This series is perfect for the casual X-fan to pick up and read, or an X-fan who wants a solid, self-contained story. Emma Frost, Cyclops, Wolverine, and Armor have traveled to Japan so Hisako can attend the funeral for some of her closest family members. While the X-Men give her some space, Tokyo is attacked by a mind-controlled Fin Fang Foom, leaving this small team of the X-Men’s most popular as the last line of defense between it and a huge civilian population. They get the crap kicked out of them, and, surprisingly, Armor steps in to save the day. Daniel Way has done a nice job of creating a believable catalyst in what appears to be a spike in Armor’s power set. I won’t reveal it here, but she definitely has gone up a level or two. The artwork is solid, and having two artists on the title didn’t bother me. Pichelli captures emotion well in her scenes with Hisako and her father (all that time working with Bendis is paying off), and Pearson packs his combat sequences with plenty of motion. An interesting angle Way creates here is that Roxxon, who is essentially the BP of the Marvel Universe, has found strange allies in the X-Men, and is supporting them in their fight against Foom. There was also a hilarious moment where Wolverine pounds a beer before literally jumping into combat against the dragon. This story can be enjoyed by any X-fan, but it’s particularly geared towards people who don’t want decades worth of continuity to worry about. I like it so far, and am looking forward to seeing Armor really kick things into gear. -AL
Here we are, the conclusion of the X-23/Daken crossover event, “Collision.” So far this story has been entertaining, featuring angry moments from both characters, and in this final installment, both the drama and the action get amped up for the finale. Whereas before I felt a bit cheated at not seeing a clear-cut winner in the X vs. Daken fight, now all I want to see is more of them kicking ass side by side. Holy crap this issue had some killer fight scenes! Checchetto nailed the menacing look of these characters in combat, page 8 being my favorite. I’m almost tempted to purchase that page. His artistic decision on how to portray our titular characters’ eyes is particularly cool, as they really come off as the battle machines they’re supposed to be. Speaking of the art, check out that cover. It’s awesome! Our storyline with Malcolm Colcord gets a loose conclusion, but is left dangling. Gambit and Tyger Tiger have completely taken a back seat here, which is fine. This story is about X and Daken, not them. Still, I hope they both stick around awhile longer in their respective titles. They both fill their roles well as supporting characters, as Gambit provides a sense of balance for Laura, and Tyger is always keeping Daken on his toes. So what’s next for X-23? You’ll find out soon in the X-Piles, but it has to do with Jubilee. And Daken? Well, in a previous issue it was hinted that he’ll be going after Bucky for revenge for killing his mother. Although, it doesn’t seem like the next issue is headed in that direction, which is unfortunate. –AL
Jeff refused to pick this one up after Onslaught Unleashed left a bad taste in his mouth, so the duty of reviewing a book with Firestar in it has fallen to me, and unless Jeff wants to pick it up again, this may be the last review of the character you’ll see in The X-Piles. This issue was ok. I’m not a fan of the Young Allies, but the supporting cast here helped keep my interest, mainly because I had never heard of them before. I like how this story is tying in to the Initiative from the Civil War days, and while I may not have been familiar with those characters going in, I liked what I saw here…but then the Young Allies showed up. They just bore me. I don’t know what it is about them, but they all seem so dry when compared to other teen teams, like Avengers Academy or heck, even Generation Hope. However, the worst character by far in this book is Thor Girl. Seriously, her name is Thor Girl. What the shit is that? That’s like calling someone Tony Girl. Or Logan Girl. Or Xavier Girl. It doesn’t work. You can’t attach “Girl” to a first name, which is what “Thor” is. Monikers and code names work, like Spider-Girl, Batgirl, or Supergirl…but Thor Girl? Are you kidding me? Are we really that lazy we can’t pick another name from Asgardian lore to call this character that we have to settle for Thor Girl? What the hell. What’s worse is that this mini seems like the story is going to be focused on her, so unless Thor Girl dies or is maimed to the point of no longer being relevant, this series has scared me away. Skip this one and go pick up an issue of Avenger’s Academy. -AL
This week, all the X-books are focused on tying up loose ends. DnA step into the big shoes left by Zeb Wells to take over as regular writers of this book, and it turns out, loose ends are what the New Mutants are going to be focused on in the coming months. After a 3-issue hiatus into the Age of X, we finally return to “normal” and DnA use this issue to bridge the chaos of the Inferno Babies storyline, the Age of X, and the new direction these characters are headed. But this issue starts off with a bang, with the New Mutants, along with Wolverine, Colossus, and Shadowcat joining them on a mission to take out a remaining Nimrod that was left over from Second Coming. Cyclops sends them out to kill many birds with one stone, first, to tie up the loose end, but most importantly, to get them all off of Utopia while he deals with Illyana. Cyclops determines that Illyana cannot be trusted which will spell some trouble for the former Darkchylde. Sam and Dani share a tender moment as Sam officially transfers leadership to her and they even share a kiss! I have to admit, the softy in me loves seeing Dani and Sam become