April 2, 2012

The Uncanny X-Piles LXXXIII


Astonishing X-Men #48
Writer: Marjorie Liu
Artist: Mike Perkins

Marjorie Liu kicks off her run on this title, and she does a solid job. Her cast is a bunch of B and C list X-Men, starring Northstar and Gambit, but also featuring Wolverine, Iceman, Cecilia Reyes, and Warbird. It’s a great cast, and considering Remy and Logan, one she has experience writing coming off of her recently concluded X-23 run. Liu gets personal with Jean-Paul (Northstar) and Gambit, giving us a peek into their personal lives. If you didn’t know, Northstar is gay, and that is definitely featured here, and will be more-so in future issues when he supposedly gets married to his boyfriend. That being said, I’m curious as to how Liu will play out Jean-Paul’s longstanding feelings for Bobby (Iceman), which are pretty much known by everybody except for the ol’popsicle himself. Liu handles all of the characters well, adding some humor to their dialogue and showcasing their abilities- especially Iceman’s, which gets serious props from me. Although, I’m not entirely clear as to how the new group of villains that show up took him down. Looked like some sort of ethereal dragon thing. The artwork by Mike Perkins is excellent, too, and continues Liu’s streak of getting teamed up with talented pencilers. They both have taken this cast and made them gel, and I can’t help but wonder why this storyline didn’t launch during X-Regenesis. It’s much more appropriate to the theme as opposed to the alternate universe Cyclops story that Greg Pak wrote prior. Honestly, this book feels like an edgier version of Wolverine and the X-Men, considering the characters are out in the field and away from the school. This is a great start to Liu’s run, and I hope she sticks around for awhile. -AL

Cover: 8/10 (10/10 for the variant!) Writing: 8/10 Art: 9/10 Relevance: 6/10

Avengers #24.1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Brandon Peterson

Marvel screwed up royally with this issue. It shouldn’t have been Avengers #24.1, but rather, the issue in it’s entirety should have been included in Avengers vs. X-Men #0. I read that issue before this and was very underwhelmed, but after reading this issue, I feel like there is so much more to the coming conflict between these two teams and it is required reading for fans investing in the event. This was a great intro issue to the standpoint of The Vision and why he acts how he does towards Wanda in AvX #0. Without reading this issue as a companion, Vision’s animosity towards Wanda feels very out of place- especially for an android- but you get the reasons for it here. There’s also an excellent confrontation between Magneto and Vision that every X-Men fan needs to read (foreshadowing perhaps?). Mags essentially whips him, but not before Vision shows Magneto what he can do, too. But in the end, The Vision is made of metal, and Magneto is at a high-point right now with his powers, so it’s no question who won, or even who could have won in a landslide. I’m really looking forward to AvX #1 a whole lot more after reading this .1 issue, as the #0 left me feeling flat- just felt like more of the same stuff we already knew. For new readers, it was a decent spotlight on Hope and The Scarlet Witch, but this .1 issue fleshes out the story so much more for veterans. Also, Bendis writing the X-Men (Colossus, Hope, Cyke, and Emma are in it, too) gives me hope that he’ll take over the core X-book(s) once this event concludes. Pick this issue up X-fans. It’s essential. -AL

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

Avengers vs. X-Men #0
Writers: Brian Michael Bendis & Jason Aaron
Artist: Frank Cho

I have to admit, I have been pretty excited about this new Marvel event. Not only does it include my favorite characters, but is pitting them against one another. Granted, I’ll be surprised if they ever hit the coolness of Civil War again, but it looks like they have a shot with this issue. This issue is exactly what previous event “prelude issues” is supposed to be. It sets up the main characters in a really cool way. Hope Summers and Scarlet Witch are slated to be central in this event, so thanks to Bendis and Aaron, each character gets their due in a separate story. After the events of Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, Wanda Maximoff is slowly coming back to her heroic roots. She takes down MODOK and his AIM goons with the help of fellow Avengers Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman. This is a great return for Wanda, and those of us who prefer Wanda as a hero find her back in her true form. Bendis does a great job in putting her and her fellow female Avengers front and center. The story moves to the trio stopping by the mansion, where Wanda gets a painfully cold reception by the newly returned Vision, her husband. Bendis nails everything in this story, from Vision’s reaction to Wanda to Vision’s teary retreat at the end. This is a great companion to the .1 issue Andy reviewed above. The second story has some wonderful characterization of Hope by Jason Aaron, as she uses her powers to take down the Serpent Society. Aaron has a handle on Hope that Kieron Gillen hasn’t even had. The scene where she continually head-butts Anaconda was particularly awesome, and showed how stubborn and resourceful Hope can be. The brutality with which she takes down the Society sets her up to be a viable threat for the Avengers and the X-Men. Add to all of this the wonderfully consistent art of Frank Cho, who excels at drawing female characters, and I am hard pressed to believe that the rest of the series will be this good. For once, I am super-pumped about where this is going! –JJ

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

Daken: Dark Wolverine #23
Writer: Rob Williams
Artists: Matteo Buffagni, Paco Diaz, Riley Rossmo, Andrea Mutti

