October 11, 2011

Giant-Sized Uncanny X-Piles LVIII

It’s been a while, X-ophiles! But we’re back and have a lot of books to cover. The X-Piles have been backed up for a while due to some unforeseen circumstances (read: Sentinel attack), so instead of giving you one week’s worth of nougat-y X-Men goodness, you’re gonna get 7 weeks worth! Whoo-hoo! Hope you enjoy! Next week, Andy rejoins the ranks and we bring in a new X-Piles reviewer!


Astonishing X-Men #41
Writer: Daniel Way
Artist: Nick Bradshaw

Nick Bradshaw has effectively channelled Art Adams, but he still needs to work on his faces. All the X-Men look like little kids, and it’s quite distracting. Besides that, this book is not bad and is a pretty good conclusion to a very lackluster arc. Mentallo plays the part of the mort-of-the-month villain quite well, while Wolverine and Emma swap some funny lines. This reminds me of an old-school X-Men story, one that is enjoyable on one hand, but offers nothing of importance to the world of the X-Men. Sure, we get a little bit of development from Armor and her relationship with her father, and her power-up last issue was pretty cool, but that’s really about it. With all the X-Men events going on, this just seems rather meaningless. They could have done a better job of slapping an all-ages logo on it and passing it off as a Marvel Adventures title. But I understand why they didn’t do that–I wouldn’t have bought it if it wasn’t in continuity. So they got me there. If you’re looking for a story that isn’t tied to any of the other things going on in the X-universe, this is a safe bet. It’s not riveting, but just rollicking X-Men fun that’s safe and unassuming. –JJ

New Mutants #30
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Artist: David LaFuente

I heard on another comic website how great LaFuente’s art is, and for the life of me, I can’t see what they’re seeing. This is just awful art! The pointy noses and faces, the scribbled lines on faces, the fact that Sunspot looks like Mondo from an old issue of Generation X, it’s just bad. The story is just puzzling. I’m still not sure why Nate Grey is on this team all of a sudden. He seems to be taking the place of Cannonball, who I feel could be a better presence in this situation. One thing that Marvel needs to take care of is the amount of Hells there are. So I get that this is not the Norse Hel, but is it different from the Hell that Wolverine was just in? Is Mephisto the same as Nightcrawler’s dad Azazel? How is this different from Limbo, which these characters just left? There are just too many underworlds. And putting this team back in another underworld just seems too quick. If anything I think Fear Itself is to blame. This feels very forced and is another example of how writers are pressured to tie into the event of the week. The only thing remotely interesting is that now Magma is indebted to Mephisto for a date, which is kinda cool, but didn’t they just do this same thing with Dani and Hela? Putting these characters through literal Hell is just so overdone. As for the Dani story, I tend to zone out at the Norse stuff, so I have no idea what’s going on there or why it’s important. This book is quickly taking the place of Generation Hope as my least favorite X-book. –JJ

Uncanny X-Force #13
Writer: Rick Remender
Artists: Mark Brooks & Scot Eaton

How many more good things can I say about this book? Every issue has been just awesome, and this one is no different! Things are winding down in the AoA, yet they are at a fever pitch! The X-Men and X-Force take on the Black Legion and their leader, who I refer to affectionately as ApocaWolverine. He wants to make Jean Grey his Apocabride, but our team goes to great lengths to stop him. Once again, Remender just knows how to make every character play their part correctly. There is no waste here. Eventually, the team completes their mission of getting a Celestial life seed and getting back home, but many of the AoA X-Men pay the price. Eventually, Jean makes the decision to stay in the AoA to help correct what her husband has done, and Remender does a great job of leaving the AoA open ended for another visit. It also appears as if Nightcrawler and Iceman are going to make their way to the 616 Universe, although it’s not quite clear yet how that will happen. So the team gets thrown into one battle with ApocaWolverine to their headquarters where the evil Archangel awaits with all his cronies–the Four Horsemen, Dark Beast, and Holocaust! This book is just full X-fan goodness and if you’re reading the X-Piles and are not reading X-Force, then there is something seriously wrong with you. Get it, now! –JJ

Wolverine #14
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Renato Guedes

I should just trust Jason Aaron. The last few issues of this book have been boring and repetitive, but all of that was part of the plan because of a huge reveal in this issue. Aaron has been building to something really big in this book with the Red Right Hand’s revenge on Wolverine. What that big thing is in my opinion is the question of “Why is Wolverine a hero, really?” He kills people left and right, he’s all over the place, he’s slept with a million people in the Marvel Universe. How is this guy a hero? Jason Aaron nails that question hard with the conclusion to this story. The Red Right Hand has decided to deny Wolverine his revenge by committing mass suicide, and leaving Wolverine a book that he’s not going to like. You know those goofy villains Logan has been fighting and killing to get to the big bad? Yeah, those were all his offspring! Wolverine had a litter, and just wantonly killed them all! The reveal is quite amazing, and we also see Daken’s connection to the Red Right Hand in providing the information about all these other “Mongrels.” It’s pretty awesome and extremely well done. Despite Wolverine’s appearances in a million books, Aaron somehow has found a new direction to take him, making him even more interesting than he’s been in a while. Now, I’ve been dogging Renato Guedes’ art pretty badly, and he’s still not my favorite artist, but like I’ve said before, when he’s not drawing people in costumes, he does OK. This issue doesn’t have a lot of costumed characters, so his work is stronger. He gets Aaron’s point across, and that’s all that matters. This issue really punched me in the gut, extended it’s adamantium claws, and spilled out my entrails. –JJ