an item. Finally, Cyclops gives Dani his stamp of approval and sets them on the task of taking on the X-Men’s unfinished business. First on the list is finding Nate Grey, who hasn’t been seen since the Dark X-Men stuff. However, Nate is in some trouble of his own. After a quick swerve we find that he’s captive of the Age of Apocalypse’s worst survivor, the Sugar Man. Overall, this was a great issue that needed to be done. These characters really have been through one disaster after another. I’m glad DnA spent the time to clean up the extra pieces in order to move forward. I think they’ll be a good fit on this book. However, Leandro Fernandez’s art lacks some “oomph.” In some places his style looks like Steve Dillon, in others it looks like Mike Deodato. The style is not that far removed from Leonard Kirk, so the transition is smooth, but rather underwhelming. The addition of the Sugar Man is kind of lame, but I guess since Dark Beast was busy in Gischler’s X-Men last month and in Remender’s Uncanny X-Force coming up, they had to fall back on him. Overall, this is a good direction for this book, and I’m looking forward to where it’s going. -JJ
Sometimes filler issues work and sometimes they just don’t. This is an example of one that does not. After a steady stream of arcs, Gischler has done some great work with this new title. Not everyone liked the vampire stuff, however, although I thought it was pretty solid stuff. The Lizard arc was a welcome next step. However, Gischler decides to take a huge step backwards by revisiting the vampire stuff. Even on the cover, they put the “Curse of the Mutants” banner which made no sense since that official story is long done. This story really has nothing to do with anything, so it’s obvious that editorial decided to throw an extra issue in for no real reason. What starts off as a birthday party for Jubilee turns into a bizarre and pointless story about Xavier hunting a mystery in Africa. The randomness of that idea alone should send you running. Xavier tells this long-winded story of how he meets a “good” vampire in order to make Jubilee feel better about herself. The story was way too wordy and way too pointless unless Gischler decides to follow up with any of these characters later, but with the randomness of this issue, I get the sense that he won’t. While I’m glad to see the under-used Xavier in a spotlight story, why set it up this way? In my mind, it would have been better to have Xavier and Jubilee go on an adventure together where they meet up with a “good” vampire to show her that she’s not destined to be evil. Seriously, this was one of the worst X-Men books in the last year. However, the art of Al Barrionuevo wasn’t bad. His style reminded me of Bryan Hitch in a good way. I wouldn’t mind seeing him on another book, although I don’t think he’s right for the X-Men. Not sure why, but the most awkward pages were the ones with the team at the birthday party, whereas his pages of Xavier in Africa were solid. Maybe he would do better on a non-super-hero type of book. Despite his art, though, this book was a real stinker and a complete waste of an issue. -JJ
And then there are filler issues that tie up everything very neatly. I was in serious need of an “aftermath” issue following Age of X, and that’s exactly what we get here. What I love about Age of X was that when they returned to the regular reality, their memories weren’t just wiped clean immediately. Carey does a neat thing here by having Cyclops give everyone the option as to whether or not they want to have their memories of Age of X erased. This sets up some really interesting dynamics. Some, like Cannonball, want a complete mind-wipe. Others, like Pixie, kind of liked the darker side of themselves from Legion’s psyche. We get to see the gamut of reactions from various X-Men and what they want to remember and what they don’t. The most intriguing is Frenzy, who was Cyclops’ love interest in the Age of X, but in the regular reality is a distant C-list character. As she is one that Carey is going to be turning the spotlight on, I’m very interested to see what happens with her. Also, Legion gets an interesting power-up in this issue. Dr. Nemesis has whipped up a device that will allow Legion to access whichever personality and power set he wishes. Carey also handles the relationship drama well, reestablishing the Gambit/Rogue/Magneto love triangle in full force. But what really tickled me in this one was that with a quick twist, Chamber is back to being his gaping-energy-hole self. Carey did a great job of acknowledging where Chamber was before Age of X, having been manipulated by Clan Akkaba. Without Chamber even being in the scene, this was handled in a great way. Goes to show that you can use continuity and even do a retcon in an understated and sensible way. Also, we find out that the Age of X character of Revenant was actually Rachel Grey, who is off missing in space with Havok and Polaris. However, she was trying to establish psychic contact with Emma as the Age of X was starting so she got sucked in despite her physical form not really being present. This is awesome because it sets up the next story, which is to have a team of X-Men going after the missing X-Men. This is just a solid issue all around with some pretty good art from Molina. His faces need a little work, but overall it was not bad art. -JJ
Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: In a week full of fill-in issues, I have to give it to X-Men Legacy #248 as the best, simply because Chamber is back if nothing else.
Andy: Since I started the issue not liking it, but by the end was pumped to see where everything is headed, my pick is New Mutants #25. I just hope this idea doesn’t fizzle out after 6 issues.
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