November 30, 2011

The Uncanny X-Piles LXV

Astonishing X-Men #44
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Mike McKone

You can’t NOT be interested in what’s going on in this book with a cover like that! Storm and Cyclops have never swapped spit before, so with this new creative team on a book that really needs to find some momentum again, why not pick this up? Following the events of Schism, Scott is healing up quite well physically, however, his mental state is up in the air. Enter Storm…however, there’s something not quite right about her. Could it be that she’s got a mohawk again (and no one seemed to notice)? She sets Cyclops straight and gets his head back in the game. Greg Pak, who has written some of the most interesting stories at Marvel in the last decade including Magneto: Testament and Planet Hulk, captures a tone of the X-Men that I have not seen in quite a while. When Fraction and Gillen were throwing out mutant after mutant in the main X-books, flooding the panels with characters, they left out some crucial pieces as to what has made this team of super-heroes so iconic. They know each other. They have relationships with one another. They have fought alongside one another for years. Pak illustrates this perfectly in the scenes with Ororo and Scott. We forget that these two characters go back a long time, and have each carried the burden of leadership unlike any other mutants. Pak reminds us that they are linked in this way and that’s what draws us into this story. However, things quickly get shaken up as this Storm is not quite the Storm of the 616 universe. Soon, Scott finds himself as a captive along with some familiar, but not-so-familiar faces. Pak leaves us with a lot of questions, making this a surprise hit for me, hungry for the next issue. Along with Pak is Mike McKone, who does alternate X-Men better than anyone since his days on Exiles. His fluid lines create the perfect balance of cartooning with a realistic bend. After a lackluster year in this title, the one that was supposed to feature top-tier talent, we finally have a creative team that is worthy of the title “astonishing.” –JJ

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

Alpha Flight #6 (of 6)
Writer: Fred van Lente and Greg Pak
Artist: Dale Eaglesham

What on God’s green Earth is happening in this comic book? This book has quickly deteriorated into the worst Alpha Flight series of all time. And let’s be honest, the bar hasn’t been very bloody high! I intend on keeping this review short, because I am feeling like this book has already wasted enough of my precious time! The story is convoluted. The references are downright insulting to me as a Canadian. Last but not least, this book has no meaningful connection to the Marvel universe or the characters of Alpha Flight whatsoever. Pak and Van Lente should be embarrassed by their insincere effort on this book. Just tell Marvel you don’t want to finish the mini, rather than turning out this crap! Just embarrassing. Eaglesham’s art isn’t too bad, but to be honest, Oback’s colouring seems to fall off as the issue progresses. Characters faces start to develop this weird red glow that makes them look like they have a sun burn. All in all, I think I am going to boycott anything written by Pak or Van Lente in the future. And if I forget, feel free to e-mail and tell me, “Shame on you!” –CK

Art: 5/10 Writing: 2/10 Cover: 6/10 Relevance: 0/10

Avengers Origins: Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver (One-Shot)
Writer: Sean McKeever
Artist: Mirco Pierfederici

One of my biggest complaints with Marvel over the last eight years has been there insistence to feed us every single detail of every single character. Back in the good ol’ days (*sigh*) there were purposeful gaps left in stories, that were intended to allow the reader to stretch the story in his or her own imagination. In all honesty, at the time I found it annoying. I always felt like I was missing some key information. In hindsight however, I’ve come to realize that those gaps were what made the stories so intriguing. So it goes without saying that these “origins” books trade on dangerous ground with me. I’ve always been intrigued by the story of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. There are so many layers to these characters and have actually have quite a rich history in the Marvel Universe. So what would it take to impress me with the publication of their origin story? First off, there would need to be some insight or perspective which is new. Unfortunately, this book had neither. For anyone who is familiar with these two characters, this book was a complete and total snoozefest. Not only was it a retelling of the already known rise of these two characters, it was rushed and lacked any deeper insight whatsoever. I felt like the victim of some insincere conversation. Like somebody was telling me a story simply because they had to. This story was rushed and completely non-essential for an Avengers enthusiast such as myself. Despite McKeever playing it painfully safe with the script, the art was pretty good. Mirco Pierfederici gives this book a Stefano Caselli, which in my opinion is not a bad thing. His lines are helped along with some exaggerated inking, which makes all of the panels jump off the page. And of course a beautiful Marko Djurdjevic cover adorns this story, just like all the other Avenger Origins stories. It is too bad the art wasn’t good enough to make me forget about the boring writing. Even if you are new to comics, I’m not sure I would recommend this book. Rather, I would recommend checking out Vision and the Scarlet Witch #1 – 4 (Nov. 1982 – Feb. 1983). After getting off to a good start, I’m finding these Avengers Origins books are starting to suck. Which of course means it is going to be increasingly difficult for me to justify spending my hard earned money on them anymore. –CK

Art: 7/10 Writing: 3/10 Cover: 8/10 Relevance: 2/10

Wolverine & the X-Men #2
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Chris Bachalo

Are you ready for some gushing? I’m gonna gush. Big time. There are so many wonderful things about this book, I’m not sure where to start. I typically end with the artists, but this time I’ll start with Chris Bachalo. I know some people are going to find his panels confusing. You can’t quite decipher everything that’s going on. But for long-time fans like myself, I find these panels captivating. I have learned to study them inquisitively. They draw me in rather than turn me away. The way Bachalo can both create so much detail while also delivering such dynamism on each page is masterful. Not only did I get a feast in my tummy this Thanksgiving, but Bachalo’s art gave me a feast for my eyes! As for the story, I’m convinced that Jason Aaron was not the one who wrote Schism. Because if he had the latitude to produce what he’s doing in this book, Schism would have been much more awesome. Here, Aaron is able to do the big ideas that only Rick Remender has been able to accomplish over in Uncanny X-Force. If you want big X-Men action, look no further. The stakes are higher than they’ve ever been as the school is literally being attacked by the ground it sits on. The masterminds behind the plot are the ever-precocious new Hellfire Club, who bring their A-games with Frankenstein monster armies, Sauron and Wendigo avatars, and….wait for it…KRAKOA! Aaron is pulling out all the stops, making this ridiculously fun for new readers and ridiculously awesome for us old-timers. But perhaps the one thing that will make all X-Men fans praise Aaron for is his centralization on Iceman. For years, Bobby Drake has been pushed aside. Recently, Remender brought the Age of Apocalypse version into his book, showing the fullness of Iceman’s abilities. Finally, with a flashback pep talk by Wolverine, Bobby unleashes some awesome new abilities, which give us some surprising moments. All this and Aaron even finds time to create a relationship between Idie and Broo. Without a doubt, this is the X-Men book I’ve been waiting for! Keep it coming, Aaron and Bachalo! –JJ

Art: 8/10 Writing: 8/10 Cover: 8/10 Relevance: 9/10

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Astonishing X-Men #44–I have no idea what is happening in this book, but that didn’t take away for some pretty cool, “WOW!” moments!
Jeff: Didn’t I gush enough? Wolverine & the X-Men #2 gets my vote!


Jeff Jackson



  1. Schitd'k

    Really liking the new breakdown of the score. Especially the “Relevance” category.

  2. Thanks! That was all Capekiller!

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