November 16, 2011

The Uncanny X-Piles LXIII

Hey there, lovers of X! We’re back with another round of X-Men reviews!

Magneto: Not a Hero #1
Writer: Skottie Young
Artist: Clay Mann

I’m a huge fan of Magneto. He’s one of my favorite all-time characters. So when I heard that not only was he getting another limited series, but that one of my favorite artists, Skottie Young, was writing it, I was ecstatic! I don’t think I’ve read any of Young’s other written works, so I was hoping that this wouldn’t be a flop. I’m happy to say that not only is Young a great artist, but he can write the crap out of a comic book too! This story takes place post-Schism, and Magneto appears to kill a ton of bigoted humans. However, things are not what they seem. The President gets all mad and calls Captain America and Iron Man to take care of Magneto once and for all. However, because Cap is such a nice guy, he goes to Cyclops directly to see what’s going on. I love anytime the Avengers and the X-Men are threatening to fight, so to see Cyclops and Magneto posture against Cap and Iron Man was a real treat. Young knows how to set up the tension, as Magneto plays both humorous and serious to Iron Man, with a  great shot of Magneto aiming a bunch of cars at Avengers mansion when Tony threatens him. Young also does some neat things here with Magneto that we’ve never seen before. He creates his own “Cerebra-like” device that allows him to scan the world’s electromagnetic waves. Magneto really steals the show in every scene that he’s in thanks to Young. Clay Mann, who drew Magneto in X-Men: Legacy, shows some real progress in his work, even since Age of X. His facial expressions and “acting” of the characters works really well, especially among the students left on Utopia. However, the real treat in this issue comes at the end, with a surprise character. As a big fan of Scott Lobdell and Joe Madureira’s run on Uncanny X-Men in the ’90s, I loved the introduction of Magneto’s clone, Joseph. Young takes a risk in bringing Joseph back, mainly because of the terribly convoluted stories that followed in the late ’90s when they ended up getting rid of Joseph. Despite some risks, this issue really paid off, and is a great book to pick up before it gets further into the story. –JJ

New Avengers #18
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato

Since its inception, New Avengers has always been one of my favourite books. I’ve always loved the outlaw feel of the team. To me, it is what the Avengers should be. Not the Thors, Wondermen and Captain Americas of the world. This is a team thrown together by destiny. Maybe they aren’t Earth’s Mightiest Heroes on paper, but they sure look like they are through their actions! Currently, the main New Avengers title is focusing on the escape of criminal mastermind Norman Osborn. Apparently, Osborn had quite the following during his time in charge as director of H.A.M.M.E.R. (S.H.I.E.L.D.’s replacement.) And as it turns out, some of these admirers were pretty heavy hitters in the Marvel underworld. This makes for a pretty interesting backstory, as we are witness to the birth of a new version of the Dark Avengers. Bendis seems to have taken some of the online criticism that was popping up about the demise of his writing style (i.e. too many interviews, and too quippy.) His recent stories, this one notwithstanding, have demonstrated a departure from his past styles which were beginning to earn him some notoriety within the comic reading community. This issue is a good example of the writing style that endeared Bendis to reader’s hearts so many years ago. The flow is very natural and the dialogue is authentic. When Bendis is on, he can give characters voice better than any other writer in the business. The collection of evil superheroes to fill the roles of past, famous Avengers is interesting, and Bendis almost pulls it off flawlessly. Sure the concept isn’t new, but many of the villains he recruits are. And not only are they new, but they are interesting. The kink lies in the fact that this idea wasn’t very successful the first time around with Dark Avengers. Can it be better this time around? I’d almost be tempted to say yes if it weren’t for the use of two particular characters: Gorgon and Skaar. For those of you unfamiliar, Gorgon is a long-time nemesis of Wolverine and mutant himself. In my opinion, he is a very cool character who doesn’t need any tweaking. Seeing Bendis wrap him up in a Wolverine costume is really unbelievable. Gorgon is way too proud to lower himself to this ruse. I don’t believe it for a second! Why not use Gorgon on the team as Gorgon? Second is Skaar. It is not as though I don’t believe he would join the team. After all, what do I know, I don’t own a single Skaar appearance. I do find it fishy how easy it was to convince Skaar to join the Dark Avengers. Osborn simply shows up in the Savage Land and asks Skaar to leave. Without a word, Skaar leaves…..Really? Mike Deodato’s art is glorious all issue long. His gritty lines and attention to detail are magnificent. It is clear to me that this guy has talent that few in the industry do and I hope to see him on many more issues of this book. There’s no denying that it is going to be interesting watching this new team wreak havoc. I’m especially interested in following Skaar’s role. I don’t think it will be any more successful that the first time around though, because the head honcho’s at Marvel seem to have lost touch with what a good super villain team looks like. Here’s hoping they prove me wrong! –CK

Uncanny X-Force #17
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Jerome Opena

