That “L” stands for “50,” which makes this the 50th edition of the Uncanny X-Piles! Andy and Jeff have been covering the X-books for almost a whole year now! Boy does time fly!
Finally, some payoff! We’ve waited close to a year for some sort of climax in this series, and we finally get it here. There was a boat load of stuff that went down in this issue, most of it being spoiler-iffic, so turn away now if you don’t want to know the secrets! So what went down? Scarlet Witch remembers who she is, we find out if Speed and Wiccan are her kids, we discover Hawkeye banged a Doombot, a mutant gets his powers back, and even X-Factor and the X-Men show up. Phew! Ok, one thing at a time. So Scarlet Witch has her memories back, and she admits to creating Wiccan and Speed from magic. Even so, they are her kids which now means Magneto is officially a grandfather. Cool. Yes, Hawkeye nailed a Doombot, but in his defense, he thought it was Wanda. Oops! X-Factor shows up towards the end, and when one of their team member’s gets their powers back is when things feel a bit rushed. There was a lot crammed into this issue, and I wonder how Peter David feels about not getting to write the return of Rictor’s powers. It’ll be interesting to see when that particular thread will make its way into the X-Factor book and how the characters will deal with it. The X-Men show up too with a gorgeous, poster worthy, shot of Rogue, Colossus, Cyclops, Storm, Emma, Iceman and Gambit. That sounds like an X-line-up I’d like to read more about! They all look pissed, but Scarlet Witch says she plans to give them what they want: more mutants. While that may be cool, I’m getting overwhelmed once more with the number of mutant characters running around the Marvel Universe. We just got a bunch of newbies in Generation Hope, and now if the plan is to bring back a bunch of the crappier characters who went away post M-Day (most were for the better), I’m not sure if that’s necessarily a good thing. M-Day was a great way to get rid of C and D list characters without having to kill them off, and I don’t see a good reason why they should return now. Also, who will be getting their powers back? Jubilee? Prodigy? Beak? The potential list is a long one, and I’m sure we’ll get some answers next issue. Jim Cheung’s artwork is really top notch. His inkers do him a solid too, but his pencils stand on their own merit. It’s beautiful stuff and worth the wait for each issue. Oh, and before I forget- Beast even makes a reference to Endangered Species. Nice calls all around by Heinberg in this one. -AL
Rob Williams has almost completely won me over as an X-writer. Between this story, Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force and Daken: Dark Wolverine, he is proving that he knows how to write characters with an X-gene. In this one, the mutant purge is running rampant in London, and Captain Britain is fighting a one man battle against it. I know, I know- Captain Britain isn’t a mutant, he’s powered by magic. Still, his sister is Psylocke and he has close ties to the X-Men, so I included him here in the X-Piles. He’s patriotic, and feels like the American superhero nation looks down upon his work in the UK. Williams gives him a voice, capturing his patriotic essence quite nicely without pulling focus from the main Iron Age story going on with Iron Man. Dare I say Rob Williams writes Captain Britain better than his previous scribe, Paul Cornell? I do dare. Ben Oliver provides for a computery, airbrushed style that is nicely colored by Veronica Gandini. The colors are muted, but with a full wash. Although, there is one awkward panel towards the end of the story where Captain Britain appears to be missing an arm, but I’m over it. Christos Gage writes and Lee Weeks illustrates the first half of this issue, focusing on Tony Stark in the late 70s. The Avengers of that time are present too. Weeks’ style is perfect for that classic vibe, and Gage writes amusing encounters with the supporting cast as present day Stark is stuck with the image of his younger, drunken self, which isn’t a good thing. Yes this issue was $4.99, which isn’t cheap, but it was well done and worth the cover price. It may not be for every X-fan, since Brian Braddock is the only X-tie in it, but the X-Men will appear later on, and the plot focuses around the actions of Dark Phoenix. If you’re a casual Iron Man fan in addition to an X-elite, check this one out. -AL
How do you get your audience’s attention right off the bat? By having Wolverine gut Kitty and stab Colossus through the head in the opening pages. That works, right? In a world where a mysterious plague is re-writing peoples’ DNA into a new, primal, carnivorous species, nobody is safe! Spider-Man is the first super powered character to fall victim to the plague, chomping down on Rhino in the middles of an NHL game. Then it spreads, and it spreads fast. The Blob gets it and eats an entire restaurant full of people. Psylocke gets eaten by a rabid Warren Worthington III. Wolvie then is forced to take care of business, realizing the plague has taken over Utopia. So, he pretty much kills every single X-Man. The only thing that sucked was that it was all done off panel. Even so, with three issues left this mini is going to be a wild ride. If you read 2010’s Marvel Universe vs. The Punisher (also written by Maberry), you already know how this story ends since it’s a prequel to that book. Campbell’s art works for this story; it’s smudgy and rough, and nobody looks beautiful, which is the point. This was a fun issue containing some mindless action and amusing science jargon. Since the X-Men are out of the picture, Maberry has plenty of Marvel heroes to choose from to get the plague next. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing Wolvie taking on the F4. -AL
