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November 7, 2011
 

The Uncanny X-Piles LXII

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Written by: Jeff
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Hey there, X-fans! We’re back, with another look at the new Regenesis. After reading Uncanny X-Men #1, in rebellion, Jeff refuses to call it #1, so he’s added the original numbering beside it. When the original numbering comes back (and believe me, it will!), you can all hear him proclaim “I told you so!”

Avengers Academy #21
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Sean Chen

As the cover states, this is the first issue of a “New Era” for the junior Avengers.  And what a great cover it was!  Rodin Esquejo; of Morning Glories and recently, Generation Hope cover fame, creates a more formal feel with his air brushed and posed cover.  He even throws in a hint of West Coast flavour by adding some palm trees in the background. A very pleasing way to hint at both the change in membership and the change in environment. I have found this book hit and miss over the past year.  Every time I feel like the creative team is getting somewhere with the characters, it seems like the rug is pulled out and some lame story arc is introduced.  If this inaugural issue of the West Coast version of this team is any indicator though, Gage might be on to something. Right off the bat though, I have to confess.  I am and always have been a sucker for school based team books.  I loved New Mutants growing up.  I thought New X-Men was next to perfection and I thought the first year of Avengers Initiative was amazing.  So it is pretty clear to me that if you want my high praise you need to include dormitories and a lot of teen drama to get me hooked.  Okay wait, that probably came out all wrong.  In all seriousness though, I really do enjoy seeing these young super powered people in a learning environment.  I’m not sure why.  I think it just makes everything more real and that much easier to relate to.  “What does any of this have to do with Academy?” you might ask. Hank Pym decided to move the Academy team out to the west, using the old West Coast Avengers facilities to house the students.  In a quest to help more super powered youngsters though, Pym opened the doors to the new Academy to any youth who are super powered and want to be trained.  This of course creates all kinds of tension for the original Academy members, who really don’t need any more stress in their lives at this point.  Like most red blooded teenagers, the Academy folks read too deeply into the appearance of Captain America, Luke Cage and Hawkeye.  The end result is a big fight.  Cage gets cold cocked by Mettle and Hazmat starts nuking Avenger legends left, right and centre.  Once the dust settles and cooler heads prevail, Captain America introduces the two newest members: Lightspeed (of Power Pack fame) and White Tiger (the third incarnation I believe….).  Just when everything seems to be settling down there is an emergency.  Let’s just say that the Academy kids are going to revisit a storyline from the past and we will be testing out what happens when a future reality crosses paths with the present reality. So, on our roller coaster that is Avengers Academy, this issue was pretty good. Long-time followers will be able to enjoy some of the finer nuances, and new readers will have a great jumping on point. –CK

Daken: Dark Wolverine #16
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Matteo Buffagni

What I had initially thought would be just a typical story arc without any real lasting effects has turned into a full on test for the character of Daken. Since setting up shop in Los Angeles on a mission to become the head crime lord there, Daken has been addicted to the drug “Heat.” It’s the only substance his system can’t handle, and it gives him a high like no other. Problem is, the drug cancels out his healing factor (which is why it gets him high), and that leads to some big problems for Daken. Rob Williams seamlessly incorporates Moon Knight in this story, since he’s also based out of L.A. Other than wanting to see him a little crazier at times, his appearance in this book feels natural and in line with current Marvel continuity. Earlier, my major criticism of Matteo Buffagni’s art was that this series takes place in L.A., a location as eccentric as its population, but you couldn’t really tell that from the art. He gets better here, especially with his depiction of Catalina Island, but utilizing a few more location shots would serve the story well. I love his panel where Daken pops his claws, and due to a lack of healing factor, is gushing blood all over the place. So bad ass. He also captures Daken’s rabid expressions very well. So far this has been a great run of Daken, and one I’d recommend readers to check out if they’ve ever been interested in the character. He’s usually been portrayed as this infallible manipulator, but here the roles are reversed and that has taken Daken out of his element. Also, this new villain looks like a serious heavy hitter who will cause many problems to come for our anti-“hero.” -AL

New Mutants #33
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Artist: David Lopez

