Journalists

October 26, 2011
 

The Uncanny X-Piles LX

Hey, X-Fanatics! Jeff, Andy & Capekiller are back for more x-cellent reviews of last week’s X-Men books. It was a big week as the longest running title comes to a conclusion. What did the guys think? Read on!

Deadpool Max II #1
Writer: David Lapham
Artist: Kyle Baker

So here we are, incarnation number two of the” Merc with a Mouths’” explicit MAX title. “What happened to volume number one?” you might be asking yourself.  And just so you know, that would be an excellent question!  After just twelve issues, Deadpool MAX was rebooted as Deadpool MAX II.  Diehard Deadpool fans might be tempted to laugh this one off as just another in a long series of bizarre stunts in the Deadpool titles (see Deadpool #1000).  Problem is, when you look across the Marvel landscape and see some of the other reboots, it’s hard not to just lump this one in as another money making scheme.  But enough with the numbering, let’s look at the book!With the exception of issue number nine in the first volume, Lapham and Baker have been the only creative team on this book.  Lapham; the Eisner award winning writer known for his indy hit “Stray Bullets”, creates a very sordid feel in the Deadpool MAX books.  As a reader, it hard not to feel a little dirty with Lapham’s no holds bar approach to writing.  Match this grit with his characteristic peculiar subject matter and you have a dark and unsettling storyline which sits uncomfortably in your brain like Jell-O on a spoon.  Just when it seems clear where Lapham is going in the story, he pulls the rug out from under the reader, forcing them to scratch their head and revaluate. Deadpool continues on his wild adventure of searching out Hydra along with his sidekick Hydra Bob.  Like most of the issues in this series, Hydra Bob steals the spotlight from Deadpool.  Sure Deadpool kicks the most ass, but he is very one dimensional in comparison to Hydra Bob.  Is Bob truly a reformed Hydra agent, turned CIA spy turned world renowned terrorist (thanks to the blundering of Deadpool)?  Or is he actually the head of Hydra, leading Deadpool down the prim rose path?  If the reader focuses on this aspect of the storytelling, he/she is left with a very satisfying mystery that is layered with secret doors and impossible questions.  If I’m reading too deeply into the story line then Lapham can only be credited for creating a story that is plain weird!  I like to believe the former, and love the fact that Deadpool has inadvertently (crazy like a fox!) turned Hydra Bob into the most wanted terrorist on American soil!I have to admit though, that Baker’s art is starting to wear on me a little bit.  At first, I thought it was a nice fit to the gritty storytelling.  Now, I just find it distracting and ugly.  I’d love to see an artist like Stefano Caselli tackle the art on this book, just to give it a different feel for a while.  Baker’s style lacks structure and just feels tired to me.Unfortunately, I don’t think this series is going to have a very long shelf life.  Marvel misplayed the Deadpool wave that hit thanks to his role in Secret Invasion, and have done little to advance this character.  A MAX title is the perfect place for Deadpool, but it has to be meaningful.  Lapham and Baker’s run has been anything but. -CK

Fear Itself: Home Front  #7 (of 7)
Writers: Jason Aaron, Fred van Lente, Howard Chaykin, Brian Clevenger
Artists: Mike Mayhew, Alessandro Vitti, Howard Chaykin, Pablo Raimondi

Like all of the books in the seven issue mini-series, the final issue is broken into several shorter stories with various creative teams.  What started out as a not so bad idea, eventually amounted to a complete waste of time.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that Marvel really chowed their cards with this series.  Home Front was a cash grab, pure and simple! The first story concluded the Speedball story, which saw him helping the people of Stamford, Connecticut during the “Fear Itself” crisis.  Speedball wrestled with all of the demons of his past, trying to come to grips with his role as a hero.  Gage presented large portions of the story as cell phone texts, which I suppose was meant to be clever.  Ultimately, the people of Stamford recognized that there is nothing to fear, but fear itself….The second story followed the ad hoc super team of X-23, Spider-Girl, Amadeus Cho, Iron Fist II and Thunderstrike.  Supposedly the entire setting of the conflict in this story was manufactured by Cho to try a create the next big super team.  How this related to “Fear Itself” is beyond me!  There were some neat team dynamics, but ultimately the story was meaningless. My comic nemesis, Howard Chaykin played a role in this mini as well.  Simply to spite me, Chaykin both drew and scripted his one page stories.  Expect the same horrible Chaykin art to accompany another useless story in this series.  Chaykin follows the actions of JJ Jameson in this story.  And if you are anything like me, you don’t care what old JJ is doing during F.I. The final story shows the good people of Broxton, Oklahoma being heroes in their own right during the F.I. crisis.  Very heavy handed message that aggravated me because it made feel as though Clevinger wasn’t giving the reader any credit.   You don’t to tell me that people come together in a time of crisis.  We see it daily on the news.Unfortunately, I bought all seven of these issues hoping they would be like Front Line during Civil War.  Once again, shame on me….-CK

