It’a an all new year and that means you’ll be getting an All New Uncanny X-Piles! That’s right folks, we are back to deliver our batch of X-Title reviews for your mutant loving pleasure! Unless you’re not a mutant lover, and in that case you’re probably spending too much time trying to build your own Sentinel than reading this. So, for those that are mutant and proud sit back as The Comic Book Clergyman, Spider-Man Geek, Infinite Speech, and Capekiller (who we found roaming the Canadian wilderness naked with knives taped to his hands) return for your All-New Uncanny X-Piles!
As a long-time fan of Peter David and his run on X-Factor, I will admit that I was breathing a sigh of relief when I had heard the news that X-Factor Investigations was closing its doors and effectively ending the long running series. Imagine my surprise when it was announced that PAD would be penning an All-New X-Factor team. I honestly did not know what to expect or think about the matter. I felt torn. X-Factor had become rather stale in the last couple of years, so part of me feared that PAD just didn’t have it in him to keep writing this team.
Luckily, this isn’t the same team. Sure, we have some X-Factor alumni characters in the mix, but the first thing you will notice is that the writer has taken the modus operandi of X-Factor and flipped on its head. If anything, this incarnation of the team more closely resembles the 1990’s X-Factor title. This time, PAD decides to explore what a corporate sponsored team of superheroes would look like rather than a government agency backed team. There’s an added element of uncertainty weaved into the story as we mainly follow in the point of view of Gambit, who doesn’t completely trust his new employer’s motives. The reader is gradually introduced to the core team members as well as their “boss” Harrison Snow, CEO and President of Serval Insustries. For those who might have forgotten, Mr. Snow had approached Polaris about joining his X-Factor in issue 260 of the previous volume.
The entire book has a very 90’s feel to it thanks to Carmine’s artwork. The panel layouts fill most of the pages from corner to corner, forgoing borders in most cases. The artwork as a whole is adequate with very strong inks and a clean color palette. Bottom line here is that it’s a good looking book. The new character uniform designs are in line with what we have been seeing in other X-books of late. My only gripe with this is the over-use of incorporating “safety goggles”. Unfortunately, it makes Polaris look like Abigail Brand.
As far as first issues go, the creative team did a good job easing the reader into this team and it managed to pique my interest and will have me coming back for issue two. For Gambit fans, rest assured that PAD picks up where James Asmus left off. If you are so inclined, go back and read that volume of Gambit along with X-Factor #260 as prologues to All-New X-Factor #1. –SG
Good to be back in the saddle on the X-Piles! To me, Savage Wolverine has been the perfect Wolverine book. Don’t misunderstand me. The story arcs and art haven’t always been perfect, but the way Marvel is publishing this book is perfect for a character like Wolverine. His past history takes a PhD to decipher, and his current continuity is a tightly woven knot. Wolverine is everywhere, and because of that, making him an ever-developing character is difficult, if not impossible. But with this title, Marvel has figured out to let top-tier creators tell whatever kind of Wolverine story they want, no matter where it falls in continuity. Because of this freedom, we’ve gotten great Wolverine stories by Frank Cho, Zeb Wells & Joe Madureira, and most recently, Phil Jimenez. Next in line is Richard Isanove.
Isanove is no stranger to Wolverine. He did the color work on Origin, which I think made that book the classic that it is. Isanove is known more for his colors than his writing or drawing, but in this issue, he shows us that he can really do it all.
The story has Logan in 1930s Ontario, where prohibition is in full effect. Logan is helping a smuggler with his side-business, but this smuggler’s family gets caught in the middle of some gangsters who want to put Logan’s friend out of business. It’s not a particularly unknown kind of story to feature Logan. Some of the best Wolverine stories are the ones where he gets revenge on some bad guys who have hurt one of his friends.
This is no different in terms of the tone of the story, the only difference being Isanove’s beautiful artwork. His work lends itself to period pieces anyway, but the color palate he uses gives the panels a depth and realism without making it overly photo-realistic. Isanove’s Logan is rough and unpredictable, yet also has a soft side when relating to the younger characters in the book. Stepping away from the convoluted current nature of Wolverine allows Isanove to excel at showing us the true nature of who Logan was in 1933.
I don’t understand the numbering of this book, with that .NOW crap at the end, but if you like past solo stories of Wolverine like Origin or even the first Wolverine mini-series or ongoing series by Chris Claremont, or if you liked the tone of the last Wolverine movie, then you should pick this up and enjoy. – JJ+
The funny thing with reviewing Origin II is, I’m still not entirely sure how I feel/felt about Origin I! A lot of Wolverine fans; or just general fans of things “X”, were excited to finally have a window into the backstory of Logan back in 2001 when Bill Jemas, Joe Quesada and Paul Jenkins and Andy Kubert first decided to tell the story. With that time period basically marking the birth of the “information explosion”, I suppose it bothered people that there were so many loose ends in Logan’s story. While the original exhaled a breath of fresh air into the character, I was still one of the few who preferred the tortured Wolverine, always searching for answers from his past. So, how good could a second take be on the same story? Even more pertinent a question might be, “Has Marvel hit rock bottom with regards to Wolverine stories?”
