June 9, 2011

The Uncanny X-Piles XLV

Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine #6
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Adam Kubert

About a year ago, the first issue of this book came out and I was not expecting much. The problem with comics is that expectations tend to get really high. With a team like Jason Aaron and Adam Kubert on a Wolverine & Spider-Man book, of course that’s going to happen. Early on in the series, things were just crazy enough. Aaron seemed to be pulling out all the imaginative stops here with the duo taking on a planet sized-Dr. Doom, and jumping through time. What was great was that it didn’t need to make sense. But here’s where the question of continuity comes in. This series was really cool when it didn’t have a tie into continuity. You could still argue whether or not this is in continuity, but regardless, the minute Aaron started to try to make sense of this story, it started to go downhill. With the introduction of Mojo pulling the strings, which made the craziness of the story make logical sense, the story began to jump the rails. In this last issue, Aaron tries to harness some of that initial craziness, but is still chained to the idea that it has to make sense. We are teased with Wolverine turning into Phoenix, which was a pretty crazy idea, but it gets lost when trying to rationalize it. Peter defeats him by simply talking to him? What? Sure, it’s logical, but this book didn’t need logical. It needed big ideas with these characters who have very little left in them in terms of originality. But as fast as Aaron thinks of an idea, he just as quickly dismisses it. The stuff between Logan and Peter in here is really good, especially when they are in the Old West, but once things get good, Aaron shifts us too quickly to another big idea. This issue especially had the onerous task of cleaning everything up, and does so half-heartedly. All the villains are swept under the rug. But despite the big negatives of this issue, there are positives. Highlights of this book are the relationship dilemma of Peter, which I would love to see Aaron return to at some point. The unity between Logan and Peter is a nice touch as well. Kubert’s art took a dive in the latter issues here. There’s a silent page of four panels where Spider-Man and Wolverine share a moment, but Kubert has some awkward lines on both the heroes. The end of the issue leaves us with a surprise which had nothing to do with the main story, but is interesting nonetheless. But my assessment overall is that while this series started off strong, it ended rather weak. -JJ

Daken: Dark Wolverine #9.1
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Ron Garney

I feel a little gypped. Before the Madripoor story line and recently concluded X-23 crossover, writer Daniel Way hinted that Daken’s next mission was to hunt down Bucky and avenge his mother’s death. Sounds bad ass, right? Well, that seems like it’s not going to happen as Way is off the book, replaced by Rob Williams. Williams’ plan is to have Daken set up shop in Los Angeles and become the new king pin of crime there. Kind of a cool idea, actually, but nowhere near as cool as him hunting down Bucky. Why was that plot point totally brushed aside? I don’t get it. It has great potential. Is it because Bucky just had his arm ripped off in Fear Itself #3? …or something else? Whatever the reason, it’s a dangling plot point that is going to bother me until it gets resolved. Why even mention it or introduce the idea if there was never any plan to follow up on that thread? It’s obnoxious, and I feel cheated. This issue was ok, and is a good place for people to check in on Daken if they haven’t before, hence why it has the .1 numbering. I was not a fan of Ron Garney’s art, though. I’ve said it before- Giuseppe Camuncoli was THE man to draw Daken, and he’s missed here. Garney makes the character too big and stocky at times, giving the impression that he’s a wrestler or body builder. It’s weird. Since I live in LA, I’m looking forward to seeing where Williams takes this story. I hope he uses the city as a secondary character, as LA is packed with weirdos and exotic locales for Daken to carry out his business. All that being said, there needs to be some Winter Soldier resolution. Soon. -AL

Namor the First Mutant #10
Writer: Stuart Moore
Artists: Carlos Rodriguez & Sergio Arino

