October 21, 2011

The Uncanny X-Piles LIX

Welcome back, true believers! The X-Piles are back and we’ve added a new team member! Please give a warm welcome to Capekiller who is joining us in reviewing the last week’s X-books. Welcome to the X-Piles, Capekiller, hope you survive the experience!

Alpha Flight #5 (of 8)
Writers: Fred Van Lente & Greg Pak
Artist: Dale Eaglesham

Despite acquiring two high profile names to write Alpha Flight (Fred van Lente and Greg Pak), the story still feels a little awkward. Like many of the Fear Itself mini’s, this story arc has had nothing to do with Fear Itself. In fact, this is the first issue where the subtitle, “Fear Itself” has actually been dropped from the cover altogether! Dale Eaglesham’s art is solid, but goes unnoticed thanks to the utterly meaningless story. Alpha Flight versus the Canadian government and some classic Canadian villain named Master of the World! Sound cheesy? That’s because it is! The Canadiana referenced is so heavy handed it is pathetic (ie. “—lead us to Lake Ontario.” This is like saying, “Today we are picnicking at the Pacific Ocean.”). I’m probably a little too close to the subject matter, but I just can’t past how corny this series is! –CK


Generation Hope #12
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Steven Sanders

Gillen and Sanders team-up again from their run on SWORD, but something feels really off. I wasn’t the biggest fan of that book to begin with, and it mostly had to do with Sanders’ art. I just don’t like it. And here it looks even worse. Perhaps it was the inker’s work on the pencils, but it just doesn’t look good. For instance, Rockslide looks identical to Rob Liefeld’s Badrock with those god-awful shoulder pads. But that’s not the only thing that doesn’t really work well in this book. The most glaring is the inclusion of a random scene from Regenesis, that was difficult to make sense of to begin with. Gillen gave a brief editorial comment on the book on the intro page, but that only highlighted the fact that it didn’t fit here. In the scene, Laurie pulls a gun on Hope, which seems extreme. Hope doesn’t even seem to notice the gun is there and ends up explaining to Laurie that she’s confused about her role as “messiah.” It awkwardly ends with Laurie collapsing to the floor and telling Hope how strong and together she is. This scene was weird in Regenesis and it’s inclusion here made it even worse. At least they could have had Sanders draw the same scene from a different point-of-view. The inclusion made it seem out-of-place and extremely lazy. The only thing in this issue that has a bit of promise is the introduction to Pixie on the team. This group of wannabes has needed a character to inject some spice and familiarity, and hopefully, Pixie will serve in this role. Gillen is actually leaving the book, which might be a good change of pace. I’m ready to see how James Asmus will deal with this floundering title in the new status quo. I do love Rodin Esquejo’s cover, though, and wish he did interior work on this book too! –JJ

New Avengers #17
Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato

This book is not regularly covered in the X-Piles, but that’s probably because the mutant on the team usually plays the smallest role in the book. In my mind it is clear that Bendis originally placed Wolverine on the New Avengers team and continues to keep him there for sales purposes only. The toughest character in the Marvel U. can usually be found throwing out one quip per issue while resting with his feet up somewhere. This issue is a bit of an exception to that rule. Don’t get me wrong though, Wolverine basically just runs around stabbing stuff in issue #17, but there appears to be a bigger role for him to fill in upcoming issues based on the events here. While trying to recapture the recently escaped Norman Osborn, the New Avengers come face to face with a giant AIM robot. Some pretty cool fighting ensues, yadda, yadda, yadda, and then something cool happens. Through remote access, the machine steals and blood sample from our furry Canadian friend and rockets away. This is obviously a sign of future story lines to come. With Bendis the question is, will they come next, or will they come next year? The art was indicative of Mike Deodato’s trademark style. Lots of contrast between heavy black lines and very light highlights. Some may enjoy the hard line, cartoony style, but I find it heavy handed and distracting. Ultimately though, this was a good read. Bendis has kept the new Avengers train trucking along nicely. –CK

Uncanny X-Force #16
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Jerome Opena

Remender knows exactly how to take characters and put them through the wringer. Not only is Archangel 10 times worse than Apocalypse ever was, but he and his cronies have got X-Force on the ropes. Last issue, it looked like Fantomex, Deadpool, and Deathlok were going to get the upper hand. Even in this issue, Wolverine makes a triumphant return to help his team out. However, just when we think they are going to kick ass and take names, Remender pulls the rug out from under us. And that’s why this book is so damn good. By the end of this, Deadpool has been frozen and smashed to bits by the uber-evil Iceman from the AoA. I’m not sure why Iceman has taken such a heel-turn here. Sure, he was never the happy-go-lucky Bobby Drake of the 616, but having him join Archangel’s crew seems a bit quick. He is, however, very badass, and makes those of us who want the 616 version to use his powers in that way very happy. Fantomex has a crisis of conscience and is quickly becoming the most interesting character in this book. It’s interesting how when Wolverine was injured, Fantomex willingly took the reigns of leadership, but once Logan showed up again, he falls back. I wonder if Remender is consciously creating this dynamic. Psylocke is also in a very bad place, and it’s looking like she’s the next in line to hold the title of “Death.” As always, there are fantastic action sequences, like when Logan “disarms” Famine, or when Archangel kills a pretty significant character. Opena continues to show us how good an X-Men book can look and sets the bar extremely high. While mediocre artists are doing the high-profile X-events, Opena is making things happen. This book really feels important, like a “saga” should, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. –JJ

