Super Types

June 13, 2012

The Uncanny X-Piles XCIII

This week, we welcome aboard reviewer extraordinaire, Infinite Speech, to our merry band of mutants!

Age of Apocalypse #4
Writer: David Lapham
Artists: Roberto de la Torre & Renato Arlem

When facing impossible odds, use the Hulk as a distraction. That seems to be thing to do with Hulk these days at Marvel, and I’m sure David Lapham was kicking himself when he saw The Avengers movie. Basically, he uses the same idea in this issue, although the circumstances are much different, as well as the identity of Bruce Banner’s big behemoth body. In the AoA, Bruce Banner is called “The Thing” even though he looks nothing like Ben Grimm. The character of Goodnight is sent to blackmail and enrage Banner enough to turn him into the Thing and create a major diversion so that the rest of the X-Terminated can pull off a rescue mission.

Despite the Banner diversion, this issue employs some really excellent storytelling, making the situation of the heroes quite dire, but also adventurous to make it fun. In a world where all hope is lost, the stakes are certainly high and the humans have nothing to lose. This allows Lapham to create out-of-the-box solutions. In order to get away from his captors Beast and Sugar Man, the wily leader Prophet gets Deadeye to shoot him, so the villains think he’s dead, and while Banner is rampaging elsewhere, they forget Prophet so he can make his escape.

Lapham has made this book one part Dirty Dozen, one part Ocean’s Eleven, and one part X-Men. The other thing of note is that Lapham has made this team of non-super-powered humans exciting and extremely fun. If you haven’t picked this book up yet, I’d highly suggest getting the trade when it comes out.

The art in this issue is still top-notch and wonderfully suited for the tone of a dystopian alternate timeline. De la Torre continues to make the panels and figures rough and sketchy. His Hulk/Thing reminds me of the darker-toned Bryan Hitch on The Ultimates. He is both a realistic artist, but with heavy inks and the color palate of Lee Loughridge, this creative team keeps on trucking. Add to the mix an awesome sketchy cover of AoA Wolverine facing AoA Hulk by the uber-talented Humberto Ramos, and this book is just great. It doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not, and that makes it have, like the human characters within, nothing to lose.  –JJ

Cover: 8/10 Writing: 7.5/10 Art: 7/10 Relevance: 5/10

Avengers Academy #31
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Tom Grummett

I’m trying to decide if I prefer the credits of a comic book on a recap page or on the splash page. The latter is certainly more traditional, and it was chosen for this particular issue, probably because of the amount of characters on the recap page.

There are a lot of characters in this issue, yet Christos Gage pulls off another win in the AvX column in terms of juggling those characters and making the conflict engaging. The mutant kids from Utopia are stuck at the Avengers Academy and are fighting their way out with the help of Sebastian Shaw. There are still some great match-ups in this story, for which Gage is becoming well-known over in X-Men: Legacy. He is really proving that he can balance a huge cast and progress the story so that there isn’t a lot of waste. Sure, there are background characters that don’t do much, but even some of them, like that Atlantean fish-kid, get some direction here.

In the end, the Academy staff decides to let the mutant kids go, but stage a fight so that it looks like they fought their way out. This provides some hilarious moments, especially from Hercules, who decides to go way over the top with his acting. The best thing about this story is that it leaves the story for these teenage mutants wide-open for someone else to take.

The art by Tom Grummett is somewhat nostalgic, but it lacks the depth of other art going these days. It looks like this book was published in the ’80s or ’90s, which a flatness of inking and a very basic color tone. He gets the job done, but it’s still not my favorite work in terms of his ability or his overall style.

This book continues to scratch a small itch I have, focusing on B-list characters and making them do cool stuff. Nothing more, nothing less. –JJ

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

Avengers vs X-Men #5
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: John Romita Jr.

We are almost at the half-way point of this event. That’s right, folks, AvX is unfortunately far from being over. Some of you will regale in this fact, most of you won’t. The proverbial shit hits the fan in AvX #5. Hope, Wolverine, the Avengers and the X-Men are on the blue area of the moon with the Phoenix entity looming over them as they continue to fight against one another. Tony Stark builds a Phoenix Buster suit of armor while Professor X and Legion hold hands on a beach in Spain (I’m dead serious).

