Journalists

November 23, 2011
 

The Uncanny X-Piles LXIV

Avengers Academy #22
Writers: Christos Gage
Artist: Sean Chen

It was pretty tough to not include this book in the X-Piles when it featured the X-Men versus Avengers Academy. Not to mention the internal struggle depicted among members of the Academy who are mutants once the fight broke out. So, here it goes: Trying to figure out who is responsible for the death of his robotic girlfriend Jocosta, Hank Pym calls in the expert on electro magnetism, Magneto. To help improve their public image, Cyclops decided to bring an entire team out and contacted the press to try and generate positive PR. Well, with Quicksilver and Magneto involved, it didn’t take long for this PR mission to devolve into a full scale brawl. Unfortunately, when all was said and done, Pym was no closer to finding Jocosta’s murderer than when he started. Gage crafts a tight story which makes sense and flows nicely. I’m not really sure of his motive with this book though. Highlighting internal struggles maybe? Regardless, it feels as though the creative team is having a tough time keeping up with the rushed schedule of this book. Hopefully we don’t see too many more filler issues like this one. In terms of art, I’m not a big fan of Sean Chen’s work. It has an 80’s minimalist feel to it, and I have since grown to expect more from my comic book artists. A new artist would help this series a great deal. Here’s hoping the next issue is actually deserving of the “Shattered Heroes” title listed across the top. In order to do so though, it has to have som

e relevance.-CK

Art: 4/10, Writing: 6/10, Cover: 7/10, Relevance: 3/10

 

Generation Hope #13
Writer: James Asmus
Artist: Ibraim Roberson

Thus far, I have not been impressed with this book. I’m not really sure why I collect it. None of the characters have interested me and the writing and art have been sub-par. When I saw that the new creative team of James Asmus and Ibraim Roberson were taking over, I was more than a little intrigued. Asmus has only written short X-Men anthology stories or one-shots, like he did most recently in Astonishing X-Men. Roberson has done quite a bit of X-Men work as well, and to see him on a lower-tiered book like this means that Marvel is really trying to push the level here. I have to say that I was wholeheartedly pleased with this book. My problem with Kieron Gillen on this book was that he never seemed to really find these characters’ voices, which was odd since he created them. Here, however, Asmus immediately writes these characters in a way that both establishes them and gives them some added spark. The most interesting character is Zero, who not only engages Magneto in a fight, then loses horribly to him, then shows some romantic interest in Martha Johannsen, who has never really been used as a more than a prop. Even Gabriel and his problem with his power becomes more interesting in this issue as he struggles with being spontaneous. The addition of Pixie to the cast is a little odd still, but somehow she still fits. Hope continues to bug me, as well as Transonic’s bizarre resistance and subservience to her. Primal continues to be typecast as the leg-humping animal of the bunch, which is mildly annoying both to me and to Hope who is trying to make her team legitimate. What really puts this issue over for me is the incredible art of Roberson. His detail is quite amazing. When Gabriel talks about his beard growing, Roberson painstakingly draws each hair so that he really looks like one of those guys who is trying to grow a beard, but is having a hard time doing so. The colors of Jim Charalampidis highlight Roberson’s soft lines and creates a perfect balance of photo-realism and comic book cartooning. The end of the issue brings some excellent tension, as the team goes to Pakistan to find a new light, who we all know because of the preview is really the mind-wiped Sebastian Shaw. For once, I can say that I’m really looking forward to the next issue of Generation Hope. –JJ

Art: 8/10, Writing: 7/10, Cover: 7/10, Relevance: 4/10

New Mutants #34
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Artist: David Lopez

