Journalists

April 17, 2011
 

The Uncanny X-Piles XXXVI

5 Ronin #4
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Goran Parlov

Of all the 5 Ronin issues so far, this is my favorite. It’s the only story that truly feels like an original take on the featured character. Here Psylocke, or Butterfly as she’s called, is half English/half Japanese, in her late teens/early 20s, and serves as the most prized woman in a Japanese brothel. It’s fitting that Milligan would take the hottest, sexiest X-woman, and put her in that situation. She’s far from helpless too, honing her ability to read and manipulate men, hinting at psychic powers, although they’re never called that here. Butterfly is content with her situation in the hopes that one day the Daimyo will learn of her skills and summon her for a private audience. Once alone, Butterfly could deliver her revenging blows to the man blamed for the deaths of her parents, and her present “employment” situation which began at the age of 10. This issue reminded me a lot of the indie book, Miss Don’t Touch Me, where a young French girl joins a brothel in order to play detective and discover which of the patrons murdered her sister. I won’t get into much detail about this fourth installment of 5 Ronin, but eventually Wolverine stops by to, ah, “convey” that the two share a common enemy. This scene lasts for a majority of the second portion of the book, and is one of the best “sex” X-scenes I’ve read in a long time. If you haven’t been reading this series, at least check out this issue, especially if you’re a Psylocke fan! -AL

Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine #5
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Adam Kubert

A few months ago, this book was so incredibly wonderful. Jason Aaron was pulling crazy stuff out of thin air, putting Spider-Man and Wolverine into the craziest of scenarios for no real reason. I’m usually the type of guy who likes to have random stuff explained, but once Aaron revealed that Mojo, the absolute WORST X-Men villain of all time, was behind the craziness, I got extremely concerned. And rightly so, because this issue tanked big time. The real problem being that Aaron’s take on Mojo is not original at all. It’s just another stupid scenario where Mojo is trying to get ratings in his idiotic universe. The only real bonus to this series has been the introduction of Czar and Big Murder, who haven’t disappointed. They were random enough to make the series work, so I’m not sure why Mojo needed to be included. But barring Mojo, this issue is still pretty fun. Having Spider-Man and Wolverine fight Czar was just as outlandish and crazy as I had hoped it would be. Peter and Logan steal Czar’s time-bat and find some diamonds of their own to take on the time-hopping Czar. Throw in some jokes about bedazzling, and you’ve got some funny stuff. But that’s a small part of this issue, with Adam Kubert’s art really lacking from the last few installments. I’m not sure what the problem is, this series is bi-monthly. It should have stellar art. Kubert foregoes drawing backgrounds at all in this issue, which is just strange after the incredible scenes he’s been treating us with in previous issues. But with the inclusion of some other writer named Justin Ponsor, I’m wondering what happened with this one. Only one more issue to go, but unless Aaron can pull a rabbit out of his ass, I’m thinking this series was all hype and very little delivery. -JJ

Daken: Dark Wolverine #7
Writer: Daniel Way
Artist: Agustin Padilla

The X-23/Daken crossover makes its way into the Dark Wolverine title, and I’m pissed. In my review of last issue, the point was made that artist Giuseppe Camuncoli has defined Daken as much as Daniel Way and Marjorie Liu have; he should never stop drawing the character. Well, this issue he did, and it suffers because of it. Camuncoli really captured the essence of Daken, and Agustin Padilla misses the mark. Here, Daken is stoic and poesy, something Camuncoli never did with the character. Why? Because he understood that Daken’s physicality is a major part of who he is, but Padilla doesn’t get that. He just draws him like Wolverine and it’s obnoxious. Why was Camuncoli let go for this arc? Did he just need a break? Whatever the reason, I hope it’s a brief absence and [at the latest] he returns once the crossover with X-23 is finished. Speaking of, I totally called what this tie-in story would be about; Dr. Metzger and Malcolm Concord’s quest to discover the secrets behind a healing factor, and the many children they experimented on. This story line was introduced in the first story arc of X-23, and once it was revealed Metzger was in Madripoor, the connection became obvious. Way writes Daken as the master manipulator he is, forcing leaders of various gangs to fight to the death. Problem is, they all look alike so it’s difficult to follow along on whom the hell is speaking to whom. I do love Tiger Tyger though, as she makes for a perfect counter personality to Daken. I hope she sticks around for awhile once Camuncoli returns on art. -AL

