May 6, 2011

The Uncanny X-Piles XL

Deadpool MAX #7
Writer: David Lapham
Artist: Kyle Baker

Deadpool has knocked up Domino, and now he is happily anticipating fatherhood. Yes, you read that correctly. This issue commences with a hilarious montage of Deadpool’s anticipated father/son moments with his future kid, which includes whipping a football at his head, climbing really high cliffs in the wilderness, and a bunch of other off the wall stuff. Speaking of off the wall, if you think Deadpool is nuts, this MAX version of Domino makes him look like Elmo. She’s bat-shit insane! I’m not sure why this character had to be Domino though, and not just some random loony Deadpool shacked up with. Aside from the sex appeal angle and the white face paint, there are no real character traits of Domino present here…well, maybe her luck powers are being interpreted by Lapham as her getting “lucky” all the time. Which happens. A lot. Especially with fat guys with mustaches. As mentioned previously, I won’t be covering Deadpool books anymore here in The X-Piles unless another mutant or X-character is present in the issue (like this one). There are just too many ‘Pool books on the shelves, and I’ve run out of things to say about them. However, seeing as how this may be the last issue of Deadpool MAX I review here, if you only read one Deadpool series, let it be this one. Lapham gets the character and pushes the boundaries with him, which is what we’ve come to expect from a Deadpool series. Only unlike the other ones, which are goofy and dumb, Deadpool MAX appeals to a more adult audience and because of that, it’s succeeding. -AL

Generation Hope #6
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salva Espin

Last week, I praised Kieron Gillen for the work he has done on his first few issues as the regular writer for Uncanny X-Men. Yet here in Generation Hope, it’s like a different writer altogether. This is extremely strange because he’s dealing with almost all the same characters that he does in Uncanny. In issue #5, I really thought that after a troublesome first arc, this book finally had a bit of a status quo, despite Hope’s extremely annoying sense of entitlement. Gillen continues that status quo in this issue, but I’m just not buying it. Cyclops is going to send the newest mutants off as a team of full-fledged X-Men? For the leader of mutantkind, who is stopping at nothing to protect the few remaining mutants, it makes little sense for Cyclops to send this crew off like this. In this issue, he tasks Kitty Pryde with being the liaison to this team rather than Rogue, which really feels like an editorial change rather than anything else. As awesome as Gillen wrote Kitty in Uncanny, here she’s flat and completely uninteresting. But my biggest beef still in this whole book is the characters. Every one of them are boring to me. There’s really nothing I’d rather see than to have Gillen start killing them off. Only then will the stakes of this book become remotely intriguing. I really want to like Salva Espin’s work, but something about it just doesn’t fit for me. There are a lot of panels where all the characters are just standing around talking, stiff as boards. I love the faces he draws, but there’s a dynamism that should be there that’s just not happening. Again I wonder why he’s the regular artist while Jamie McKelvie is doing fill-in issues? The only thing I think that would fix this book is a revelation that all these new mutants are either super-villains in the making, non-reality constructs of Hope’s mind, or something else as drastic, although none of those are original ideas. This book is missing something vital, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. -JJ

Skaar: King of the Savage Land #2
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Brian Ching

This mini is awesome! After covering #1, I noted that future installments probably wouldn’t be reviewed in The X-Piles (because Ka-Zar and Shanna, while allies of the X-Men, aren’t actually X-Men), but so far its been enjoyable to the point where I think more people should be reading it. This series is dinosaur-filled Savage Land action, strongly complimented with great art and a simple, focused story by Rob Williams. The Designer, an alien entity that was part of the race who created the Savage Land, has returned to claim its territory. Taking Shanna as its host, the being has gained the allegiance of a majority of the native tribes of the Land, and is out for genocide against those who oppose its rule. Ka-Zar has not only lost his wife to this creature, but also his best friend, Zabu, as The Designer has the unique ability to control any life native to the Savage Land. Since recently taking up residency in the lush jungle world in Incredible Hulks, Skaar has fit in nicely with its denizens, and I think he’s going to throw down with some big uglies next issue! Rob Williams writes a well balanced story as Ka-Zar, Shanna, and Skaar all receive similar face time. If it weren’t for the title, it’d be difficult to tell who the lead character is. Speaking of, the title isn’t reflective of the story; Skaar is anything but the King of the Savage Land here, but maybe when all is said and done, he will be. Brian Ching’s pencils are what really sells this book, though. They’re clean and vibrant, and Shanna is super hot, plus his detail on Devil Dinosaur rocks. He makes me want to go pick up the Devil Dinosaur omnibus by Jack Kirby. In fact, I’m going to go buy it right now on ebay. Well done Skaar: King of the Savage Land! -AL

