What’s big, brown, and sticky? What? That’s disgusting. I was talking about GROOT, you freak, who rears his treelike head into this week’s All-New Uncanny X-Piles. The beginning of one crossover, the end of another, and more epic battles than you can shake a…ahem, stick…at. Let’s see what the guys had to say!
Guardians of the Galaxy #11.NOW Writer: Brian Michael Bendis Artist: Sara Pichelli
Greetings X-Piles readers! You might be wondering why a Guardians of the Galaxy issue has made its way onto our lovely mutant-centric column. Well my friends, the answer is simple, it’s because this particular issue is part of a lovely mini-crossover brought to us by Mr. Brian Michael Bendis called The Trial of Jean Grey. If you remember, we covered the first part of this story in a review of All-New X-Men #22.NOW in last week’s X-Piles where the Comic Book Clergyman gave it an outstanding 9 out of 10 rating.
First and foremost, do not be confused by the story numbering found on the cover. The assumption is that both All-New X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy are running their own #1 issue that respectively sets up the crossover for each team before converging to a common point in time by the end of the issue. The remaining 4 parts will then be split equally between both titles, although I could not find conformation of this formula anywhere on the web.
Now onto the review! Let’s gush all over Sara Pichelli’s art and get that out of the way, shall we? Pichelli has an incredible knack for conveying emotions through facial expressions and they are put on full display here. This issue has tons of close-up panels that ushers the reader through conversations between characters and you can’t help but feel that you’re actually part of the conversation. Gamora looks absolutely frickin’ fantastic (both of them) and so does Sara’s version of Peter Quill, especially in the first two pages which don’t even contain any dialogue. The issue only contains a couple of pages of action at the halfway point, but this is handled flawlessly by Pichelli as well. Her Angela is as stunningly graceful as she is viciously intimidating looking.
Bendis continues to weave unique personality in each of the Guardians. Within the dozen issues we’ve been privy to so far, we have a solid background on the instantly loveable Peter Quill, but have only begun to scratch the surface on the remainder of the team, which indicates to me that Bendis still has plenty of stories to tell as far as these characters are concerned. The one thing that seemed out of place in this issue was a cameo by Tony Stark. It felt forced and unnecessary except to give Rocket Racoon something funny to say. Otherwise, this issue is a great jumping on point for X-fans that might very well give you the itch to keep reading long after the crossover story arc is over and done with.
The bottom line is that Bendis has a good handle on this group of characters and Sara Pichelli’s artwork is outstanding here. The Trial of Jean Grey is off to a great start and it’s reassuring to know that the entirety of it is being penned by one writer, and a damn good one at that. –SG
Uncanny Avengers #16 Writer: Rick Remender Artist: Steve McNiven
Unfortunately, I am not really sure how I feel about this book or the story arc it spawns from. This of course, is never a good thing when it comes to a review. But, regardless of how hard I try, I am finding myself hard pressed to commit one way or another to this story. It has elements that seem new and fresh, but the deeper you dig, the more these devices seem recycled. My hope is, that I can talk myself through to a consensus by the end of this review.
One thing is for sure, Marvel really tried to put their ducks in a row for this story. Most of the major books have some type of interplanetary threat story right now, and the interesting thing is that many of them relate or at least reference to one another. Of course, this does make for a pretty busy universe which will bother many readers who like their Marvel timelines neat and tidy. Personally, I had my fill of neat and tidy, universe spanning story lines in the mid-2000’s, so I am fine with stories that make no possible sense alongside one another.
Uriel and Eimin (the heirs to Apocalypse, protégés of Kang and former prisoners of the Red Skull….) continue their quest to save the mutant race without any regard for the rest of the Earth. The Tachyon Dam which the twins have created to prevent time travel is an interesting plot device, which in this case really holds the heroes at bay. All the Earth’s heroes have to do is destroy it. Like any good action story, the evil twins walk around monologuing while everyone else is running around trying to stop them. These twins are truly powerful, so it is easy to see how they dispose of Earth’s mightiest this easily. That is, until Thor shows up.
This just so happens to be my problem with this story. I am a little tired of long drawn out story arcs that are solved in the end by one character simply finding the willpower to fight through! Keep in mind of course that this story is not yet over, so my gripe is probably premature. With the semi-rescue by Thor however, I worry that he is being positioned as a Superman character within the Marvel Universe. By this, I mean a character who could save the day at any given time, but for some reason…doesn’t!
Something unique about this book has to be the gruesome factor. I don’t remember stories being this dire. Captain America’s face is half burnt off, Thor’s arm is melted to the bone, the deaths of key characters; McNiven really gives this story the George R. R. Martin treatment! Of course, nothing is forever in comics, but still, this is pretty extreme stuff.
One thing is for sure, this book is action packed. The fight sequences basically span the entirety of the book. Steve McNiven has a real feel for Thor and captures his rage and determination perfectly. If we are being totally honest with each other, I also have to admit that I am a sucker for giant beings standing over top of the Earth, waiting to destroy it. The frame that shows the Celestial Executioner, Exitar’s foot hovering over top the entire East Coast is pretty awesome!
With still more of this story to unfold, we will see where Remender takes us. The threat level is so high that I am a little afraid that ending can only be anti-climactic, but only time will tell. Despite my gripes, this book and the storyline itself have been entertaining. I think it is about time the X-Men and Avengers started acting like a single unit. Hopefully the big wigs at Marvel keep this tension filled relationship rolling for years to come. –CK
It may sound unbelievable, but this story had potential. Teaming up the two X-Force teams meant there was some great opportunities to pair up Cable/Hope/Bishop, Forge & Storm, and Storm & Colossus. These characters have such history with one another that it really could have gone somewhere really fun. Instead, it got truncated into 4-parts and this issue really seemed to neuter the story that could have been.
But let’s get one thing straight. Sam Humphries’ X-Force has been terrible. In fact, I dropped it after the first arc because it was so atrocious. The team just doesn’t work. Why is Storm on X-Force when she’s the headmistress of the Jean Grey school and also headlining the adjectiveless book as well? Why are Puck and Spiral on this team? They have no real purpose being here and frankly, are incredibly boring characters. Fantomex and Psylocke had potential, but I guess they did something to Fantomex because he wasn’t here. Adding Bishop to the cast seemed like a good fit, but the fact that they retconned his crazy made him 100% less interesting.
So you throw that group in with Cable’s semi-fun team, and guess what? The whole thing falls flat. Add to the mix the return of Stryfe, who has no real agenda except to screw around with Cable, and you can see why this book falters. The great tension was supposed to be between Hope and Bishop, but because these writers are so handcuffed, they can’t really do anything of importance to progress them. This would have been a great opportunity to have Bishop finally kill Hope, undoing the retcon and setting him up to be a real villain. But I guess with Bishop appearing in the next X-Men movie, that just wasn’t meant to be. Again with the handcuffs.
This is some of the worst art I’ve ever seen in a comic book. Everyone’s faces are molded into snarls. The panels seem stiff and aren’t appealing to draw my eye to them. The first half of the book, which I’m guessing is Harvey Tolibao’s, is much worse, but even the second half struggles to make me want to finish. Then again, with an issue like this that really doesn’t matter at all, it’s time to pull out your 3rd-and-4th string artists and give them a shot. Both of these artists need to work on their game before drawing another book.
The end of the issue attempts to lead into the upcoming new X-Force book. I don’t hold high hopes, except that Humphries won’t be writing and neither of these artists will be drawing. That’s something, right? –JJ
Be sure to check out previous editions of the All-New Uncanny X-Piles by clicking here!