This week on the X-Piles we welcome the SpidermanGeek himself, Dan Briand!
Whereas New Avengers #24 was a solid tie-in to the AvX event, providing a deeper look into the minds of the New Avengers team and, specifically, Luke Cage, this tie-in issue was superfluous and unnecessary. Which is strange considering Avengers #24.1 was a must-read for this event. Here we focus in on Captain America and what his inner thoughts are regarding the Hope/Phoenix situation. If you’ve been reading the event book to date, it’s just more of the same, which is unfortunate. I really don’t understand why Captain America has to be such an ignoramous throughout this whole thing, and a little reference to Civil War and the last time the heroes threw down against each other would have been nice. It’s almost as if that all never happened. I would like to think that a military man would try to learn a little bit more from the mistakes of the past. Plus, the second issue of AvX has already moved beyond what goes down in this issue, and it would have been more appropriate to have come out alongside #0 or #1 of the main event book, so it feels like we aren’t getting anything new here. As it is though, this is a completely skippable tie-in, and the shoddy art by a legendary name was a complete let down. Tar and feather me, but this was some pretty lame duck stuff from Walt Simonson, whose Thor run still stands the test of time. Unfortunately, this issue is best left forgotten. -AL
Cover: 9/10 Writing: 4/10 Art: 2/10 Relevance: 4/10
Avengers Vs. X-Men #2
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: John Romita, Jr.
Aw man. What started off with some great promise quickly turned into a forced and shallow event. While my review on issue #1 was generally positive, it was not received that way across the board. I’m now seeing exactly what everyone hated about the first issue.
First, it’s almost unbelievable that Jason Aaron wrote this book. For someone who is known for his huge ideas, his balance of humor and action, and his intricate character work, this book had absolutely none of that. Instead, we get yet another “book-by-committee” which is crippling the great opportunities that Marvel has to blow our minds. The forced match-ups between characters and the way Aaron describes their pairings is almost laughable. “Irradiated muscles strain.” “Today both will bleed.” “Indestructible shield meets mutant skull.” These are actually sentences written in this book. The amount of melodrama gives the book a weightiness that it didn’t need.
Next, you have the amazingly out-of-character Cyclops, who literally says that the Avengers think of the X-Men as “ugly stepchildren.” This has never been true, as the Avengers and X-Men have generally respected one another. Many of these characters are friends, so Cyclops’ incessant and ridiculous whining doesn’t make sense at all. Plus, I’m not convinced that he even has a rational point thinking that the Phoenix is coming to rebuild mutantkind. He of all people should know how destructive the Phoenix is. On the other side of the debate, Captain America seems a bit out of character as well. In every other instance recently, he’s trusted Scott and has conferred with him on many issues. So why not say, “Hey Scott, the Phoenix is coming, got any ideas?” Instead, he jumps the gun. I understand that there has to be a conflict for them to fight over, but like Schism, this seems completely forced and out-of-character.
The next problem is how each of these characters is portrayed. I didn’t know Luke Cage and the Thing could breathe and fight underwater! The panels between Black Panther and Storm were just awful…and I thought she was an Avenger now? Hope elbowing Transonic in the face makes me wonder why those Five Lights are still following her. Everyone seems just out of place.
My final critique is Romita’s art. I thought he started strong and issue #1 felt more like classic JRJR, but this looks lazy, unfinished, and lacking in any interesting panels. What this issue needed was huge double-page spreads by an Olivier Coipel or Steve McNiven, not the undefined and scratchy pencils of Romita. This feels like a fan-fic rendition of a real Marvel book.
Overall, I’m starting to feel like Avengers: The Children’s Crusade was the real AvX and this is just a bad issue of What If? –JJ
Cover: 8/10 Writing: 2/10 Art: 2/10 Relevance: 9/10
After Cypher (Douglas Ramsey) conquered his inner-demons by coming out victorious against a reanimated re-animator on Paradise Island and effectively saving the lives of his entire team in Issue #40, the gang takes a little break for this issue. Which in all honesty, is just a filler issue as the Journey Into Mystery/New Mutants crossover titled “Exiled” begins with next issue.
Still, D&A do their best to give us some character progression as they poke at some of the relationship tension that has been building up within the team. Sunspot (Roberto Da Costa) essentially sulks the entire time as he feels he is losing what chance he had with Magma (Amara Aquilla), while Amara admits to Blink (Clarice Ferguson) that she has been romantically involved with Mephisto as of late. Dani Moonstar comes to terms with her feelings toward Nate Grey, something that fans of this series have seen coming since Nate joined the team. Even Warlock manages to meet a lady of his own, which will undoubtedly develop into a later plot point, presumably after “Exiled”. All in all, a good effort was put forward by the writers to make this issue more than filler even though the New Mutants team essentially did nothing in this issue.