X-Men #16
Writer: Victor Gischler
Artist: Jorge Molina

I think it’s getting to the point in the Marvel Universe where the creators and editors just shrug and say they really don’t care about past events. It’s kinda like professional wrestling, where a face and a heel can have a year-long battle, then a year or so later, they’re tag team partners and the best of friends. That’s exactly what happens here in the next edition of “X-Men Team-Up” which is all this book is. Gischler decides to ignore all the events the X-Men are juggling, and hooks them up with the FF. However, the X-Men have Magneto on their team now and the FF have Dr. Doom on theirs. So while the set up seems nice, you’d expect some real sparks to fly here. However, there are no sparks at all, just a few quippy remarks. Has Marvel forgotten the longstanding rivalry between these teams and their arch-villains? Magneto has been just as much a threat to the FF over years as the X-Men, likewise with Dr. Doom and the X-Men. But in this, they decide they need to team up in order to go find Lee Forrester, who is an ’80s throwback. However, what doesn’t make sense to me is why the FF want to accompany the X-Men on this mission. Reed forces a “we need to stick together” line in there, but that’s about it. What works here is the later interactions between the teams, but the set-up is all off. I feel like Gischler could have come up with a better way to get these characters together. In fact, the X-Men and Doom are interacting over in Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, which is a much more natural scenario. And by the way, who the heck is Skull the Slayer? Should I care? Time to Google! Jorge Molina’s art is a great fit for this book though, and I’d like to see more of his work on the X-Men. –JJ

X-Men Legacy #254
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Steve Kurth

Picking up right where last issue left off, the X-Men teleport to space to locate the lost X-Men Rachel, Alex, and Lorna and bring them home. Unfortunately, things don’t quite go as Rogue and the team expect (do they ever?). Rogue gets separated from the rest of the team, and luckily, she runs into some familiar faces in Sovel Redhand and his crew of interstellar scavengers. You may or may not remember Redhand and his gang from a previous issue of Legacy where Professor X, Rogue, Gambit, and Danger fight them. Don’t worry if you missed that…it was forgettable. We get no reason as to why Rogue gets separated, but meanwhile, Magneto, Gambit, and Frenzy are caught in a battle between some Shi’ar folks and some other aliens. I was hoping for an exciting return to space in order to rescue the “X-Jammers,” but instead, this issue is really quite boring. Perhaps it’s Steve Kurth’s art that gives no sense of urgency to this story. He seems to have some trouble in this issue, especially with Magneto’s helmet. The problem with these kinds of artists who want to draw more realistic is that in real life, these costumes would look ridiculous. So either draw them realistically, or get a different artist who can cartoon a little better. There are a couple of cool moments in this issue, though. Magneto sending an army of aliens scurrying and Frenzy saying, “Now that right there, that’s why I became an Acolyte.” I’m glad Carey made a nod to Frenzy’s previous affiliation with Magneto since that hasn’t been touched on yet. I think this story has some potential, and I’m tickled to have Havok, Polaris, Korvus, and Marvel Girl back, but I think this issue really suffers from Kurth’s art. –JJ

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: Once again, I give the gold to Rick Remender and his Uncanny X-Force #13!


Uncanny X-Force #14
: Rick Remender
Artist: Jerome Opena

After many months, we finally get the Remender/Opena team back on this book! Jerome Opena is just a fantastic fit on this book. While I have mostly enjoyed Mark Brooks’ work, Opena’s style has such a different tone and emotion to it. He is so much more detailed in his line work and brings things to life in a way that no one else can. The Dark Angel Saga continues to roll forward in some exciting ways. You all know I’m a continuity nut, so having Holocaust/Genocide finally appear in the 616 universe is really exciting. I always thought he was one of the more exciting villains from the AoA, so bringing him into this as the son of Apocalypse and Autumn Rolfson (the first Famine) is really fantastic. Again, the way Opena draws him is just so nice to look at. If you remember Holocaust from the AoA as drawn by Joe Madureira, he had a giant cartoony gun hand. Opena draws that hand with such detail that it actually makes sense. And boy, is “Genocide” a sure-fire threat! He blasts half of Wolverine in mere seconds, taking him out of the game quickly. Having Wolverine out for most of the issue draws the attention on the rest of the team in battling the Horsemen, Dark Beast, and Archangel. There are some really excellent fight scenes here, and Psylocke especially shines as she makes some tough decisions to take out her boyfriend Warren, who is now completely taken over by the Death persona. My only complaint in the issue is that Archangel seems more like Warren in his facial expressions and conversation. His persona hasn’t really changed all that much other than he’s doing all this evil stuff. The Death persona, even in earlier issues, has seemed more severe. Is that Warren manifesting or did Remender and Opena miss the mark there? This arc just continues to showcase everything that an X-Men comic can be and sets the bar extremely high on future stories. –JJ

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: I only got one X-book this week, but even if I had gotten more, Uncanny X-Force #14 would have been my pick!