Props to Jeph Loeb and Art Adams for following through with this book and producing an enjoyable product. Loeb sets the stage for the upcoming Ultimate Comics X-Men #1 coming out at the end of summer, with sprinkles of foreshadowing in the closing pages of this issue. Apparently, Rogue won’t be part of the new line-up, and what are those tanks containing Storm, Colossus, and Spiral all about? Those were weird. Is Havok going to be joining the cast soon? We do know the new X-team will be made up of Jean Grey…er, Karen, Ultimate Daken, the new Angel guy, and Hulk. We get a cool explanation on why he’ll be joining our pissed off mutants. Also, based on the cover of the new #1, Iceman and Human Torch will be along for the ride, and probably Shadowcat too. The new Ultimate Brotherhood is made up of Quicksilver, Blob, Mystique, Sabretooth, and the new Scarlet Witch. I like Loeb’s choice to keep the cast ignorant of Quicksilver’s murder of Cyclops in Ultimatum. That can of worms has to get opened sometime soon, and the result should be nasty. Adams provides some of the best art in any X-book; it’s expressive and he has a great sense of space as every panel feels full and complete. If you ever read Ultimate X-Men, but skipped this story, pick it up. It has appeal, mainly in Adams’ art, but Loeb breaks free of his recent criticisms and tells a story that can be read by any fan of this Universe- new or old. –AL
Once again I’m confused as to who is really writing Generation Hope. It can’t be Kieron Gillen, because he’s writing the hell out of Uncanny X-Men, and even when he includes the cast of Generation Hope, it’s awesome! This is a one-shot issue that focuses on just two characters: Hope and Wolverine. Uncanny has been starving for an issue like this, since Matt Fraction never did any kind of relationship-focused issues in his run. Hope and Wolverine have their issues with one another, and Gillen does a fantastic job of explaining why Wolverine is so cold to Hope. But before he gets there, Hope gets kidnapped by the Crimson Commando (!), who we haven’t seen in ages. The effects of M-Day have not been kind to old Frank Bohannan, who is mostly cyborg. Because he doesn’t have mutant powers anymore, his body is decaying and he kidnaps Hope to save him and restore his powers. What’s cool about this is that Gillen does a great job of making a C-list mutant have great motivation for doing what he does. But since Hope can’t mimic Crimson Commando’s powers, she’s really stuck. Wolverine decides to go rescue her, which seems out of character, but we find out his motivation as well. Gillen’s handling of the relationship between Wolverine and Hope is done really well and reflects Wolverine’s past of having to stop friends who have gone out of control. Ibiram Roberson is a welcome addition to the art in this book, and I would have him over Greg Land any day. As much as Gillen’s other work is frustrating me, this is just an excellent issue all around. -JJ
After the disaster that was the previous six issues, this series rebounds with this installment. It’s still weird as hell, and awkward at times, but the incorporation of a larger X-cast makes it work…better. Emma Frost, Beast, Cyclops, and Dazzler all play supporting roles. Emma appears naked at one point, which was amusing, especially when Cyclops calls her out on it, but it was strange seeing him paint her toenails in bed in another scene. The best part though, and what really makes this issue work, is the conversation between Dazzler and Wolvie, just hanging out, watching TV. The back and forth between these two was maybe the highlight of this entire series so far. I would like to see more of Huston’s take on Alison, but I doubt that will happen in this title. Wolvie’s out to finish some business from the previous storyline, seeking out the woman he met at the club where he was first introduced to Winsor. However, he doesn’t get very far in his dialogue with her as she gets decapitated by two dudes who would draw a crowd in West Hollywood. Juan Jose Ryp’s artwork is fantastic, and he definitely does a great service to this series. Without him it probably would have died an agonizing death months ago. Now that we’re out of the previous storyline and onto an all new track, Huston has pulled my focus back in with this book. Is it enough to save the series? We’ll see, but things get really bizarre at the end and I have no clue where it’s heading. –AL
These prelude issues have run their course. And to prove it, Paul Jenkins decides to thoroughly give us snapshots of other issues he has worked on. First of all, this issue, like the others in the series, takes place at the same time but from Wolverine’s perspective this time. Jenkins uses the exact scenes and dialogue from the previous 3 issues, only Clay Mann draws it from a different angle. We get more references to the destructive “IT” that is coming to wipe the mutants out. Jenkins’ lazy approach to skirting around the threat is tiresome and at times is ridiculous. I sure hope this threat is as big as they are hinting. If it’s just Sentinels again, all this buildup will be very anticlimactic.To pepper in some other panels, Jenkins decides to shoehorn in scenes from Origin and Weapon X so that we can all once again remember that Logan has a convoluted and mysterious past. There is only one scene in this issue that has not already been tread before, and that’s the conversation Cyclops and Wolverine have at the end. It’s light and humorous, which does the job of highlighting that these guys have a unique relationship. Considering we all know they are about to go splitsville, that was the only thing that added buildup to the upcoming Schism. Clay Mann’s art is nice enough, but I would have rather seen him on his regular stint on Legacy than to waste his time rehashing old comics. Now that the prelude is over, let’s get on with Schism. -JJ
Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: Like a dope, I forgot to order Avengers Children’s Crusade #6, so since I didn’t get that, I have to go with Uncanny X-Men #539.
Andy: Ultimate Comics X #5. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this series overall, and I’m looking forward to the new #1.
For more X-preludes, click here.