The first thing that grabbed my attention with Origin II: Book One is the art. As a lifelong fan of the character and his stories, it was easy to pick up the elements of homage in this book. First and foremost is the use of Adam Kubert as the artist on the book. Adam of course, is one of the famous three Kuberts known around the comic book world, and the brother of the artist who pencilled the original Origin story. Adam’s cover instantly pays homage to pieces of the original six covers designed by his brother. The famous bone popping claws zoom is referenced, with only two claws popped to help the readers understand that this is Origin II….. Of course there is also the looming presence of the wolves, which was utilized on the final three covers in the original series. Something I didn’t notice until I got home and opened the book; which I have to admit I quite enjoyed, was the mylar cover. The bone claw design is actually a transparent overlay on the actual cover with the wolves. The surprise beneath the claws is yet another homage to the ominous set of wolf eyes from Origin: Book Four, but this time there is something “Sinister” about the stare!
Kubert’s interior art was hit and miss for me. I really enjoyed his handling of the animals, but wasn’t a fan of his work on Wolverine himself. It seemed over simplified and rushed at times. I say rushed because some of the other images that the storyboard seemed to place more importance on were glorious. The splash page of the polar bear for instance was stunning, bringing me back to memories of Bill Sienkiewicz’ rendering of the Demon Bear in New Mutants #19. Kubert’s lines really lend themselves to the design of the bear in all the panels it is in. I think it comes down to something as simple as I enjoy his approach to rounded figures over his approach to angular objects. All in all however, the art was nice to look at.
My biggest concern going into this story of course was not the art, but rather the writing. Kieron Gillen has bored me as a writer for many years now. I’ve always felt like he works far too hard at trying to mould a comic book story into the next great American novel, or I guess in his case British play…. I don’t mean to be overly critical, but he just seems to take himself way too seriously for someone writing “funny books.” There is no question that this book is very serious in nature. In fact, Gillen works his hardest at making the story poetic, filling it with metaphors and layered references. The nice thing about this is that Gillen keeps the text to a manageable level, unlike his work on Journey Into Mystery in which every panel felt as though the art might be getting in the way of the words! In Origin II: Book One, Gillen finds a nice flow, and allows Kubert’s art to help tell the story.
The story itself is somewhat sparse. It feels more like a precursor to something bigger. I recognize that this might be what a “Book One” is designed for, but I feel that this story is so rudimentary, that it probably deserves “Book Zero” designation, in that it is the book before the story telling begins. The story basically revisits Logan’s time spent living in the wild with wolves. The only real addition is the introduction of a super villain in the form of a dark wolf, which I have to admit opens up all kinds of possibilities in the storytelling department. I am genuinely intrigued to see where Gillen takes this portion of the story line.
I couldn’t help but notice that Book Two features a picture of Sabertooth on the cover. I am a little concerned that Origin II will quickly deteriorate into Origins, which in my opinion was a ridiculous attempt to introduce a super villain every issue. Much like the failings of Spiderman II (the film), it is a recipe for disaster to flood a superhero story with villains. Keep it simple, and give the main character a purpose.
When all was said and done, I enjoyed the story as a light read. It was definitely nothing ground breaking, but it has the potential to open up, or at least visit some new avenues of Wolverine’s story. So long as editorial keeps Gillen on a short leash (maybe a strict word count …) and Kubert commits himself to throwing his best work into every panel, Origin II could prevent itself from becoming instantly irrelevant. – CK
Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you folks! It looks like Spider-Man Geek and myself picked the same book to review so let’s see if we agreed on anything regarding this title.
I was at NYCC 2013 when this title was announced and there wasn’t much excitement from me in contrast to the reaction from the crowd. Maybe because I wasn’t an avid reader of the previous X-Factor series from Peter David and didn’t see what all the hype was about. Though, when people did talk about the bulk of his run it was usually with praise but I still didn’t see enough in those issues to make me keep up with the series.
So, would this series be the game changer for good ole Infinite Speech? Would he see what all the applause was about? Will he stop talking in third person? Well, let’s just say that for an introduction it was impressive overall despite my issues with the story so let’s get into that.
We find out here that the team name has been sold and it’s now owned by Serval Industries. The company sends Polaris as it’s emissary to reach out to Gambit who isn’t too trusting of the corporate giant but agrees to go along (for now) due to his friend’s involvement. Plus the CEO, Harrison Snow, does make a pretty good first impression. What throws both Polaris and Gambit for a loop before their first mission is the entrance of the third team member with whom both have reservations about and for pretty good reason.
The story so far didn’t blow my socks off but it did enough to pique my interest for the next few issues to see if I’d like to stick around. I’m very interested to see if David can make this cast of characters work well with this set up. He also seems to be following a trend I’ve noticed in some of the recent Marvel comics as having A.I.M. play a part in the major villain role. This actually makes great sense as Serval Industries would run into conflict with a group like A.I.M. so kudos to David for this and making it a lot more credible.
The artwork has me on the fence a bit. On one hand Carmine does a very well moving the story along and it was really cool that he illustrated Gambit’s acrobatics with the multiple after image effect. That’s always been a favorite and it’s not utilized enough anymore to illustrate movement and action. However, the overall look of the characters is what threw me off a bit. It could be that the new costume designs aren’t too impressive or the fact that at times some of the characters looked sinister when it really didn’t call for it in that stage of the story.
So, I’ll be on for the next few issues and if you were a fan of David’s previous run then go ahead and try this one out. If you’re like me and just want to see what it’s all about then give All-New X-Factor a shot and see if it’s for you! – IS