Wolverine #15
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Goran Sudzuka
So, you just found out that you killed all your illegitimate kids on your way to get revenge for a group of folks sending you to Hell. Then, you drag their rotting corpses in pine boxes to their hometowns and bury them. Now what are you going to do? Well, when you happen to have a healing factor and can’t really kill yourself, you do the next best thing–climb a mountain and throw yourself off. Repeatedly. Jason Aaron really knows how thick to lay on the guilt Logan is feeling. Last month’s revelation about Wolverine’s bastard children really punched us all in the gut, and Aaron does a good job of spotlighting exactly what Wolverine would do. Despite his tough exterior, Logan is the ultimate tortured soul, and Aaron continues to take him to new depths of depravity in this series. He even gets a drunken dream visit from Daken, Dog, and his own father carrying Sabretooth’s head on a pike. No matter how bad those guys are, none of them killed their own children, and Wolverine knows it. My only concern about the level that Aaron is taking Wolverine is that we all know that this can’t really last since Wolverine is popping up everywhere else in the Marvel Universe every month. Those appearances, where he appears to be fine, lessen the impact of what Aaron is doing here. To me, this is a perfect chance for Logan to change forever, but we all know that he’ll be throwing out “Bub’s” to Spider-Man all too soon. So while this issue is fantastic, it’s the rest of the Marvel Universe’s handling of Wolverine that will affect the overall mood that is achieved. Aaron is joined by Goran Sudzuka, who is a much-welcomed change from Guedes. Sudzuka’s art really fits in this issue, and Matthew Wilson’s coloring of scenes like Logan climbing the mountain with snow blowing across his face as well as red stains on his fingers from climbing are excellent. He’s a keeper. This book continues to please, and it’s a keeper as well. –JJ
X-Factor #224.1
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Valentine De Landro
Remember .1 issues? They were supposed to be great jumping-on points for new readers (rather than simply starting from scratch with everything like DC did). While this has been attempted numerous times, hardly any really accomplished that task. I’m happy to say that unlike his colleagues, Peter David took the assignment and mastered it. This is what we’ve all been waiting for with these .1 issues. Not only is it a perfect jump-on point, but it even sets up the next storyline. The story is really simple. Madrox goes to visit his childhood home and meets the new residents, to whom he gets to cleverly explain all things X-Factor. He goes through their purpose, their powers, and what’s happened recently, and does so without it being clunky or overly wordy. In the meantime, the team fights an unknown monster and somehow a mysterious murder takes place by issue’s end. Peter David is just a fine writer and even when editorial tosses him something to shoehorn in like a .1 issue, he nails it. I never thought I would get an ongoing X-Factor series with nothing but B-list mutants and headlined by my favorite mutant Jamie Madrox. Now, 6 years later, this title is still consistently good, and David continues to astound me. The weak part of this issue is De Landro’s art, which I have liked in previous arcs. Here, though, there seems to be more awkwardness around his female faces. One panel even makes Layla looked cross-eyed. He gets the job done, but I admit I’m used to Emanuela Luppachino and miss her when she skips and issue. If you’re wondering what all the buzz about X-Factor is, pick up this issue and actually make the .1 initiative worth it. A little. –JJ
X-Men #17
Writer: Victor Gischler
Artist: Jorge Molina
You know when you’re in a public place, say, a restaurant, and there’s a woman who walks in with a shirt that’s too short and she has a belly that is bulging over her pants line? That’s what this title is like. It’s just unnecessary and just a little too much to see. We don’t need this title. At all. It’s superfluous and does nothing to further the X-Men or their team-up partners this month, the FF. While many more important things are happening in EVERY. OTHER. BOOK, somehow the X-Men and FF have found themselves trapped in another dimension fighting some stupid war between meaningless races of beings. Even the novelty of seeing the current X-Men and the current FF together lost it’s luster last issue. Now, they’re just walking around, doing hardly anything except play into the same old tropes. Emma is snarky to Sue. Logan and Ben trade witty rapport while fighting. Nemesis and Reed talk science nonsense (which I quickly skipped over). And guess what…Dr. Doom betrays them all. At least until next issue when it’s revealed that he only appeared to betray them in order to help them, because this title doesn’t have any impact at all on what’s going on in the regular X-Men or FF books. So Doom’s betrayal means nothing. And we all know it! Molina’s art takes a dive from last issue. For some reason, many artists have a really hard time drawing Cyclops’ visor. Let me give you a hint: the red line goes across where his eyes should be. Not that hard. It’s time to suck in the gut, Marvel, wear some longer shirts, get on an exercise regimen and cut the fat off the X-books. –JJ
Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: Despite how Wolverine is portrayed elsewhere in the MU, this book is damn near perfect with story and art, so Wolverine #15 gets my pick.



