August 22, 2010

The Uncanny X-Piles V

Welcome back to The Uncanny X-Piles, where each week X-junkies Andy and Jeff review the latest X-books! Whether it has an ‘X’ in the title or not, as long as a series contains at least 1 merry mutant, the guys try their best to cover it here (except for some Wolverine and Deadpool stuff because they’re freakin’ everywhere). So check back each week as Jeff and Andy romp around in the Danger Room!

Avengers Academy #3
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Mike McKone

You may be wondering why this title is part of the X-Piles, and the reason is because of Quicksilver, and in this particular issue, Juggernaut too. However, the chair Tigra didn’t sit in had more face time than Pietro in this one. He’s supposed to be one of the teachers of the new Academy, and we haven’t seen him do much to date. In this issue we saw him briefly, and I think he did some running off panel. Juggernaut had a good scene where he’s having a Q & A at The Raft with the Academy students. One of them sheepishly asks him to say “Nothing can stop the Juggernaut,” and with a sigh/roll of the eyes, Juggy complies. There was also a great moment with Luke Cage where Juggs says he could escape The Raft at anytime if he really wanted to. Cage says nothing in response. Owned! The brief origin story of when Hazmat’s powers first manifested was very reminiscent of Rogue’s story; in Hazmat’s case, she’s making out with her boyfriend who falls into a coma due to getting a high dosage of toxic gas. The similarities are obvious. This series as a whole has been pretty good, I like the concept; a bunch of super powered kids whom Norman Osborn deemed to be the world’s greatest threats are now being trained properly by a team of B list Avengers. The kid characters are original, fresh, and well developed. The teaching staff is cool and poised in their demeanor. To be honest, it kind of reminds me of New X-Men/Academy X during the Yost and Kyle years. Check it out if you haven’t. -AL

Deadpool #26
Writer: Daniel Way
Artist: Carlo Barberi

This issue was far better than any Deadpool issue since he tried to join the X-Men a few months ago. That may be bias talking. But here Ghost Rider goes after Wade, forcing him to atone for his past sins- vengeance must be had! The two throw down in the desert outside Las Vegas, but when Ghost Rider tries to use his trademarked Penance Stare on ‘Pool, it shocks Ghost Rider, forcing him to turn back into plain old Danny Ketch. However, it does send Deadpool into a flashback, which I didn’t really care for. It re-told some of his origin, but it conflicts with things we’ve previously seen…which seems to be happening often these days with Wade. The line of what is actual character history and what isn’t is becoming more and more blurred. I did like the ending of this issue as it put a sort of reflective light on Deadpool, insinuating that he’s going to start living his life for the better…perhaps this is a segue into Uncanny X-Force? I don’t know. But I do know if you’ve been off the Deadpool wagon awhile, this issue is a good one to check out. -AL

New Mutants #16
Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Leonard Kirk

It’s a truly ballsy move to decide to do a New Mutants comic and not feature one single X-Man or New Mutant in the book, and instead feature a group of brand new villains and their origin. It’s also ballsy to take a long-forgotten plot thread from 20 years ago and base the same comic on that premise. Yet Zeb Wells scores some BIG points for not only doing these things, but doing them extremely well. This issue focuses entirely on General Ulysses and his squadron of hideous demonized soldiers. Turns out, these guys were tasked with taking the group of mutant babies to Limbo and make them into weapons. What mutant babies? The ones used back in the ’80s crossover event Inferno! These kids were used to open a gigantic portal from Limbo to Earth, and the New Mutants and X-Terminators were tasked in saving all the babies. They succeeded, but for years, X-fans were wondering what happened to those kids! The answer is finally revealed and boy, is it a doozy! This book worked on so many levels. It created a credible threat against the New Mutants, which tied directly to their own history. It moved the story forward in a neat way that wasn’t hindered by the interactions of old characters. Leonard Kirk’s art complimented Wells’ script, and depicted the horror that Ulysses’ troops went through for their mission. Now freed from all the current events like Necrosha and Second Coming, Wells is proving that he is the man with the plan for the New Mutants! Can’t wait to see what happens next! -JJ

Secret Avengers #4
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Mike Deodato

I think it’s time to take Secret Avengers off the X-Pile. In fact, I’m officially dropping this title. What drew me to the book was this rag tag group of heroes going on secret black ops missions. Instead, I got a throw-away book that might as well have been an ’80s Avengers book. I don’t mean that as a compliment. From what few Avengers books I actually have, I remember a hodge-podge of underdeveloped characters going on cosmic adventures with no real consequences. The stakes were always high, but in the end, seemed meaningless. The same thing happened in this arc. While the team still seems somewhat interesting, I don’t understand the point of the mission they were on. Obviously Brubaker has a larger plan here, but at the end of the first arc, I just don’t care about the Serpent Crown(s) or this Shadow Society at all. And I just don’t buy that Steve Rogers can become Nova for one issue, holding all that power, and then going on about his day. That completely diminished the character of Nova! And the climax of the book was Ant-Man saving the day with a measly wasp-sting? What was that? If the whole problem can be solved that easily, then what is the threat? I’ve not been a fan of Deodato’s art before, and this arc certainly didn’t help. Overall this book reminded me why I’m really not an Avengers fan after all. -JJ

Thunderbolts #147
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Kev Walker

