May 2, 2012

The Uncanny X-Piles LXXXVII

Astonishing X-Men #49
: Marjorie Liu
Artist: Mike Perkins

A bunch of the Marauders are back causing chaos (including that Prism dude who was shattered by psychotic Purifiers during Messiah Complex), but Karma quickly discovers their minds are being manipulated. The new Warbird hits on Iceman some more about impromptu mating, there’s some shouting back and forth between the two mutant clubs, and eventually the two old foes part ways. As the X-Men are left scratching their heads as to who would mind control the Marauders, Northstar flies his boyfriend(/soon-to-be-husband) back to their apartment. They talk the typical superhero talk when it comes to a significant other, whilst unknowingly being spied on by what we are to assume is the master manipulator of this story. This person has already gotten into the mind of an X-Man and their intentions are sinister at best. For those who were fans of the X-Force run that preceded Uncanny X-Force, it’s worth noting Vanisher has shacked up with Chimera’s Marauders squad. This issue wasn’t as strong as the last, as Marjorie Liu has slowed the pace and muddied the water through the use of flashback storytelling and the random appearance of The Marauders (with characters thought dead). And since the big wedding issue is coming up (supposedly between Northstar and Kyle), it doesn’t sound like things will be picking up anytime soon. Although, I have strong faith in Liu’s storytelling abilities, and the artwork of Mike Perkins is easily enough to stick with this title. Andy Troy’s colors compliment Perkins’ artwork, giving this book an appealing different look from the other X-titles. Northstar is a tough character to make work as a leading man, and while Liu may have her work cut out for her, she usually has a handle on this type of stuff. Stick around X-fans. –AL

Cover: 7/10 Writing: 6/10 Art: 8/10 Relevance: 5/10

AVX: VS. #1 (of 6)
Writers: Jason Aaron & Kathryn Immonen
Artists: Adam Kubert & Stuart Immonen

Now this is what AvX should be all about! Why do we need a plot when we can just have these characters duke it out? Marvel is at least cashing in on the concept by giving us exactly what we want. As bad as AvX #2 was, this book at least didn’t claim to be anything other than what it was, and that’s what makes it so great. I’ve learned over the years that if you set the bar low, you can’t disappoint. However, the reverse is also true in that if you set the bar too high, like Marvel does with all it’s events, then you’re bound to disappoint fans. I went into this with extremely low expectations, especially after AvX #2, and came out pleasantly surprised. The intention of this mini-series is just to highlight the fights of the event. In this issue, we get Iron Man vs. Magneto and Namor vs. Thing. They take place during the initial battle in AvX #2, although the timing is quite puzzling. Magneto got pummeled by Quicksilver in one issue, but also ends up losing to Iron Man in this issue. Also, Namor and Thing fight here, but Luke Cage is in the mix in the other issue. Not sure which one happens when, but that’s not the point. If you try to think too hard here, then once again, you’ll be disappointed. But if you just want to see superheroes fight, then this is for you. Jason Aaron and Kathryn Immonen choreograph the battles pretty well, and even add dialogue that tends to work OK when two people are fighting tooth and nail. Adam Kubert pulls off some impressive panels that look like his strongest work in a while, and Stuart Immonen proves to me why he’s one of the strongest Marvel artists around. This is not essential reading by any means, but if you’re a Contest of Champions Live fan, you should probably read this! –JJ

