February 14, 2012

The Uncanny X-Piles LXXVI

New Mutants #37
Writer: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Artist: David Lopez

I find it comical, that this issue basically takes a break from all current continuity and storytelling in the world of X, but it is actually better than almost everything published under the New Mutant (Volume 2) banner to date.

To refresh, Amara (Magma) agreed to go on a date with Mephisto (the Devil) in order for her and her follow New Mutants to be able to escape Hell.  Well, today is the day that Mephisto is holding her to this promise, and the New Mutants are none to happy about it.  What starts out as a date from “hell” (sorry, I couldn’t resist!) turns into  a really nice time for both Amara and Mephisto.  Turns out, Mephisto is a pretty lonely guy!

So what made this issue better than the past 36 issues?  That’s easy, it chronicled a day off in the life of an X-Man.  Almost all X-fans agree that they are at their happiest when the characters are relaxing with activities we can relate to.  The infamous basketball games, or picnics at the beach!  This is one of those occasions.  Seeing Magma go through all the discomfort of a first date lets the readers make connections to the character which in turn allows us to feel closer to the situation and the book.  This is something that Marvel creators have forgotten over the past little while.  Take note brain trust, we love stuff like this!

The art was a bit suspect, but I was able to see past that thanks to the intimate storytelling by Abnett and Lanning.   I also love how the authors made reference to the Hell Hound that Warlock adopted back in Journey Into Mystery #632.  I thought for sure they were going to just sweep that one under the rug.  Who’da thunk it, DNA were able to make me care!-CK

Cover 7/10    Art 5/10  Writing 7/10  Relevance 8/10

Secret Avengers #22
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Gabriel Hardman

It’s been a while since we covered this book in the X-Piles, mainly because it really devolved pretty quickly in the early issues. But I’m including it here because I think it has great relevance to the X-world, if nothing else but that it has Beast, Captain Britain, and Rick Remender tied to it. Once again in its short history, we’ve got another reboot, however, this creative team caught my attention. Rick Remender has been giving me much-needed hope in the X-Men world on Uncanny X-Force, so to see him take the Avengers-version of X-Force caught my attention. What Remender does extremely well is ensemble cast books. He knows how to balance each character with others, he understands character history, and he knows how to include new directions for the characters. We’ve seen him do this over and over again. If you read my Chirp on Secret Avengers #21.1, which was Remender’s first issue, then you saw that he got me to enjoy a book with Captain America and Hawkeye only. So how does he do with the rest of the cast? I’m happy to say that Remender is no one-trick pony. He absolutely nails each and every character in the book, and there are quite a few on the team. Central to his vision on this book is Captain Britain, who has some great moments in this book from running into the Queen of England during a super-villain battle to thinking Captain America has asked him to lead the Secret Avengers, Brian Braddock really shines here. I’m not a fan of Captain Britain in the Omniverse stuff, and that’s why the current arc of Uncanny X-Force is not as interesting to me, but I love him in the 616 universe with other Marvel heroes. In addition to making a single character shine, Remender is great at creating new and interesting villains, or better yet, taking old villains and making them relevant. Here, we are introduced to the Descendants, who are all the crazy robot/cyborg/AI folks in the Marvel Universe. Remender is tying them all together in this book, which connects to his earlier X-Force work with the Reavers and Deathlok. Joining Remender is Gabriel Hardman, who’s work I haven’t experienced before, despite many people exclaiming over his work. His art really works on a book like this, even if it’s not my favorite style. Bettie Breitweiser’s colors complement the washed out tone of the book. This book shouldn’t have big, bold colors. There were a few panels that had me scratching my head because I couldn’t decipher the bad guys, but it was nothing a few minutes of staring couldn’t help. Overall, if you love Remender’s previous work at Marvel, then you simply have to pick this up, and this issue is just the beginning. –JJ

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

Wolverine and the X-Men #5
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Nick Bradshaw

Kitty Pryde has had plenty of experience with the alien protagonists the Brood.  Writer Jason Aaron manages to add a slight twist to that experience this time around!  This book wasn’t bad, but it definitely wasn’t firing on all cylinders as it has been for the four issues proceeding it.
Jason Aaron continues writing the academic version of the X-Men, balancing a series of problems on many fronts.  While Headmaster Logan battles to try and find funds to keep the academy operational, Kitty goes into hiding fearing she might be….phasing with a guest on board!  With Warren (Angel) loosing a grip on his money almost as fast as he is his mind, Logan is forced to turn to mutant “bad-boy” Quentin Quire to try and wrangle up some extra cash.  While the reader is not privy to Wolverine’s plan, we do know that it involves space…..Kitty struggles with the fact that she may have gotten herself into a situation, and is afraid of how this may look as Headmistress of the school.  Both of these stories are cool in that they have more to do with what’s good for the school as opposed to the characters.  The Quire/Wolverine story feels a little played out, in that Quire seems to be getting a lot of page time lately, and all of it seems to involve Wolverine in one way ore another.  The Kitty Pryde story is interesting in that it takes an age old X-enemy and gives them a twist.  Who thought you could make the Brood new?

