August 30, 2010

The Uncanny X-Piles VI

Hey X-fans! Jeff, my partner in crime, had to take the week off from the X-Piles in order to do some Priestly things which I don’t really understand, but he said it’s more important than comics (blasphemy!) so I had to take his word for it. That means it’s just little ol’me dishing out your X-reviews, and surprisingly, I enjoyed every single X-book this week. So read on!

Astonishing X-Men #35
Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Phil Jimenez with Andy Lanning

Warren Ellis’ bold and infrequent run with the X-Men comes to an end with this issue, and he did a great job packing it in with character moments. Like Emma Frost and Armor joking about shopping at a bondage store, and Armor and Wolverine pulling off the classic Fastball Special, these moments really made this send off issue feel like an X-book. We finally see the man behind all the chaos of this arc, an old disfigured mutant named Kaga, who is so envious of how the X-Men look like sexy pop culture icons, that he has been planning their demise since he was a child. The X-Men get him cornered though, and Wolverine punches him in the face which was totally awesome. Jimenez’s art is great here, and I hope he gets some time on another X-book in the future- Whilce Portacio and Greg Land could use some replacing over on Uncanny in my opinion. While I’m not sad to see this series end (it just hasn’t been the same since the end of the Whedon/Cassaday run), I am sad to see Storm leaving her only “regular” X-title. Sure she’s in X-Men right now, but for how long? Also, now that S.W.O.R.D. has been cancelled, Agent Brand is out of the mix too. I always liked her character and hope she doesn’t get shoved to the back burner either. Oh, I suppose the same goes for Armor as well, but she’s been popping up elsewhere in the X-books. She’s probably one of the best things to come out of Astonishing X-Men. If you’re a hardcore X-Men fan and have been skipping this series, check this issue out as you’ll probably enjoy it. –AL

Curse of the Mutants: Blade #1
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Artist: Tim Green

If you didn’t read The Death of Dracula one-shot a month or so ago, this issue may not make as much sense to you as it should. Someone is targeting vampire hunters and Blade’s on the trail. He meets some allies along the way, most of whom I’ve never heard of: Claudia Belles, Dolly, Tripp and Texter. Even so, it didn’t really matter as they’re well written here and you don’t need to know anything about them beyond what’s presented in this issue to follow along. Eventually, Blade’s chase chase leads him directly to Xarus, Dracula’s second son and the current Lord of the Vampires. The confrontation gets violent and shit seriously hits the fan. I won’t spill all the beans here, but things definitely don’t go well for Blade’s crew of slayers. This issue did a great job of making the vampires come off as scarily dangerous and lethal, and it bridges the gap between The Death of Dracula one shot and Blade’s appearance in X-Men #2. Don’t judge a book by its cover by skipping on this series X-fans! It’s been written very well so far. -AL

Curse of the Mutants: Storm + Gambit #1
Writer: Chuck Kim
Artist: Chris Bachalo

About 1/4 of the way through reading this issue, I re-read Uncanny X-Men #159, which was where Storm first encounters Dracula, forcing him to flee her because of her pronounced regality and impeccable honor. Connecting that brief snippet of the X-Men’s past to their present was a cool move by Marvel here. This entire one-shot reeked of X-Men throwback goodness! The opening scene in this issue had me hooked; it’s Storm and Gambit being themselves, hearkening back to great 90s dialog. I will never get sick of hearing Gambit call Storm “Stormy.” Artist Chris Bachalo really captures Ororo and Remy’s expressions, which probably has a lot to do with how right the whole scene comes off. He creates some pretty badass fight sequences too, which include a dynamic panel layout, the educated use of the characters’ powers, and logical combat choreography; hey, it makes sense that Gambit would use his bo here against vampires- it is wood after all! Bachalo also draws one sexy Emma Frost, which, for some truly unexplainable reason, doesn’t happen very often, despite her numerous appearances in the X-books these days. His art is vibrant, stylized, and jam packed with stuff throughout the issue to occupy the eye. That being said though, I always have a few moments with Bachalo’s work where I have no clue what the hell I’m looking at, and this issue was no exception. Sometimes his stuff can just get too busy. Also, Gambit came off more cartoony than I would have liked at times.