Deadpool MAX #6
Writer: David Lapham
Artist: Kyle Baker

Let me begin by saying Deadpool titles will no longer be covered in The Uncanny X-Piles. Correction- Deadpool titles that don’t feature any other mutants/X-characters will no longer be covered in The Uncanny X-Piles. Hence, why only Deadpool MAX is covered this week and not Deadpool #34. The reason for this change is that I’m tired of writing about Deadpool because it feels as if I’ve said all I can on the character and his absurd comics. That’s that. So, this issue co-starred Domino and it was hilarious! Remember the nurse character from #2? Turns out that chick was actually Domino, and ol’Pool impregnated her. Boing! Totally ridiculous, and yet totally awesome at the same time. Lapham writes Domino as much of a dingbat as he does Deadpool, so they’re a match made in heaven, much to the dismay of Bob. Poor Bob. The issue ends with Wade and Neena announcing that they’ve agreed to raise their baby together, leaving Bob behind. Lapham captures what Deadpool is all about in this series- silly, but with an adult twist. The Deadpool series by Daniel Way, while sometimes can be moderately amusing, is more often than not really, really stupid. Here though, while things get zany, I don’t feel like a high schooler for laughing at the jokes and situations. If there’s one Deadpool book to read, let it be this one…oh, and Uncanny X-Force. -AL

Namor the First Mutant #8
Writer: Stuart Moore
Artists: Carlos Rodriguez, Sergio Apeno, Antonio Fuso

What. The. F&$#k. Finally, this story arc kicks into high gear with monsters and demons galore- but without Ariel Olivetti on artwork. Instead we get three guys with obviously different styles, completely disrupting the flow of the story, leaving the reader wondering how awesome this issue could have been if Olivetti worked on it. Which truly is a shame because the script was significantly better than the previous two. However, my major gripe with this series is that when Olivetti’s art isn’t present, it just doesn’t feel the same. Last issue I commented that his monster designs appear bland in this story when compared to the previous arc, which featured all sorts of cool underwater vampire creatures. Now we finally get the creatures, but no Olivetti. Oh the irony! Simmer me an Atlantean and slap me silly. Stuart Moore writes a humbling character moment with Namor, where he’s forced to accept the aid of Alani and Abira, in order to defeat a legion of Hell’s forces; it was the artwork, though, which surprisingly hit all the right beats in capturing this moment. After eliminating all hazards, a waterfall appeared before the motley crew, and just like that, they swam out of Hell and back to reality. Easy! Waiting for them is Cyclops who acts like a total dick, but looks absolutely absurd swimming away in frustration. …and why would he flicker his optic blast in a threatening way here? He’s underwater. With a glass breathing helmet on. Cyclops isn’t dumb. We also  learn Doom’s reason for being present: because he wanted to get Namor in his debt. Ok…seems kind of extreme to go all the way to Hell to get someone to owe you a favor, but whatever. Thankfully, the Namor in Hell arc concludes with this issue, and the next story is hinting to tie in with Fear Itself. It would appear to tackle the series-long conflict brewing with Namor and a rogue group of Atlanteans who don’t accept him as King. That is a story I am looking forward to seeing play out, but unfortunately this series has been cancelled after June’s 11th issue. Namor had lower sales numbers than Spider-Girl, which is also axed. Yikes. -AL

