January 10, 2012

The Uncanny X-Piles LXXI

Avengers: X-Sanction #2 (of 4)
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artist: Ed McGuinness

The ultimate lead-in to next summer’s Avengers vs. X-Men event (or was that Children’s Crusade) continues to barrel through like a runaway train. The action just doesn’t let up on this book, as Cable takes out Avenger after Avenger. There’s not much to this story, but that’s not all bad. It’s got a simple plot–Cable is after the Avengers because he thinks they are going to take out Hope in the future. I like simple straight-forward story lines, and once I read this book, I was really pleased. I personally like McGuinness’ art, even though I know it’s hyper-stylized and everyone with muscles looks like they are swollen from a bee sting or like someone stuffed them with pillows. His work is complimented by Dexter Vines, who I believe was Steve McNiven’s inker on Civil War and Old Man Logan. Despite the bubble-muscles, Vines gives a bit of detail, which works well for me. I wonder what this team would do on a book not written by Loeb. On first read, I enjoyed this book because I suspended my disbelief. As I thought more about it, though, I realized there are some pretty ridiculous things going on here. First, how worthless is that stupid bird Redwing, who keeps luring Avengers one-by-one to creepy Cable’s freighter to get taken out. Last issue, Captain America goes off on his own in search of the Falcon, even though the other Avengers are right there! This issue is exactly the same, only now Iron Man is falling for the trick. He heads to this sinister looking ship and gets beaten up by Cable. However, not to make this issue completely like the last one, he has Red Hulk show up at the end and lay a thumping on Cable. But guess what? He comes alone! I thought the Avengers were a team! I can only imagine that next issue Red Hulk will be defeated somehow, and Wolverine & Spider-Man will show up to either save the day or get strapped to the Magneto chair. The other glaring plot hole is why is Cable doing this? On a hunch? He has NO proof that the Avengers are going to do anything to Hope. He doesn’t even really know what they do to her. If he had 24 hours to live, couldn’t he have jumped to the moment where Hope is going to be killed and saved her at that moment? Instead, he chooses to use his 24 hours to gather weapons to take out specific Avengers? Ridiculous. So if you can suspend your disbelief about these issues, you may love this book. Otherwise, it’s nothing worth spending a lot of time reading. Children’s Crusade is much better. –JJ

Art: 8/10 Writing: 4/10 Cover: 8/10 Relevance: 6/10

Uncanny X-Force #19.1
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Billy Tan

Where is Remender going to take this book in 2012? I can’t even begin to guess. The first issue of the year is a .1 issue which is a continuation of the journey of Jean Grey and Sabretooth from the Age of Apocalypse, and a lead-in to the upcoming ongoing by the same name. .1 issues are supposed be good jumping on points, but I think unless you are a hardcore fan of the AoA or have been reading the X-books in the last few years, you won’t appreciate exactly how awesome this issue is. Jean and Victor get back to the AoA in the middle of the war between the humans and Wolverine of AoA who is now Apocalypse. The few X-Men left over are fighting with the humans who have some great allies in the form of William Stryker and Bolivar Trask’s daughter. Instead of relying on powers, these versions are using their gifts as humans to fight the war, which is a nice spin. I’ve lamented about what’s going on over in Ultimate X-Men and how the same tropes with Stryker are being used. Here, he’s completely different, mysterious, and a pretty cool character. In typical Remender fashion, he knows what to change and what to keep from stories-gone-by. In this issue, the humans have a secret weapon in the form of a cloned Scarlet Witch so she can turn off the mutant gene. However, the plan backfires and because she is only a clone she only depowers the few mutants in her vicinity, including Jean and Sabretooth. So now they are fully human fighting the evil mutants, which is an interesting premise. I have always thought that Jean made a better character when she wasn’t uber-powerful, so this should be fun. As with all the recent AoA depictions, this issue is not without some major casualties, which is sad if you consider to whole AoA history. Overall, Remender does some really cool things setting up this new status quo for the AoA while introducing us to new characters. Billy Tan does a decent job on the art, as he gets a little looser with his style and the colorist mutes the tone of the book. Somehow it works to create a pretty bleak world. My only concern going forward is that it is not Remender who will be writing the new AoA book, so I’m not getting my hopes up that someone else can perform like Remender can in a single issue. –JJ

