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August 22, 2012

The Uncanny X-Piles 103

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Written by: Jeff
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Welcome to the 103rd edition of the Uncanny X-Piles! This week, we get some excitingAvX action and some alternate future hijinks! Let’s see what the X-perts think…

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 issue; red indicates a dropgreen indicates the book stayed put.

1. New Avengers: 34 (33)
2. Wolverine & the X-Men: 31
3. AvX: Vs: 31
4. Uncanny X-Force: 29 (26)
5. Avengers Vs. X-Men: 28 (33)
6. Age of Apocalypse: 26 (19)
7. X-Factor: 25 (28)
8. Avengers: 25 (20)
9. New Mutants: 25 (10)
10. Uncanny X-Men: 24
11. X-Men Legacy: 21 (33.5)
12. Gambit: 21
13. Astonishing X-Men: 20.5
14. First X-Men: 20
15. X-Men: 15 (15)
16. X-Treme X-Men: 10
17. Wolverine: 8 (8)


Avengers #29
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Walt Simonson
You know when the perfect time was to read this book? Several months ago when Wolverine and the X-Men #12 came out. That’s when. Not to say the story isn’t a good one but the timing lessens the impact it could have had if released closer to that issue. Bendis chooses to tell the Avenger’s side of the story before that battle and he has the team address an issue that many fans have known all along: the Avengers have no telepaths! So to even the odds they plan an attack to take one of the X-Men’s telepaths out of the fight. Their target is Rachel Summers and for this fight Captain America makes a call to someone who may be able to help them accomplish the task.
Again the story was still fun and battle was intense though told from another perspective but it still felt like just bonus features added on to a story I’ve already read. However those new elements that were introduced moved the story well but not well enought to justify paying $3.99 for the issue. As far as the artwork from Simonson it pales in comparison to his earlier work. Some characters look very cartoony at times and then there were issues with the way some characters look that should have been noticed by editorial. Beast (even though cool) looks like his former incarnation instead of the unpopular feline look and War Machine is wearing his old armor instead of the Iron Man 2.0 version he was given in his recent solo series. Though things did improve a bit during the final showdown and Simonson really pushes the intensity of that fight along with the emotional aspects of it. –IS
Cover: 8/10  Writing: 6/10  Art: 4/10 Relevance: 7/10 TOTAL: 25/40

Avengers vs X-Men #10
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Adam Kubert

Cyclops pays a visit to K’un L’un where the Avengers have been keeping Hope and preparing her to face The Phoenix. The issue is pretty straight forward. There are no major reveals, none that weren’t already anticipated since Hope was first taken to the ancient city of K’un L’un anyway.

Brubaker scripts some great, subtle scenes where the reader can feel a shift in balance of power and loyalties in this issue. The little use of a narration works well and really keeps the reader grounded in the visuals as we follow the Hope Summers character while Cyclops dispatches the opposing forces to get to her.

Keeping all of those scenes tightly in focus, Adam Kubert does an admirable job of making the reader feel a sense of urgency.  That what we are reading is in the here & now. Unfortunately though, there are some inconsistencies in the visuals, mainly when it comes to Cyclops and Hope. In some panels, Hope looked the appropriate age, while in others; she looked to be in her early twenties. Scott’s face and visor simply looked awkward in a lot of panels. So it’s not some of Kubert’s best work, but he still managed to efficiently tell the story and that’s what matters.  And those backgrounds are gorgeous.

The tone of each scene is absolutely perfect thanks to colorists Laura Martin & Larry Molinar.

All in all, not a bad issue as we ramp up to the conclusion of Marvels’ big summer event. –SG

Cover: 7/10 Writing:  7/10 Art: 6/10 Relevance:  8/10 TOTAL: 28/40

New Mutants #47
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Artist: Felix Ruiz

For months now, I have been saying that the main hindrance to this title has been the art. DnA are great writers, especially with an ensemble cast, and it’s their Marvel Cosmic work that is allowing characters like Guardians of the Galaxy to get their own film. This issue helps solidify my opinion that it’s not the writers that have made this once-great title fall to the bottom of the X-Piles.

Granted, DnA don’t have the freedom with these characters that they had with the Cosmic crowd. The New Mutants, like the rest of the X-universe, seems to be on creative lock-down at Marvel. So it seems like if DnA want to do anything with these characters, they have to rely on keeping them separate from anything else going on with the X-Men and they have to use alternate-future-reality storytelling to allow the story to have any resonance. So in this story, the team is resting after their encounter with an evil future Doug Ramsey. But something is a bit off in their world, which they quickly discover in a conversation with Kitty Pryde, who explains that the “Schism” never happened. It turns out that the New Mutants aren’t in their reality at all, but in a parallel world, where it seems things are a bit brighter in the world (hey, John Lennon isn’t dead so it’s gotta be brighter!).

Despite this being yet another alternate reality, I found myself enjoying this issue much more than previous ones. The trick with alternate realities is that you can do anything you want without hindering the main continuity. So this issue ends with a death which for the characters holds weight, but for us readers doesn’t because we know it’s all OK in the main Marvel Universe. This makes me wonder if DnA really had free reign, I bet they could tell some awesome X-stories with some lasting impressions.

But the real bonus of this issue is the art of Felix Ruiz. It’s hard not to compare his work to the classic New Mutants work of Bill Sienkiewicz. Ruiz’s work is a rough and sketchy style, with lots of stippling and hatching. His faces are highly angled and expressive. These characters look like they’re supposed to look, which is a much-welcomed change. The John Tyler Christopher cover is excellent, as well, which does a great job of selling this book.