Is this series over yet? Almost. It’s unfortunate that in the wake of getting cancelled it’s crashing and burning, because as I’ve mentioned before, Stuart Moore introduced concepts that had potential if allowed to develop over time. However, without the natural progression needed to properly play out those concepts, everything comes off as forced and uninspired. Not to mention how soft Moore writes Namor. In this issue he finally grows a pair, but up until this point (besides the Curse of the Mutants tie-in arc),  Namor takes too much bull from people, and that seems way off base for his character. The nail in the coffin for this series though, in my opinion, is the artwork. When Ariel Olivetti is providing it, the book rocks, without him though, it’s just another comic on the shelf…and that’s pretty much the best way to describe this issue. For 10 chapters straight now, Namor has allowed the rebellious tribe of Atlanteans under the leadership of Krang to exist, plotting against him, and even outright attacking him. Only now does Namor finally retaliate, but it’s too late to be taken seriously. At this point, who cares? Now there’s a sect of Atlanteans who want to take down Utopia. I ask again- who cares? Had this idea been introduced earlier, it might be exciting…but now? Knowing that the series has almost reached its end? Nope. Not so much. The last page was kind of cool, but the idea of futuristic familial ties is an old one, and is yet another layer slopped on top of this story that’s treading water. -AL

Onslaught Unleashed #4
Writer: Sean McKeever
Artist: Filipe Andrade

I don’t have much to add to the conclusion to this miniseries. As good as Sean McKeever has been on the Young Allies, this series was just a waste. The most blatant thing about it has been the art of Filipe Andrade. While the first issue tended to draw me in, I have only found each issue to be more annoying than the previous one. The sketchy lines just don’t serve this story well at all. It just looks lazy in some parts. There’s a page with Dr. Strange in the background and his legs look like scribbles. But along with the art, you have a story that just landed with a thud. Onslaught, the once mighty villain who took out the entirety of the Avengers and Fantastic Four, is getting defeated quite easily by the B-Team Avengers and the wannabe New Warriors. He has not been a credible threat and now, he’s even less so. But what’s more troubling is that the one thing that McKeever did well was focus on the Young Allies as a team, even though they weren’t really, and here he decides to merge Bucky with Onslaught, leave Toro to clean up the mess his cousin made as El Dragon, and the rest are going into Marvel limbo. The only decent scene in this book was Firestar talking to Beast about why she, too, was not going to join her fellow mutants on Utopia. The fate of Buck-slaught is still up in the air, and I’m left to wonder why. Why not just tie this whole thing up and never mention it again? McKeever certainly has something else up his sleeve, but I’m rather wishing I hadn’t bothered with this. In a previous X-Piles, Andy mentioned dropping this stuff from our reviews, and I agree completely. Firestar is one of my favorite characters and mutants, but until something cool happens with her again, I say keep her and the Young Allies off the X-Piles. -JJ

Secret Avengers #13
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Scot Eaton

When I heard that Nick Spencer and Scot Eaton were going to be on this book, I was thinking this would be a good second chance. Spencer’s first issue, which was a .1 issue, wasn’t bad at all. But then I heard that Warren Ellis was quickly taking over after Spencer fills in the Fear Itself tie-in issues, so I immediately have decided to drop this title again. But even before the Ellis issues, I have decided I’m not going to continue with Spencer’s arc. Why? I love Spencer’s writing. I love Scot Eaton. I should have liked this book. But I didn’t. First, because of Fear Itself. I just don’t understand this “event.” I don’t understand the stakes, I feel like there is not a cohesion to the story. I’m just missing something, and I’m not sure what it is. In this issue, we get a vague connection to the blitzkrieg in Washington D.C. and the Secret Avengers are attempting to take down Sin’s army. But that’s not at all what this book is about. Instead, Spencer gives us a Beast one-shot, where Hank tries to rescue an old colleague who has decided to make a stand in the Capitol. The character of Congressman Lenny (which was a horrible name), who I think Eaton was trying to make actor Charles Dutton, has decided to stay in order to be some meaningful martyr. But the crazy thing in this issue, and completely out of character for Beast, is that he not only helps Lenny televise his martyrdom, but actually lets him die! The hero and doctor side Hank McCoy would have never let that happen. He would have knocked Lenny out and carried him out of the danger zone. It just felt really off-base, and ended up having nothing to do with Fear Itself. I feel like Fear Itself is just a meandering tale meant to give Matt Fraction and the Marvel heroes something to do. The problem here is that Spencer attempts to make this story meaningful, and with the background of stupidity that Fear Itself has become, the whole thing loses weight. I am officially dropping Secret Avengers forever, and not even my pal Andy will make me pick it up again. -JJ

Uncanny X-Men #537
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Terry Dodson

