Welcome back ComicAttackers and X-fans to this week’s edition of The All-New Uncanny X-Piles where a handful of our merriest mutant loving reviewers have dropped by once again to regale you with their thoughts on that one X-Title that has impacted them the most, be it good or bad, from last week’s releases.
It has been a really long time since Marvel has put out an original graphic novel. The last X-Men OGN was the classic “God Loves, Man Kills,” which is one of the all-time great X-Men stories. So with this new OGN, expectations are a bit high. This book also marks the return of Mike Carey and Salvador Larroca to the X-Men franchise, both known as having strong runs on X-Men Legacy & X-Treme X-Men respectively.
This book fits nicely into the current status quo of the X-Men. It takes place after Battle of the Atom, the Trial of Jean Grey, and the Quest for Nightcrawler, as it includes Nightcrawler, one of the future X-Men, the son of Mystique and Wolverine – Raze – and is also missing young Cyclops. The X-Men teams are still split and have to come together when all the Earth’s humans go missing suddenly.
In terms of plot, there were many things that I didn’t quite understand. Carey wrote a lot of technical jargon on how the machine that made the humans disappear worked. I also wasn’t quite sure the purpose of Raze’s plan, and how he ended up forcing the X-Men to back down. I admit I may need to go back and re-read that part.
But I found two primary things that was really good about this book. First, it was such a breath of fresh air to see Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, Magneto, Jean, and Beast on a team again. It’s time for the X-Men to unite permanently. The Schism needs to come to an end, and there needs to be reconciliation between the teams. Carey does a good job of bringing them all together and pitting them against a common foe.
Second, Marvel should really consider OGNs again. It’s a much different form of storytelling, and one that is really effective in terms of telling a big story. This could have easily been an X-Men event that crossed over into all the titles, but it worked much better as a single story told in the OGN form.
Salvador Larroca has had many artistic style changes over the years. His recent work hasn’t really been my cup of tea, but this book felt like a return to an earlier style that I really appreciated. He moved away from the photo-realistic attempts and simply drew the characters as we’ve grown to love them. It’s some of his best work.
My only main complaint is that not really anything happened of lasting effect. Everything went back to normal at the end, so as not to conflict with any of the regular titles. It would have been good to see something that really altered the status quo, even a little. I was disappointed to see Carey use the Phoenix in this book, as the concept is exhausted, showing up in every other story it seems. Here, the Phoenix is a deus ex machina that seems really forced and lazily included. The Phoenix needs to be on a moratorium for a number of years.
This is not the best X-Men story, but it has its merits. If nothing else, perhaps Marvel will start making more OGNs to tell really great stories. –JJ
The book opens up with a vlog entry from a girl named Georgia who is the daughter of a man called Scott Dakei who is a writer and known for his strong anti-mutant views. The vlog quickly turns bad when Scott catches his daughter and abruptly ends her transmission. Of course, the internet does its thing and it doesn’t take long before it catches the eye of Cypher who assembles the X-Factor team and urges them to pay a visit to the Dakei house and “rescue” Georgia from her father.
Peter David plays with the subject of bigotry here which is nothing new in the world of Marvel mutants. One can’t help but also see certain parallels with the controversy that surrounded Orson Scott Card and the release of his Adventures of Superman story. PAD manages to make the reader reflect a little on whether or not an artist’s (in the general sense of the term) creative output should and can be separated from his or her personal beliefs and views. Then he manages to turn it on its head a bit and kind of shines a less than favorable light on some of the X-Factor team members with the stronger views against the Scott Dakei character. Hate begets hate. After jumping to many conclusions, the team puts together an off-the-books extraction plan that I, and surely most readers, felt was a bad idea from the get go.
Naturally, as has always been the case with Peter David and X-Factor, you have to expect the unexpected and things don’t necessarily go as planned for the team.
We also get a few subplots inching along which is another signature PAD thing. Harrison Snow and Linda’s affair, Quicksilver reporting in with Havok, Warlock’s crush on Danger, Gambit and his cats.
I am still very much in love with Carmine Di Giandomenico’s artwork and either I’m simply being blinded by that adoration or his work has actually been improving issue after issue. There’s nothing to complain about from me on the art front. The entire art team is doing a fantastic job on this title. Strong work overall. Kudos.
The bottom line though is that this adventure ultimately just feels like a vehicle for something PAD wants to say. There’s is nothing inherently wrong with that, but this being only issue seven of a new series, I would have liked for Peter David to “hold that thought” a little longer and wait for his team of characters to be a little more established before having bear the load of such a weighty subject matter. It wasn’t my favorite issue overall. –SMG
What did you think about this week’s X-books? Let us know below! You can check out more X-Piles right here!