This issue’s on the list because our boy, Juggernaut, is the heavy hitter on the Thunderbolts. The issue kind of rushed through its opening story arc, concluding it in order to tie in with the Avengers Academy issue covered above. Basically we see the team deal with the mutated S.H.I.E.L.D. agents (Juggs drops a huge rock on one of’em, squishing it), and then they’re back at The Raft cleaning up their wounds when the Academy kids arrive. This part of the story picks up when, in Avengers Academy, Hazmat uses her electromagnetic pulse to blow out The Raft’s electronics; her and some other students want to kill Osborn for what he put them through during his Dark Reign. The Thunderbolts search The Raft, rounding up escaped prisoners, looking for the kids, and trying to fix the electricity problem. He may not be an X-character, but it was awesome seeing Luke Cage kick some ass in this issue. Seriously, he threw down with a bunch of inmates and just destroyed them. Juggy seems to help some inmates escape, but he only leads them to a watery grave…well, sort of. Cage then assigns him the task of tracking down Man-Thing. All in all, this series has been really great so far. Rushing to conclude the opening story arc was a little awkward, but besides that everything else worked for me! I’ve been a big fan of Jeff Parker’s since he started on X-Men First Class, and Kev Walker’s art is perfect for this series. Read it if you haven’t already! -AL

Uncanny X-Men #527
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Whilce Portacio

I just discovered that a few years ago, Whilce Portacio went into a diabetic coma and when he awoke, he had to re-teach himself to draw. I had been wondering what happened to the great art I remember from the ’90s. I’m sorry that happened to him, I truly am, and at least I now know why his art has changed, but it’s time for his run on Uncanny to be done. I also think the same is true for Matt Fraction. I don’t really see the big deal with this guy. Both the dialogue and the story are horribly paced. Emma Frost’s characterization makes no sense. Why would Colossus call her “Ms. Frost?” Her messing around with Tony Stark and Namor are so old and over-done. Are we to finally believe that she is going to betray Cyclops? That is an old, boring story and frankly, I don’t want to see it. I feel like Fraction is just aimless with the X-Men, with no central cast, no characterization, too many characters, and no discernible vision for the future. So the combination of Fraction and Portacio is making this the worst run on Uncanny since Claremont and Billy Tan’s run a few years ago. -JJ

Wolverine: Weapon X #16
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Davide Gianfelice

Wolverine meets The Mission. While the premise is an obvious swipe, it still gives some much-needed closure on Logan’s struggle with the death of his best friend Kurt. We see what Kurt really meant to Logan, and this becomes a brief tale of faith, not just faith in God, but faith in friendship. At the request of Nightcrawler in his will, Logan must carry a piano up a mountain to a remote village church. In the process, Logan faces his feelings surrounding his friend and his friend’s constant care about Logan’s soul. Nightcrawler came off a bit more preachy than I remember him in prior books, but Aaron depicted their relationship well. This is the final issue of Weapon X, and not only does this book give some closure to the Logan/Kurt relationship, but the spiritual underpinnings give way to next month’s Wolverine In Hell storyline. I have not seen Gianfelice’s art before, but he has a style that is like a cleaner version of Leneil Yu. I liked this issue overall and am looking forward to Aaron’s continuing on Logan’s journey. -JJ

For previous editions of The Uncanny X-Piles, click here. For everything X-Men, visit this link!

Andy Liegl

Jeff Jackson



  1. New Mutants- Jeff, I agree this issue was decent, but I definitely need to go re-read INFERNO to get something out of it. Some recap would have been nice here.

    Secret Avengers- I’m still liking it a lot, but yeah, this issue was…off? Beast didn’t really do anything either, which was poopy. And yeah, Deodato’s art had some bad moments (which I think is rare with him)- like when Captain America suddenly became a D cup!

    Uncanny- Ok, I definitely saw how wonky Portacio’s art is in this issue. Didn’t know about the stroke, so that explains things. It is remarkable that he’s recovered well enough to even draw what he’s given us…but still, he shouldn’t be on Marvel’s flagship title. A mini, sure, but not Uncanny.

    Wolverine Weapon X- An awesome issue! It totally sets up his journey to Hell which commences next month. Good stuff!

  2. Billy

    @Jeff- If you didn’t like anything Avengers in the 80s, then yeah, you’re not an Avengers guy and shouldn’t buy it. lol
    @Andy- I still thought Secret was great. Ant-Man sort of saving the day (but nobody knowing or willing to even listen to him), Steve taking the Nova Force just shows how bada** he really is! And, I don’t really mind Beast not getting a whole lot of face time since he’s my least favorite team member.

  3. Eli

    Yeah, I can take Steve’s whole nova force thing just fine. I mean, it only took Richard a few moments to get accustomed to it back in Annihilation War after Xandar was destroyed. Also, there’s a difference between Steve Rogers and Richard Rider. Not to take anything away from Rider, but come on, if there’s a man to handle a job that, Steve has to be near the top of that list.

    I really liked Wolverine Weapon X as well, not much action, but I enjoyed it.

    And Thunderbolts… how many prisoners did US Agent handle, with one leg! I’ve never been a fan of his, but this issue was pretty cool.

  4. Jeff Jackson

    How did U.S. Agent lose his leg?

  5. @Jeff – It was blown off during Siege I thinnk.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *