September 6, 2011

The Uncanny X-Piles LVII

Fear Itself: Home Front #5
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Alessandro Vitti

If you haven’t been reading this mini, it’s an anthology book with at least four separate stories going on per issue, all with different creative teams. The story we’re focusing on here features X-23, Amadeus Cho, Spider-Girl, Power Man and new guy, Thunder Strike, who for all intents and purposes is basically “Thor Kid.” Not much to talk about on this one considering it went by quickly, and will be continued in the next issue, but what we get here is pretty weak. X-23 is written as her feral self, completely devoid of the character development given her in Marjorie Liu’s X-23 book, and all the other characters spend the entire time arguing amongst themselves. They’re kids, sure, but they’re also stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with the back drop of Fear Itself, and all they can do is bicker. Not much fun to read. It ends with the appearance of some Shark dudes dressed as samurai with heavy duty guns. Yeah. A brawl will go down next issue, but who cares? We know how it will end; the kid heroes will win, shake hands, then go their separate ways. Huzzah. -AL

Generation Hope #10
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Tom Seeley

Many times, whenever a book ties-in with another major event storyline, it has nothing to do with that story and makes you wonder what the connection is at all. See any Fear Itself tie-in if you don’t believe me. For once, the X-editors decided to only tie one title, Generation Hope, into the Schism event, and they actually do a good job of tying it into the main story. This issue is all about the events of X-Men: Schism #3, but from the perspective of Idie. Idie is playing a big role in the story, so to see everything from her point-of-view is really important. Idie has been played as an amalgam of Storm, Iceman, and Wolfsbane (in her religious beliefs), and really hasn’t moved from that portrayal. In this issue, we get into her mind a little, showing that in her heart, she believes mutants to be dangerous, and thus understands why the humans are protecting themselves with Sentinels. In this issue, Idie’s “education” continues, as she gets lessons from Laurie, Kenji, Prodigy, and a video of Rachel Summers. All remind her that humans are just as dangerous as mutants, and thus influence her on her decision to kill the Hellfire Club goons. In essence, she proves her point to herself about the danger of mutants. It will be interesting to see how she develops from here. I’ve been pretty down on this book since before it started, and while I still don’t really like these characters, I appreciate Gillen’s exploration of the Schism story from her perspective. You’ll see below what I think about that book, but I think Gillen is pretty successful here. Tom Seeley’s art is somewhat inconsistent, as he has some really great-looking panels like the one of Kenji sitting before a giant Sentinel head. But others, like the way he draws Laurie, looks a bit awkward. I could see him hitting a stride on this book, though, if they kept him on. While this book is not really necessary to enjoying the main Schism story, it does what a tie-in should do, and that is exploring a story from another angle. Well done, Gillen. -JJ

Marvel Universe vs Wolverine #3
Writer: Jonathan Maberry
Artist: Laurence Campbell

Wolverine is with Reed Richards, T’Challa and The Punisher, who are all trying to figure out a cure to what has made a majority of the Marvel super powered community go berserk when suddenly The Thing, Savage She-Hulk and Red Shulk (I’m coining that term) show up to cause trouble. A fight ensues, and when the rubble clears, our heroes realize they need to retreat if they’re going to survive this horrifying zombie dystopia. Unfortunately, as they rally around the remaining un-affected supers, Zombie Hulk shows up with his crew and shit gets nasty. Just look at that killer cover to this issue- it pretty much tells the story right there. Other X-heroes who make an appearance include Deadpool and Juggernaut, plus a zombie-fied Sabretooth, Lady Deathstrike and Northstar. This series is a prequel to The Punisher mini with the same name, and Maberry alludes to the events of that one here multiple times, although this reads just fine on its own. Any Marvel fan can pick this up and get into it. It’s just one big brawl, and a damn fun read. -AL

