August 1, 2010

The Uncanny X-Piles II

Welcome back to The Uncanny X-Piles where X-Men junkies Andy and Jeff review each and every new X-book, whether it has an ‘X’ in the title or not. So check back each week as the guys romp around in the Danger Room!

Franken-Castle #19
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Mike Hawthorne

This issue was part 2 of PUNISHMENT, where Franken-Castle is hunting down Daken to get his revenge for chopping him up in Dark Reign: The List: Punisher way back when in 2009. Despite my growing dislike of anything with the words “Franken-Castle” in them, I thought this issue was pretty good. It was just one long battle royal of Frank(en-Castle) and Daken exchanging blows and beating the piss out of each other. Franken-Castle gets the better licks in though, forcing Daken to pursue him, running his gauntlet of pre-set traps. The best part was seeing Daken get plastered through a wall with a freakin’ truck. Yeeeeah!! The issue ends with one of the two combatants about to the waste the other, when someone makes an appearance to prevent this from happening. More violence is sure to ensue next issue, and hopefully when this cross-over is all said and done, the name “Franken-Castle” will be a thing of the past. -AL

Secret Avengers #3
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Mike Deodato

This one is included only because Andy and I love the Beast, and I’m following him only because of the slightest chance that he’ll somehow revert back to his ape-like visage instead of the lion one. Sadly, there’s not much of him in this book. Oh man, I thought the art was going to be killer in this issue looking at the first two pages. But then Deodato went from “flashback art” to regular art, and I was disappointed. I thought that the Secret Avengers were going to be a secret ops team. So why are they on Mars and dealing with cosmic stuff? I’m starting to lose interest in this book quickly, no matter how much of a Beast fan I may be. I still like the make-up of this team, and think that it will be in Brubaker’s best interest to include more interaction between them, rather than focusing on the broad-stroke action and summer blockbuster FX. I’m gonna hang in there for a few more issues, but if there’s more of this stuff, then I’m out. -JJ

Uncanny X-Men #526
Writer: Matt Fraction; backup story by Allan Heinberg
Artist: Whilce Portacio; backup story by Olivier Coipel

Let me just get this out of the way. I used to love Whilce Portacio’s art in the 90s. I loved Uncanny X-Men #281 where the “Gold Team” was featured, and Sentinels were killing Hellions left and right. The guy was great. His faces were always a little bit off, but that never seemed to bother me. Now, I don’t know what this guy has been up to since then, but he needs to stop. Right now. No more drawing for you, my friend. Seriously. This is the worst art I’ve seen in a comic book. His faces look sleepy and robotic. His points-of-view are extremely hard to look at (see the birds-eye-view of Hope on page 3). His figures look like mannequins that have been molded into uncomfortable and impossible poses. His hair looks like the characters lost a battle with an angry hair-spray monster. It’s just painful to look at. That said, Fraction’s story is pushing into some interesting territory. I’m not sure the point of Hope finding her birth family, only to turn up nothing, unless it’s just not true and there’s more to come. But the Five Lights, and Hope helping them, seems like a neat direction. What is the nature of this mutant spark? Why are they manifesting at older ages? These are neat things to think about. But the real reason you should get this issue is because of Heinberg & Coipel’s backup story, which serves as a prologue to the Avengers: Children’s Crusade story. Coipel is just awesome, and Heinberg captures the voices of these characters well. It’s a pipe dream, but these guys would be an awesome team on this book. Get Portacio out of there, though. -JJ

Wolverine: Origins #50
Writer: Daniel Way
Artist: Will Conrad

Looking back over my reviews, I’d say this was not a good week of comics in the X-verse. Wolverine: Origins is FINALLY put out of its misery with a sappy, sentimental, and I’m gonna say it, out-of-character Wolverine story. Supposedly, Wolverine has come to terms with his convoluted past, and even after stabbing the crap out of Nick Fury, we’re supposed to think that he’s OK? What about the fact that he’s decided to take X-Force even more underground? What about the fact that Romulus is still freakin’ alive, and they never settled who was going to take his place? What about the fact that he lost his best friend Nightcrawler and is all torn up about it? All of these are the portrayals of Logan in the various books he’s in, and Daniel Way expects us to think that he’s settled up his emotional account? I don’t mind if Logan is in every book, but please keep his characterization consistent if at all possible. Wolverine: Origins began as a way to explore more of Logan’s past, which it did, and promised to answer a lot of questions, which it did. But this ending really did nothing to close out this long run (by today’s standards) of a title or put Logan in a satisfying place to move forward. However, there was a neat little back-up story between Logan and Hope, which set up their dynamic well. It’s nice to see Logan not buddy-up with another teenage female character. So there was some redemption to this issue. Glad it’s over. -JJ