Uncanny X-Force #15
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Jerome Opena
Is this book weekly now? It sure seems like it. There’s not a whole lot more to say about this that I haven’t already said in previous editions of the Uncanny X-Piles. This book is still head and shoulders above anything else Marvel is putting out right now. The story continues to please the fan in me, while also just telling an excellent adventure. Opena’s art and Dean White’s colors dazzle. One thing I like about Opena’s work is that it appears to not be inked. I have found that while I love good inking, I really enjoy unlinked pencils. There is a detail in the pencils that can sometimes get lost when someone inks over them. Also, not inking provides Dean White to shine on colors, as he gets a chance to make the art pop. The only difference in this issue with previous ones is that Remender does a lot of expository explanation in this issue. Archangel’s plan is quite complex, and Remender makes the reader work to figure it all out. It’s not so easy as, “I want to reset evolution.” The intricacy of the plan includes threads that Remender has been seeding throughout his run on this book, and even things that have been dangling in X-Men lore for a few years. Archangel is using the life seed, the death seed, the World, and even that Celestial that Brubaker and Fraction put down in San Francisco a while back. Not only that, but we get to see one of the Age of Apocalypse refugees, a couple of Horsemen get what’s coming to them, and some excellent interaction between Fantomex, Deadpool, and Deathlok. Guess what folks? Wolverine is not even in this book!!! Neither is Cyclops, Professor X, Magneto, Emma Frost, or any of the big-name X-Men. Remender has to be reveling in this, because this is the greatest X-Men book in years and is using none of the regular Marvel tropes in order to accomplish that. –JJ


X-Men Legacy #255
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Steve Kurth

I feel like I should be loving this story. It has a ton of great elements in it. A ragtag group of X-Men on a rescue mission to space to save their lost teammates. A galactic civil war including the Shi’Ar. The reunion of Magneto and Polaris. An awesome fight between Rogue and some space pirates. But I’m left feeling like something is missing. I think what’s really letting me down here is Steve Kurth’s art, which is funny because on one hand, I really like his style. But for some reason, his work is not playing well to Carey’s script, and it’s falling extremely flat. There are few panels that are really dynamic. The angles Kurth uses don’t give this story the sense of urgency it’s supposed to have. Most of the shots are either wide or close, but there is no real storytelling with the art. But it’s not all Kurth’s fault. The script tends to fall short in a couple places, like when Magneto, Gambit, and Frenzy are talking with the Shi’Ar soldiers. I found myself getting really bored. It’s not all bad, though, like I said. The fight between Rogue and Horse was really great and I like how she defeated him. But most of all, I’m really let down by the art. I feel like if someone like Scot Eaton, Clayton Henry, or Chris Bachalo was drawing this story, I would be singing it’s praises, but instead, I’m a little let down. While I have gotten comfortable with Mike Carey on this book, I’m looking forward to a change. –JJ

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: Oh, without a doubt, Uncanny X-Force #15!

Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #7

Writer: Allan Heinberg
Artist: Jim Cheung
I posted in the Chirps for this week that Matt Fraction could really learn a few things from Allan Heinberg in writing an event. While Fear Itselfflounders, this book silently sits under the radar, all the while telling one of the greatest event stories since Civil War. This feels like the events of yore, like Secret Wars or Contest of Champions. What actually helps is that Marvel hasn’t marketed the crap out of this book, which let’s surprises be surprises. There have been no spoiling teasers, and this issue benefits from it. The story continues, as the conflict over the Scarlet Witch continues, this time with the X-Men and Avengers coming to blows. There are some great match-ups here as Storm fights Iron Man, Rogue takes on Ms. Marvel, and Magneto fights Cyclops. Meanwhile, Scarlet Witch and the Young Avengers disappear once again (they do that a lot), back to Doom’s castle, where they make a plan to repower the mutants. One member of the Young Avengers makes a really bad choice, which will do a lot for his character, and we get an explanation of why the Scarlet Witch went crazy to begin with. In essence, Heinberg creates a retcon to get Wanda off the hook for M-Day, blaming it not so much on her, but the “Life Force” that drives her crazy and gives her reality-shaping powers. There is a strange twist at the end that keeps me hungering for next issue. Despite most of these great things, and Cheung’s usual fantastic art, there are a couple of things that are problematic. First, retcons are almost always not good. The fact that it looks like Wanda is going to get off scott-free poses some problems. Sure, she’ll stand trial, I bet, but she committed the most horrendous act in the Marvel Universe in years, and to see that she’s not really crazy kind of sucks. Second, the continuity of this story continues to be puzzling. Where do Fear Itself and Schism fall into this story? It appears to take place pre-Schism and pre-Fear Itself, I guess, but it’s hard to tell. I think Fear Itself could have just not happened and this could have taken it’s place and we’d all be happier Marvel fans for it. –JJ

Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force #3
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Simone Bianchi
Now this was a pretty good tie-in to the Fear Itself debacle, as I’m calling it. It didn’t have much to do with Fear Itself, which is probably why I liked it. This story could have existed without the “Serpent-making-everyone-fearful” thing, but just as well. Rob Williams surprisingly has a great hold on these characters and makes them work like Remender does. There are some really great Deadpool moments that are hilarious. He searches in the Bible for the part where there’s a “city-wide, neurologically engineered brain bomb,” and he waxes theologically to the main villain of the story. Williams equates this offspring Purifier group with Muslim terrorists groups who think they are doing God’s will by killing people. It’s extreme to be sure, but I guess that’s the effect of the Serpent’s power. Ultimately, the “heroes” of X-Force don’t look much like heroes to everyday people, which calls into question who the terrorists really are. Williams does a good job with this book, and I hope to read more of his work. Simone Bianchi has really done a great job on this mini, doing much better than his Astonishing X-Men run with Warren Ellis. Bianchi’s style seems to fit more with this team and their mission, however he really shines, literally, in the depictions of heaven and the cathedral he crafts at the end. The detail of his work is just beautiful. If you’re on the X-Force train, pick this book up if nothing else but to get a quality story that pushes the boundaries of heroism once again. –JJ

Generation Hope #11
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Tim Seeley
See below for my comments on Schism #4 before you read this one. It’s nice that Gillen takes a little bit of time to shed some light on some of the things Jason Aaron didn’t have time to do in the main Schism book. Here, we get a look at the “stay or leave” debate from the kids perspective. I’m still not convinced that either argument holds much ground, but in the meantime, we get some answers as to where certain characters are, and we get some much-needed tension within the cast of this book. First, the New X-Men play a bigger role here. However, these kids are tough and have been through a ton of stuff together. I think they are better X-Men than some of the main X-Men. Having them portrayed as inexperienced new mutants is not accurate. Now, if it was just Cyclops and the 5 Lights, then I could understand. But the New X-Men kids are battle worn and have been in the fight for years. Their inclusion doesn’t help either side’s point-of-view though. If Wolverine is worried about these kids becoming soldiers, too late, they already are. Cyclops should have had them as a contingency plan all along, though, because they’re awesome. Now, if it was only the 5 Lights, then I think Wolverine’s argument as well as Cyclops’ reactions might be more believable. Here, we see that they, too, see themselves as being able to defend Utopia. I can’t help but think that they’re going to be the ones who bite the dust, though. We also see why Pixie can’t just teleport them all, although I sure don’t remember her breaking her arms. Back to Hope and her team, tensions flair as Laurie and Kenji continue to develop into antagonists for Hope. However, they characterize themselves as villains when Hope seems to be the one who is the most dislikable. I’m ready for Hope’s story to end as she is one of the worst characters Marvel has created. Her whole team is centered around her, whether they want to be or not. She’s pretty much a bitch and hasn’t been developed well. I’m rooting for Transonic and Zero on this one. This issue, while filling in some gaps, isn’t much to write home about, mainly due to Seeley’s inconsistent art. Some panels are great, but the more he tries to draw these characters with a ’90s sensibility, the worse it is. Finally, I’ll just say that a slow moving giant robot coming to attack an island doesn’t seem very threatening to me. So there. –JJ
Ultimate Comics X-Men #1
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Paco Medina
When the first Ultimate X-Men by Mark Millar came out, I was not impressed. I got the first arc, and realized that this was not an updated retelling of the heroes I had loved, but something altogether different. I guess I was one of the few who didn’t like it because it stuck around for quite some time. So what brought me to picking up this new iteration? I have come to find that a good creative team can make all the difference. I have enjoyed most of what Nick Spencer has done, with the exception of his Secret Avengers issues, especially Morning Glories. Spencer does a good job of capturing the teenage voice, and since Brian K. Vaughn isn’t around doing Runaways anymore, Spencer’s doing a good job of filling that gap for me. So to have him write a new team of “alternate” X-Men, in a world where Xavier, Magneto, Cyclops, and Wolverine are dead? I’m almost sold. Add to the mix one of my favorite X-artists of the last few years, Paco Medina, and I’m definitely sold. Medina’s work on New X-Men, New Warriors, Deadpool, and X-Men has been incredible. So my expectations were high. How did this issue turn out? My expectations might not have been exceeded, but they weren’t disappointed. This is exactly what I wanted to see. Spencer has set up a solid status quo for this world of mutants. As opposed to the 616 universe, these mutants aren’t the next stage of evolution, they are created through science by the government. It makes sense, seeing as how pretty much everything in the Ultimate Universe is the result of some take on the Super-Soldier program. This concept has never really been done in an X-Men book, so it’s an interesting status quo. The opening scene shows exactly how dire the situation for new mutants manifesting powers, and honestly gave me the shivers. Spencer sets up two interesting groups of “X-Men,” one led by Karen Grant, aka Jean Grey, and the other led by Kitty Pryde. Having Iceman and Human Torch on the team, one under-utilized and the other dead in the regular Marvel Universe, just feels right. Toss in a younger “son-of-Wolverine,” and you’ve got the makings of a good team. Speaking of good teams, Spencer and Medina certainly qualify in my book. –JJ