Ultimate Comics Fallout #5
Writers: Nick Spencer
Artists: Luke Ross

Well, well, well. Quicksilver reveals his true colors and he’s one slimy little prick. He plans to unite mutantkind under one banner, then once he’s gained their trust, he will sell them to a corporation as slaves… or will he? It’s really not clear what Pietro’s motives are, but one thing is for sure- he’s got a mad-on for his sister Wanda, the Scarlet Witch. There’s a borderline incestuous scene where he’s having sex with a rep from the aforementioned corporation, then suddenly he see’s the woman as Wanda. She takes him to her breast and they have a brief moment and talk about his salvation. Then he flips out and demands the woman leave his place. Remember, this is the guy who jammed a bullet in Cyclops’ head at the end of Ultimatum and nobody knows about it. Nick Spencer, the writer of the upcoming Ultimate X-Men series pens this chapter of the issue and Luke Ross provides the art. There’s another story here too, focusing on Nick Fury by Jonathan Hickman and Billy Tan. Ultimate Quicksilver is an f-ed up kid, and that makes him all the more intriguing. He’s going to cause some trouble in this new Ultimate Universe, and I can’t wait to see it all go down. –AL

Ultimate Comics Fallout #6
Writers: Nick Spencer
Artists: Eric Nguyen

This time Nick Spencer teams up with artist Eric Nguyen and shifts focus to Kitty, Bobby, and Johnny- a.k.a. Shadowcat, Iceman, and the Human Torch. Kitty leads the boys to their new HQ, the former Morlock sewer tunnels, which once housed the deceased Nightcrawler and his crew. One amusing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reference later, and it becomes clear we’re going to have two different X-squads in the new Ultimate Universe. Originally I thought this trio would team up with Jean Grey’s- er, Karen’s- team, but apparently that’s not the case. Now we have the official X-squad, sanctioned by Fury and led by Karen, and this underground team. I’m looking forward to seeing who else will join their ranks. Other stories in this issue, written by Brian Michael Bendis and Jonathan Hickman, focus on the new life of Aunt May and Gwen Stacy in France, and the attachment Nicky Fury had to Peter Parker. All of it is good stuff, and the Ultimate Universe is on track to be the best its ever been. -AL

Uncanny X-Men #542
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Greg Land

Kieron Gillen gets some high marks for me this week. This issue is really well done. Basically, the Juggernaut is actually unstoppable this time, and the way Gillen teases that out has some real promise. Cyclops puts all his plans into action as the X-Men are all sent to take down the uber-powerful Juggernaut. He sends Avalanche, Face, Pixie, Rogue, Mercury, Psylocke, Siryn, Dazzler, Gambit, Rockslide, and Magneto against him to no avail. But the thing that has me the most excited? He sends ADAM-X THE X-TREME to ignite Juggernaut’s blood! So awesome! I have to say, I’m a sucker for ol’ Adam-X. But what’s great about this is that there is actually a threat to the X-Men that is credible. So the only way they can take him down is to send Magik, Colossus, and Kitty to Cyttorak himself to take Cain Marko’s powers away from him. Cyttorak agrees, and decides to make one of them his avatar. At first, Illyana volunteers, but Colossus takes it for her and becomes the new Juggernaut! The only thing that could have made this cooler is if the solicitations hadn’t spoiled it with that cover of Colossus putting on the Juggernaut helmet. What’s making this book work right now is that Gillen is willing to actually switch up the status quo and actually make some changes with the characters. Seeing as how Colossus is showing up in future solicitations with the helmet suggests that this is something that’s going to stick for a while. This, I like. Greg Land’s art has it’s usual flaws, but I now see that when he draws non-human characters, like Cyttorak and Danger, he does a much better job. If he can stay away from the model faces and poses, then he might be OK. I really enjoyed this issue, and am looking forward to what happens next to Colossus! -JJ

Wolverine & The Black Cat Claws II #2
Writers: Jimmy Palmiotto & Justin Gray
Artist: Joseph Michael Linsner

