March 12, 2012

The Uncanny X-Piles LXXX

Age of Apocalypse #1
Writer: David Lapham
Artist: Roberto De La Torre

This is not your daddy’s Age of Apocalypse! Let’s just get that straight right now. If you’re looking for the classic alternate take of a world with no Xavier, then go pick up the Omnibus. Things have certainly progressed in the AoA, and while it’s not like the AoA of yore, it still contains the core pieces. It’s bleak. One of the things you may remember is how desolate the world was. Nothing has really changed, although one might argue that it’s only gotten worse. Apocalypse is no longer in charge, but his heir, the former Weapon X (Logan) is dominating the world. Humans are oppressed by the mutant regime, and only the humans can defend a world that fears and hates them. The other core piece is the surprising placements of 616 characters. You never know who you’re going to see in the AoA, but the main cast is made up of some of the 616’s worst X-Men villains–William Stryker, Bolivar Trask, Graydon Creed, and Donald Pierce, only now they’ve taken on code names and costumes and have specialized skills that make this team of the “X-Terminated.” Along with a newly depowered Jean Grey and Sabretooth, this team is the reverse X-Men, who are sworn to protect humanity against the evil dictator “Wolverine.” Lapham does an impressive job of setting up the world, making it fresh, and not using the old series as a crutch. He makes the team dynamic and interesting, something that their counterparts have never really been for me. There is a sense of a new direction here, however, it’s not without bringing back a few old characters. One shows up at the end, which has me interested in what is coming next. Finally, the art by De La Torre is a peculiar choice. Previous visits to the AoA have brought nostalgic artists like Chris Bachalo back to revision the world. Even stylized artists like Mark Brooks helped the book connect to earlier AoA works. However, De La Torre’s style is unlike those previous books. It’s gritty, it’s dark, and it depends heavily on a black inked line throughout. Much like this world these characters are inside. So it may not be completely like the old AoA, but it’s worth checking out if nothing else but to see how far (or not) this world has come since Legion first took out his daddy. –JJ

Cover: 9/10 Writing: 7/10 Art: 7/10 Relevance: 3/10

Avengers Academy #27
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Karl Moline

This book is back on track after a rocky last few issues. Dabbling with future versions of his characters, Christos Gage has moved on to new horizons with his team of young Avengers, and this time he brings in the Runaways. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen any Runaway members in Marvel continuity, and while that team has befallen poor writing in their prior appearances, it seems like Gage has things under control with this 2 issue mini-arc. He captures their teen angst pretty well, and capitalizes on the first impressions made by both casts. Plus, the ending is cool, and it looks like Devil Dinosaur will be making an appearance next issue. Props to Gage for not backing down on his stance of homosexuality in this book. He was confronted last issue by a long-time reader, and I was a little worried that would influence what he was doing going forward. It didn’t, and if anything, it only made for a more entertaining read this time around. If you were passing on Avengers Academy, or if it lost you somewhere along the way, this is a good time to come back as the Runaways are always good for a positive shot in the arm.  -AL

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

Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #9
Writer: Allan Heinberg
Artist: Jim Cheung

So I went back to look at my previous reviews of this book. This mini-series started BEFORE we started reviewing in the Uncanny X-Piles. To give you some frame of reference, issue #1 came out around Siege! So this has been a long time coming, even though they told us it would be a bi-monthly book. However, in some instances, it took even longer than 2 months in between issues. Despite this, the end wrapped up neatly, but not necessarily in a satisfying way. Certainly because of upcoming stories, the epic feel of this book was dropped so that others will be able to take center stage. There were, however, some important and relevant moments in the book. We did get a couple of deaths, but none that had much resonance. The Young Avengers decide to disband. Heinberg does a good job of catching the timeline up with Wiccan and Hulkling sitting on the sidelines during many of the events that have happened since summer of 2010. Scarlet Witch’s fate is determined, but not in the most satisfying way. She neither gets put on trial for her acts against the Avengers or mutantkind, nor does she rejoin the Avengers, nor does she go with Magneto or Quicksilver. Her story will continue in the upcoming summer event, but this issue left her very unresolved. The one thing that is a bit unclear is that they have squarely laid the blame of Wanda’s treachery on Dr. Doom. I’m not sure how that works, but he’s a good scapegoat, so that’s acceptable. Looking back over this series, it was one of the strongest limited series Marvel has done in a while, and was certainly better than many of the events that paralleled it. If the timing had been right, this could have easily been the summer event of 2011 and would have satisfying. Because it wasn’t, and because of the long spans between issues, it lost it’s impact, which is a real shame. Despite this, it will be fun to read in hardcover or trade paperback form, and those of you who are looking forward to Avengers vs. X-Men should be mandated to read this. Cheung’s art continues to mystify and he has solidified himself in my upper echelon of artists. When thinking of super-hero art, Cheung should be hailed as one of the greats. –JJ