Uncanny X-Men #543
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Greg Land
Once again, Land screws up a pretty decent story. Why is he drawing this book? ARRRGHH! Somehow, this issue just landed flat for me in many ways, most of which is due to Land. First, Emma tries to kill Hope as she’s under the influence of something. Namor stops her and they kiss again, which allows Gillen to amp up the love triangle forming between them and Cyclops. However, Land’s depictions of Emma and Namor are so distracting and over-postured that it’s hard to get any real emotion resonance here. Next Colossus and Juggernaut tussle, only this time Colossus IS Juggernaut and suddenly he’s the one who’s unstoppable. However, this doesn’t do much but send Cain back to the Serpent OFF-PANEL. WTF? Colossus ends up getting a lecture from Kitty about how stupid he is for becoming Juggernaut and she breaks up with him, for some stupid reason. To me, it made sense that he became Juggernaut and that Magik would have made a worse pick to be Cyttorak’s avatar. But somehow Kitty doesn’t get that he was trying to SAVE THE WORLD, so she dumps him. Finally, Cyclops proves to me that under the current X-Men status quo, he is no longer a hero, and in fact the X-Men are now the Brotherhood. He’s now more than a general, or the protector of his race, he’s a bully and displays it to Sadie Sinclair. With Cyclops as the new Magneto, Colossus as Juggernaut, Emma as Emma, it’s apparent to me that Gillen is turning the X-Men into a villain team. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I’m ready to see some classic X-Men do-gooding sometime soon. –JJ

X-Factor #225
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Leonard Kirk
Coming right off of last month’s successful .1 issue, Peter David continues the logical storytelling that only he seems to be able do to. First, there is a quick nod to what happened to Rictor in Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #6 in getting his powers back from the Scarlet Witch. It’s not a heavy-handed explanation, it didn’t have to tie-in with that book, and it didn’t overshadow the main story here. It just worked. I miss the days where caption boxes told you to go pick up another issue so you could see the full story, so it was nice to see David use that here. In addition to how well done that was, the story puts us back into an excellent X-Factor mystery. Whereas most of the .1 issues were throw-aways, Peter David actually used his to further the story he is telling. So this issue deals with setting up the mystery of the murder of the character of Sally, who we read about last issue. There are even some surprising horror moments here as the team investigates Sally’s dead body. There is also a mystery in the name of the culprit, who’s initials are B.B. Black Bolt? Bouncing Boy? Bobby Brown? Adding in a mystery like that keeps us guessing, which is always fun. Rahne and Terry have a moment to digest what’s been going on with Rahne and her baby, and David does a good job of illustrating how people relate to one another in times of crisis. Terry tries to say that the loss of her baby is like Rahne’s situation, which doesn’t really help Rahne at all because the two situations are not similar. Joining David on art is Leonard Kirk, who has collaborated with him before. Kirk has a style  that is reminiscent of John Byrne’s style from back in the day, and it’s a welcome addition to the book. His work is complementary to Emanuela Luppachino, so to have both of them swapping duties would be fine by me. This is a great second issue in the arc, and continues to pique my interest. By the way, has anyone noticed that David is more than 75 issues into this current run of X-Factor? Pretty awesome! –JJ

X-Men #18
Writer: Victor Gischler
Artist: Mirco Pierfederici
Make it stop. Please. This book is just awful. They couldn’t even keep the artist from last issue on here. The story is so prescriptive and dull, despite it being a team up between the X-Men and the FF. And it just continues to drag on and on. First off, no one cares about this dimension they’re in. It might as well be the Savage Land. Why isn’t it the Savage Land? These two races that are fighting are so cookie-cutter it’s not even funny. Reptilian overlords vs. big-brained rebels. Jocks vs. nerds. That’s all this is. And last issue’s cliffhanger was that Doom had betrayed them all. Sure, the one guy you think actually would betray the team he is somehow on would do so in the pages of this D-list X-Men book? Come on! Of course Doom is only pretending! The other thing about this issue is that it’s basically the last issue. Nothing really happens to further these characters. It’s long and superfluous. The art takes a huge nosedive making this book even worse if possible. I don’t think Gischler has much of a plan for this book, but when folks like Remender are taking real care to tell a good story with the X-Men, this book looks like Gischler’s not even trying. –JJ