I’d comment about Fraction’s script here, but there really isn’t much to say. He wrote what he was told to write. No more, no less. John Romita Jr. does another admirable job on art duties, but it’s nothing to write home about. I’m actually a JRJr fan, and I still believe he’s a terrific storyteller and that his art in AvX has been an improvement over some of his other, more recent works. So, good on you Mr. Romita, but you will have to step up your game to keep on par with some of the truly incredible artists currently working in this industry.

AvX #5 unveils a somewhat major plot point as we bear witness to what happens when you hit a being of pure psionic energy with Stark Tech. Unfortunately, the outcome takes us from the ridiculous to the downright absurd.

Don’t forget to check out the Marvel AR stuff, which can be interesting at times, and remember that your purchase of AvX #5 comes with a free digital copy (download code). –SG

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

Uncanny X-Men #13
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Billy Tan

The events of Uncanny X-Men #13 unfold simultaneously with the vents of Avengers vs X-Men #5. This issue doesn’t add anything relevant to the overall plot of AvX. Magneto, Psylocke, Storm and Dr. Nemesis rendezvous at X-Diaspora and proceed to bitch about not being on the moon. Meanwhile, on Utopia, Pixie teleports in with 3 of the “Five Lights” following instructions from a note left to them by Hope. The group pay Unit a visit, where they are soon ambushed and taken out by Danger.

The best parts of this issue involve Unit. He’s a really creepy, robotic being and tends to steal the show in any and all panels he’s featured in. In a Kieron Gillen written issue, that’s how it should be. The man did create the character after all. The rest of the story is rather forgettable though. The same goes for the art. There is nothing spectacular in Billy Tan’s work here. The panels are all rather boring and the fight sequence with Danger could, and should, have been much more dynamic and exciting.

Uncanny X-Men #13 is a filler issue, bookended by the events of AvX #5. It can be skipped, unless you were really wondering why Hope didn’t bring the Five Lights with her to confront the Phoenix. Even then, this issue doesn’t offer any sort of answer, but it does take the young mutants out of the equation. –SG

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

X-Factor #237
Writer:
Peter David
Artist: Neil Edwards
For all of the praise this series has been getting, this was the issue that just didn’t live up to the hype in my opinion. Rahne is in a serious state of depression over abandoning her child and killing her father. Polaris and Banshee see the need to help their friend but as serious as her situation seems Peter David has them take her on a road trip. Not just any road trip mind you, but one to see a priest that has a connection to a certain team member of theirs.
There was just too much about this issue that screamed filler and sure it’s main point was to start Rahne’s next story however it’s a weak issue when compared to David’s body of work in X-Factor. SInce he’s been writing the series for quite some time now you would assume that he’d have a better grasp of how these characters use their powers. So, when Banshee screams at a log blocking the road and smashes it without warning the police nearby it seemed forced. This was probably to amp up the slow pace of the issue but it made no sense after seeing Polaris use her powers to lift Rahne into the car soon after. Why couldn’t she have done that to the log?
The story switches back to a more serious tone after Rahne meets with the priest and begins to reveal things about what has led them here. Again, nothing here was too exciting or moving. This could be due to the fact that Neil’s art style wasn’t one that appealed to me. The seriousness of David’s script didn’t come off consistantly through the artwork even though there were several good looking panels. One in particular was the sequence where we hear the priest’s reaction to Rahne telling him what happened to her father. This was probably the highlight of the issue.
One thing that is refreshing about this issue is that in NO WAY does it involve any of the AvX nonesense that’s going on in the various other X titles. Other than that, this issue just seemed like filler that is here only to give us Rahne’s decision at the end. So if this is your cup of tea then by all means pick it up but if it’s not, aren’t you glad you read the X-Piles first? –IS
Cover: 5/10  Writing: 4/10  Art: 3/10  Relevance: 5/10

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: Any book with John Maddox automatically gets my pick. X-Factor #237 for me.
Infinite Speech: If I go with the title that annoyed me less out of all of these it would have to be Age of Apocalypse. Nothing really impressed me so let’s hope next week is a bit more kind to me.
SpidermanGeek: X-Factor #237. Great issue for John Maddox and Rahne fans.

Jeff Jackson
jeff@comicattack.net

SpidermanGeek
spidermangeek@comicattack.net

Infinite Speech
infinitespeech@comicattack.net

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