As mentioned earlier, Chuck Kim writes some great dialog with this one. It’s clear that he understands how some mutant powers work, and not just with Storm and Gambit; he explains why Dazzler’s abilities are ineffective against the vamps (I totally forgot how useful she could be against them), and the usefulness of Northstar’s abilites! I really do love stories that empower Storm, and this one definitely does throughout. Time and time again she proves how tough she truly is, even without using her powers, and she kicks major ass in this issue. What’s great about this one-shot is that Storm is finally forced to see the other side of the coin; since the events in “Messiah Complex,” she’s been rather vocal about her position against some of the decisions Cyclops has made as leader of the X-Men- most notably the creation of X-Force, a team that murders threats to mutantkind. Here though, in order to save the greater good, she is forced to make a decision that compromises her morality and goes against everything she stands for. That moment made this issue for me. In short, don’t skip on this issue, especially if you’re a fan of these two characters; it’s well written and has very immersing character moments, plus the art’s pretty good too. -AL

X-Campus #3
Writer: Francesco Artibani & Michele Medda
Artists: Marco Failla & Roberto di Salvo

This issue was another enjoyable alternate-reality take on the X-Men’s early years. It’s broken up into two parts, and in the first we’re introduced to Colossus who, like in Ultimate X-Men, finds himself in some gangster trouble. He gets out of it just fine on his own, and is eventually recruited by Xavier and the X-Men- but only after Magnus and his Brotherhood try to get him first. I love what Colossus says once he accepts Cyke’s invitation to join the team, “You’re not Scientologists, are you?” Ha! A secret is revealed in that Mystique has been posing as the Worthington Institute’s principle this whole time, which will probably come into play next issue. The second half of the book focuses on Rogue running away from the institute for a reason that came off as lame; I think it was because she felt she was too dangerous to be around others. Yeah, the usual Rogue schtick. Eventually, Jean and Ororo find her and save her from a trap sprung by a teenage Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw. Jean is forced to reveal that this whole time she’s been psychically portraying herself as an adult amongst her peers, when she’s actually a 15 year old kid like the rest of them. Oh, and Angel’s wings finally manifest which was done as anti-climactically as you can get. Even so, this mini has been pretty good so far; I’m not sure if it’s $4.99 good, but it’s a fun take on the X-Men that’s amusingly written. The only thing really getting on my nerves is whenever someone says “Cyberno,” which is this reality’s version of Cerebro. Hell, it took me long enough to adjust to Cerebra in the 616 continuity, and I want to poke my face with pens whenever someone says Cyberno. Just typing it makes me want to go outside and bite my pillow. -AL

X-Factor #208
Writer: Peter Dacid
Artist: Emanuela Lupacchino

Well, it’s the most dramatic confrontation we’ve been waiting for in the X-books! Wolfsbane walks in on Rictor and Shatterstar! It was dramatic, and hilarious, and it eventually gets physical…Speaking of, somehow I don’t think crashing through a window in the thick of a fight can be good for a pregnant woman. Think of baby, Rahne! Regardless, David’s handling of the situation surprised me in its ‘resolution,’ and as usual, he’s clever about slipping in his offhanded humor. This is a great issue for Siryn as she’s well written and her fighting skills showcased. Also, how can you not love Longshot in this one? David has given these B and C list X-characters lots of individual personality, and fans will be taken in by this slick take on them. However, I’m not sure why Layla’s become so aggressively cryptic all of a sudden, and Monet is being a little too pissy for my tastes. I mean mutantkind just won a war where major characters died, and their entire species faced extinction, yet here she is being petty about stupid stuff. -AL

X-Men Forever 2 #6
Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Tom Grummett

Ya know, I have to admit- I didn’t hate this issue. In fact, I actually enjoyed it. I know, what has happened to me? Have I drank too much of the magic tea? No, Claremont and Grummett were just on in this one. I think I may know why I liked it so much, though- The Starjammers were in it. Yeah, I have a soft spot for those space traveling pirates. Plus, Havok and Lorna showed up and we haven’t seen them in comics for what feels like almost a year or longer (War of Kings anyone?). We were given no reason why they were absent from “Second Coming,” which claimed to be the biggest X-event of all time, and it sucked that these two were completely written out of it. On a side note, I would sell my first born child to see a new ongoing series made up of the original X-Men: Xavier, Cyclops, Jean (if she comes back, otherwise just leave her out of it or use Emma Frost), Beast, Iceman, Angel, Havok, and Polaris. This original core group have X-Men have yet to connect in the modern day on their own team, and given how these characters have changed so much over the years, my inner X-fan yearns to see how they’d all get along now; both in power set and in personality. How amazing would it be if that could happen some time this decade? So yeah, back to X-Men Forever 2 #6. It was decent, and I had a good ime reading it despite how absurd it gets at times (…Sabretooth has a bionic arm now. Yeah.).  If you’re a fan of the Starjammers, give it a whirl, but otherwise check out one of these other X-books in this article. Like Curse of the Mutants: Storm + Gambit or Astonishing X-Men #35. -AL