Wolverine: Weapon X #15
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Ron Garney

So when Jason Aaron pitched this story to the editors, did he say, “I want to do a Deathlok book, but no one will buy it. Hmmm…let’s stick it into a book I’m already writing. How about Wolverine: Weapon X?” It turns out that this whole arc was an introduction to the new Deathlok, who, instead of being a pacifist in a killer robot body, is a killer in an empathetic robot body. Great. Toss in a bunch of confusing time-travel junk and a cheap cameo by the Avengers, and you’ve got the latest Weapon X story arc. By the way, this story began to be focused on Captain America and Wolverine, but they are simply background characters here. This could have easily been stuck in an issue of Marvel Comics Presents or something, if they still did that. I almost think that since Aaron has been “promoted” to doing the solo Wolverine book in September, that he just decided to give up on this story. Garney, too. By the end of the issue, it looks like a bad sketch book. Weapon X has been a great book thus far, but if it wasn’t ending after next issue, I think I’d be signing off. -JJ

X-Campus #2
Writer: Francesco Artibani & Michele Medda
Artist: Alessandro Vitti & Gianluca Gugliotta

I really really wanted to tear into this Alternate Universe comic, calling it X-Campiss amongst other things, but after reading it from cover to cover, there’s no way I could do that. This issue was surprisingly enjoyable from start to finish. I know, I know – I’m as shocked as you are! Artibani and Medda do a great job of characterization in this series, and tell a story that evokes chuckles and smiles, bringing you back to the days of carefree college life. That’s the premise of the story – all the X-Men are college kids making their way in this rough and tumble world. Well, not all of them. In this chapter it’s the original five (only Jean is older than the group, serving as a professor), plus Storm, Rogue, Wolverine, and Nightcrawler. I may also be a little biased in my enjoyment of this issue because Iceman is one of the prominent players, and he’s a total ladies man. The story is simple enough: just a day in the life of the X-kids on campus. The antagonists come in the form of Professor Magnus and his loyal students (a version of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants). Also, Juggernaut makes an appearance, using the wrist bands of Cyttorak to boost his career as an NFL star. The $5 cover price is a bit of a turn off, but you won’t blow through this issue in ten minutes either. I’d say it’s worth it in the end. If we can’t get X-Men First Class by Jeff Parker, X-Campus will certainly do. -AL

X-Factor Forever #5
Writer: Louise Simonson
Artists: Dan Panosian & Eric Nguyen

This was the final issue of this series, and all I have to say is GOOD FREAKIN’ RIDDANCE! Seriously, this mini was godawful. Louise Simonson, your classic X-Factor run was spectacular, but this series wasn’t even worthy to be used as a coaster for my can of lukewarm Natty Ice. I actually fell asleep on the Los Angeles public transportation system reading this issue. Do you know how hard it is to fall asleep on the LA PTS? Believe me, with all the freaks and weirdos sitting next to you, it’s pretty damn hard! But this book managed to put me out by page 6. To be fair, I only read issues 1-3 and then skipped #4 because I thought it was so bad. I only read #5 because of this here column, and I do not plan to ever have my eyes lay sight on #4, so maybe something amazing happened in it. I will never know. But why was this issue so bad? Well, when one of the most dramatic moments of the issue made me laugh out loud, there was no going back. It happened when Jean Grey TK’ed her baby (Cable) into the hands of a Celestial. It looked so asinine I thought I was reading an X-parody book. Also, why the flying F a Celestial would ever make a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” gesture is beyond me, but they did it here. Maybe Joaquin Phoenix was in one of those suits. Who knows and who the F cares. Peace out X-Factor Forever, I won’t miss ye. Wait…what’s that you say? New Mutants Forever is next!?!? NOOOOOOO!!!! -AL

X-Men Forever 2 #4
Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Rodney Buchemi

X-Men Forever. Ugh. Regulars of probably know that I’m not a fan of this series. Heck, if you just read my review of X-Factor Forever #5 you could probably deduce this. Even after meeting Chris Claremont a week ago at San Diego Comic Con, I still can’t bring myself to enjoy the Forever line. That being said, this issue wasn’t as god-awful as previous installments I’ve read. So what’s going on here? Well, Rogue looks like Nightcrawler, Nightcrawler looks human, Gambit’s real name is “Remy Picard,” there’s Lil’Ro instead of Storm, Sabretooth is an X-Man, and Shadowcat has a claw of Wolverine’s…has your mind exploded yet? What the flying F is going on here? There’s more: Nick Fury is living at the X-Mansion for some reason, along with the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Sabretooth has a honey who’s part of the organization. Yeah, it’s bizarre. So the plot of this issue is Sabes and Moira are abducted by Masque and the Morlocks – they want revenge for the Mutant Massacre which, according to this timeline, happened pretty recently. The X-Men notice they’re missing and send out a rescue team. Oh – and Mystique has joined the X-Men much to the disapproval of Fury. And much to the disapproval of this fan, Claremont ain’t what he used to be. The only thing I remotely enjoyed about this book was the “edgier” take on Kitty…but that’s it. If you want Alternate Universe X-Men, skip this series and read some old issues of Ultimate X-Men. -AL

X-Men: Legacy #238
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Clay Mann

There are a few things I don’t like about a comic book. I don’t like not knowing what’s going on in an issue. I don’t like not knowing who the players are. I’m starting not to like parallel universes and such when our universe is full of interesting things to fool with. This issue starts out with all three of those things. Who the crap is Luz, and why should I care? Oh, is this an X-Men book? I seem to have forgotten. Back with the X-Men, Rogue and Magneto (who I guess are getting a dose of Wolverine’s multiplicity in every book) are with a group of the more boring New X-Men as they take a trip to India. I thought Loa and Indra were much better background players. Their story leaves much to be desired. I don’t really care about Indra either, and he’s the central character. Carey’s X-Men stuff has been really hindered by the artists on the book. The last time X-Men: Legacy was good was when Scot Eaton was on the book. Clay Mann’s art isn’t bad, really, just extremely dull. There’s not much to say about this issue, but I don’t have high hopes for this story arc. But one last question…if Madison Jeffries can build Karma a new leg, why can’t he build Hellion new hands? -JJ

Tune in next week for more Uncanny X-Piles!

Andy Liegl

Jeff Jackson



  1. Billy

    @Jeff- I thought Secret Avengers was great. It had a lot of what you’re looking for in the first two issues compared to this one. I do think it should come down a notch every other issue or so to keep it more personal and to show interaction as you suggested. Both of the X-books were a little bit of a let down for me. Magneto and Rogue together was cool but as you said, the other characters are nobodies so it makes it difficult to care about their lives. Hope visiting her mothers grave and meeting her grandmother was cool though. She was always right in the middle of all the action so to take her out of that for an issue was cool with me. Both Wolverine books were meh.

  2. I’ve gotta admit, I disagree with my cohort in his reviews of LEGACY and UNCANNY. I thought both were great this week!

    Portacio’s art didn’t really bug me, and I liked the mystery that surrounded LEGACY.

  3. Rob

    I am quite surprised to see Secret Avengers considered as an X-title just because of Beast. You guys are always going to be writing bad reviews of it, because Beast won’t do much at all in that series, ever. I think though it’s cool that you are classing it in your X-titles list, as it is interesting to see what you think about it from the point of view of an adamant X-fan. Keep it in by all means, but I’m just saying it won’t be all that enjoyable if you’re reading just for Beast.

    The cosmic story that’s going on in it right now I guess is just down to whether you like cosmic stories or not. I personally don’t think Brubaker can handle cosmic stuff, so I’m not enjoying it much either. It’s an odd choice of story for a first arc, but hey.
    It’ll get better, I know it will.