Sigh. What is wrong with New Mutants? Why can’t I enjoy it? It has a bunch of elements that I should really enjoy. Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning are good writers. They made Marvel Cosmic stories awesome again. However, that magic just doesn’t exist here. It’s not translating to mutants. I also enjoy Nate Grey. I collected the entire X-Man series, but he just doesn’t fit here. If anything, they are connecting him to Hope more than any of the New Mutants, so why don’t they just put him on Generation Hope? The other New Mutants aren’t holding my attention at all. The Dani and Sam love angle was working for me, but now they’re both on different sides of the schism. Warlock and Cypher continue to disappoint. Their connection isn’t humorous, nor does it point to any real development in their characters. In fact, they have a whole conversation in binary code, which excludes the reader from caring about their relationship at all. Amara and Roberto seem to have some interesting directions, but this issue doesn’t deal with any of them. Overall, this cast seems disconnected from one another and from the reader. In this issue, Dani decides the team needs to live in San Francisco. There is no good explanation for it. It has nothing to do with their mission statement of tying up the loose ends of the X-Men. It doesn’t fit with Cyclops’ insistence on mutants staying on Utopia. The whole thing just lacks a cohesive connecting thread. This issue is drawn by David Lopez, who doesn’t add much to the look of the book. After LaFuente’s work on the last few issues, I was really looking forward to something good, but Lopez instead decides to draw Doug like he’s anorexic, Warlock like he’s a goofy cartoon (and not in a good way), and regarding people in the background, he refrains from drawing their faces altogether. The other troubling scene is where Dani explains to Cyclops that they want to live in San Francisco. It has no dialogue, so the art has to carry the story, which it fails at. This was a point that really needed dialogue, and both the writers and artist failed completely. This is quickly becoming my least favorite X-Men book, and it doesn’t look like there’s much to look forward to since this was the start of the new Regenesis status quo. –JJ

Uncanny X-Men #1 (aka #545)
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Carlos Pacheco

So, here we go.  As a long time X-Men follower and a die-hard fan, I of course had a tough time swallowing the reboot of Uncanny X-Men.   A lot of friends who know of my affinity for all things “X” have e-mailed me already to see how I felt about a re-launch of what I consider to be the flagship of the Marvel Universe.   And to them I will say, “It was aight…”
Writer Kieron Gillen had an incredibly tough order to fill with this re-launch.  So right off the bat, I have to give him credit for not just throwing his hands up and running out of the room screaming.  I’m sure that he was excited by this opportunity, but it had to be a little nerve racking as well considering the long history of this storied franchise.
Gillen did a nice job of integrating the old (i.e. Dreaming Celestial) with the new.  This attention to detail did not go unnoticed.  A couple of his choices had me scratching my head; like naming the main team the Extinction Team, but I think it is too early to judge minor details like these.  Like Wolverine and the X-Men, this book had a nostalgic feel to it which is a welcome change to the unfocused feel over the recent months.  Gillen deserves the credit for this.  In one issue, he was able to skip around Utopia and give any level of reader a good idea of what is happening in Cyclops’ new X-world.
Carlos Pacheco was saddled with the penciling duties on this book, and he did a fine job.  His panels were clear and informative and he proves that there is no element of the craft (i.e. backgrounds, faces, feet…) that he fears.  Despite being conservative in nature, Pacheco’s lines don’t only match Gillen’s story, they tend to further it. Cyclops has made his mandate crystal clear.  The X-Men are the world’s most premier heroes, and are to be both feared and respected!  He goes so far as to say that the X-Men have, “…always been Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.”  I loved this line, because it brought back many a conversation I have had with fellow comic enthusiasts about how much tougher the X-Men are than the Avengers!  Cyclops’ approach to managing his group of mutants is very black and white.  He breaks all of his people into seven different teams.  Each team has a very specific purpose.  For example, the Security Team is made up of Psylocke, Domino, Warpath and Jubilee. This book was a good start for the new again/old again series.  I’m almost even convinced that it was okay to renumber my favourite book of all time.  Deep down though, I can’t help but despise Uncanny X-Men.  As a Wolverine homer, through and through, it almost feels as though it is my job to hate Cyclops’ team.  And in this sense, the creative team is very successful. Just like Wolverine and the X-Men, this issue has some cool added features at the end. Cyclops’ “Letter to Humanity” for instance is a nice touch.  So for me, it is something like a race from here on out between Wolverine’s team and Cyclops’.  I for one am excited because it looks as though everything is going to work out exactly like I hoped.  One militant team that borders on being the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and one student based team that is a lot like my beloved New X-Men (*tear for the cancelled series….).  The winner of this race of course, can only be the readers! –CK