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

The New Avengers #25
Brian Michael Bendis
Mike Deodato & Will Conrad

Unless you’ve read the most recent Iron Fist run by Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction, and/or the Immortal Weapons mini-series, you may not get too much out of this issue. Smack me like a sad pickle, but I have not read either of those titles, but this issue of New Avengers makes me want to give them a go, and soon. Basically we have a prophecy hundreds of years old, rooted in the lore of the Iron Fist, that is coming to fruition by the return of the Phoenix Force to Earth. Why this wasn’t relevant the last three times the Phoenix Force entered our Solar System is beyond me, but I can roll with it. If you haven’t read all that Iron Fist stuff nor Duane Swierczynski’s Cable series (which ran for 24 issues after Messiah Complex ended), you’re probably doubly confused as to why the hell Hope was running around hundreds of years ago in K’un Lun. Read that series. It should help explain how she was able to do this, and still be the same age she is today. Anyway, this issue was done well overall, especially from the perspective of the artwork- Conrad and Deodato work excellently together. However, I’m interested to see just how closely tied to the Iron Fist mythos the Phoenix Force actually is. I hope it’s not some sort of retcon thing done to sell extra issues during a big event. While this issue doesn’t get into the reasons why or how, it does a decent job at setting up where things are headed. Now to justify the scores for this issue: 10/10 for the cover is a no-brainer. It’s awesome, catches the eye, and makes you ask questions. The writing doesn’t answer them yet, but stay hopeful it’ll all make sense later. Bendis [usually] delivers. The art was great, but the repetition of some pages and panels was lame. I’m reluctant to say this book is more relevant than a 5/10 only because we don’t really know how serious this connection to the Phoenix Force is with the legacy of the Iron Fist. Marvel could pull a “Fear Itself” on us and make the entire event irrelevant a month after it ends. If you’re into that Iron Fisty stuff, read this issue- if not, pass on this grass. –AL

Cover: 10/10 Writing: 6/10 Art: 7/10 Relevance: 5/10

Secret Avengers #27
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Renato Guedes

The first thing that needs to be said is that Alan Davis draws one helluva good looking cover. When you look at artists who have been drawing for 30+ years, it’s obvious that time can take it’s toll. Not so with Davis. It’s like he’s time-traveling to his Excalibur days, commissioning himself to draw a modern comic, and coming back to display it for us. His consistency in form of characters and composition of a cover is worth recognizing. However, when you pair an excellent cover artist with a mediocre interior artist, there are bound to be disappointments. Renato Guedes, who finished his run on Wolverine is here, and while he’s certainly not my favorite artist, I do recognize that this issue is a step up. His weaknesses seem to lie in the mannequin-faced characters he draws. Thor and Valkyrie especially look like they have no personality in their faces. Guedes also hasn’t gotten the memo that Beast is a cat now and not an ape. But while Guedes robs some of the quality character moments in this issue, Remender’s writing gives some back. Whether it’s Beast’s lecture to Captain Britain, the scene with Ms. Marvel and Protector, or Thor’s inspirational battle speech, Remender masters the voice of these characters even though he’s rarely ever played with any of them. While Bendis, Aaron, Hickman, and Fraction are struggling on the main AvX title, Remender once again quietly and effectively submits a better handle on this conflict than anyone. Not only that, but it looks like we have the return of Captain Marvel, which is fine by me so long as Remender is writing it. Like he did with making Uncanny X-Force the strongest X-Men book, it looks like he’s doing the same in making Secret Avengers the strongest Avengers book. –JJ

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

Uncanny X-Men #11
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Greg Land

This issue has a lot of interior monologuing. Some of it’s good, some of it’s not so good. Gillen did an okay job getting us inside the heads of Namor, Colossus & Hope, but unfortunately it all just doesn’t matter. None of them are saying anything we didn’t really already know and unfortunately, every confrontation in this issue ends with a fizzle.

AvX has been disappointing up to this point. The fights are silly and some of them are flat out ridiculous. Marvel had a chance to give us what we have been wanting, but this event feels like it’s already dead in the water. World War Hulk at least had a great build up before nothing came out of the final act. This horse is tripping over itself right out of the gate. Such a shame.

Greg Land is still the lead artist on Uncanny X-Men, and this issue isn’t any better than any of his recent works. I will compliment Land on the way he draws creatures though. The “hulking” out Colossus looks really fantastic and scary.