    Great idea for a weekly article-thing, I will say!

  4. @Rob Yeah, any book that has an X-character in it we’re trying to cover. Like last week we did Thunderbolts because of Juggernaut. That being said, Jeff and I aren’t always going to be covering the same titles- we’ll be switching it up.

    Personally, I loved Secret Avengers this week- it’s my favorite new title from the whole “Avengers” relaunch. So our opinions will differ!

    Glad you’re enjoying the Uncanny X-Piles. It’s a fun thing Jeff and I have been wanting to do for awhile, and many of these X-books slip under the radar. However, we will not be covering every single Deadpool issue. Sorry, but that’s a category all its own!

  5. Rob

    Secret Avengers is good, I’m glad you’re enjoying it too, Andy. I am enjoying all the 3 new Avengers titles (Avengers Academy, Avengers and Secret Avengers) equally at the moment, they’re all as good as each other. I think Marvel have so many great titles that I am loving, they’re in a much better position for comics than they were a year or so ago. This new Marvel is great.

    And don’t worry. I don’t personally read Deadpool at all anymore. Lol! Can’t wait to see more X-Men reviews next week.

  6. Jeff Jackson

    I thought my reviews might be a bit unpopular with most X-fans. I love X-Men books, but I have to admit, I’ve been an unhappy X-fan recently. I’m not sure why.

    As for Secret Avengers #3, the reason I didn’t really like it wasn’t because of lack of Beast but because I thought the issue was weak. I want to see more of these wacky Avengers interacting, and this story arc hasn’t had the opportunity for that to happen yet. I quite liked the first two issues, but this one fell flat to me.

    As for Whilce Portacio, Andy, open your eyes, man. 🙂 I do not have high hopes for this arc of Uncanny with him on it. He’s always been kind of a Jim Lee knock-off anyway, and Jim Lee, he ain’t. But I like that you disagree with me. I think this column is going to be a good cop/bad cop. I like being the bad cop. Haha!

  7. I thought Uncanny X-Men was great this week. I’ve liked Matt Fraction’s run and I like the direction the story is going in. I didn’t have a problem with Portacio’s art, though there were moments where things were awkward. For example, when Hope was with her grandmother, was grandma just drawn oddly or did she look creepy for a reason. I don’t see much of a Jim Lee resemblance in the work, Marc Silvestri maybe.

    Regarding Hellion, I’d think Jeffries probably could build him some arms and hands. My question is, how has his loss of hands affected his powers. In the past he’s always channeled his powers through his hands.

    I enjoyed Legacy and thought the art was decent. Don’t really know the lesser characters and therefore don’t really care about them. But, that being said, how can I get to know them if I don’t read things they are in.

    Loved the special feature in Uncanny. Big fan of Wanda, Billy and Wiccan, plus the art was great.

  8. Rob

    Whoever said “get Portacio out of here” on Uncanny, I agree. This issue’s art was AWFUL!

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  10. The hand thing with Hellion has been bothering me since Second Coming ended. Which I realize is only a few weeks ago, but it still bothers me. Is it so we can watch him be angsty?

    I feel like they’re seriously pointing to Hope being an Immaculate Conception type thing, which fits in to the whole “She’s Phoenix” thing. I didn’t care for the art or the Hope finding her Mommy storyline much, either, but the Five Lights stuff is kinda interesting. And the Young Avengers stuff at the end is always great, but I’m a sucker for anything YA related.

    I don’t know who Indra is well enough to be really troubled by his overly controlling father, and I’m glad to know I”m not the only one confused by this whole alternate universe thing they just dumped in our laps.

    Secret Avengers is confusing me with all this talk of ancient crowns and stuff. As someone said, why are they not secret ops on Earth, like we all expected.

  11. @Jeff You will totally be the bad cop, lol…unless it’s dealing with the FOREVER line. Then we’ll both be bad cops.

    @Mattie Hellion has ALWAYS been angsty, even with hands.

  12. […] to get Jeff to cover this issue but he refused. After reviewing X-Men Forever and X-Factor Forever last week, I did not want to choke down this monstrosity…but for the betterment of mutankind […]

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