X-Men: Schism #4
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Alan Davis
First, I want to just say that it’s so good to see Alan Davis on an X-Men book again. He really has done so well over the years and has only upped his game. The art in this issue is the best yet, and makes me wonder why they decided to chop up the duties like they did. Davis’ choreography of the Cyclops/Wolverine fight is just stunning. And while overall, this was the best issue of this event by far, with some damn cool moments, I have some fundamental problems with the two sides presented in this “schism.” First, let’s take Wolverine’s point-of-view. I’ve stated before that I’m not sure where this “no kids should have to fight” stance comes from, unless it comes from Aaron’s work over in the solo Wolverine book, where Logan just killed his own illegitimate children. That might be a good case for Logan’s change of attitude, but it’s never referenced here. In fact, there is no reference for why Wolverine feels this way, when he has been fighting alongside teenagers in the X-Men for over 30 years! I feel like Aaron could have at least written one exchange where Cyclops says, “But Logan, we’ve been training kids for this very thing for years, why are you saying this now?” to which Logan says, “Well, I’m feeling guilty about murdering my own children, and about getting X-23 involved in X-Force, and Jubilee, Kitty, and all the other sidekicks I’ve had over the years involved in this.” Instead, we’re just supposed to buy that Wolverine feels this way. Now let’s look at Cyclops’ side. For Cyclops, this is it. The last stand for mutantkind and whoever is left is gonna fight. First off, there are now more mutants being born. So this isn’t the end of mutants anymore. And over in Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, Wanda is making everyone a mutant again. So why is this so critical for Cyclops? And where are all the other mutants on Utopia? Sure, the X-Men are gone, but didn’t they provide refuge for all the other mutants? Why does it have to be these kids who fight? Why not let Magik out of the brig and let her go to town? Stupid reasoning on both parts. If they wanted a divisive issue to tear Cyclops and Wolverine apart, they should have let it rest on Jean Grey. In fact, the best moment of this issue is when Scott brings her up. If that had been the real hinge of this argument, rather than some stupid ideological mumbo-jumbo that doesn’t play to the X-Men ethos in any way, then I think Schism could really work. You’ve got a fantastic artist, a fantastic writer, even, but a horrible argument on both sides. –JJ
Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: There was a lot of good and a lot of bad books this week, but I think the one that was the most satisfying was Ultimate X-Men #1.
Astonishing X-Men #42
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Juan Bobillo
After what has seemed like an incredibly long and underwhelming story, “Meanwhile” finally wraps up. Too bad Kitty lost her bubble suit months ago! Once again, the X-Men fight the Brood, and no one is affected at all, despite almost the whole team getting infected. This is why I’ve never liked the Brood stories. It’s the same thing every time. One or more characters are infected, a fight ensues, until the one remaining character tells them to “fight” and then hooray, they’re all better. The only thing that was keeping this one interesting was the promise of this new Brood kid who actually has compassion. But what’s most troubling here is the morality of the X-Men which seems to have changed. While they have always freely killed the Brood, at this point the Brood is endangered, and they even made a point to distinguish that fact. However, that doesn’t really seem to matter, especially to Storm, who expresses her sentiments and fries them with a lightning bolt. On a better note, Juan Bobillo’s art really has grown on me. I especially like that he draws Kitty’s suit with a helmet that looks like an actual life-support suit than a crystal ball on her head. I’m hoping for a good change in direction in the coming issues, or this title, like X-Men, will be meaningless. –JJ

New Mutants #42
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Artist: David LaFuente
This must be the week of crappy X-books. This book just sucks. I’ve never been a fan of the New Mutants in Asgard anyway, but this one is just not doing it for me. Sure, I know they’re not in Asgard, but rather they’ve finally made it to Hel, by way of Hell and Mephisto, which, looking back, was the only enjoyable thing about last month’s issue. This issue is just a disaster, with no redeeming qualities. LaFuente’s art is an absolute cluster. It looks rushed, the characters are unappealing to look at, and Bobby still looks a Samoan dipped in gray paint. The dialogue is horrendous as well, as Abnett and Lanning try to hard to make these characters sound young. Dani’s cracking jokes to herself while being inside the stomach of some monster, which by the way, that stomach is cavernous! I found myself quickly skipping over the parts that tried to explain who the Damaur are. And I was unclear as to whether or not “Shark-Shoulder Man” was supposed to be a central baddy or just a background character. Not only is this crap a tie-in with Fear Itself, which makes me want to puke, but it’s not even furthering the story. Please give me back someone who can write these characters intelligibly and an artist who doesn’t suck. –JJ

Wolverine #16
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Goran Sudzuka
Wow. Aaron finally chokes. In quite possibly the best new direction Wolverine has gone in a long time, it ends way too quickly and with a big fat poop. Upon the long reveal that Wolverine had killed his children, I thought Aaron was going to give us a great story as to how he recovers. Instead, this story gets rushed due to the impending Schism stuff. You see, all it takes to get over killing your own children is to throw yourself off a mountain a few times, go live with some wolves, do something heroic, and have all your friends show up to say that you’re not actually a psycho murderer. This book has been so good, and to have the amount of cheese thrown in was a real disappointment. Sudzuka’s art was disappointing to me this time too, after a solid showing last month. First, Wolverine with a beard creates a lot of troubling continuity. Why hasn’t he grown one before? Why doesn’t his healing factor make his beard grow constantly? I always figured he couldn’t grow a beard. While this leads straight into Schism, it still leaves much to be desired. Aaron is much better with torturing his characters rather than giving them just sweet happy endings. –JJ