Time to become unpopular with long time X-fans. I think Blink is, was and always will be, a stupid character. She reeks of early 90’s! The fact that she is the centre piece of this story arc does not sit well with me at all. The 1990’s marked a low period in comics. Whether it was the ridiculous costume choices, bad pseudo-punk hair styles, unfeasible powers, or a combination of all the above, most comic enthusiasts consider it the weakest decade in Marvel history. Blink is a perfect example of the bad comic book decision making of the 1990’s. As a co-creation of Scott Lobdell and Joe Madureira Blink puts the stupid in 90’s comic cliché. And for some reason, writers keep insisting on trying to bring her back. In this issue the New Mutants move into mainland San Francisco to be closer to the community they protect. While moving into their new house, the second generation X-Men begin to discover weird weather anomalies which they link to the recently resurrected, renegade mutant, Blink. Unfortunately, Abnett and Lanning take the name too seriously, and in a “blink” of an eye to team goes from unpacking to visiting a rock concert……While I’m sure that this story is important to the future of the New Mutants, I can’t help but feel that it is yet another example of how Marvel has NOOOOOO idea what to do with this talented team of young mutants. Likewise, I still insist that Abnett and Lanning’s talents better suit space adventures. They feel like fish out of water anytime their characters set foot on Earth. I am holding out that there is a glimmer of hope for the team that helped fall in love with comics back in the 80’s. But I have to be honest, I have a great deal of doubt. Throw in the fact that David Lopez’ art is newspaper comic strip quality at best, and the whole book just has me shaking my head. Hmmm, let me think, there must be something redeemable about the book……Jorge Molina’s cover is nice! –CK

Art: 3/10, Writing: 4/10, Cover: 7/10, Relevance: 1/10

Ultimate Comics X-Men #3
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Paco Medina

One of the things I both love and dislike about Nick Spencer’s books is that he likes to drag things out. In Morning Glories, it really works well because of the kind of mystery Spencer is building. However, in this book, I think Spencer’s long-sell of the story is really hurting. Three issues have gone by and barely anything has happened in the book. In fact, I think the time-lapse in the story thus far is all of 45 minutes. The problem here is that every scene seems to drag on. Take, for instance, the scene of Valerie Cooper, the President of the United States, and Quicksilver talking. Five pages are devoted to this scene, including the 2-page build up. Quicksilver goes on and on, and eventually Cooper cuts him off, as if Spencer realizes that this is just too much. The whole point of the scene is to drop the seed that Quicksilver wants to deliver Cerebro into the hands of the government. Spencer’s lack of economy in his storytelling is really poorly done. However, at least he’s got Paco Medina drawing these long-pages or it would be a total loss. Medina continues to deliver clean and crisp panels, which are both dynamic and subtle. My main issue here is with Stryker as the villain. One of the things I love about the Ultimate universe is a new twist on standard characters. The only twist with Stryker here is that he’s younger and is wearing a Sentinel mask. And, because Medina drew a similar story in New X-Men, I feel like I’m watching a rerun. I’m intrigued by this new “Wolverine” who is basically like the old one only younger. And is that Ultimate Maggot? I sure hope so! I was really hoping for a reveal to the confusing last page of issue #2, but there’s not even a mention of it, which Spencer also does a lot over in Morning Glories. I really want to like Spencer and feel like I’m giving him more attention than most writers, but unless the next issue delivers, no matter how much I love Paco Medina, I may be dropping this book. –JJ

Art: 8/10, Writing: 5/10, Cover: 4/10, Relevance: 5/10

Wolverine: The Best There Is #11
Writer: Charlie Huston
Artist: Juan Jose Ryp

In this issue, we finally learn a little bit about the back story of the creepy super villain Winsor. This mystery man has been torturing Wolverine now for months in the comic world and many Wolverine fans were curious of just where this madman came from. While not all-telling, this issue does shed some light. First off, it was really surprising to find out that Winsor is the “nephew” of one of Marvel’s most famous villains. Just by mentioning this character, Winsor gave himself instant credibility. Not that he needed much help. His powers alone; especially considering their adaptive nature, have to make him one of the most formidable villains in the Marvel Universe. I won’t give away too much, but let’s just say that just when it looks like Wolverine can’t take much more at the hands of Winsor, he gets a little help from his friends! I really fell in love with the art in this issue. Penciller Juan Jose Ryp uses confident lines to capture some really grotesque subject matter. He is the perfect complement to this macabre script. It is nice to see this book continue down this dark and disturbing path. I think Wolverine needs a little grit in his life right now. Here’s hoping Winsor is here to stay as a long time thorn in the side of the Marvel Universe superheroes! –CK