Thunderbolts #156
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Kev Walker

Not too much to talk about here, since Juggernaut, while featured, is more of a secondary character in this one. It starts off with Juggs, Moonstone, and Ghost cracking jokes at the expense of a new beta team of Thunderbolts. These new bloods are ‘Bolts in training in case a member of the alpha team comes to an untimely demise; the leaders of The Raft will now have new members waiting in the wings to step up and take their place. Foreshadowing? Probably. Satana is the squad’s latest pinch hitter, and she’s one of the few people able to make Juggernaut’s heart skip a beat, and Moonstone uncomfortable. It’s hard not to chuckle at how nonchalant Jeff Parker writes Juggernaut in this series. He just doesn’t give a crap about anything, and it’s the perfect angle for him. Cain knows he’s a power house, so he just couldn’t care less about any of the team’s problems, or those of his own- even when faced with the threat of being sent to an outer circle of hell. It’s highly amusing, and while he is still a team player, his attitude of “been there, done that” makes complete sense considering he’s been around longer than any other current T-Bolt. In his run of Thunderbolts so far, Jeff Parker has assembled a very likable team of anti-heroes. Every member has a rocky past, and he’s managed to make the present for these guys an enjoyable one. Especially for the readers. -AL

Uncanny X-Force #8
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Billy Tan

A while back, Billy Tan drew some of the worst X-Men books I’ve ever read. Despite his horrible forms, his distorted faces, and his lack of pacing, he was considered an up-and-coming star at Marvel. I don’t know what he’s been doing since then, but holy cow, am I pleasantly surprised! Frankly, I was dreading this issue because the art thus far in this title has been getting worse every arc. Jerome Opena killed it, Esad Ribic didn’t do it for me, so I was thinking I would have to hold my breath until Mark Brooks came on board. But Billy Tan has thoroughly upped his game, and in fact, has set his style to match the tone of this book thus far. And it really works well. As usual, Remender gives us what’s becoming a typical story in Uncanny X-Force: the team sends Deadpool to scout a bad guy, they have to go rescue him, most of the team gets mind-controlled, Fantomex misdirects the readers and the villains, and a team-member is forced to kill someone and live with the consequences. As well as that has worked in the last 7 issues, I’m beginning to see a pattern, which has me a little worried. Remender still does a great job on the over-arching developments of the characters, especially Psylocke and Archangel, but I’m wondering what other tricks he has up his sleeve. That’s not to say some cool things don’t happen here. It appears Deathlok is sticking around to guard the World, the Shadow King and Psylocke have an old-school duel on the astral plane, complete with their classic psychic armors, and the evil within Archangel really starts to take form. While it’s still really great, I was hoping to see some different things happen here, especially since we’ve come to expect Remender’s excellent twists. -JJ

Wolverine #8
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Daniel Acuna

Someone put Jason Aaron on a regular X-Men team book! Oh, he’s writing X-Men: Schism later this year? Rock on! Aaron has proven that he is the best man to write Wolverine, and this storyline has given him the chance to stretch a little and include the other X-Men in this sandbox. When Matt Fraction was on Uncanny, we all lamented because he just couldn’t seem to juggle such a large cast of mutants. Yet Jason Aaron does so flawlessly, including main X-cast Cyclops, Emma Frost, Storm, Kitty, and Rogue, newer X-Men like Dr. Nemesis and Fantomex, and even DEAD X-Men like Nightcrawler and Jean Grey. And somehow it all works! This issue is full of action, seeing as how the X-Men are fighting demons within Wolverine both physically and mentally. It’s full of spot-on humor, like when the X-ladies take a peek into different rooms of Logan’s mind and find some hilarious things. But despite the large cast, Aaron somehow finds a way to develop the character of Logan. Now exorcised of these demons, we find that he still has some demons of his own, which makes me hungry for the next issue. But the thing that really made me happy was seeing Jean Grey and Nightcrawler in action again, even if they were just figments of Logan’s personality (or were they?). It makes me realize how much I miss those characters in the X-Men books, and while I hate needless resurrections, I yearn for the time when the two of them come back, only I hope there is an awesome story behind it, and I wouldn’t mind Jason Aaron writing it. I can’t help but think they could have found someone better than Acuna to draw this, but the story was so strong that Acuna actually does an OK job.  -JJ