X-Men Legacy #257
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Khoi Pham

Believe it or not, this story has grown on me! What started out as a bizarre, completely irrelevant cosmic story, now has me interested. Four issues into the story arc, writer Mike Carey has me thinking that he knows what he is doing! I was wrong to think that this is just some random story plopped in the middle of big events as filler. If this is executed properly, this cosmic story will help to offer a more layered complexity to the Regenesis storyline. As for the space pirates and alien race known as the Grad Nan Holt…well okay, they could be interesting new additions to the legendary X-cosmic cannon. I came to this decision after finding myself in an unfamiliar position at the end of the story. I was curious to see what happens next. It’s been a while since I have felt this way at the end of the Legacy book! Khoi Pham’s art is pretty bland, and he seems to struggle any time the panel shot pulls back. Despite this, I have to admit, I am intrigued to find out what happens to this zany group of space mutants next! –CK

X-Men: Regenesis #1
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Billy Tan

It’s rather disheartening when the really big events lack the sparkle that books like Uncanny X-Force and Avengers: The Children’s Crusade deliver on a monthly basis. This one-shot, while taking the next logical step post-Schism, is rather hit or miss. The miss is mostly due to the awkward art of Billy Tan. It’s really a shame that they get a second-tier artist to take on this turning point in the X-Men universe, while the big guns like Opena are elsewhere. Imagine if this book had been drawn by Alan Davis, Terry Dodson, or Paco Medina! Instead, we’re forced to look at Tan’s emotionless faces, unflattering poses, and strange panels. Why can’t Tan draw Cyclops’ visor? The only thing that Tan succeeds with is the panels where Cyclops and Wolverine fight as barbarians over the X-Men, which happens to be a strange choice for Gillen. I don’t really think the metaphorical fight taking place enhanced the overall story. What’s always more fun is to watch where the chips fall. There are plenty of great moments and reasons for the characters to choose where to go. Iceman’s recruitment by Wolverine is the best, simply because it nods to the fact that Iceman has been underutilized over the course of his history with the X-Men. Psylocke’s new role as a team leader for the X-Men’s spies is equally fun, especially with her playing both sides as a member of X-Force. I’m unclear as to why Kitty is going to Westchester, other than her tie to Wolverine, but splitting her from Colossus is a good move. Having Beast back in an X-book will be fun, and having him at the school makes great sense. Rogue and Magneto’s interchange was strange. The scene with Lorna and Alex is a good segue to their inclusion on X-Factor, but it spoils a bit of what Carey is doing in Legacy. Like I said above, the scene with Hope and Laurie was bizarre. I really liked the scene with Dani and Sam, and am so glad he and Paige are going to New York. Sam with Iceman and Rogue is something I really want to see a return to. The rest of the X-Men’s decisions are done well and make a lot of sense. My only real beef is with Storm. She has long been cast into the background of all the books, and a move to Wolverine’s squad made the best sense. But to have Scott practically beg to have her on his team was completely out-of-character. Finally, I liked the tease of Emma going back to the school, and I hope that her sensibilities will create some tension as the new school opens. Mostly, this book was a lot of fun, but without superb art, big moments like these are going to continue to knock the wind out of the X-Men. –JJ

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
CapekillerUncanny X-Force #16 was easily the best read this week.  Seamless storytelling, that mixes tradition with innovation.  And art that just makes the comic fun to look at.  I can’t say enough good things about this book!
Jeff: It’s starting to become habit, but nothing touches Uncanny X-Force #16 when it comes out.

Jeff Jackson




  1. Capekiller

    And what was with the Martha and Quire inclusions in Regenisis? Do we really need to see what they were doing?

  2. Yeah, that was weird. Especially since Martha doesn’t talk. The Quire thing has some resonance since it looks like he’s going to be a regular in Wolverine & the X-Men.

    I disagree with you on Legacy, man. That crap is BOR-ING. And completely pointless now that we know they all make it back to earth safe and sound.

  3. Capekiller

    Is there ever really any doubt that anyone is not going to make it back “safe and sound”? The continuity breakdown is disconserting though. I just like the idea of new villains. And I am not really buying Havok and Polaris as X-Factor. Neither would make good detectives and both are way too powerful for that muppet show!

  4. You guys weren’t interested in what the brain and the uninteresting punk kid mutant were doing?

    • Capekiller

      The panel martha was in was completely irrelevant. Maybe that’s why I was angry. I was scannig the panel looking for clues as to which side she was going to take, reading into every book cover on her desk. Turns out, it menat nothing. I just don’t understand why they include stuff like that. Unless it is pointless violence, keep it out of the story!

  5. SpidermanGeek

    I agree with CK on Alpha Flight. I’m a huge fan and supporter of Pak and Van Lente. I’m also an extremely proud Canadian and I have always loved the simplistic costume design of Guardian (and Vindicator). It’s like a really well done version of the Captain Canuck costume. Being French Canadian myself, I think Northstar is also a very underrated and underappreciated character considering his place in comic book history. With all of that said, the “Canadiana” truly is slathered on pretty damn thick ad nauseum. It’s too bad, because I soooo wanted to like this title and see it do well.

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