X-Men Legacy #239
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Clay Mann

This issue spotlights Rogue and Magneto doing all sorts of cool stuff, from giving guidance to younger mutants to taking down a crew of Sentinels. This must be the week of character moments for the X-books, because between Mags and Rogue, plus the great scenes with Anole, Trance, and Paras, you just feel like you’re reading a good old fashioned X-Men story! Well, almost. I’m not sure why we’re supposed to care out Indra (Paras) all of a sudden, and spotlighting Trance so much fells a bit odd since she was never a very prominent character before. Speaking of, this new character Luisa, aka Luz, is turning out to be unexpectedly likable, despite her personality bearing a strong resemblance to Kiden from NYX, and more vaguely so, Layla Miller. But why create a new young mutant, when we already have so many favorites to choose from who have slipped through the cracks? Like Surge and Dust for instance, or heck, even Kiden! I did really like the scene with Luz and Magneto though. Great stuff there.Mike Carey also brings back some older villains he’s very familiar with, and Clay Mann’s art looks pretty good, but I don’t think his inker is doing him any favors here. Oh, and “001001011100111100111011010–” doesn’t sync up with The Flight of the Conchords’ Robots song in case anyone was wondering…was that reference too obscure? -AL

See you back here next week for another edition of The Uncanny X-Piles! For more X-Men madness, click here.

Andy Liegl



  1. Rob

    Andy Lanning helped out on the art on Astonishing X-Men? Wtf!?

  2. Jeff Jackson

    I have to admit, I missed doing the ‘Piles this week. You know that there’s nothing more important than writing articles for! Well, except my family. And my job “priestly things”–Is that like Jason Priestly of 90210 fame?). And my faith. But CA is like…fourth. Oh wait, I forgot about food. And beer. I love beer. But CA is definitely the priority behind those things, sure.

    I really liked the twist in X-Factor this month. Peter David should always write Rahne.

    The Storm & Gambit one-shot was great…but it looked like Bachalo was a bit rushed there in the end. I wonder if he got the gig late? Still great art, though.

    Legacy is a snore-fest. Clay Mann’s art is very lacking. It’s the opposite of dynamic (anti-dynamic? undynamic? disdynamic?). I think he’s hindering the story.

    I’m glad Astonishing is over for a while. You’re so right about Jimenez’s art. But I have a feeling that’s what caused the delays. I kinda wish the reveal about Kaga had been in the first part of this arc. I wanted more of that guy. And I loved how they decided to defeat him…by taking care of him. Awesome!

  3. Capekiller

    I’m not really sure why, but I have been really enjoying X-Campus!

    And as far as Legacy goes, I really enjoy the “Off the beaten trail” story. Following Paras’ plight seems very old school X to me.

  4. @Rob Yeah, he was credited. Not sure what his actual role was though.

    @Cape Hey man! Thanks for commenting!! Yeah, I don’t know what it is about X-Campus, but it is enjoyable. Legacy isn’t bugging me too much either. I think Carey is handling Rogue and Magneto very well.

    @Jeff I disagree with you on Legacy, but everything else I’m with ya!

  5. I actually thought I’d be dropping Legacy but I’m liking it. It seems as if people are complaining about the X titles always spotlighting the same characters over and over again but when a book does start to integrate some of the lower tier characters for a bit people STILL complain. I know you can’t please everyone but I give the title credit for it NOT having Colossus, Wolverine, Wolverine, Wolverine, Deadpool, Cyclops, Deadpool, or even Deadpool.

    If Marvel is going to use the Legacy book to introduce us to the other mutants who may eventually start to fill the ranks of the team then I’m all for it. Though a good story is paramount.

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