Ultimate Comics X-Men #2
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Paco Medina

This series is off to a good start, but the creative team still has a long way to go before this relaunch can be accepted as an original concept. The main villain(s) are the Purifiers, led by Stryker Jr. (who is half Sentinel) and strongly resembles infamous X-villain, Bastion. Sound familiar? I thought the whole point of this new Ultimate Universe post-Ultimatum was to present fresh, new stories without having to rehash what’s already been done in the 616 continuity. Well, that doesn’t appear to be the case here, but even so, it’s still an enjoyable issue. It’s nice to see Nick Spencer sticking with the dynamic between Iceman and Human Torch that was started by Brian Michael Bendis in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man. These two characters play great off of each other, and adding Kitty Pryde into the mix- in a strong leadership role, no less- is a cool move that will be interesting to watch develop down the line. Still, a major reason why I stopped reading Spencer’s acclaimed Morning Glories series is that it’s so shrouded in mystery and questions without answers, it just became unreadable. It looks like he runs the risk of doing the same thing here, with premonitions of God and the coming of a new grand figure in the mutant world. Things are feeling really dramatic early on. Paco Medina’s art is solid, as usual, and I hope he sticks around for awhile and not just the first six issues. If you’ve never read Ultimate X-Men before, this series will get your attention, but the jury’s still out. –AL


Uncanny X-Men #544
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Greg Land

So this is it! The “final” issue of Uncanny X-Men. A 40-year-run finally meets it’s conclusion….well, sort of. First of all, this is not the “final” issue of Uncanny. Next month, we’re gonna get issue #545, only it will be called #1. As much as Marvel is saying this is something new and different, it’s not. In fact, I’m going to put next month’s real issue number next to it just so we all remember where we are when issue #600 rolls around. And to prove how un-monumental this “final” issue is, they conclude it with Kieron Gillen, who, while doing a decent job on the book, is no Stan Lee, and Greg Land, who is the least deserving artist to get the art duties on such an definitive book. That said, this issue has a great concept, but fails miserably. The concept is this…have Mr. Sinister, who has always known more about the X-Men than they know about themselves, summarize the entirety of the 544 issues while also leading them into their next era. It even starts out really cool with the Kirby panels from the first issue, but with updated dialogue that informs us just how far these characters have come. But beyond that, this book just underwhelms on all levels. Scott continues to be a downer, and I’m wondering why we’re supposed to feel sympathetic to the guy. Sure, he “graduated,” but he graduated into a real asshole. Bobby gets some good face time here, while Hank pops in just to rub things into Scott’s face, which seems petty and not endearing. The ending seems dismal and bleak, and even Sinister remarks that the X-Men are over. But what is strange about this is that they’re not over. At all. In fact, there are a million X-Men books that prove otherwise. So what is Gillen going for here? It’s yet another ploy that Marvel does with the X-Men, whether they obliterate them, or reboot them, or whatever, and then feed us the same thing in the next iteration. I really wouldn’t mind a major shake-up, but this just seems like more of the same, only with a new #1 coming around the corner. So while I liked the concept of what Gillen was trying to do, I feel like it lacked all the intensity, the drama, and the finality of a good final issue. That, and Greg Land sucks. –JJ