New Mutants #23
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Steve Kurth

Once again, I am eating my preconceived notions about Age of X. I really thought this was going to be a cheap knock-off of Age of Apocalypse, but I have been so wrong. Well, I should say that I think the similarities to Age of Apocalypse are forthcoming, at least in who I think is behind this “alternate universe,” but it’s definitely done in a really cool way. Mike Carey has done a spectacular job of telling this story in a creative way. While I was jarred with no explanation as to what was going on, I’m starting to see why that was so important, and in fact, am really appreciating it. This story has been a big mystery unraveling the whole time, and it’s been really fun. My surprise is that Marvel didn’t drag this storyline out over time, but kept it to six issues. So far, its been perfect. This issue shifts the focus from Legacy to Magneto, who is starting to see that things aren’t quite what they are supposed to be. He pretends to kill Legacy and Gambit in order to get them to find out what’s really going on. They certainly begin to find some pretty incredible things. Meanwhile, Magneto goes after Kitty Pryde and Charles Xavier, which is just as exciting as it sounds. But has anyone but me noticed that there are a lot of Legion’s multiple personalities just wandering around Fortress X? I think the crazy son-of-Xavier is soon to be revealed as the manipulator here, and I, for one, can’t wait to see the sparks fly. Steve Kurth provides art in the New Mutants issues, which really aren’t as strong as Clay Mann’s. He even says so on the back page. His faces and figures aren’t very pleasant to the eye. But despite the art, the story is still strong, and I say bring on the next part! -JJ

Uncanny X-Force #6
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Esad Ribic

This was the weakest issue in this series yet, and while I have been praising this title for a while now, I’m pretty disappointed. It could just be that I really don’t like Esad Ribic’s work. I think it’s too passive for a book as action-packed as this one. But when you have Fantomex and Spider-Deathlok going at it, I want it to look awesome. Instead, it’s a bunch of barely visible lines and washed out colors. Nothing dynamic at all. I also was not looking forward to Remender continuing the alternate-future stuff with Deathlok. I thought that storyline Jason Aaron started in Wolverine: Weapon X was extremely weak, and to continue it here is only to make it more complicated and hard to follow. Let’s see if I get this right–In the future, the government starts turning super-heroes into Deathloks in order to control them until Apocalypse shows up and ruins everything. However, in the 616 universe, Fantomex has killed Apocalypse, so now the cyborgs are coming back in time to kill Fantomex. I’m not sure I understand why. Maybe they want to restore the balance in the future? If so, why not try to kill Fantomex before he killed Apocalypse? I just am not sure if this complicated scenario is really worth it. The only thing that really works well in this issue is Psylocke using the Danger Room as a confessional to her brother Brian for the guilt she feels over being complicit in the murder of Apocalypse. Remender focusing on these characters as individuals rather than hard-to-follow alternate continuity is going to be a boon for him. -JJ

Uncanny X-Men #534
Writer: Matt Fraction & Kieron Gillen
Artist: Greg Land & Paul Renaud

This issue was AWESOME! It’s about these six teenagers with powers who Norman Osborn put into the Initiative, but are now being trained by Hank Pym and other Avengers so they won’t become villains. Wait a minute. That wasn’t Uncanny X-Men? You want me to talk about the first part of this issue? Ugh. Ok. Marvel was wise to put a reprint of Avengers Academy #1 in the back of this book because it actually made the $3.99 worth it. After giving a pretty good review of last issue, I am back to my original opinion of how bad Uncanny has been. This time, it’s not the art, though. Greg Land, for some reason, couldn’t finish copying issues of Maxim, so they got Paul Renaud to do Emma Frost parts, which isn’t bad. It still has Greg Land’s grinning idiots in every panel, but some of the line work is rougher and not as detailed, which helps. This time, it’s the story that just crashes and burns. After 4 issues of Emma Frost duking it out with Sebastian Shaw, all she does is make him forget who he is. And Fantomex is nowhere to be found! The other story ends rather stupidly as well. With Lobe turning everyone into mutants, it makes them susceptible to the HX-N1 virus that the X-Men have, so they show up and spread the disease, which makes Lobe flip a switch and turn everyone healthy. So if Lobe has the brains to create a virus you can cure with the flip of a switch, how did he not put 2 and 2 together about contracting the disease if he himself was a mutant? Ridiculous. And lordy, they plant a seed of a new “villain” with that wannabe Angel who steals some Emma Frost and Phoenix powers at the end of the issue. Just terrible. I am really starting to regret ordering Fear Itself if this is the kind of junk that Fraction is going to inflict on us. He has shown that he doesn’t know how to juggle large casts, so now with the entire Marvel Universe at his disposal, what will that be like? At least this is his last issue of Uncanny. Maybe Kieron Gillen can turn this ship around. -JJ