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

Wolverine & the X-Men: Alpha & Omega #1 (of 5)
Writer: Brian Wood
Artists: Mark Brooks, Roland Boschi, Dan Brown, and others

There was a lot of hype about Brian Wood writing his mini-series. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything by Brian Wood, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have to say, I’m not that impressed. This mini-series focuses on Quentin Quire and his hatred for Wolverine. In order to torture his new headmaster, he sends Wolverine and Armor into a mind-construct, which is basically an alternate dimension for all intents and purposes. While I appreciate Wood trying to make something new here, it’s not. I like Quire and think he has a lot of potential as a character. But I don’t feel like Wood (or Jason Aaron for that matter) have quite captured Grant Morrison’s Kid Omega. You could say that perhaps it was because Morrison’s version was hopped up a mutant drug, but I still feel like this guy more closely resembles Hellion than Kid Omega. The other thing that bothered me in his issue was that Quentin knocks Wolverine and Armor out and no one else at the school notices? Especially with Rachel Grey trying to get Quentin into class? That bothered me and was poorly executed. Finally, the real reason I was getting this was because I really like Mark Brooks’ art. However, this is barely a Mark Brooks book. There are so many artists on this book, which they attempt to rectify by using one art team in the “reality” and another team on the “construct” parts. It just doesn’t work well. Brooks’ art clashes with the other artists’ and just doesn’t fit. It would be better if they went in one direction or another, and instead they chose to do both. I think that hurt this issue greatly. I will give this series another issue, but unless next issue wows me, then I see no reason to keep getting it. –JJ

Art: 2/10 Writing: 5/10 Cover: 8/10 Relevance: 6/10

Uncanny X-Men #4
Writer: Keiron Gillen
Artist: Brandon Peterson

It would be tough to sink any lower than the first three issues of this newly rebooted series, so in this humble X-worshippers mind, there was nowhere to go but up from here! And up this issue did go. It was still a little skimpy on the meat and seemed like it was presented in the wrong order (i.e. Maybe this issue should have lead off the Sinister story…) but it was better than the first three which is saying something!

Breaking from my usual format of writing reviews, I am going to talk about the artwork first. The reason for this being, that Brandon Peterson’s lines really helped make this issue. He has a real knack for detail making this the perfect issue for him. The multi-faceted make-up of the Phalanx people suit Peterson’s style like a glove. Every circuit and every node are represented without reservation. Seeing art with this kind of conviction is refreshing compared to the rushed throw away work I’ve come accustomed to looking at in recent comic books. It’s not just the detail that makes these pages sing either. Peterson’s panel compositions are fun to look at and real help the story flow nicely.

As I mentioned in the introduction, this story seemed a little out of place in terms of its order. Sure it does a good job of explaining what was happening with Sinister in the previous three issues (and trust me, lots of explanation was necessary!), but I’m just not sure if I like this explanation after the Sinister arc. Many could argue that this is good storytelling; waiting until later to reveal the impetus of a story, but the previous issues seemed to fly right out of left field in terms of continuity and relevance. So I think a little explanation (like this issue) might have been warranted up front this time around.

Turns out Sinister’s idea to place his consciousness into a hive mind was not as random as it seemed at the time (Uncanny X-Men #1-3). This issue recounts the story of Sinister abducting a member of the Phalanx alien race and experimenting on it to try and learn more about the hive based being. After many years of torture, Sinister decided to give the hive mind approach a shot, and hence Uncanny X-Men #1-3 were born! Personally, I would have liked to have known this up front or early on in the arc. IT would have made the issues more bearable. This issue however, has less to do with Sinister and more to do with the Phalanx that he abducted. More specifically, it has to do with how this particular alien becomes the X-Men’s problem once Sinister decides he is through with it.