As series finales go, this one was a let down. Which is unfortunate, because Rob Williams has had a respectable run on Daken, taking him places, and actually developing his character by doing new things. Daken doesn’t even appear in the final pages of this issue, and it’s left up in the air as to what has happened to him. Did he die in an explosion? Probably not, but we don’t find out either way. One thing is for sure though, and that is his healing factor has been indeed canceled out due to excessive use of the hallucinogenic drug, Heat. So props there for Williams leaving his imprint on Daken. I have to assume the reason why this issue fell so flat is because of Marvel Editorial. They must have told Williams how this thing had to end- ambiguously… right? I certainly hope so, because it doesn’t accurately reflect his run on the title character. Also, the fact that four artists had to wrap this thing up didn’t help either. I’ll miss Daken, and I hope that when he makes his [eventual] return Williams is allowed to run free with him. -AL

Cover: 5/10 Writing: 6/10 Art: 3/10 Relevance: 4/10

Uncanny X-Force #23
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Greg Tocchini

When in doubt, trust Rick Remender. Despite my fellow CoC host Capekiller’s praise of this arc, I have not been as pleased. I have felt that the villains in this story have really lacked any sense of presence or depth. I have been puzzled by Fantomex and Psylocke’s interactions and the overall connection this arc has been making. However, I must say that I don’t think I will ever doubt Remender again. He choreographed all of that and tied up the loose ends perfectly with this issue. Separating the team over the last few issues had allowed them room to make the decisions that they make in this issue. I won’t spoil the ending, but Betsy makes a choice that will forever change her character. However, if Remender hadn’t put her in the situation with Fantomex prior to that, nor had her spiraling downward over the course of this series, then the payoff wouldn’t have been as heartbreaking or stone-cold awesome. The other big reveal has been who the main villain really was. For years, we’ve all known Jamie Braddock to be a psychopath, however, Remender gently brought him back in this arc completely reformed. I thought that was strange, but went with it. Another thing you need to know about Remender is that he doesn’t make a change like that unless there’s a purpose. It turns out, and I am going to spoil this, that the reason the villains in this book were so nondescript and bland was that they were really a cover for Jamie Braddock. So from now on, I will not make the mistake of doubting Rick Remender on this series. The art in this issue, and the entire arc, was not my favorite. That’s not to say it was bad, but I think Tocchini’s work lacked some of the detail that other artists have packed into this series. Granted, being in a magical setting like the Omniverse, his is a complimentary style, but it lacked the crispness of other issues. That leads to a bit of a lack of clarity in a few panels. This book continues to please on all levels, taking characters to new places (or depths), weaving in classic lore from the X-canon (this was practically an issue of Excalibur), and crafting new, big ideas for the future (will Fantomex’s face remain removed?). This will make a great trade for anyone who is looking for a book that capitalizes on big reveals and morally-compromising positions. –JJ

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

X-Men: Legacy #264
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Rafa Sandoval

An X-Men comic with Cannonball, Chamber, and the Mimic is damn near a perfect X-Men comic in my eyes. If Madrox had been in here, I would have had to slap my granny. Once again, Christos Gage is proving to be an excellent writer for this book, as it continues to compliment what’s going on in the other “Team Wolverine” titles, while also maintaining its own status quo. In this issue, Weapon Omega (Michael Pointer) and the Mimic (Calvin Rankin), two major loose ends from the “Dark X-Men” story a while back, show up because Weapon Omega’s powers are killing him. What I love here is that Gage remembers that Mimic is not actually a mutant, therefore his powers will not keep Pointer’s powers of absorbing mutant energies at bay. So Pointer is actually a ticking time bomb, as without mutant energies to absorb, he will explode. Time bomb stories are always great because they set an intense pace. What Gage does here though is that he gives a possible solution to the problem, which carries the pacing well to the end. The solution is that Rogue and Mimic will help drain off Pointer’s powers so that they might possibly save him and stop the destruction of the school. However, Gage throws a curveball at the end, and makes Rogue and Mimic duplicate Pointer’s powers so that they are ticking time bombs as well! The best thing Gage could have done was ramp up the conflict here. The story is really well done, and I wish I could say the same for the art. Rafa Sandoval is new to me, and after David Baldeon’s excellent work in the last arc, Sandoval’s work lacks the punch that Baldeon offers. His work reminds me of Leinil Francis Yu’s and not in a good way. I think it’s his faces. They don’t seem to hold much emotion. Mark Brooks’ covers are the bees knees, but once again when you have a cover that kicks ass like this, it makes the interior art stand out even more. Despite the change of art, this issue is a lot of fun, and the series continues to go in a really exciting direction. –JJ

Cover: 9/10 Writing: 8/10 Art: 4/10 Relevance: 7/10

Briefly X-Posed
New Avengers #23: This story arc has been amazing, as Bendis concludes his sequel to Dark Avengers. Some fun Wolvie moments here, and seeing Skaar wallop Gorgon dressed in Wolverine’s ninja suit was worth the price of admission. So was Deodato’s art! 10/10 –AL

Secret Avengers #24: Remender also continues to be the master of taking B & C list characters and making them gel well as a team. This book has some great moments like Beast and Hawkeye trading quips while Beast is severely injured and a great final page. Hardman’s art is not my favorite style, but it works well on this title. 7/10 -JJ

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Andy: Avengers #24.1 for me. The Vision/Magneto confrontation made my X-week.
Jeff: Lots of good books this week, but Avengers vs. X-Men #0 was my favorite out of the bunch.

Andy Liegl

Jeff Jackson



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