Jason Aaron and Marvel have to be careful that they don’t begin to bore readers by being too formulaic with these plots.  As a reader, I am interested in seeing a little more interactions within the various student groups.  At present, they are more like window dressings who walk through the backgrounds of panels and occasionally say clever things.  However, I always look forward to the Toad excepts; he is a true glutton for punishment!

What might be the biggest shortcoming of this book for me, has to be the art.  It’s not as though Nick Bradshaw’s art is horrible, it’s just no Ramos!   He keeps the panels very busy, which I think is great, I just don’t care much for his his faces.  They seem to have an oversimplified, manga feel to them, which I don’t care for at all.  Likewise, he really seems to struggle with teeth!  All the characters with fangs (Beast, Brood) have their bottom teeth drawn as though they stick straight out 180 degrees from the bottom lip.  This is a serious problem with the foreshortening that bugs me every time I see it.

So, when all was said and done, I loved Kid Gladiator punching X-genes,  can’t get enough of Toad getting picked on and think Kitty is sexier than ever with a big belly.  I can do without all the Quentin Quire exposure, need to see more interactions between the students and want Ramos back on pencils!-CK

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

Wolverine and the X-Men: Alpha and Omega #2 (of 5)
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Roland Boschi and Mark Brooks

The uber powerful telepath, Kid Omega (Quentin Quire) continues his assault on Wolverine on a psionic level.  Quire creates an alternative reality telepathically, sucking both Wolverine and Armor into it.  The problem is, Quire has to stay awake to maintain this construct.  Once he starts wearing down both mentally and physically, trouble begins to brew in the form of a feral Wolverine.

The concept behind this story is interesting enough.  I am beginning to enjoy the double edge sword that is Quentin Quire, even if he is showing up in too many books right now.  I mostly love how this character is a bit of a paradox.  He is powerful  to leave the Jean Grey School of higher learning any time he chooses.  Yet instead, he stays, complaining the entire time.  To me, this shows a vulnerability with the character.  He likes to let people know that he hates the oppressive state of mutant-human relations, yet he never leaves the one place that is trying to foster it.  It will be interesting to see how this story plays out, because I don’t see how Wolverine can overlook this incident.  He (Wolverine) has killed people for a lot less!

That art duties on this book are split based on the sections of the story that are happening in 616 continuity and the plot unfolding in Kid Omega’s psionic construct.  All in all the art works well with the story and suits the feel of both scripts.

This story is a fun little break from the giant “event” books, and represents a little bit of what made X-books fun in the past.  There is something to be said for an X-verse that exists independent of all the other madness happening in the Marvel Universe.-CK

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

X-Men #24
Writer: Victor Gischler
Artist: Al Barrionuevo

I think I’ve discovered Gischler’s true gift on this title. Mutants & vampires. Perhaps the best arc on this book thus far was Curse of the Mutants, and since then we haven’t had much vampire action. But now that Jubilee has been brought on as a cast regular, the vampire connection is back. This issue is a nice little interlude focusing on Jubilee and her continuing struggle with her vampirism. After last issue’s adventure in Puternicstan, Jubilee is rescued by Raizo and the Forgiven, who are all vampires who are free of their human blood lust. But like an addict in recovery, Jubilee is fighting the battle of her life. Meanwhile, the X-Men are trying to find their lost teammate, and are killing vampires left and right to do so. This title finally has hit it’s stride, with a solid regular cast, and a great artistic tone. Al Barrioneuvo, whose art I’ve never seen before, is a perfect match for the regular artist Wil Conrad. The feel of the book is really consistent, and not jarring like so many fill-in issues. Gischler also does a good job of introducing us to the members of the Forgiven, who could really be a great Marvel team if handled correctly. While this certainly isn’t a mind-blowing issue, it has some quiet value and is becoming a consistently solid X-Men book.  –JJ

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

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: It’s close, but I think Secret Avengers #22 beat out the competition this week.
Capekiller: I don’t count Secret Avengers as an X-Book, so my pick goes towards New Mutants #37. This book excels when the focus is on characterization.



  1. Jeff Jackson

    Ugh, I disagree completely about New Mutants. Since when does Mephisto act like that? I thought for sure at the end we would see a reason for his complete switch of character. Instead, they took the one plot thread that had major potential and turned it into something that was completely boring! I’m so close to dropping this book!

    Concerning Wolverine & the X-Men #5, did you mean you wanted Bachalo back? Sure, Ramos is terrific, but I prefer Bachalo on this book to Bradshaw. I agree that this issue’s art didn’t even seem up to Bradshaw’s usual potential.

  2. capekiller

    I’m telling you, you are forgetting all the things you loved about superhero books in the past. I think this Mephisto thing has potential, especially considering how stagnant this team has been of late.

    In terms of Ramos, I was just making a comment. I love Bachalo as much as my wife!

  3. Hey, maybe y’all can answer something for me. Why can’t Kitty just phase the brood out of her?

    • I thought the same thing, Arnab.

  4. They mentioned something about this being a genetically altered version of the Brood designed specifically for Kitty’s physiology. Me, I just took the leap of faith!

  5. I’m already privy to Logan’s plan with Kid Omega. Marvel spoiled that a while back because apparently surprising the reader isn’t the thing to do anymore. Does anyone know where the Bamfs came from or did I miss something?

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