X-23 #16
Writer: Marjorie Liu
Artist: Phil Noto

Things have gotten cosmic in X-23, and I’m sure lots of new readers to this series didn’t really see it coming. X is a street level character, yet here she’s infused with the power of a star, once again taking on the identity of Captain Universe. Marjorie Liu taps into Laura’s history here, and hints at much grander things to come with Laura and her cosmic abilities. That’s a crazy thought- X-23 joining the Annihilators or Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s not in the near future, that’s for sure, but when the cosmic power leaves X, it’s pretty clear it shall return to her one day. That door is being left wide open, and while Liu handles it quite well, tapping into plot elements she had set up since issue #1, personally I would have liked to see the cosmic story thread come to a close. The inclusion of the FF in this arc was smoothly done, and is nicely setting up the next issue where X is given a choice to join Wolverine (at the Jean Grey School?) or stay with the FF to live the life of a “normal” teenager. Right, because that happens at the Baxter Building. Regardless, it’s a turning point for her character, and as I’ve pointed out since the debut issue of this title, Liu is truly developing Laura and has completely won my trust in the decisions she makes with her. Phil Noto’s art is wonderful. His simple, yet full style beautifully translates Liu’s words in every panel. From expression, to a sense of space, to the renderings of each character’s face, Noto nails it. Hopefully he sticks around for at least one more story arc. -AL

X-Men #20
Writer: Victor Gischler
Artist: Will Conrad

It’s been no secret that I have not been a fan of Gischler’s work on this book in a while. While I enjoyed Curse of the Mutants, beyond that, this title has been a sad attempt at a Marvel Team-Up book starring the X-Men. The problems have been related to inconsistent art, and forced stories that pull the teams into meaningless capers which have no bearing on the characters. And speaking of characters, this book has largely been yet another book with Cyclops, Emma, and Wolverine, with a smattering of other X-Men thrown in. So I had little hope in Regenesis doing anything to make this book special. I was completely wrong. Everything I have disliked about this book up to this point has changed starting with this issue. First of all, Gischler does a good job of tying this into a plot thread started in Schism. Several countries now have Sentinel technology at their disposal, so there are Sentinels being sold all over the world. Thanks to Domino, the team gets caught up in a government scheme to smuggle Sentinels into a border country between Latveria and Symkeria. The story not only provides some much needed intrigue, but it connects to the ongoing story that’s going on as a result of Schism. In addition, Gischler has assembled a great team of X-Men for this adventure: Storm, Colossus, Warpath, Jubilee, Psylocke, and the aforementioned Domino. But the X-Men team-up continues, this time with War Machine, or Iron Man 2.0, who stands in the way of the X-Men attempting to start a national incident. There is the obligatory fight that takes place before the team-up, but that’s to be expected. But the real treat here is the incredibly solid art of Will Conrad. His work really matches the tone of the story Gischler is trying to tell. Whereas in that horrible .1 issue they did a few months back, which had Conrad drawing mystical beings and Ghost Rider, Conrad’s realistic style fits here in a story that includes some political intrigue. One thing that Regenesis is bringing back to the X-books is a focus on individual teams, and this book really seems to benefit from focusing on some different X-characters. This is a great jumping-on point, so if you like these X-Men, then pick this up! –JJ

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Capekiller: Uncanny X-Men #1 – Not a bad start to this reboot.  Really though, it is just because my other books weren’t that good….
Jeff
: I’m liking the direction X-Men #20 is going…
Andy: X-Men #20 solely because the previous few issues were horrendous and this one wasn’t. Plus, Will Conrad’s art is amazing.

Capekiller@comicattack.net
Jeff@comicattack.net
Andy@comicattack.net

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