January 30, 2012

The Uncanny X-Piles LXXIV

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Alpha Flight #8
Writers: Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente
Artist: Dale Eaglesham

This eight issue mini series seems like it has been running forever.  That’s probably because issue one was published back in June of 2011.  At times this series seemed to drag on, at others it was action packed.  What started out as a tie-in to Fear Itself ended up being a comic revolving around Candian unity and the countries need for their very own super powered team.

Issue eight; appropriately titled, “The End”, finishes off with as classic a comic book ending as an issue can have.  The villain reveals his master plan, the good guys narrowly escape doom, and the day is saved.  The country once again realizes the importance of Alpha Flight and everyone has learned a little bit more about who they are as people.  Of course, no comic would be complete without leaving one loose end.  In this case, that loose end is Heather Hudson (Vindicator) who up and steals away her and Mac’s baby, disappearing into the Canadian landscape.  When all is said and done, nothing groundbreaking ocurrs in this book, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Greg Pak himself reflects on the book as “goofy” in his letter at the back.  There is no denying that this book has a certain level of “cheese” to it.  My struggle has been deciding if that is a good thing, or a bad thing.  On one hand, as a Canadian, I love the fact that there is a Candian team, and I enjoy the references within the story.  On the other hand, I can’t help but feel as though Canada is represented as a giant joke.  So, ultimately, I don’t know how to read this book.

Fred van Lente scripts a great story, and does a nice job of giving some of the more colourful characters like Puck and Marrina great voices in the story.  I may have missed something along the way, but I don’t remember why Sasquatch is now a mindless brute who talks like the Hulk when he is in his furry form.  I thought he still had full control of his scientific mind while in the form of Sasquatch.  Like I said though, this is probably just an oversight on my part.  Dale Eaglesham is nothing if he is not a classic comic book artist.  His lines and poses are very classical in nature, reminiscent of artists from the 1980’s.  His variant covers for the series were excellent.  His interior art was a little sterile for my taste.

This would probably be a great collection for readers to own in Trade Paper Back form.  It is off beat, and features characters that are quirky in comparison to the heroes splashed all over the media every day.  My only wish is that Mr. Pak and Mr. Van Lente contact me to help them with any upcoming Canadian stories.

Cover: 7/10 Art: 6/10 Story: 6/10 Relevance: 5/10


Astonishing X-Men #46
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Mike McKone

This story arc just got a whole lot more interesting. For 2 issues, we’ve seen Cyclops trapped in this alternate universe, not knowing really why he was brought there. It turns out that on this world, the X-Men defeated Magneto, but before he died, Magneto destroyed the magnetosphere of Earth, putting the world in constant danger. This world’s Charles Xavier, called Savior, in order to save the world, had to use mutants to power a machine that would balance out the magnetic field. But they ran out of mutants, and started collecting mutants from across the multiverse. Now Cyclops is faced with a terrible choice: should he allow the mutants from across the multiverse to sacrifice themselves for this one world, or allow this Earth to be destroyed. What makes this great is that Greg Pak pushes common X-Men themes to the nth degree. When it comes right down to it, would Xavier sacrifice mutants to save humankind? And seeing where Cyclops is currently after Schism, would he push Xavier’s dream that far? I am a staunch believer that Cyclops is no longer following Xavier’s dream, and Pak’s story here is putting that belief to the test. To top it off, Pak has Cyclops wear a Magneto helmet to stave off Savior’s telepathic assaults. That helmet becomes much more symbolic than protection in my eyes as the reader. Greg Pak, in my opinion, has never turned in a bad X-Men script. While I was on the fence about this story thus far, this issue solidified it as a must-read, especially for those out there who are Cyclops fans or still debating what Cyclops’ motives are for continuing to be the X-Men general he’s become in the last year or so. Mike McKone once again provides great visuals. He’s so good at designing alternate versions of our favorite characters. I really enjoy his work. I’m thinking this is a great run on Astonishing, and putting the focus on Cyclops in this alternate reality is actually returning to a solid focus on Scott as a character. I can’t wait to see what Scott will do next. –JJ

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

X-Men: Legacy #261
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: David Baldeon

Legacy finally feels like it’s back on track. As much as I liked Mike Carey on this book, I see now that a fresh take was really needed. It seems Christos Gage is the right guy for the job. Honestly, what has been lacking in X-books lately is good drama. And I mean the soap-opera, high school version. Say what you will, but a little soap opera drama makes for some deepening of characterization. Gage begins the issue with a conversation between Rachel and Rogue about why Rogue hasn’t called Magneto since she left Utopia. Something about Gage’s dialogue with these character makes it feel incredibly real. Rogue’s motivations for not pursuing Magneto, while they may be silly, sound realistic. Add to that a burgeoning relationship between Gambit and Frenzy, and it’s like mutant Melrose Place! This issue isn’t all romance novel by any means. This issue marks the triumphant return of Exodus, who, if you’ve been listening to the Contest of Champions Podcast, has been a topic of conversation here on Exodus goes toe-to-toe with Wolverine and his X-Men, and some cool things happen with Rogue fighting him. Exodus wants to reunite the mutants after Schism, and targets the school first. However, after a pretty cool battle, the team reveals why they left Utopia, and this sends Exodus in another direction completely. I love this team of X-Men, I love Exodus, and I also love David Baldeon’s art. He gives great expression to character’s faces, while also providing a detailed cartooning style. There is a real dynamism that lends itself well here. And don’t forget the great cover work that Mark Brooks is providing. I’m a big fan of his anyway, but seeing him draw a giant Exodus with a handful of X-Men has an old-school comic cover idea but with a modern look. This book, like most of the Wolverine-sided books, is firing on all cylinders. –JJ

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

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: It was close, but X-Men: Legacy #261 gets a slight lead for me.
Capekiller: X-Men: Legacy #261 gets the nod as my X-pick of the week.  I think it is safe to say that the X-books are getting back on track.


Jeff Jackson




One Comment

  1. X-Men Legacy is starting to feel like a broken record for me. The school gets attacked, Rogue goes off and leaches of the kids’ powers, and saves the day. I mean, there’s only so many ways you can rewrite that plot, and for me, the creative ways ended a while back.

    Also, just thought I would point out, Rogue was the one who led Hope into battle during Second Coming, after Scott told Hope to stay out of it. And that was against Bastion, who was more powerful than anything Hope has fought against since.

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