Art: 9/10, Writing: 8/10, Cover: 5/10, Relevance: 7/10

X-Factor #224
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Leonard Kirk

If you haven’t been reading X-Factor, then one of the things you can’t appreciate is Peter David’s use of the cliffhanger. Just about every issue of X-Factor ends with a twist. Some are huge and some are not-so-huge, but they all leave you wanting more. This issue is no different. While the story seems to meander as the team searches for the new villain Bloodbath and the boy he’s holding hostage, David proves that good things come to those who wait. But David does something even “twistier” as he adds a twist to the twist (that’s a lot of twists). I won’t spoil the ending, but the solicitation says that a member of X-Factor dies in this issue. That may very well be true. But the second twist occurs when you find out what happens to that character, which hearkens back to a dangling plot thread that we’ve all been wondering about for a long time. I’ve said it before, but in times like these, when creative teams jump on and jump off books every story arc, there is something wonderful about a writer who stays on a book for a long time. Peter David is showing the value of this concept, as he not only cares for and develops these characters, but deals with plot threads over time, planting mysteries, and weaving excitement through it all. Leonard Kirk continues to be a good fit on this book, although his pencils look a little rougher this time around. The only real problem here is the colors of Matt Milla, who will quickly blend blues into reds for no apparent reason. It makes the lighting seem really off. Despite this minor issue, I am once again fully on-board with where this is going, and once again can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next. –JJ

Art: 7/10, Writing: 8/10, Cover: 8/10, Relevance: 7/10

X-Men #21
Writer: Victor Gischler
Artist: Will Conrad

The Regenesis arc continues as the X-audience is treated to what is essentially the rebirth of the X-Men in the world of comics. Things had been spiralling downhill since Messiah Complex for most things X. Despite many small attempts at resuscitation, the X-landscape was looking grim. I’m sure it is way too early, but Regenesis has me hopeful. Adjective-less X-Men was not untouched by the changes that accompanied the Schism arc. Most notable of the changes being the roster. For the time being, this team consists of Storm, Colossus, Warpath, Psylocke, Jubilee, and Domino. Like we’ve seen so often in the past, the creative team is able to pull from the huge stable of mutants and put together a fairly new and interesting team. In this particular story arc, the team; under the long distance supervision of Cyclops, travels to the European nation of Puternicstan. With the recent rise of Sentinel purchases the world over, Storm’s team moves in to take a closer look at the Latvarian bordering country. Just as we saw in the previous issue, Storm and Colossus continue to butt heads with War Machine. That is until things begin to elevate between the armies of Puternicstan and Symkaria. After some brief recon, it turns out things are a great deal worse than any of our heroes thought. This story brings a new twist to an old plot line. The role of the Sentinels is but into a new light, and it feels like the 1980’s all over again, with a sense of uncertainty and fear weakening the glue that holds the human/mutant community together. Gischler’s dialogue comes off a little choppy in this issue, especially at the beginning. At first I thought it was just a literary device to help depict how the Latverians speak. Once I noticed that the X-Men were speaking the same way however, it raised some concerns. I think the idea is sound, but Gischler’s execution is a little too conservative, which makes it slightly more boring than a story like this should be. All of this can be proved completely wrong now that the Sentinels are in full force against our favourite mutants. Will Conrad does a nice job with the lines and colourist, Chris Sotomayor works hard to present a Cold War, Russian feeling with his colours. I’d like to say that Adi Granov’s cover was an added treat to the book, but I found it a little pointless and way too staged. Overall, the book was a bit better than average. I mean, you can’t really go wrong with covert missions in Eastern Europe that involve the secret construction of mutant killing Sentinels! If nothing else, I hope this series gives underexposed mutants such as Warpath and Domino some well-deserved time in the spotlight. –CK

Art: 7/10, Writing: 6/10, Cover: 5/10, Relevance: 8/10

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff:
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Generation Hope #13 gets my pick!
CapekillerWolverine: The Best There Is #11–Both the art and the story in this book are pretty awesome! Winsor is great villain who I hope has staying power in the Marvel U.!

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