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August 15, 2012

The Uncanny X-Piles 102

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Written by: Jeff
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Welcome to the 102nd edition of the Uncanny X-Piles! It was a light week for the X-books, but a new Gambit series and some AvX tie-ins kept us busy.

The X-Piles
Numbers next to each title are the cumulative ranking of the latest issue out of a total of 40. Numbers in parentheses indicate the previous issue’s rating. Blue indicates a raise in the chart from last issuered indicates a dropgreen indicates the book stayed put.

1. New Avengers: 34 (33)
2. Avengers Vs. X-Men: 33 (32)
3. Wolverine & the X-Men: 31
4. AvX: Vs: 31
5. X-Factor: 28 (31)
6. Uncanny X-Force: 26
7. Age of Apocalypse: 26 (19)
8. Uncanny X-Men: 24
9. X-Men Legacy: 21 (33.5)
10. Gambit: 21 (new title)
11. Astonishing X-Men: 20.5
12. First X-Men: 20
13. Avengers: 20
14. X-Men: 15 (11)
15. New Mutants: 10
16. X-Treme X-Men: 10
17. Wolverine: 8 (8)


Gambit #1
Writer: James Asmus
Artist: Clay Mann

This isn’t Gambit first foray onto a solo title; this new series makes it his fifth to be exact. The Ragin’ Cajun’s status quo has arguably changed since the last time he starred in his own book back in 2004. Gambit now finds himself teaching the next generation of mutants at the Jean Grey School for Gifted Youngsters and working alongside his long time love and current ex-girlfriend, Rogue. But that just sets up his current state of mind, this particular series here seems like it will be focusing on Remy’s adventures away from the school grounds.

Asmus does a good job of scripting something that is tailor made for Gambit.  He gives the issue a real 007/Mission Impossible vibe which I hope will run dominant for however long this title will keep hitting the shelves.  As with the new Hawkeye series, there’s much potential for fun solo-adventure stories from these kinds of “heroes” with shady pasts that don’t mind bending the rules or even breaking them on their down time. We’re off to a good start when Gambit decides to let off some steam by robbing some rich guy who collects unique artifacts. I even spotted a Tardis, a Sentinel and what looked like the crate that contains the Ark of the Covenant.

Clay Mann’s photo-realistic pencils are a good fit. The added realism is a great contrast to some of the impossible situations Gambit finds himself in. My only gripe with the art is that the pages could have benefitted from heavier inking. Leaving details to be handled by the colorist, as awesome as Rachelle Rosenberg is, takes away from giving us some needed depth in the panels.

The downfall is that a lot of people will be turned away by the simple fact that Gambit is on the cover, but people shouldn’t be so quick to judge. If Asmus can hold on to the summer block-buster vibe he is setting up, the stories might just elevate this character to an acceptable level of coolness.

On the flip side, this could be the solo book that Gambit fans have been waiting for.  –SG

Cover: 6/10 Writing: 7/10 Art: 6/10 Relevance: 2/10 TOTAL: 21/40

New Avengers #29
Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato
This issue is set up via a flashback to 1944 when Cap and Namor were members of the Invaders. That interaction between the two sets the tone for this meeting that Cap has called which includes all members of the Illuminati. Whether or not Namor will show is the topic but the meeting breaks down to some snarky remarks and finger pointing. What also happens is that some very interesting viewpoints come to light and we even find out where Tony has been hiding his Infinity Gem.
This issue the proof that a super hero book doesn’t need huge fights and great spectacle to be entertaining. Bendis expertly builds tension and drama as these guys sit and wait for Namor to show. The dialogue is perfect and flows natural from character to character that you can’t help but enjoy the issue. There’s Stark’s dry and sometime not appreciated humor that helps to lighten the mood but when Bendis has Professor X lash out at the rest you get a real sense of the conflict that this man is facing. Most of this is thanks to the art team. Mike Deodato and Rain Beredo’s artwork puts this issue over the top with every single panel. The guy does nothing short of bring every ounce of emotion from the dialogue but it’s the silent panels that really tell the story. –IS
Cover: 6/10 Writing: 10/10 Art: 9/10 Relevance: 9/10 TOTAL: 34/40

Wolverine #311
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artist: Simone Bianchi

One of the biggest complaints I hear about Wolverine these days are the number of cliches associated with the character. Back when Wolverine was first introduced, he was a mystery-man, a grumpy scrapper, and the perfect character to include in the X-Men. Now, his overexposure and the constant rehashing of old ideas has crippled the mutant in a way that even his healing factor may not be able to fix.