X-Men Legacy #256
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Steve Kurth
As I read this issue, I kept thinking, “Cool, Carey’s gonna wrap this one up quicker than I thought.” The tone of the book really felt like it was going to get Rogue and her team and the Starjammers back on Earth in no time. However, Carey decides to drag it out a little bit longer. This wasn’t a terrible issue, though. The X-Men are caught in a war that turns out to be controlled by one alien character who has a pretty sad backstory and an even sadder name. Rachel defeats the bad guy, and it really felt like a solid ending to the story. Instead, the way back home is going to be harder than expected, and so the team has a few more hurdles to jump. Steve Kurth’s art continues to be rather mediocre, but I can’t think of much to complain about. Overall, I’ll be glad to see this story conclude so we can get on with whatever is next in the life of Legacy. –JJ
Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: There wasn’t much that was “x-cellent,” so I’ll have to go with X-Men Legacy #256 because it was the least annoying.
X-Men #19

Writer: Victor Gischler
Artist: Jorge Molina
The crazy team-up between the X-Men and the FF finally wraps up in this issue. I’ve been pretty down on this story arc, mostly because it just doesn’t seem to matter in the midst of things like Schism and Children’s Crusade going on. Going into this issue, my expectations were extremely low, and I’m happy to say I was a bit more satisfied. First of all, Jorge Molina needs to be on a book that really matters. I can see his style getting much better in this issue, from his gorgeous cover to some awesome fight scenes. Magneto’s helmet seems to be floating a bit above his head, but other than than, Molina nails the art chores. His style looks a bit like Olivier Coipel’s here, which is a style I don’t mind seeing often. As for the story, Gischler gets some points just for cleaning everything up nicely, but that’s about it. Pixie and Lee Forrester fight some guards, which is puzzling since I didn’t know Lee was a gymnast. I guess she learned that in this dimension. Not only does she look exactly like Shanna the She-Devil, she now fights like her too. Magneto and Dr. Doom share a few good moments here, which is pretty fun. In the end, absolutely nothing changes. In fact, the whole reason the teams go on this adventure is to rescue Lee, and she ends up staying in the weird dimension. This will be yet another forgettable tale in the long list of forgettable tales, but so long as Jorge Molina goes on to do some more work, I think this book has no value whatsoever. –JJ

X-Men: Schism #5
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Adam Kubert
Oh boy. So much is wrong with this. First of all, Adam Kubert sure phoned this one in. His last work on Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine was pretty decent, but this just looks sloppy. Especially the fight between Cyclops and Wolverine. Speaking of that fight, let me go on record to say that if all mutant-kind is about to be obliterated by a giant Sentinel, Cyclops and Wolverine would not be fighting each other. I don’t care what the conflict between them is, there’s no way. Eventually, of course, they have to work together, and guess what? The X-Kids all save the day with NO casualties, making this threat the least threatening and undercutting both Wolverine and Cyclops’ arguments. What would have been more convincing is if the Sentinel had killed one of the students, yet the students winning, thereby Cyclops and Wolverine’s arguments holding some ground. Now, it just looks like Wolverine was wrong and that he’s a skeevy child molester taking kids to Westchester. Also, are we to believe that Emma was just sitting in a room trying to pull that slug off her face? And she does it OFF-PANEL??? That’s so lazy. Ultimately, this event has been the worst in recent memory. The first 3 issues built everything so slowly that the crux of the conflict ended up being anticlimactic. And this issue wraps things up so quickly that I don’t even have a chance to absorb everything. This last issue would have been better spent exploring why the various X-Men decide to stay with Cyclops or leave with Wolverine. I have to say I like the premise of splitting up the X-Men, but this was done poorly. –JJ
Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: Out of these two books, I have to give it to X-Men #19, but that’s not saying too much.
Jeff Jackson





  1. A new reviewer? Who could it be…who could it be…..?

  2. Jeff Jackson

    Are you singing a Men at Work song, ‘Speech?

  3. I completely agree with you on why Wolverine’s argument is faulty.
    However I completely disagree with on Scott. Scott is right in worrying about the future of mutantkind. There are still fewer than 200 mutants left and as far as I know mutants aren’t being born. Hope was born over a year and a half-ish year ago. How her Gen-Hope mutants got their power hasn’t fully been explained. They’re old enough to have been born pre-House of M, so they could have always been mutants in waiting. Or they could have received powers post Hope’s return. Same with that baby from Generation Hope. Basically what I’m saying is, there’s been no explanations as to how these kids are getting their powers.
    Plus, with the rate that mutants are attacked, which is almost every other day, and the re-emergence of the sentinels and the Hellfire club, a population growth of 6 every year and a half is hardly sustainable for an entire race.

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