The post Age of Apocalypse tale continues in this series, which many Marvel enthusiasts believe to the best thing Marvel currently has going. Personally, I’m not sure I would go that far, but one thing is certain, this story arc has been a lot of fun! Like the issues that have proceeded it, this issue gives witness to the rise of Archangel as the new heir to Apocalypse. Likewise, there seems to be little that the rag tag group of X-Force can do to stop Archangel and his gang of Horsemen. That is, until Wolverine receives a little help from some of his alternative reality counterparts. Rick Remender continues to strike gold with this series and the way he has been tying it to the cult favourite, Age of Apocalypse. While Marvel has been struggling to retcon mistakes or resurrect dead characters with heavy handed plots and complete disregard for sensibility of late (see Brand New Day), Remender manages to repair past injustices through solid storytelling and a genuine respect for comic book history. Do you miss Nightcrawler? Not to worry. Given up on Iceman as an Omega powered mutant? Remender fixes that. I just hope that Remender’s changes have some lasting effects on the X-Universe. There are many, many great opportunities with the re-introduction of these Age of Apocalypse characters! Opena’s art has a real painterly look to it, which ultimately gives the book very professional feel. Opena even goes to far as to show some pretty skilled diversity in his work, by being able to switch styles part way through the book to help explain some scenes inside Psylocke’s head. I have a few gripes, which are mild in comparison to the gripes I have for several other Marvel books. The first being Fantomex’s overuse of his misdirection power. At first it was cool, but it has been used so much recently that it just becomes predictable. Trust me when I say however, there are far more positives to negatives when it comes to this book. Here’s to hoping that the changes from AoA Uncanny X-Force are permanent. –CK

Wolverine #18
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Ron Garney

The kung-fu madness continues in this latest installment of Wolverine. Only difference now is that the action has moved deep beneath Chinatown. That, and some all-time great kung-fu legends have joined the fray! I guess it’s not really a spoiler to say the legendary Immortal Weapon, Fat Cobra joins the action in the book considering he is featured on the cover (complements of Ron Garney and Jason Keith.) The big man makes a perfect complement to Wolverine. In fact, Gorilla-Man tops off the threesome, and as ridiculous as it sounds, Aaron pulls it off well. All three bicker and quip at each other all issue long and it feels completely natural. I am sure that if this book were a documentary and these three individuals were battling through secret underground tunnels beneath Chinatown, this is exactly what the conversation would sound like. Fat Cobra is hilarious with his insistence on telling Wolverine he can drink him under the table. Likewise, the Immortal Weapon of Peng Lai Island’s obsession with food is a great counter to the surly Wolverine and suspicious Gorilla-Man. The three journey from one messy situation to the next until finally, they find themselves in the belly of the dragon…literally! The best way to describe this book is fun. The kind of fun that comics need these days. With a straight forward plot and interesting characters, you can’t go wrong. I’m really glad Aaron took Wolverine in this direction. I’ve never minded his solo adventures that seem to conflict with the continuity of his other books. In my humble opinion, it is what comic books should be about. Garney’s artwork is nice in the book, but isn’t completely flattered by the colouring of Jason Keith. Garney’s lines are detailed and true, whereas Keith’s colours are primary and too vibrant. Personally, the two styles seem to be a little bit at odds with each other in this book. I’m not looking forward to this series ending simply because of the awesome team-up! It will be interesting to see what direction Aaron takes our favourite Canadian mutant once he and his band of misfits cleans up the underground heroin trade! –CK

X-Men: Legacy #258
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Steve Kurth

I’m glad that’s over. This has not been a high point of Mike Carey’s departure on this book. This whole story has felt completely unnecessary and drawn out, and the only point seems to be to bring back Havok, Polaris, and Rachel. At least Carey did that much, but seriously, space adventures are not my favorite in the X-Men, so I really found myself bored with this altogether. I do think the villain of Friendless is a good one, but Steve Kurth’s art does nothing to make this alien look like any kind of threat. At the core of this issue, it’s really Steve Kurth who drops the ball. There is little dynamism to his panels. The characters look frumpy and just stand around like teenagers outside of a gas station. And don’t get me started on Magneto’s helmet! Carey then goes out of his way to make the dialogue of the story complex and cumbersome. In the end, I just felt like this story didn’t go anywhere. In fact, this review is going to be so short, because there’s just not much to this issue even to write about. While I’m happy that the team is back, we all know that this story takes place pre-Schism, and so any dramatic tension was completely lost. I’m looking forward to seeing a new direction for this book and am hoping it will be a good one. –JJ

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: I wanted to give it to Magneto, but I would be lying if I said that Uncanny X-Force #17 didn’t fire on all cylinders for me.
Capekiller:  Uncanny X-Force #17 – This book just keeps steamrolling the competition!





  1. I’m not understanding why people were complaining about how Bendis was doing the interviews or the “talking head” panels. The guy has a knack for getting inside a character’s head and making them a bit more believable/relateable/likeable. Hell, he made me give Wonder Man a thumbs up for a brief moment. Compared to most of the useless crap we get in some Marvel books it’s a bit refreshing to see some depth while still maintaining the fun factor in the title.

  2. capekiller

    I’m not saying I minded the interviews. It just seemed that Bendis was leaning on them a little too much.

  3. SpidermanGeek

    Hmm… it’s curious about Skaar on New Avengers. I should really check out King of The Savage Land as it is basically the only Skaar appearance I do NOT own, but it seems like a lot has happened to the character in that mini.

    What people need to keep in mind is that Skaar is essentially a 15 year old. I don’t know if the gap in personality between Gamma Skaar (Hulk-ish) and Old Strong Skaar (Grey boy) is as wide as it is between Hulk and Banner (especially now), but I could see Skaar being somewhat gullible (almost the same way Noh-Varr was when he was on Dark Avengers).

    I should check out this issue though.. I’m a sucker for Skaar appearances.

  4. Skaar has grown up a bit since the events with his father and being in the Savage Land for a bit. Though I do agree his joining was a bit sudden I figured it was just that he was ignorant to who Osborn is and what he’s done. Either way Norman has some major power on this team especiall;y since now that Skaar is out of the Savage Land he’ll have access to his Old Power again.

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