Writers like Jason Aaron and Cullen Bunn have done what they could to emancipate Wolverine from all the overused tropes found in this title. But this horrendous Sabretooth Reborn story from Jeph Loeb only serves to take the character and the title backwards.

Cliche #1: Loeb explains Sabretooth’s return through cloning. The Sabretooth who died was not really Sabretooth, but a clone. This is just lazy storytelling. The whole point was to have Creed be “reborn” only he never died in the first place. So if he never died, who’s soul was Logan talking to in Hell? I guess it was the clone’s, huh?

Cliche #2: Weak-ass Clones. How come fighting the original Creed is tough, but a host of Creed clones is no problem for Wolverine? Don’t tell me the clones are weaker versions because that wasn’t the case with the one that Wolverine beheaded with the Muramasa blade. Again, a tired storytelling technique to make Logan look stronger, but one that is ridiculous and lazy.

Cliche #3: Wolverine sacrificing himself in order to take out the Creed clones. When in doubt, just have Logan kamikaze something since his healing factor makes him omnipotent. Please!

Cliche #4: Redheads. Somehow, Logan has another mutant power: the ability to attract redheads. Jean Grey, Natasha Romanoff, Rose, and now this “new” character Remus. Why hasn’t Logan started dating Mary Jane Watson? The fact that Loeb made Remus a redhead is probably the biggest groaner of the whole story. Not only that, but the fact that a chick has the name Remus is like calling calling her George. We knew there had to be a Remus related to the villain Romulus, but in the classic story, they were both male, hence the “-us” at the end of their name. Not only is Remus a cliche, but she’s also poorly conceived.

Cliche #5: Bianchi’s art. This book feels older than it should be, because Bianchi’s style hasn’t changed since the last time he and Loeb were on Wolverine.

Nothing in this book feels new, important, or fresh. Marvel needs to stop treading old ground and start developing some new ideas. –JJ

Cover: 3/10 Writing: 1/10 Art: 3/10 Relevance: 1/10 TOTAL: 8/40

X-Men Legacy #271
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Rafa Sandoval

We left things off with Rogue being dropped in the middle of a conflict on some strange world or timeline at the hands of the Phoenix powered Magik. This issue picks things up from there and Rogue wastes no time punching her way out.  It’s a good thing she still had those Ms. Marvel powers, but that might not be the case for very long.

Gage has just been doing a magnificent job of writing Rogue. Even for the dialog, where some writers have struggled with her “southern belle” accent, Gage manages to use just enough of it and not be overbearing or be chore to read. With that said though, I am not sure what lessons Rogue will end up learning following her experiences on this strange world, but the story starts off pretty cliché.  She ends up aligning herself with one side (let’s call them “Rebels”) by inadvertently pissing off the other side first (let’s call them “The Empire”). The rest is pretty predictable.

As unoriginal and unimaginative as this story sounds though, Rafa Sandoval’s art more than makes up for it. Having the rotating roster of Sandoval and Baldeon on this book has helped in keeping this one of the best X-titles available. Both their artwork complements the other by keeping a consistent tone and overall feel. What I like the most about Legacy is that we get simple, but fun stories that more or less feature Rogue. The stories are never too heavy, but also do not lack substance and always offer us at least one or two good “Wham-Bam” moments of action.

Having Mark Brooks deliver some truly awesome covers for this title has also had a hand in elevating it above the rest, here on the X-Piles. Unfortunately, the cover for this issue was not done by Brooks, but rather by Salva Espin.  The cover isn’t bad, but it has nothing to do with the story.  It’s just a pin-up of Rogue that looks better suited for a vampire themed script. Was Brooks on vacation?

Again, I can’t express how saddened I am to know that we only have four more issues of X-Men Legacy to look forward to. At least the title should end on a strong note and the creative team certainly has every right to hold their chins up high, because they have done a great job with it since the point-one issue from January. –SG

Cover: 5/10 Writing: 6/10 Art: 8/10 Relevance: 2/10 TOTAL: 21/40

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: I love when the Illuminati show up and start debating. New Avengers #29 was a great issue and makes me giddy for Bendis on the upcoming All-New X-Men.
Infinite Speech: New Avengers #29 is my pick of the week and probably the best of the tie ins for the Avengers vs X-Men event!
SpidermanGeek: Although I enjoyed X-Men Legacy, it wasn’t the strongest issue. Gambit #1 was more entertaining and shows much promise.

Jeff Jackson

Infinite Speech





  1. So Loeb really screwed the pooch with the Wolvering title huh?

  2. Yeah, it’s just bad.

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