
: Brian Michael Bendis
: Chris Bachalo
What happens when you have an X-Men school full of brand-new mutants, an Angel from the past who’s only been an X-Man for 3 weeks, and a senior staff with effed up powers? Luckily, the wonderfully twisted mind of Brian Michael Bendis decided this was the predicament he wanted to put this team of X-Men in, and I couldn’t love it more.
After the disastrous trip to Limbo in the last arc, the team returns a little worse for wear. Fabio (the guy with the golden balls) decides he’s already had enough and gets Scott and Emma to take him home. Bendis writes a hilarious back-and-forth between Fabio and his parents who are all trying to figure out exactly what his mutation means. Fabio is used as the entree for Dazzler, who now works for SHIELD, and that progression is smooth as silk.
Meanwhile, Scott and Magneto come to terms and once again Bendis showcases his knack for writing dialogue that is familiar to the characters. As these guys are talking, you can feel the decades of relationship they’ve had.
Bachalo is back on this arc, which is a nice return. I’m usually not in favor of artists who have such different styles tag-teaming a book, yet who else can compliment Bachalo? Fraser Irving’s work is different and funky enough to exist alongside Bachalo’s hyper-stylized pencils and colors. The fact that he does most of the artwork really is a boon, too.
Overall, Bendis continues to hit home runs with his X-Men titles. This is the best the flagship book has been in years, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. –JJ
Cover: 7/10 Writing: 8/10 Art: 8/10 Relevance: 9/10 TOTAL: 32/40
: Paul Cornell
: Mirco Pierfederici
Ugh. What the hell is this? We now see that Wolverine can, in fact, be drowned. He can be drowned in uninspired and lackluster art that drags a story to the depths of the sea.
Mirco Pierfederici was just a bad choice to pair with Alan Davis’ art. He struggles with facial expressions, or even an angry mouth. In one panel, Wolverine’s claws look like they are coming out of the tops of his fingers. I understand that these days, artists are drawing them coming out from between his fingers instead of the backs of his hands, but this just pushes that idea too far.
The inks of Tom Palmer on Pierfederici’s pencils are just sloppy. This whole issue looks like it was drawn in 3 hours in the dark by someone who has never read a comic book.
The story might have been interesting if drawn a little better, but I really feel like Cornell is just not the right guy for this book. Tying Wolverine to SHIELD is just not interesting. It works for Hulk because Hulk hasn’t done it before, but the problem with Wolverine is that there’s not much new ground for him to cover. The problem here is that we have no idea who the villain really is. It’s some kind of mind-control creature who takes hold of Nick Fury, Jr. but other than that, we have no sense of what this villain is trying to do or why it’s connected to Wolverine. There’s just no real weight to this story.
I think it’s time to scrap this and start over. We need a new creative team here, stat! –JJ
Cover: 6/10 Writing: 4/10 Art: 1/10 Relevance: 3/10 TOTAL: 14/40
Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: I’m really loving this Iceman arc in Astonishing X-Men #64.
SpidermanGeek: Out of this small X-piles stack, Uncanny X-Men #8 was the clear winner for me.