When you have a comic starring a character like Black Cat, one of the most important things that needs to happen is that she has to be smokin’ hot. There was a Black Cat four issue mini-series that came out not too long ago, and while the covers looked good, she looked downright fugly in the interiors. I’m happy to report this is not the case here. Joseph Michael Linsner, who is probably best known for his creation of the super sexy cult character Dawn, succeeds in his depiction of Felicia, even going as far as having her nipples poke out through her tight black dress. It’s hot. This type of art works great with the writing of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, who are notorious for their gorgeous female leads, as they capture Black Cat’s sauciness in the face of adversity. I’m also a fan of how Linsner draws Wolvie’s claws as thick knives coming out of the spaces between his knuckles as opposed to thin wiry things that pop out the top of his hand. In this story Wolverine and Black Cat are in a future world ruled by Martians that look like they were taken out of the pages of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. They need to rescue two ladies from Killraven’s resistance team and confront a bunch of alien beasties along the way. This is an easy to read story, and if you enjoy either of the title characters, give this one a try. -AL

X-Factor #224
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Emanuela Luppachino

First of all, I want to give props to David Yardin, who is just kicking ass on the covers of this book. This issue’s cover is just plain creepy. Speaking of art, I have 3 words: Luppachino. Comics. Yes. She continues to excel on this book, and I give her kudos on drawing some incredibly strange panels that Peter David has written. Everyone is still after Rahne’s baby, and after a long gestation, the baby is finally born. Only, I seem to remember my dog having puppies when I was little, and I don’t think she barfed them up. Yes, I know Agamemnon says that he is born similarly to Pallas Athena, but it seems extremely out of left field, and somehow even grosser than if she had had the baby naturally. What’s creepy though is that this kid starts killing immediately, and Rahne rejects him much like her father rejected her. This is something I hope David follows up on. Despite the rather gross birth, I like what David has done here, and am surprised that he’s taken quite a horror turn on this story arc. As always, he’s great with the humor here, including a great line after Cerberus decides not to continue fighting, Shatterstar says, “Nice fighting you,” and he responds, “You too.” I laughed out loud at that one. In the end, Rahne seems to be OK, and the baby escapes the clutches of all the mythical creatures that were after him, but he ends up with Jack Russell, which is really interesting. This whole issue, like always, is full of twists and turns, and while it’s bizarre, I continue to like it. -JJ

X-Men: Schism #3
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Daniel Acuna

So we’ve been hearing about Schism for quite a while. You would think that halfway through the mini-series, they would let us in on what the actual schism is, but we now find out that it’s not coming until the end. However, we continue to get hints, and it’s these hints that bother me. The action picks up in this issue, as the new Hellfire Club attacks the X-Men’s most powerful members. Which, by the way, I’m guessing Schism takes places before Fear Itself since Colossus is not the Juggernaut. Which also means that not many of the X-Men will leave with Wolverine. I certainly hope there’s not a gaping continuity glitch with these two events. But I digress. A catalyst happens in this issue, which begins to frame the conflict between Scott and Logan. But if this is the issue, it’s certainly poor. Since when does Wolverine care about mutant kids being sent to fight and possibly kill in battle? This is the leader of X-Force!!! I had this same question about the end of Generation Hope #9, and it remains here. How can Wolverine actively participate in a death squad, and then have such an aversion to mutant kids killing. Didn’t he recruit X-23 for X-Force at one point? It makes no sense. However, this issue isn’t all bad. Once again, Jason Aaron crafts some compelling villains in Kade Kilgore and his friends. They make short work of Namor, Emma, Magneto, Colossus, and Iceman, which is cool to see. Daniel Acuna’s work here is solid, however, his style is so distinct from Pacheco and Cho before him, and Alan Davis who will be on art next issue, that it hurts the overall story. I wish they had just given Acuna the entire art duties to give it the uniform look. I am not really happy with Schism thus far, and am hoping that things turn around next issue. –JJ

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I really rather enjoyed Uncanny X-Men #542!
Andy: X-Men Schism #3. I was very underwhelmed with the first two installments, but I really liked this one, especially Acuna’s artwork.

Schism my ‘nism.

Jeff Jackson

Andy Liegl



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