September 27, 2010

The Uncanny X-Piles X

Welcome to the Xth edition of The Uncanny X-Piles! Each week, X-gurus Andy and Jeff delve into the world of the X-Men because like mutants, both Andy and Jeff are hated and feared. Don’t make us use our powers for evil! Let’s see what’s going on this month…

Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #3
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Kaare Andrews

You know, for a title that was solicited as a book that is in-between the raindrops of continuity, Warren Ellis sure has made this limited series heavy on the continuity! If you go back into your long boxes and dig up old issues of Excalibur by Claremont & Davis, then you’ll see exactly where this story is coming from. Of course, Ellis cut his X-teeth on Excalibur anyway, so it’s no wonder that he’s tying this run into that old stuff. But if you are wondering about Warpies, Dr. Crocodile, Jim Jaspers, and the Furies, go back and read the first volume of Excalibur. That said, Ellis does a good job of bringing a fresh look to these older characters. The first half of this issue was a little tiresome as the X-Men and Doc Croc banter back and forth, but once the action starts, it’s a pretty good read. I’m still not 100% behind Kaare Andrew’s depiction of the X-Men, especially Emma. Frank D’armata’s colors are also a little too washed out for me and for Andrews’ pencils. But the story moves along nicely here, as the X-Men find out that these mutant babies are really radiated children from the effects of a nearby Ghost Box, which is bringing in parallel versions of Jim Jaspers and the Fury. To see a squadron of Furies show up at the end is not good for our heroes, so we’ll see what happens next. This is a very middle-of-the-road X-book: not super-awesome, and not super-bad. Better than most of Ellis’ recent X-Men work. -JJ

Avengers Academy #4
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Mike McKone

Not a whole lot of mutant action in this one, as Quicksilver and Juggernaut are briefly featured. Some members of the Avengers Academy have the bright idea to try and kill Norman Osborn while visiting the Thunderbolts at The Raft, so they kill the power and make their way to his cell. Osborn convinces them otherwise with his wily ways, and once Quicksilver speeds his way to the cell with Pym, they’re too late as the kids are gone. Osborn makes a snide remark about Pietro being Pym’s errand boy, and surprisingly he doesn’t respond in kind…which was out of character. Then Fortress, the red guy who sort of looks like Colossus with a skeleton face, starts pounding on Juggernaut who just laughs. That moment was great. Juggs then pulls off Hulk’s signature “clap attack,” dismantling Veil; which was actually a move to help her out. She was looking at Man-Thing, terrified, so Juggs literally “blew her away,” preventing her from starting on fire, which is the effect of Man-Things power: those who fear him burn! He then tackles the plant monster and carries him back to his “terrarium,” saying, “You kids head back to the tower. Anyone messes with you, just hit’em. Seems to be your thing.” Sound advice Cain! Out of all the Avengers titles that have come out under the Heroic Age banner, Avengers Academy is probably the one that’s the least talked about, which isn’t right. It’s a great book and has a very New X-Men feel to it. It’s not quite at that level yet, but Christos Gage is on his way to making it so, and Mike McKone’s art is perfect for the book. Check it out if you haven’t been. -AL

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #14
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Lafuente

FINALLY! An issue where Iceman is written well, kicks some ass, and is actually cool. Hot damn! Bobby Drake came off as a quick witted and skillful fighter in this one, and for that I’m giving Brian Michael Bendis a 6 pack of major internet props! Ultimate Chameleon has been running around as Peter Parker and Spider-Man, wreaking havoc on Peter’s personal life, and obtaining negative press for Spider-Man. Here he has robbed a bank under the guise of the wall crawler, and is ready to make his getaway when The Human Torch and Iceman show up to take him down. Bobby’s experience really shines through when he says to Torch, “You know, maybe it’s because I’m a mutant and I’ve been around a shape-shifter here and there…but I’m telling you, that ain’t him, man.” The Torch hesitates though, unsure if he’s talking to his friend Peter Parker or an impostor. That’s all the window Chamelon needs as he quickly immobilizes Torch, and after making Iceman put up an ice wall against a flurry of bullets, he makes his getaway. Bobby pursues though, and eventually he and Torch pull off a tag team defeat of the two Chameleon siblings; Iceman ends it all by freezing them both in giant ice cubes. I’m not sure where this title is headed next, but I hope the “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends” theme sticks around for awhile; Peter, Bobby, and Johnny are making this book one fun ride month in and month out. AL

