March 26, 2012

The Uncanny X-Piles LXXXII

Before we get to this week’s books, we want to welcome ComicAttack staffer Arnab Pradhan, who is covering for our fearless leader Andy Liegl who has decided a trip to Aruba is more important than X-Men books. The nerve of that guy! Thanks Arnab for picking up the slack this week!

Avengers: X-Sanction #4
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artist: Ed McGuinness

As pretty as Ed McGuinness’s art is in this mini-series, it doesn’t really help the fact that this story is extremely weak. What happened to Jeph Loeb’s ability to craft a good story. It seems that the entire point of this mini was to do two things: 1. Resurrect Cable and free from from the techno-organic virus and 2. Solidify Hope as having Phoenix-powers. In the middle of all that, you have Cable acting rash and unreasonable, and the Avengers stupidly walking into his trap one-by-one. I understand that Loeb can’t show all the cards by revealing the Avengers vs. X-Men plot, but Cable’s insistence on defeating the Avengers before that conflict and not telling anyone is quite forced. In fact, the conflict in this entire book is forced, from Wolverine deciding to kill Cable because he kidnapped the Avengers, to Cyclops and Hope defending Cable against Spider-Man and Wolverine for no apparent reason. Seeing as how Cyclops and Wolverine have enough conflict between the two of them, it seems odd that Loeb decides not to capitalize on that. Blaquesmith plays a non-role in the book, except helping Cable up until the very end, then turning on him in order to help Hope and Cyclops. Why help him at all? In the end, the Avengers keep the very weapons that Cable didn’t want them to have, and Cable is healed from the virus that has plagued him for years…I guess. The end of the book happens so quickly that we don’t really get much in terms of wrap-up. There are just too many holes in this book. I would love to see McGuinness take on a regular Avengers or X-Men book, away from the horrible scripts that Loeb has been phoning in lately. Much like Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, this is a prelude to the upcoming Avengers vs. X-Men event, but without really setting up things at all. Marvel would do well to just tell their stories without preludes as the last string has been rather weak. –JJ

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

Deadpool #52
Writer: Daniel Way
Artists: Ale Garza, Sean Parsons, and Dommo Sanchez Amara

As often as Deadool is written clueless, ditzy, unfocused, it’s easy to forget just how intelligent he is. What this arc has done is brought that tiny fact and blown it up as Deadpool plays the X-Force, Kingpin, Daken, and Tombstone like they were all puppets in his one man show. To briefly recap this arc so far, someone created a serum that would turn off mutant healing powers. This serum was used to kill Evil Deadpool and now Deadpool is starting a war in the city in order to get his hands on that serum. Daniel Way is doing a tremendous job writing the hell out of this story. There are three main highlights to the story that make it a success. The first is how well of a handle Way has on the huge cast of characters. Not only does he write X-Force as well as anyone, but he’s been able to take characters like Typhoid Mary, Tombstone, Kingpin and has made them interesting. The second thing, which is probably the most important, is that this entire arc is based on a great idea. Deadpool has, probably, the best healing factor in the entire Marvel universe and with everything he’s gone through death has got to be looking good. The final thing Way is doing great with this book is the aforementioned display of Wade’s intellect. He’s planned nearly every single moment of the last three issues and if that last page isn’t a trick, he’s gotten exactly what he wanted. Of course, Wade is remarkably hilarious the entire time, which only highlights just how smart he can be when he needs to. Garza, Parsons, and Amara make for a fantastic artistic team bringing this action packed issue to life. –AP

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

Generation Hope #17
Writer: James Asmus
Artists: Takeshi Miyazawa and Jim Charalampidis

When Hope first arrived she was overconfident, brazen, and stubborn. Not much has changed really, but after 17 issues there is a definite growth in the character. This series started with Hope affecting new mutants just by touch and ever since, that aspect has been a troubling Kenji day after day. Of course, when a person harps on such a thing for far too long, he goes crazy. In this instance Kenji used his own powers to infiltrate and manipulate the civilians of Utopia. While this was certainly was a series that had its problems, the concluding issue was excellent. We finally get to see Hope confronted by her faults, only this time it’s her peers that are are confronting her. James Asmus has done a great job with these characters since taking over. They are beginning to feel more like a team instead of a bunch of soldiers following their leader. – AP

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

New Mutants #39
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art: Leandro Fernandez

I have officially decided to drop this title. In a time where money is tight, and Marvel books are mediocre, yet somehow continually double-shipping, I can no longer justify buying this title. The mediocrity really exists with the art here. Leandro Fernandez’s art just doesn’t fit with a book like this. DnA are squarely trying to find a place for the New Mutants in the larger Marvel Universe, and they have an interesting status quo, but all of that requires an artistic style that is not so heavy on the dark. Instead, this book should be nothing but fun, with an artist in the vein of Mark Bagley or Paul Pelletier. Fernandez’s work just drags this book down. Granted, being stuck on an island with a virus is not the happiest of tales, but there are moments of levity, like Warlock trying to “lead” the team and putting on a happy face for them, that are diminished because of the darkness of the artwork. Mind you, I don’t think Fernandez is a bad artist, I just think he’s not a good fit here. The story is a bit stronger than previous arcs, even though the return of the Ani-Mator is a bit of a stretch. Couldn’t he have just left a virus on the island without making himself the virus? DnA are trying to put Dani and Nate together as a couple, as well as strengthening the bond between Amara and Roberto, but somehow I’m not really convinced. I was really hoping for a Sam Guthrie/Dani relationship to spring up, but they skirted that pretty quickly. It’s puzzling why the relationship stuff isn’t interesting me here when I typically yearn for that on other books. But I’m not feeling the emotion, and many that’s the heart of why Fernandez doesn’t fit here. The words may convey some emotion, but the acting of the characters really don’t. For instance, you would think that once Doug sees his former killer, he would either be terrified or mad as hell. Fernandez’s depiction of him is a nonplussed mouth-gape. So because of my continuing disappointment, this book gets the axe in a month or two. –JJ