Cover: 10/10 Writing: 6.5/10 Art: 10/10 Relevance: 10/10

Uncanny X-Men #8 (#552)
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Greg Land

…I can’t be the only one sick of random aliens popping up in the X-books, right? We got a recent dose of this in X-Men Legacy which completely overshadowed what should have been the super cool return of the X-space team to Earth, and now we’re getting it here in Uncanny. Who cares about the good/bad unwives? Seriously, does anyone? I will give Gillen props for making me bust out a dictionary both last issue and again in this issue to look up the word “unguent,” but I really don’t get how he can make a book like Journey into Mystery so awesome, but completely strike out on this one. It reminds me of the tail end of Matt Fraction’s Uncanny run- it was like he quit on his X-book to focus on The Mighty Thor and Fear Itself instead. I can’t believe Gillen is a bad writer, if for no other reason than Journey, but what is Marvel doing here? X-Regenesis was supposed to get new readers hooked on Uncanny, but all its done is drive more people away with their alienating stories that seem so irrelevant to anything X-Men. That being said, Gillen handles his relationship with Hope and Namor well, and he does do some cool things with Colossus-naut. Lets focus more on those exchanges and less on lame alien guys. -AL

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

Wolverine #302
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Billy Tan & Steve Sanders

This issue is an example of making poor artistic choices. First, the cover is done by one of my favorite artists, Art Adams, and while it’s a great pin-up of Wolverine, it did not fit this issue. The last few years of this book have given us great covers by artists like Jae Lee who not only did a great pin-up, but it told a little of what was in the book. This cover doesn’t even have a background. Second, in previous issues, the art duties have been handled by a tag team of artists who take whole chapters each. If you have to have multiple artists, having them take chapters or issues or even scenes is the way to go. Another way to make the book flow artistically is to have one colorist to at least create a palate that’s cohesive. This issue had two of the previous artists, Tan and Sanders with their respective colorists, who presented two completely different visions of this story. Not only that, but artists changed in the middle of a page with no chapter separating them. Tan and Sanders are drastically different artists, so having them share chapters even was jarring, but to have them share a page was not helpful at all. These do not seem to be well-thought out decisions on editorial’s part. The story seems to be another good effort by Jason Aaron, but the art is really holding it back. Some really great things happen in this issue, though, which make it somewhat worthwhile. Mystique puts the screws to Logan again, this time literally, and he does something with her unknowingly that he’s really going to regret. The new Silver Samurai gets blackmailed into funding the Hand, who seem to be rising back up to the heap after many years of being a bunch of mindless, directionless ninjas. It’s a shame that this is the arc that Aaron is going out on, though. The thing that made me giddy was the return of Lord Deathstrike, who is another of Aaron’s crazy villains, who also showed up in another book this week. My hope is that he will get some quality panel-time in the next issue. Overall, this was a disappointing issue and an example of how not to plan your artists. –JJ

Cover: 6/10 Writing: 7/10 Art: 2/10 Relevance: 6/10

Wolverine & the X-Men: Alpha & Omega #3
Writer: Brian Wood
Artists: Roland Boschi & Mark Brooks