Wolverine and Jubilee #4
Kathryn Immonen
Artist: Phil Noto

Now that it’s over I can say without a doubt that this mini is hands down the best story I’ve ever read by Kathryn Immonen, let alone her best X-story. In Wolverine and Jubilee, she has told a well crafted character piece, using a very minimalistic style, and showcasing a seasoned understanding about the relationships and nuances in her leading players. She gets a major assist by Phil Noto too, who through vivid facial expressions, subtle body language, and great action sequences, tells just as much of the story as Immonen. Far too often we get flash in the pan X-stories that have no real significance on any of the characters involved, let alone a sense of character development. This is not one of those stories, as the evolution of Jubilee that began in Victor Gischler’s “Curse of the Mutants” story matures and blossoms here, much to the delight of any Jubilee, Wolverine, or X-fan. Wolvie is forced to adapt in this story as well, shifting from mentor to almost a sort of father figure who has to let his little girl take care of matters herself. He competently trained Jubilee way back (almost 20 years ago) in the 90s, and Immonen gets that. The inclusion of Rockslide as a secondary character is a nice fit, as his interactions with Jubilee work on every level; they basically have the same personality, so their jovial, almost flirty attitudes with each other are endearing. I’m looking forward to a hopeful team-up somewhere down the line as it screams potential. Come to think of it, I would love to see Jubilee lead a team of New X-Men. It makes sense: given her time with the X-Men, Generation X, and co-leading the New Warriors, she’s more than cut out for the role, maybe even moreso now given her new power set. I truly believe any X-fan can delight in this mini, and if you haven’t read it, I don’t want to hear any complaints about a lack of character development in the X-books, because there’s plenty of that here. -AL

X-Factor #218
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Emmanuela Luppachino

This issue was just full of “holy crap” moments, and just as many take-backs. This whole issue was solicited as possibly the end of Guido. At the conclusion of last issue, he got shot by the new villain Ballastique, who can shoot bullets out of her fingers (which is kinda cool). Peter David is a master of building up tension and cliffhanger endings. And he does an awesome job of raising the emotional stakes here. First, in her anger at Ballastique, Monet returns a bullet to her forehead, taking her out. It was an awesome page drawn by Luppachino. But then we see that Ballastique only absorbs the bullet and isn’t really dead, which rather robs us of that emotional tension. Then, Mandroids start falling out of the sky and Monet can’t catch them all, forcing the bloody Guido to catch one and save a crowd of people despite his injury, which makes him have a heart attack. The emotional tension is only increased when Monet flies Guido to a hospital only for him to express his feelings for her. The tension peaks when he’s pronounced dead, which, while it would have been sad, would have relieved all that emotional tension. However, a panel later, Guido is miraculously healed! Now, the reason behind the healing is rather intriguing, but I felt like David took me on an unnecessary roller coaster. Yet that might have just been the point, which makes me appreciate him as the writer even more. If after all this time, he can take me on such an emotional journey in 22 pages, then well done, Peter David. Luppachino’s art continues to be a bonus on this title. She’s only getting better with each issue. -JJ

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: Thanks to Jason Aaron, Nightcrawler, and Jean Grey, Wolverine #8 get my big win of the week!
Andy: While I loved Wolverine and Jubilee #4, like Jeff said, Jason Aaron is just hitting grand slams in Wolverine. I highly recommend reading his creator owned series, Scalped. It’s even better.

For previous editions of The Uncanny X-Piles, click here!

Andy Liegl

Jeff Jackson



  1. I agree guys, Wolverine #8 was AWESOME!

  2. A lot of good X related titles in this batch! Loved T Bolts, Skaar, UXF, and Wolverine. I tend to stay away from Hope and found myself just skimming it because it just doesn’t interest me anymore. I want Bishop back and see him and the X-Men go up against Hope and her minions.

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