The book isn’t perfect, by any means, but it’s a step in the right direction. If Marvel would just let DnA work their magic, I believe we could have ourselves a really great New Mutants book. –JJ

Cover: 8/10 Writing: 6/10 Art: 7/10 Relevance: 4/10 TOTAL: 25/40

Uncanny X-Force #29
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Julian Totino Tedesco
Things get pretty intense in X-Force’s time traveling tale as Remender closes things nicely and reminds us why we should keep reading this title! Aside from the action and great dialogue what made this issue for me was that Remender sprinkles quite a few things that have potential to drastically effect the X-Men. Hints of what’s to come might have been laid right here in this issue. And though we’ve been let down before when things like this happen, I’m hoping that Marvel makes good on what was stated here in this issue. Everything that was lacking in this arc was pretty much washed away with the finale as we get much better dialogue to go along with the plot movement. There’s just something about the way Remender writes Deadpool that reminds me of when he was still new to the Marvel Universe and not just the comic relief guy.
Tedesco’s artwork did a good job at moving this issue especially during the opening when Betsy was trying to end it all. There was a laugh out loud moment when Deadpool makes Punisher smile. That panel is one of my favorites in this issue regardless of how great the action and drama was throughout.
Twenty Nine issues in and UXF has undoubtedly been one the most consistantly stronger and just plain fun of the X Titles. See what happens when you get a good creative team to sit down and just tell some really good stories! –IS
Cover: 7/10 Writing: 7/10 Art: 7/10 Relevance: 8/10 TOTAL: 29/40

X-Factor #242
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Leonard Kirk

Breaking Points: Day 2 marks the long awaited return of Darwin. If your memory serves, you might remember that Armando left the team a while back after a tussle with Hela, Norse Goddess of Death and ruler of Hel. Well, after reading this issue, you will still be left wondering what has happened with Darwin since then, but you will be pleased to witness some minor changes in the character’s attitude and powers.  For one, he hasn’t slept since he left. Secondly, he’s been tracking Jack Russell and Wolfsbane son, intent on killing the latter as Darwin believes him to be some sort of harbinger of death. Thirdly, we find Darwin has equipped himself with some Monster killing weapons and a bad ass looking trench coat as well as some mutant power upgrades to help him in his quest to save humanity.

Peter David handles the scripts, of course, and delivers his usual quality. The great thing about PAD is how well he can write moments of action as well as quieter moments. This issue hosts the former type and the pacing is fast, making it a light read. You’ll notice the pages flying through your fingers as you read, but make sure to take a moment to appreciate Leonard Kirk’s art though. The visuals tell the story as well as Darwin’s narration does. Truth be told, you could probably take all of the lettering out of this book and still grasp everything that is going on.  Kirk’s work here is a little light on detail, but honestly this just adds to the lightning quick pacing of the book. Consider how much things would slow down if you had “more” to look at. I can only assume that the lack of detail was by design, but I’d like to think that my assumption is correct in this case since we’ve seen more detail from Kirk in the past.  Or maybe he was just on a tighter deadline this month, who knows, but it worked well regardless.

David Yardin’s cover is not one of his best ones. It’s rather simplistic, but still manages to get the point across even though it reminds me of one of those cheesy “Leader of the Pack” printed sweaters you’d find at a department store.  Without words, the cover still manages to tell us “Darwin’s hunting wolves and he looks bad ass while doing it” which pretty much summarizes this issue. –SG

Cover: 6/10 Writing: 7/10 Art: 7/10 Relevance: 5/10 TOTAL: 25/40

X-Men #34
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Roland Boschi

After a very lackluster first arc by Brian Wood, yet another great writer who has not quite found his voice in the X-Men world yet, I was really looking forward to a new arc. However, despite the change of the story’s name to “Subterraneans,” this is nothing more than a continuation of the last lackluster arc.

Storm and company are still flying around, brooding over the actions of David Michael Gray and his resurrection of the Proto-mutants, as well as Storm’s increasing animosity with Cyclops. While this does take those actions to the next step, with a religious group taking the DNA of the Proto-mutants for use of their own nefarious schemes, I find myself extremely bored and ready to move on to something else. The premise has no resonance, and like I have said before, considering this takes place before AvX and also before the events of Uncanny X-Force, where these characters are also being used much more effectively, all the air that this story should have has been sucked out. We have no idea why these characters are on Storm’s team. There’s nothing connecting them, and they have no real interaction of depth.

Having Psylocke and Domino go undercover sounds good on paper, but the fact that Domino sticks out like a sore thumb also sucks the life out of what could be a well-crafted idea.

Wood is joined by Roland Boschi, who did art duties on the Wolverine & the X-Men: Alpha & Omega mini from a few months ago. The first 4 or 5 pages were great, until Boschi had to draw the X-Men. Again, I think Boschi needs to be on a non-superhero book as his interpretation of these characters is distorted and tough to view. Everyone has a long face with a long nose, and there is little diversity amongst a cast who is multi-national (African, Welsh, Asian, Russian). The only nice art in this issue is Jorge Molina’s cover, which reminds me that he did interiors a while back, so why not employ his style to interiors?

I am hoping that with the upcoming changes to the X-Men, that this will be a title that gets cut. This is not essential reading at all.  –JJ

Cover: 7/10 Writing: 2/10 Art: 2/10 Relevance: 4/10 TOTAL: 15/40

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: Seeing Darwin back in X-Factor #242 made me happy.
Infinite Speech: None of these books can compare to how great Uncanny X-Force #29 was and it would be great if some of the things stated would come to pass in the Marvel Universe!
SpidermanGeekX-Factor #242. I always enjoy seeing a character return not quite as they were when we last saw them.

Jeff Jackson

Infinite Speech




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