David López’ art continues to be the weakest link of this creative team. Just comparing it to Kris Anka’s wonderful work on the cover, the interiors are sub-par. Every member of the team looks sleep deprived, even Warlock. This series is in serious need of a double espresso. I still have faith that D&A can turn this book into something really special, but that can’t happen with the current artist. If Emanuela Lupacchino isn’t currently on another project, Marvel should strongly consider her for this title. –SG
Cover: 8/10 Writing: 6/10 Art: 4/10 Relevance: 5/10
One modern addition to X-Men comics these days is tying up loose ends early rather than dragging them out over time. Back in the day when Chris Claremont and Louise Simonson were the only ones writing these books, they could plant a clue 50 issues before something happened, but in today’s climate, with creators changing with almost each arc, they aren’t afforded the time to allow for dangling plot threads. Rick Remender is proving that he can do both of these things in this book. He can draw out story lines over time, but also ties things up neatly. This issue wraps up one of the things left over from the Dark Angel Saga, namely, what happened to the AoA Iceman? We find that this Bobby Drake is living it up in this new world he’s found himself in after betraying the AoA X-Men. This life doesn’t last long as X-Force is hot on his trail after AoA Nightcrawler has vowed to hunt and kill the remaining villains from his world. This is a great issue with an awesome battle between two long-time friends. However, after a conversation with my pal Decapitated Dan, who is a HUGE Iceman fan, the defeat of Iceman by Nightcrawler seems to have been handled poorly. Unless Remender is planning on using him again, Iceman’s death by being tossed into a furnace doesn’t seem believable considering the power this guy has. Couldn’t he just turn to steam? However, I’ve learned to trust Remender with holes like this, so I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Iceman. The other focus in this issue deals with Psylocke, who has now had her emotions removed, which makes her a much more interesting character. At one point, she was the conscious of this team, and without that, how will the team be affected? All of this great characterization is accompanied by the exquisite art of Phil Noto. He seems like a natural for regular artist of this book, so I hope to see more of him here. The X-Force train keeps rolling and I’m completely on board! –JJ
Cover: 7/10 Writing: 8/10 Art: 7/10 Relevance: 8/10
The reason AvX #2 gets such a low rating from me is due to the fact that this issue proves that Jason Aaron is much better when left to write his own story. This is a great tie-in issue, with clear connections to the main AvX storyline, but telling stories pertaining to the ancillary characters. First, you have the gamblers on Planet Sin placing bets on the Phoenix’s destruction. Then, you have Idie do a great job of summing up the Phoenix force and the sides of the AvX battle in a book report to her class. Next, you have Captain America making a visit, which we saw briefly in AvX #1. This issue fleshes out that conversation much more and provides a better reasoning for Wolverine’s explanation for backing Cap. You also get the connection of Gladiator to the school, and the Phoenix’s connection to Rachel and Quentin, which fits perfectly with continuity. Aaron also finds time to seed some upcoming story lines as well, with Warbird and the continued question of Husk’s powers, as well as finding a sweet, personal moment between Idie and Logan. It’s amazing what Aaron can do with just a few pages, which only further highlights the inconsistency between this issue and AvX #2. The only letdown of this issue is the work of the beloved Chris Bachalo. Having studied his art for years, I can tell when he rushes his work. This issue lacked the precision of his stylized panels, with lots of blurry images, confusing layouts, and odd color choices. It’s not bad, per se, but it’s not his usual work, and I can only imagine it’s due to the deadlines of the AvX event. –JJ
Cover: 8/10 Writing: 8/10 Art: 6/10 Relevance: 10/10
Peter David is a master sub-plotter. There are so many things going on in this issue, but any long time Peter David fans know that pretty soon, all of these different plot points will come to a head. The writer does a great job of tying up old plots while simultaneously moving current ones along and launching new ones.
We get a glimpse of Jezebel and The Isolationist strengthening their partnership as they cook up something big against Mutantkind. The X-Factor team comes face to face with the supposedly dead Multiple Man (Jamie Madrox) before M (Monet St-Croix) confronts Layla Miller with her opinion on the matter. The Monet/Layla confrontation is the main plot of this issue. Tension has been building between these two for quite some time and fans of the book are finally treated to a deeper look at the enigmatic Layla Miller while she attempts to explain to Monet how her powers truly work. This diffuses the confrontation, but M doesn’t forgive easily as she storms off to digest the dialog while leaving Layla stranded on top of the Empire State building.
Having arrived late to the party, Havok (Alex Summers) and Polaris (Lorna Dane) butt heads with Jamie about the M/Layla situation. Looks like there will be a struggle for the team’s leadership coming further down the pipe.
Not much to say about Leonard Kirk’s art. It’s fantastic, clean and dynamic. Keep this guy on this book!
The same goes for the David Yardin covers that X-Factor readers have grown accustomed to. –SG
Cover: 9/10 Writing: 9/10 Art: 9/10 Relevance: 6/10
This issue ultimately serves as a showcase for Jubilee. While Domino, Warpath, Deadpool and a handful of The Forgiven vampires wrap up their respective battles against an invasion by multiple parties, whom all of which are gunning for the head of Raizo Kodo, Jubilee is left to fend for herself against Lord Deathstrike as Storm, Psylocke and Raizo have been put out of commission by the aforementioned master assassin. Without spoiling anything, Jubilee respectably holds her own against Lord Deathstrike as she brings into practice what she’s learned from both Wolverine and Raizo.
Molina & Espin’s art is excellent. The Lord Deathstrike/Jubilee fight sequence is both fast paced and dynamic. Every blow, parry and thrust is perfectly highlighted. Gischler’s dialog (or rather, monolog since Deathstrike remains silent throughout) is excellent. You can feel the tension in Jubilee’s voice as she fights for her life, the life of her new mentor and the lives of her fellow X-Men. As a bonus, we are also treated to just the right amount of Deadpool . He makes in appearance in just a handful of panels, but as usual, the maladjusted character chews up the scenery as he interacts with Domino and Colossus.
The issue works well as a stand-alone, only to be further complemented by the previous issue. Fans of Jubilee should make it a point of picking this one up. It’s a fun read and a pivotal arc for Jubilee’s new status quo. –SG
Cover: 7/10 Writing: 7/10 Art: 9/10 Relevance: 7/10
Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
SpidermanGeek: Despite not receiving my highest score this week, my pick is X-Men #27. Fun issue, mad respect for Jubilee.
Jeff: Despite the rushed art, I enjoyed Wolverine & the X-Men #9 more than any of the others this week.
Andy: Hands down Uncanny X-Force. If Iceman weren’t kicking it strong in Wolvie and the X-Men, I’d be a little upset after this issue!