I don’t know if because Gillen is basically forced to shoehorn certain plot points into the book, but this issue as a whole felt uninspired and lackluster. The silver lining is in the ending. Cyclops sets a Public Relations plan into motion, to which I am interested in seeing where it leads us. –SG

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

Wolverine #305
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Paul Pelletier

One of the hardest things a writer has to do is follow a definitive run on a book. While his ending was poor, Jason Aaron pulled off an incredible run on this title, which was the most fun and most harrowing Wolverine has been in years. Now Cullen Bunn has the job of running with the things Aaron started, which is a job I don’t envy. When a new creative team takes over, they can either thrust the character into something altogether new or take the tone of the previous team and evolve it into something new. It seems that Bunn has decided to do the latter. He takes one of Aaron’s creepiest villain creations, Dr. Rot, and continues his torture of Wolverine. This story also includes an old (and perhaps tired) trope of mind-control of Wolverine, which only makes the reader yearn that Bunn will have the gifts to make that trope feel new and exciting. It’s still too early to tell at this point. In a blind taste test, I may not be able to distinguish this issue from Aaron’s previous works, and that might not be a bad thing. There’s something to be said for Bunn respecting the quality of the writer before him. What pleases me most is the accompanying Paul Pelletier on the art of this book. Pelletier has a style that can only be described as “classic Marvel” in the vein of John Byrne, John Romita, Sr., and Alan Davis. Clean lines, great panel layouts, and great character acting. I loved his work on War of Kings, and am glad to see him take on a mutant book. This issue is a little gorier than I expected, and with Pelletier’s pencils, the detail is really gross. He also draws Wolverine as the little stocky guy he should be rather than the Hugh Jackman we’ve been seeing recently. The pages that I really loved were the ones of Kitty and Rachel at the school, and I’m hoping under Bunn and Pelletier’s pens, that will be a recurrence. This is a strong start to an almost impossible task, so well done to Bunn and Pelletier! –JJ

Cover: 7/10 Writing: 7/10 Art: 9/10 Relevance: 6/10

X-Men: Legacy #265
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Rafa Sandoval

If you’ve been reading X-Men Legacy, you know that Rogue, Mimic & Omega Weapon are currently caught in a pretty grave situation. Weapon Omega’s powers are overloading and in an attempt to defuse the inevitable meltdown, Rogue and Mimic attempted to siphon some of the energy from him. Things didn’t go as planned and now with the help of Beast, the trio has an hour to figure something out before all 3 of them explode and destroy the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning.

This story is classic X-Men. Christos Gage does an excellent job with each character’s “voice”. He really understands their pasts and motivations. It’s a compelling story with a strong sense of urgency. In the end, Mimic and Omega Weapon make a decision that will change them both. Mimic fans (all four of you) will definitely want to get their hands on this issue.

Sandoval’s art is great and on point, albeit still manages to be overshadowed by another kick ass cover from Mark Brooks. The one thing I did find annoying was Rachel Grey’s jacket. It’s a cool effect to have it fan out when she’s flying, but it almost looks like it gets longer when she’s in the air. There’s a bit of an inconsistency where that’s concerned.

Overall, it’s an enjoyable issue with good amount of character development. –SG

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

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Andy: Secret Avengers for me. I like the angle. Run with it.
Jeff: There was lots to love this week, with Paul Pelletier’s art, Mimic joining the school, and a straight-up fight comic, but I think I enjoyed Secret Avengers #27 the most.
SpidermanGeek: X-Men Legacy came out on top for me. It gave us everything.  Good art, compelling story and good use of X-Men characters.

Jeff Jackson

Andy Liegl




  1. Billy

    You guys are on crack. New Avengers was way better than Secret Avengers. It wasn’t even close. Nothing really happened in Secret Avengers. It was a heaping pile of nothing, and it pains me to say that because I think Remender is awesome.

  2. Jeff Jackson

    I’m gonna say it…I hate Iron Fist, and all things pertaining to K’un Lun, so I hated that issue of New Avengers.

  3. Billy

    Oh brother…let me guess, he’s too patriotic like Cap. Yeesh

  4. Jeff Jackson

    No, he’s just lame.

    • … like Cap

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