Wolverine and Jubilee #3
Writer: Kathryn Immonen
Artist: Phil Noto

I’m breathing a sigh of relief because here we are, three issues into a 4 issue mini, and things just keep getting better! Usually if a mini were to taper off it would be at some point in this issue, and I’m happy to report that does not happen here. Which was unexpected. Going into this series I was excited being a Jubilee fan, but skeptical because I’m not a huge Kathryn Immonen fan. Her work is usually geared more towards a female crowd (see Pixie Strikes Back), and I’ve been underwhelmed by her X-work in the past. However, in this series, she is hitting home run after home run. Here she has Jubilee, one of the most underused X-characters, and has evolved her well past expectations, whilst staying true to her character and simultaneously hitting the mark with her depiction of Wolverine. The latter plays a huge part in why this series continues to be strong at the conclusion of this installment. Throughout it, Wolverine is being toyed with by a hot, sexy, vampire who uses her powers of seductive persuasion on Logan, but he never takes the bait. Awesome. That’s how I like my Wolverine. He treats her like what she is- a cold blooded killer who has captured someone he cares for. He’s done thiw dance before, and if it weren’t for her knowledge of Jubilee’s whereabouts, he’d have staked her with her own stilettos on page 1. This interaction was where Immonen could have dropped the ball; by having Wolverine be wooed by the vamp, or be pushed around by her, but she doesn’t make those choices and really shows her mettle. She’s given a major assist in this book too by the artwork of Phil Noto. I’m not a huge fan of his covers (see Namor’s above), but he smokes it on interiors. His pacing, beat discovery, expressions, body language- he nails it all here. The Immonen/Noto duo is panning out to be great, and having the focus on only two players is helping to tell a tightly packaged character piece. –AL

X-Men #9
Writer: Victor Gischler
Artist: Chris Bachalo

Lest you think I don’t like X-Men books, I have great things to say about X-Men #9. Chris Bachalo just kills it on art. I love the way he draws Wolverine, and in fact, that opening page of his claws was just great (if ruined a bit by the ad on the adjacent page). But the reveal in this issue, which I called, was that Dark Beast is the big bad here, using the Lizard and Curt Connors work to turn innocent losers into lizard men. To me, that’s a natural pairing since Dark Beast is used to freaky experiments and so is Connors. Gischler gets Dark Beast’s voice down perfectly, with his absolutely creepy way of being light-hearted like the Beast of 616, yet incredibly wicked. But this issue continues a really great teaming of the X-Men with Spider-Man, who even has some great lines at the expense of Storm and Emma. But back to Bachalo, because I just love his stuff. I love how when he does a close-up of someone, it’s an extreme close-up, but since the characters are so recognizable, you know exactly who it is. His detail on the reptiles in this book are just fantastic. Tim Townsend doesn’t ink everything here, and it shows a bit, but since Bachalo also handles colors, the overall look of the book fits perfectly. It’s a great story, and once again I’ll say that Victor Gischler is writing the best X-Men on the stands. -JJ

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: X-Men #9 is full of sweet, yummy Gischler/Bachalo goodness.
Andy: Wolverine and Jubilee #3 because Kathryn Immonen is doing agreat job with these two characters, which was unexpected.

For more of The Uncanny X-Piles, click here!

Andy Liegl
andy@comicattack.net

Jeff Jackson
jeff@comicattack.net

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