Vengeance #4
Writer:
Joe Casey
Artist: Nick Dragotta

Give this book to any other writer, give this book to any other artist, and it won’t work. Joe Casey and Nick Dragotta are Vengeance and it’s flippin’ rad. There’s a lot happening, but the major players of our heroes, the new Teen Brigade, and villains, the Young Masters, are made up of individuals who have character. When someone speaks, you get the impression what they’re saying needs to be said, and by them. Their demeanor, posture, and overall swagger conveys attitude; this book of nobody’s is more interesting than those with most of the A-listers. This series is showing up in the X-Piles because former New X-Men (the Grant Morrison kind), Beak and Angel, are two of the leads. Casey handles them excellently, and is able to give them experience and composure earned only by being X-Men. There’s a cool Cable cameo too, and when Loki shows up, it’s refreshing to see the current continuity kid version. It’s obvious Casey’s done his research. Vengeance gives off strong NextWave vibes, but less silly and with it’s own original flare. There’s still humor, but like any great form of entertainment, it’s all in the delivery. -AL

Wolverine #17
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Ron Garney

This book marks the amazing start of a new journey for Logan.  As “Regenesis” emerges, Logan looks to leave San Francisco and start anew.  But before he can begin to rebuild the school in Westchester, he has a couple of loose ends he needs to tie up! The first order of business takes Logan back to Chinatown (SF), where he is known as the Black Dragon (leader of organized crime.)  After a long absence, Logan returns to find the district is in absolute disarray. Various gangs and other shady interest groups have all claimed stake in the historic region, leaving the residents and shop owners fearing for their lives. As the Black Dragon, it is Logan’s responsibility to get to the bottom of all this violence. Jason Aaron really does a magnificent job with this issue.  The quips throughout are highly entertaining, and Aaron has found Wolverine an unlikely team-up partner that has no end of possibilities.  I won’t spoil who it is, but just know that this character has a past almost as long as Logan’s and is at least twice as hairy!  The duo begin their adventure as any good team-up would, by fighting one another, and then quickly move on to discover that Chinatown has much, much bigger problems than some motely street gangs! Everything about this book is amazing.  The mood and environment fit Wolverine like a glove.  The art by Ron Garney is great to look at and really helps expand on the story.  And of course, Aaron’s dialogue is funny as hell. Buy this book and read this story.  It isn’t just the best read this week.  This is the best Wolverine story in a long time.  And if next week’s cover image is any indication, it looks as though my two favourite characters in the Marvel Universe are about to team-up!  First “nerdgasm” in quite some time! -CK

X-Factor #226
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Leonard Kirk

Every once in a while, it’s awesome when a writer brings back an obscure Marvel villain and makes them really cool. That’s exactly what Peter David does in this issue, penning the return of the Hangman, who is an old member of the Lethal Legion. David brings Hangman into the evolving mystery surrounding the mother and son that Madrox and company ran into in issue #224.1. All of this is to herald a new big bad by the name of Bloodbath. All the while he’s making Hangman awesome and smacking around the members of X-Factor, David continues to develop each character. He does so this time by putting the team into smaller groups, and exploring their relationships. Shatterstar and Rictor have some trouble due to Rictor’s power-up, Terry and Monet have a strange tiff about M being Muslim, which seems a little out of left field, and Madrox tries to check in with Wolfsbane and Guido, who have both undergone pretty sever trauma recently (if you classify death as trauma). All of this is just the normal awesome X-Factor goodness. Added to it are Leonard Kirk’s excellent pencils. He draws the quiet moments with emotion and the fight scenes with action and intensity. The fact that he draws much like John Byrne doesn’t hurt either. This book continues to please, and makes me wonder when someone is going to give Peter David an award for kicking ass on this book for so long. –JJ

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Capekiller: Wolverine #17 …classic Kung-Fu that is only matched in speed by Jason Aaron’s timely quips.  Revisiting the Chinatown storyline is genious and the unexpected visitor is perfect!
Jeff: With such great art and solid story, X-Factor #226 gets my top pick this week.
Andy: Uncanny X-Men #544. Sure, it’s not really the end, but if this schism sticks, like “No More Mutants” did, I’m wholly on board.

Jeff Jackson
jeff@comicattack.net

Capekiller
capekiller@comicattack.net

Andy Liegl
andy@comicattack.net

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