Once again, here is an example of two art styles that do not compliment one another. Boschi’s thin lines and minimalist characters don’t pair well with Mark Brooks’ cleaner style. The premise here is that Boschi’s portion is the “real world” while Brooks’ is Quentin Quire’s “construct” in which he’s placed the minds of Wolverine and Armor. Perhaps a more effective use of these artists would have been to swap their portions. Boschi’s art looks a little rougher and would present the dark world of the construct a little more, while Brooks’ work would allow the real world to shine a little more. I’m guessing that Wood is playing to their respective strengths, though, as the construct contains more action sequences, which is more up Brooks’ alley. Imagine if Brooks had done the whole book! His Quentin Quire is more akin to the design that Frank Quitely came up with during Morrison’s run, with a  rounder face and a greasier looking tuft of hair on his head, rather than Boschi’s angular Quire. The art differences are only one negative aspect of this issue. I find it hard to believe that Rachel Grey isn’t aware of what’s going on here. With a berserk Wolverine running around screaming “Quire!” and her own monitoring of telepathic shenanigans, Rachel should be more in tune with what Quire is doing. Instead, she plays the unsuspecting teacher who can’t see what’s in front of her. This is not a typical representation of Rachel. Also, Logan’s dialogue seems off like Wood hasn’t quite discovered Logan’s voice. The story seems to be dragging as well, and probably could have been condensed. My main hope in going forward is that more “construct” time can be shown so we can get Brooks’ work front and center. –JJ

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

X-Club #4
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Paul Davidson

This series certainly isn’t for everyone, but if you dig science and can get behind a group of C-list X-Men that are written very well, you’ll love this mini. It stars the X-Club, the science team of X-Men who basically replaced Beast when he punked out and quit on his own kind for reasons I still don’t understand. Dr. Nemesis is the most entertaining of the trio, making numerous movie references throughout the issue with his trademarked snarkiness, Madison Jeffries has a Giant Man/Jocasta thing going on with Danger, and Dr. Kavita Rao, well, she’s just plain ol’human but totally awesome. The character whom the plot is mostly focused on is Danger, the living embodiment of the Danger Room, and the idea of her being “pregnant.” No, that isn’t a typo. A machine is pregnant, and while that sounds wild (and it is!) depending on how the closing issue pans out will determine the relevance of this pregnancy in current X-continuity. Oh, there’s also some Nazi bashing fun, and that’s always a good thing. -AL

Cover: 8/10 Writing: 8/10 Art: 7.5 Relevance: 4/10

X-Men #26
Writer: Victor Gischler
Artist: Jorge Molina

Jubilee is one of my personal favorite X-characters. I grew up on the 90s X-cartoon and the X-Men Blue and Gold teams, so the fact that Victor Gischler is coming back to her storyline, which he began way back in X-Men #1 a few years ago, is a great way to spin this book post X-Schism. This series has had its ups and downs, but when Gischler gets on a roll with his vampires, he cruises without many bruises. While it would be nice to see this story focus more on Jubilee and less on a multitude of bounty hunters out to kill Dracula’s son, Raizo, who is also the leader of The Forgiven (a sect of vampires who have curbed their human blood lust). The individual fights of the X-Men allied with The Forgiven against the bounty hunters were cool, but each only lasted a page or so, not really adding much to the story. Gischler handled Deadpool well, making him humorous but not too over the top. It looks like Jubilee is about to kick some serious ass next issue, and where she ends up going at the conclusion of this arc is anyone’s guess. Will she return to Utopia with Storm and re-join her mutant brethren, or stick with her newly acquired vampire comrades? It’s tough to tell, but as long as Gischler sticks with this team he’s playing with, and doesn’t let Jubilee slip into obscurity once again, fans should have no trouble running with the story he’s currently telling. -AL

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

Briefly X-Posed:
Venom #14: X-23 has co-starred in “The Circle of Four” storyline, which has been running through this series for the last 6 issues. At the end of the day we have learned one crucial fact about X- she has a soul! 3/5

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Andy: Avengers Academy #27. What can I say? The Runaways are awesome.
Jeff: While it wasn’t the best issue of the whole story, Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #9 certainly gets my pick out of this week’s books.



  1. Art Adams draws one really cool Wolverine!

  2. Jeff Jackson

    I agree! I wish he had done the whole issue!

  3. This is probably the longest I’ve gone w/o reading Uncanny X-Men since it’s not even remotely fun anymore. Uncanny X-Men has become the Black Hole of fun.

  4. Jeff Jackson

    I agree! Gillen was doing a decent job before the relaunch!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *