Welcome back to The Uncanny X-Piles, where your resident X-junkies, Jeff and Andy, review the latest mutant-related comics!
Once again, my partner in crime Andy roped me into another Young Allies book. I debated when I saw this solicited if I should get it, so when Andy asked me to pick it up, I really didn’t mind. I loved the Young Allies book, and basically think that Sean McKeever can do no wrong on a book like this. In fact, I think he could do a solid job on Runaways if Marvel ever decides to bring them back. But the real reason I almost didn’t pick this up was because Onslaught was the storyline that made me stop collecting comics after high school, and when they did that lame Onslaught Reborn story a year or so ago with Rob Liefeld, I steered WAY clear. Let me just say that this book is head and shoulders better than what I heard about that book. In a continuation from the Young Allies series, Nomad is having some freaky dreams that soon appear to be a message. The story ultimately sends her and her non-team Young Allies to fight alongside Steve Rogers’ Secret Avengers against a dragon-dude and some kids with machine guns. McKeever has a great sense of each of these characters’ voices. They work really well together whether it’s Steve and Nomad, or members of the Secret Avengers. I like the characters on both of these teams, even though I dropped Secret Avengers after the first arc. Maybe if McKeever was writing them there, I would return. In the end, Onslaught returns, which on one hand is OK because we knew that would happen, but on the other, Onslaught is such a confusing character. In fact, we’re reminded how convoluted his origin is in the back up history (which I actually appreciated). For me, the best moment in the book was the Young Allies arriving in Colombia in an old flying Datsun controlled by Gravity. In the days where most super-teams either have a jet, sneak onto a jet, or steal a jet, that was a great moment. Some people are not going to like the polarizing art of Filipe Andrade, but I rather enjoyed it. It is reminiscent of Jae Lee’s style in the ’90s, and fits really well with these characters, this story, and the amount of kinetic action throughout the book. Once again, this is a surprise hit for me, so if you gave up on Onslaught previously, check this book out to get the great Young Allies/Secret Avengers action if nothing else. -JJ
I’m not sure how I feel about the whole “Point One” thing that Marvel is doing. It seems like a strange ploy. Why not .5? This is the first .1 issue I’ve picked up, and I have to say I wasn’t disappointed. Jason Aaron just knows how to write Wolverine. He gets the inner workings of the character and for the first time in a long time, he is doing things to actually progress Logan as a character besides simply having him carve up bad guys and appearing in 54 books at one time. In this issue, Logan is on his way to what he thinks is a getaway with Melita in a cabin in the woods when he comes across a kidnapping by some cannibalistic brothers. Melita, however, is throwing Logan a surprise birthday party with the Avengers and X-Men in tow. For long time Wolverine readers, you know that Logan’s birthday usually is a debacle because Sabretooth would show up and give him a beating. However, we find out that Melita discovers his real birthday, and for once, despite his run-in with bone-gun (which shoot teeth) toting goons, Logan has found someone that has made him happy. The issue balanced action (with Wolverine taking on the bad guys), comedy (with the hilarious panel where Melita asks if everyone is there and it cuts to Spider-Man alone at Avengers Mansion asking where everyone is), character moments (with Logan deciding not to kill the villains because he was on his way to see Melita), and tender moments (with Melita telling Logan about finding his real birthday). Jefte Palo’s art was pretty good too, although I’m wishing Ron Garney was back on this book with Aaron. Overall, this was a great book for newcomers and old-timers alike, and proves that Jason Aaron is the best thing that’s happened to Wolverine since he joined the X-Men. -JJ
I know what you’re thinking: “How the hell can Wolverine’s numbering go from 5.1 to 1,000!?” That, my friends, is a damn good question, and one that I don’t have an answer for. The best I can do is assume that the editors over at Marvel have their shiznit together in determining that this is, indeed, the 1,000th Wolverine issue to be published. What stinks is that we can’t even count’em all up because this issue, unlike Marvel’s previous anniversary issues, does not have a cover gallery in the back. Which was honestly disappointing because those galleries at least make you feel like you’re holding an anniversary book. Instead, what we get here are five short stories, some good, some a little worse, but not a single one that’s amazing. The best stories were the ones placing Wolverine in WWII, a setting he fits well in. These were written by Rick Spears and Vince Hernandez, the publisher over at Aspen. The short I cared the least for was The Adamantium Diaries about a fangirl of Wolvie’s who happens to meet him one day. It tried a little too hard to be sentimental using a new character, and the cotton candy art felt off for a Wolverine comic. Perhaps this character will appear again down the line, but if not, I doubt anyone would care. I did have a realization while reading this issue: I hate how Hugh Jackman has redefined the look of Wolverine. Too often now when out of costume he’s depicted as this clean cut, borderline-emo looking guy, with perfect hair, nicely shaved sideburns, and a tank top that’s all too white. What happened to the small, hairy, ugly, cigar smoking Wolvie of old? Where did that guy go? To that end, I credit Rafa Garres who nailed the look of Logan in his story, The Legend of Crimson Falls, written by a favorite writer of mine, Jimmy Palmiotti. Garres’ Wolverine is anything but Jackman-esque, and it’s great. What’s better is that despite his rough appeareance, Logan still nails the hot chick in the end, and even gets hit on by a minor. See, he doesn’t always have to look good to get the ladies! Come to think of it, this story was probably my favorite of the issue, and while it wasn’t amazing, it was most true to the character, as Palmiotti and Garres pulled off what actually felt like a legit Wolverine story. Why couldn’t they have just done the entire issue? -AL
I guess Peter David has decided to put multi-story arcs on the shelf for a few months and use each issue to explore individual characters. Last month, he did a great job with Darwin. This month, he shines the spotlight on the real stars of this book, Madrox and Layla. Since Layla has returned to the cast as an adult, I’ve been waiting for her and Jamie to share some panel-time, considering PAD is hinting big time at their future relationship. This issue does not disappoint. Jamie and Layla are on an interesting case dealing with human-possessing vampires (called Vandellas, which made me directly think of Martha and the Vandellas, which Jamie also points out). PAD once again lays out a crime story where things are never quite what they seem, but also delves deep into the relationship between Jamie and Layla. That is his true strength as the dependable writer of this book. Jamie shares the reader’s frustration with Layla’s secrets, while Layla sheds a bit of her mystery in a moment where one of Jamie’s dupes propose to her. We catch a glimpse into the person Layla truly is behind all the mystery. I have come to the conclusion that whenever PAD hangs up X-Factor, I want it to end. With no one else writing the book. No one can connect with these characters like he does and I doubt anyone can tell an X-Factor story like he can. Valentine De Landro keeps the status quo of the book where it should be, even though his facial expressions seem a bit lifeless. He should steer clear of the photo-realism and stick with something more cartoony like Emanuela Luppachino from last issue. But even that criticism is a stretch because I really like this book and continue to be impressed by it, no matter who is drawing it. Peter David continues to make me love these characters and I am grateful for that. -JJ
Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Andy: Wolverine #5.1. I thought the character moments in this issue were superb. Loved the scene where Beast asks Iceman why Scott and Emma didn’t show up. Comedic gold.
Jeff: It’s close this week because everything I read was solid. X-Factor #215 pulls out a win for me because of its consistency.
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