God, I love Terry Dodson’s art. I just finished reading Marvel Knights Spider-Man which was just gorgeous. The art here is no different. Dodson could stay on the title for a while and I would be a happy boy. Gillen continues to show some strength in this title, taking advantage of some cool aspects of some lame ideas currently floating in the X-universe. I don’t know anyone who likes Kitty Pryde’s current intangibility predicament, but Gillen does some neat things here by using it as a plot device. Kruun is on the move, and he’s taking out X-Men left and right. He depowers Colossus, makes Kitty get out of her containment suit, and goes about thrashing the two lovebirds. What’s cool is that Kitty goes to get help, but can’t communicate with anyone because in her state, she is silent. But what’s even cooler is that the mystery metal of the Breakworld can cut her, and cut her it does. There’s a surprise at the end which wasn’t mind-blowing, but overall was a good way to leave things for next issue. I’m really liking this story overall and think this return to a focused, simplified team of X-Men is really the way to go. Even Gillen’s take on Kruun has made him a viable villain for the X-Men, and his continuation of the seeds planted by Joss Whedon are really bearing fruit. I’m really liking Uncanny for the first time in years, so if you’ve been away for a while, pick up this arc or get the trade, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. -JJ

Wolverine #9
Jason Aaron
Artist: Daniel Acuna

Jason Aaron is the man. He’s been telling the best Wolverine stories since taking on the character, and this series in particular has not only returned Logan to his more old school ways, but is successfully developing him with every installment. I feel like a broken record in that I’m always harping on character development, but it’s very important, especially in comics. Without it, what’s the point of reading the story? If the character isn’t believably changed in some way by the conclusion of a writer’s tenure on him, what was the point? To date Jason Aaron has “tamed” Wolverine by giving him a steady girlfriend who grounds him, while simultaneously returning him to his primal ways and cutting loose with his inner, dare I say, demons. Take this issue for instance, where Wolverine guts Mystique without a second thought. She even tried to talk her way out of it by bringing up Kurt (which was a great moment), but Wolvie doesn’t bite, he only stabs…and kills? It would appear so. This issue is more of a conclusion to the “Get Mystique” storyline as opposed to an interlude chapter, and the bigger picture Aaron is painting here is highly engaging. The panel of villains who are out to get Logan is long, and they are using extreme methods to bring about his demise. The idea that Logan has all of his various personalities locked away in his mind, and that any one can take over, is brilliant. Right now his savage persona is at the steering wheel, and it doesn’t seem to be hitting the breaks any time soon. Which is awesome. Aaron is slated to write the big X-event this summer, Schism, and given the previous story arc of Wolverine, which featured a great X-cast, I expect that event to be a big success. Without a doubt, this series already is. -AL

X-Men Legacy #249
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Rafa Sandoval

We’re still in recovery mode from Age of X in this title, and I’m thinking that Carey was just stalling in preparation for #250. Now, I know I read this book late at night and was extremely tired, but I just did not get the “parable” that Magneto was alluding to. What does his past with a Nazi doctor have to do with his relationship with Rogue? It’s been a while since I have been in the dating scene, but I’m pretty sure taking a date to a Holocaust museum is not hot. However, it seems to work on Rogue, who wants to get nasty with Magneto while Gambit waits in the wings. If someone can explain the parable to me, please do. What’s far more interesting in this book is the evolution of D-lister Frenzy, who is really quite interesting. She decides to take on her Age of X persona completely, changing her hair and costume and deciding to become a full-fledged X-Man. Also, Carey’s handling of Legion is loaded with possibilities. Not only is he a head case, but with his new abilities of switching to various power sets and personalities, he gives new meaning to “inner struggle.” Once some of his personas have decided not to “play” with Legion’s new control system, there are a host of villains inside him that are going to need to be dealt with. Legion seems to be a well of good ideas for Carey, and I’m glad to see him use him in this way. Once again, a focus on a core team of characters is proving to work for the X-books, and the more you move Cyclops, Emma, and Wolverine out of the spotlight, and move some of these others in, I think you’ve got a recipe for some solid books. -JJ

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: It was a big week, but Wolverine #9 was the best of the best for me.
Andy: I second Jeff. Wolverine #9 nailed it this week.

Help spread the mutant population.

Andy Liegl

Jeff Jackson



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