Uncanny X-Men #528
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Whilce Portacio

Oi! Where to begin? I’ll start with the good stuff. Finally, they’ve got Kitty talking again, except it’s telepathically and only to Emma. This is actually ok because the Kitty/Emma foils are really good, no matter who’s writing them. The intriguing thing here is that Emma needs to get rid of Sebastian Shaw and her plan slipped telepathically to Kitty, so now they’re in cahoots to make Shaw disappear. It’s like a mutant Thelma & Louise. I really like that twist in the story. However, that’s about all that I like in this issue, and that was only 3 or 4 pages. The rest is just really bad storytelling from both Fraction and Portacio. Storm and Hope save a new mutant, which is the exact same formula as the last two issues only even more boring because this new mutant is so “original” that she can control both fire and ice. Wow. These Five Lights are not impressing me at all. Then, there are these two extremely random scenes in the book that seem really out of place. Iceman goes to get a PR person for the team and Northstar and Dazzler have a pointless fight with Nekra and Frenzy. Fraction is not doing so well with juggling all these characters, and it’s beginning to get really noticeable. The only thing that has got me curious is Kieron Gillen’s joining the creative team. My hope is that Fraction is being phased out and that Portacio goes back to Image. This is the worst Uncanny has been in a long time. Hopefully things will get better soon. -JJ

X-Campus #4
Writers: Francesco Artibani & Roberto Di Salvo
Artists: Alessandro Vitti & Gianluca Gugliotta

The final issue of X-Campus is here, and while this series has been a pretty good one overall, this issue had a lot unnecessarily crammed into it and fell a little flat. The main villain is revealed (and it’s not Magneto), a fight takes place, and everything gets resolved with a neat pink bow. As I’ve said before, this series was a nice substitute to X-Men: First Class by Jeff Parker, however, I think it tried too hard; the cast is HUGE and as a result it fails to go into depth with any of the characters and what we’re left with is a flash in the pan experience regarding this alternate X-universe. Characters pop in and out of the story, and while it’s cool to see so many mutants represented here, at the same time, it scatter-shots the focus and cheapens the resounding conclusion. For instance, Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw had absolutely no business being in this book other than to be able to say that they were in this book. Sure, it was nice to see them, but they served the plot in absolutely no real way, performing tasks that any other character in the series could have accomplished. Furthermore, the inclusion of Mystique and Bolivar Trask was just too much and unnecessary. Did we really need the whole mother/son thing between her and Nightcrawler in a 4 issue mini series? And why rename Cerebro “Cyberno?” Cerebra was a tough enough adjustment, but Cyberno? Ew. The huge cast (Iceman, Jean Grey, Angel, Cyclops, Beast, Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, Rogue, Nightcrawler, Emma Frost, Sebastian Shaw, Donald Pierce, Magneto, Prof. X, Mystique, Juggernaut, Blob, Toad, Mesmero, Pyro…you get my point?) also prevented us from seeing each character get into using their mutant power, and instead we just saw a panel here and there of them doing something with their power, usually in a lame way; Cyclops optic blasts a metal scorpion thing, Angel rescues Nightcrawler from falling off a building (it’s a really small building though), and Jean Grey didn’t really do much of anything. Also, how the heck did Wolverine get adamantium claws? That was never explained. Besides all of my griping, this was a fun series- one that any X-fan who likes their kid mutants would enjoy. -AL

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: This is an easy one. Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #3 all the way!
Andy: While Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis is growing on me, I have to give my pick to Ultimate Spider-Man #14. Iceman’s the man!

For past installments of The Uncanny X-Piles, click here. And visit this link for all things X-Men!

Andy Liegl

Jeff Jackson



  1. Billy

    X-Campus does sound like it fizzled a bit at the end.

  2. Xogenesis was dropped after I read the first issue. Maybe if Ellis would have focused on Astonishing X-Men instead of this crap I wouldn’t have had to wait almost 6 months between issues.

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