Keiron Gillen pulls out, what amounts to me as, a save with this issue. I was seriously crying myself to sleep every night, thinking about how I may just have to drop my all-time favourite title because it was so bad. This issue gives me a glimmer of hope. I just pray that the Marvel brain trust can right this lost flagship. –CK

Art: 9/10 Writing: 7/10 Cover: 7/10 Relevance: 7/10

X-Club #2 (of 5)
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Paul Davidson

There’s no two ways about it, this is a weird book. I guess that should be par for the course considering who the book is about. I’m sure this story isn’t for everyone, but I consider it a nice, brief change of pace from some of the other atrocities that are currently being written in other X-books.

The resident science team, continue to combine their best efforts to figure out why the waters of the coast of Brazil are turning up mutated sea life (including Atlanteans!) Turns out the problem might be bigger than anyone anticipated. The team quickly discovers traces of a form of Terrigan, like the infamous mists used by the Inhumans to provide them with their supernatural powers. Likewise, much to his detriment, Dr. Nemesis discovers a conspiracy at the bottom of the sea, that might be tearing through space and time on a quantum level. Meanwhile, Danger has been overcome by some malicious entity and is attacking Utopia.

For many reasons, I wouldn’t recommend this book to readers new to the X-Men. First off, the art is sub-par. Davidson’s lines are unconvincing, especially when it comes to posing his characters. They are static and unnaturally posed. Another reason I believe new readers would have a hard time getting into this book is that much of the dialogue operates on the same level as an inside joke. New readers wouldn’t quite understand the nuances of Madison Jefferies love affair with machines, the Rao/ Nemesis tension would go right over their heads. Myself, I find the quippiness quite funny and l love these characters together. I am finding the overall storyline somewhat convoluted. Hopefully Spurrier begins clearing up the waters in the next issue! –CK

Art: 5/10     Writing: 6/10        Cover: 4/10             Relevance: 5/10

X-Men #23
Writer: Victor Gischler
Artist: Will Conrad

While the Eastern European problem of bootleg Sentinels seems to be resolved the X-Men now have to turn their attention to the mysterious case of their missing team member, Jubilee. Turns out, being deep within the borders of Puternicstan brought the x-heroes back within biting distance of the vampire clans. Is it too soon to revisit this storyline after Curse of the Mutants? Only time will tell.

Sure the Sentinel story was somewhat recycled, but Victor Gischler was able to put a slightly new spin on the mutant threat by giving the tale a more contemporary feel. I’m not sure why, but I love when the X-creators make up these weird geographic locations (Genosha, Latveria, Puternicstan, etc.) Puternicstan drags up memories of the Balkan crisis, and helps Western readers such as myself remember the strife that still continues in some of these areas today. In all honesty, these text-to-world connections are a great device to suck readers in and make them feel slightly more connected to the events of the story.

Personally, I am very excited with the way Gischler left the issue. My favourite part of the Fear Itself disaster was the Hulk versus Dracula mini, which featured a new wet works vampire crew. I love the fact that Gischler brings them back in this issue and hooks them up with Jubilee. Jubilee really is cooler now than she has ever been!

Conrad sparkles with his usual eye pleasing realist style. I really enjoy the way he sculpts and poses the human forms. I have to be honest though, I think his work would look better if he had a better colourist. Chris Sotomayor’s work is a little too plastic looking for me. The cover by Adi Granov makes me wish he did more interiors. I love his work, especially the way he draws women characters.

All in all, I think this series wasn’t too bad. Weird, how all of the X-series seem to be better than the flagship Uncanny X-Men since it has been rebooted! –CK

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

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Capekiller: Uncanny X-Force #19.1 is my winner as it continues to prove to me that AoA still remains relevant today!
Jeff: Remender does it again…Uncanny X-Force #19.1 is a winner!


Jeff Jackson



  1. Knowing that there is this HUGE cross over coming between the X-Men and Avengers I’m wanting X-Sanction to hurry up and finish already. It’s decent but I still feel like I’m reading what Bishop did a year ago just with different characters.

    UXF was great as usual and I’m going to pick up X-Club in trade. I flipped through Alpha & Omega but nothing really picqued my interest besides the cool looking cover. Glad I skipped it.

  2. Simon Spurrier brings some weird sensibilities to X-club but I think I like it.

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