Cover: 6/10 Writing: 6/10 Art: 1/10 Relevance: 3/10

Uncanny X-Men #9
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Carlos Pacheco

It’s only taken me 9 issues to finally give a positive review of this book. If you’re a regular reader of the X-Piles, you know that even with last issue, this book has been on the bottom of the X-Men stack. Gillen hasn’t seemed to know what to do with the direction here, despite his great work on other books. However, in this issue, the story takes a turn for the better. A few years ago, Gillen wrote a book called SWORD that quickly got cancelled. In that book, he introduced a creepy villain named Unit, who makes his return here. Unit has been the most tightly secured prisoner in SWORD’s brig, despite his extremely calm and friendly manner. In fact, it’s that demeanor that makes Unit so freaking creepy. Gillen continues to display this as Unit masterminds a prison break which requires the X-Men and Avengers to team up to get things back in order. Unit does some extremely disturbing things in this issue, like brutally murdering an innocent man and his son on-panel, which surprised me. Interestingly enough, this issue could have been played out over many issues, like the last unfavorable arc, yet Gillen chooses to speed up the Avengers/X-Men team-up in as few panels as possible. Of course, this is due to the upcoming AvX event, but it was a welcome device for the story. That begs the question, however, about the continuity of this book and X-Sanction. That’s not the only minor issue I had here, though. Emma’s arm, which was lost a few issues ago, gets healed, which makes me wonder why she was even injured. Scott and Logan have a brief word although it’s not very tense at all, which it should have been. And Hope strangely leaves the battlefield and we get an awkward excuse from Cyclops as to why she should go. Pacheco’s art is strengthened throughout the issue, even though his cover is lacking. This is by no means a perfect issue, but it’s a step in the right direction. More Unit is definitely the way to go. –JJ

Cover: 4/10 Writing: 7/10 Art: 7/10 Relevance: 7/10

Wolverine #303
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Billy Tan, Steven Sanders, Paco Diaz

Jason Aaron completes his run on the main Wolverine book, and it ends with a rather loud thud. The art is not completely to blame here, even though the addition of Paco Diaz to the already-ragtag group of artists seems extremely bizarre. Aaron has been attempting to reset the Japanese status quo in the Marvel Universe in this arc, and does some things well. He removes the clutter of who’s in control of the Hand, which has really become a joke over the years, he introduces a complex new Silver Samurai, and he brings back Sabretooth and Mystique as a credible threat to Wolverine again. But it’s that last point that seems the weakest. Sabretooth has never been much of a mastermind of anything other than mutilating people, yet Aaron has resurrected him to be a major villain with a calculating mind. This seems largely out of character for Victor Creed, especially with Mystique at his side, who has always been more of the schemer. Maybe this will be explained when someone tells why Sabretooth is back from the dead to begin with, but I doubt it. Wolverine gets lots in this issue, and does nothing of note, despite being the central character. Even the reveal to Melita of Mystique’s incriminating video of Logan having sex with her is almost a non-issue. Many of these problems are artistic, as Billy Tan’s weakness is conveying any sort of emotion. His design work is pretty weak too, with Sabretooth sporting spiked hair like a Yu-Gi-Oh character with a headband that looks like it was stolen from Storm. Tan’s small, generic faces tend to lose the emotion of the panel as well. This issue really disappointed in almost every way, and it’s hard to believe that Jason Aaron actually wrote this when he’s done such good work before, and continues to nail his other Wolverine book. –JJ

Cover: 4/10 Writing: 4/10 Art: 2/10 Relevance: 5/10

X-Factor #233
Writer: Peter A. David
Artists: Leonard Kirk and Matt Milla

If it has taken you seven years to pick up Peter David’s run on X-Factor, then this is where you should start. As good a starting point the .1 issue was, the status quo of the team has had a major shakeup with Polaris and Havok joining the team. As a stand-alone issue, this was a solid issue. We got to see how successful the team would be with Havok leading and it turns out they’d be quite successful. While there are things that still need some attention, the team was able to get in and out of the situation without any incidents. Unfortunately for Havok, things might not be as uneventful when everyone finds out that Madrox is no longer dead. Speaking of Madrox, after a magical journey across dimensions, he made his way back to the land of the living and spent the issue spending some quality time with Layla. The two of them, written by PAD, make a very strong pairing. There’s the obvious chemistry and there’s also the fact that both of these characters are strong willed, intelligent, characters. In the long run, this issue sees the return of an old villain, the Isolationist. New readers may not know who the character is, and I’d highly recommend going back to his first appearance in X-Factor #89, but the most important thing to know moving forward is that he has the abilities of all living mutants on the planet. PAD has done such a remarkable job with these characters that it will be exciting to see what he has in store for them on their next journey. – AP

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

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
ArnabDeadpool #52
Jeff: As strange as it may be, my pick goes to Uncanny X-Men #9.



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