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August 29, 2012

The Uncanny X-Piles 104

Welcome to the 104th edition of the Uncanny X-Piles! It has officially been 2 years since we’ve been covering the X-Men books on Comicattack.net, and as we did last year, we thought we’d compile the Most X-Cellent Picks of the Weeks from the last year to see which books have been the most consistently good.

It was a year of change in the X-Men books, with Schism, Regenesis, the Children’s Crusade, the Dark Angel Saga, and Avengers vs. X-Men having lasting impressions. The longest running X-book, Uncanny X-Men, rebooted with a new #1, lots of creative team changes occurred, and the Avengers books began creeping into the X-Piles.

The X-Piles Most Picked Book in the Last Year: Uncanny X-Force!

For the second year running, the most-picked X-book has been Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force, getting a whopping 20 picks from the X-Piles reviewers combined. With the exception of the last few months, Remender’s book was getting consistent picks during the Dark Angel Saga and the Otherworld story. Following that book was X-Factor with 15 picks. Peter David’s X-train keeps rolling with X-Factor despite artist changes on the book, proving David to be one of the most consistent and versatile X-writers. The bronze medal goes to Wolverine & the X-Men with 13 picks. Jason Aaron has garnered some excitement with that new book, especially when Chris Bachalo is on art (interestingly enough, Aaron’s run on Wolverine was last year’s second most-picked). Honorable mentions go to X-Men: Legacy (12 picks), Avengers vs. X-Men (8 picks) and Uncanny X-Men (7 picks), while almost every other title got at least one pick during the year.

Without further ado, here’s the X-Pile…

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. X-Men Legacy: 26 (21)
7. Age of Apocalypse: 26 (19)
8. X-Factor: 25 (28)
9. Avengers: 25 (20)
10. New Mutants: 25 (10)
11. Astonishing X-Men: 24 (20.5)
12. Gambit: 21
13. Wolverine Annual #1: 21 (one-shot)
14. First X-Men: 20
15. X-Men: 15 (15)
16. Uncanny X-Men: 14 (24)
17. X-Treme X-Men: 10
18. Wolverine: 7 (8)


Astonishing X-Men #53
Marjorie Liu
Artist: Mike Perkins
Going into this issue I pretty much expected to be just as disappointed as when I read the previous one. Well, thankfully we get to the meat of the story and the reveals are actually exciting. The story moves a lot better as Beast tries to figure out how Logan ended up with a bomb inside of him. WIth the connection made to Hatchi Tech, Iceman, Gambit, and Northstar initiate an investigation that reveals the perpetrator is a former mutant.
As stated earlier, this was a welcomed turnaround from last issue. The plot flowed much better and though dialogue heavy there were plenty of good character moments throughout. The confrontation between Susan and the X-Men during the presentation was a tense moment and Liu gives us what seems to be a very capable villain with an axe to grind. Beast and Cecelia’s sequence in the lab was done well though it’s getting old hearing her once again state why she won’t permanently join the team. It’s a reoccurring speech since her introduction all those years ago and it’s pretty clear that we get it now.
Perkins does a good job visually moving this story along with Liu’s script and he draws one ugly post blown up Wolverine. The exchange at the press conference was one of the stand out parts due to the amount of tension that came off in the panels between the X-Men and Susan. Though it was a bit confusing to see Bobby icing up at what seemed like some awkward moments during the story.
The cliffhanger actually has me wanting to know what happens next which means that Liu did a good job. The team is in a very tight spot and there’s no back up coming to save them that we know of. The confusing part is how come they didn’t see that explosion coming? –IS

Cover: 4/10 Writing: 7/10 Art: 6/10 Relevance: 7/10 TOTAL: 24/40

Uncanny X-Men #17
Writer:  Kieron Gillen
Artists:  Daniel Acuña & Mike Del Mundo

After shrugging off most of Mister Sinister’s defenses and attack maneuvers, the Phoenix Five are eventually captured, separately, while Danger, Magneto, Psylocke and Storm formulate a rescue mission on the outskirts of Sinister London.

Unfortunately, the timing of this story is way off.  It can get a little confusing to try and read these issues as they are released on the newsstands because the main Avengers vs X-Men story arc seems to be moving at a faster pace than this Uncanny X-Men tie-in.  Once collected, it will be easier to fit in chronologically, but as it stands in this issue, all members of the Phoenix Five still host a portion of the Phoenix entity.

Minor chronology gripe aside, this issue doesn’t offer much more for your entertainment value.  We get Emma Frost admitting that she fakes her English accent; we get Psylocke repeatedly reminding everyone that she’s a ninja; we get Magneto being a pompous ass and we get the Danger/Unit subplot that doesn’t really seem to be going anywhere considering this title is getting the axe in the next few issues.

We also get a whole lot of confusing English gibberish. Would Storm ever really exclaim “Behind us swiftly” during a fight? Give me a break. Everybody just seemed so calm in the midst of everything that was going on, it was kind of distracting really. It felt like at any point, the reader could turn the page only to find that Sinister has called tea time and all the characters would be delighting in civilized conversation while nibbling on some crumpets.

It looks to me like Del Mundo handled most of the art duties here, although I had trouble figuring out who drew what in some instances. The purely Del Mundo pages were quite good with a style that I find comparable or likened to Marcos Martin’s work. I preferred them over the purely Acuña pages.

The bottom line is that there isn’t really much that’s enjoyable in the conclusion piece of this Sinister London arc, especially when putting it in context with what’s going on in the pages of Avengers vs X-Men. Those final panels invariably lose some steam and Cyclops’ words just fall flat. Plus, regardless of the outcome here, the reader knows that they haven’t seen the last of Mister Sinister. –SG

Cover: 3/10 Writing: 4/10 Art: 5/10 Relevance: 2/10 TOTAL: 14/40

Wolverine #312
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artist: Simone Bianchi

I thought the title of this arc was “Sabretooth Reborn.” I guess Loeb forgot that because Sabretooth is barely in this issue, nor is this issue even about the fact that he was reborn.

Instead, Loeb decides to continue tromping through old Wolverine concepts that have been hashed and rehashed so many times that even I can’t keep up with Wolverine’s past anymore. Much of this issue has Wolverine talking with Remus, the new redhead in Logan’s life who is sister to Romulus. There is lots of exposition as Loeb decides to unearth the convoluted backstory of Wolverine’s creation and subsequently retcon many things that even Loeb himself created about the character. Remus basically says that everything Romulus told Logan about the Lupine mutants is a lie. Sigh.

The problem with this is that we don’t know if Remus is telling the truth. In the end, I’m scratching my head about Wolverine’s past saying, “Who the hell cares anymore?” The only retcon I’m interested in at this point is someone going back and making Wolverine a complete mystery again. Wipe out all of this garbage and start over. At the end of the issue, Romulus announces that Wolverine himself is responsible for the Weapon X program. But what about Weapon Plus, John Sublime, Father, and all the other folks who have been responsible? Give me a break.

The only redeeming quality of this book is Simone Peruzzi’s colors. Peruzzi colors over Bianchi’s work gives the pages a painterly feel, a texture that is both detailed and yet mesmerizingly smooth and seductive. But when I’m more interested in the coloring of the walls in the background than what’s going on in the book, there’s a problem. –JJ

Cover: 3/10 Writing: 0/10 Art: 3/10 Relevance: 1/10 TOTAL: 7/40

Wolverine Annual #1
Writer: Alan Davis
Artist: Alan Davis

Alan Davis is one of my most favorite artists of all time. When you look at other guys who were working in the ’80s like John Romita, Jr. and Walt Simonson and see how their art has lost it’s touch, when you see a legend like Davis on a book, you’re almost expecting the worst. I’m happy to say that Davis has not missed a beat. His artwork is flawless in every respect. He is a master storyteller with his panels, and his expressive characters make my eyes drool. Along with longtime inker, Mark Farmer, Davis is an unstoppable artistic force, which makes me thirst for him to work with someone like Dan Slott or Christos Gage on a book.

However, despite the grand beauty of this issue, I walked away wondering what it was I had just read. No where in this book did it mention that this was the second or third part of a story, but it appears that Davis was doing an arc over multiple annuals. I had no idea.

I never read Davis’ ClanDestine series. It never really looked interesting to me, and the story was so self-contained that I never saw their place in the Marvel Universe. But this is basically an issue of ClanDestine featuring Wolverine a little bit, with Wolverine’s name in the title.

I understand how things are these days. Davis probably had a great story to tell, but Marvel probably said, “Unless you put one of the main Marvel characters in the story, it’s not going to sell. Better yet, you can tell your story, but we’ll put it in some annuals, that way no one will be turned off by a ClanDestine title.”  I’m sorry to say that that is where Marvel is these days. It worked on some level. I wouldn’t have picked this up if it hadn’t been a Wolverine annual.

I really can’t comment on whether or not this was a good story. I just had no idea who the characters were or what was really going on with them. In fact, by the end of the issue, I was only looking at Davis’ art and was skipping word balloons. Obviously, this was not an issue for me. But if you like Davis and ClanDestine, then check it out. –JJ

Cover: 8/10 Writing: 4/10 Art: 9/10 Relevance: 0/10 TOTAL: 21/40

X-Men: Legacy  #272
Christos Gage
Artist: Rafa Sandoval
After being captured by the Swarm, Rogue has broken the hive mind link twice and that feat has earned her a meeting with the Queen instead of a quick death. However when the Queen reestablishes a stronger link and attempts to show Rogue the Swarm’s version of the “truth”  things don’t go as planned. Armed with the knowledge of what is really going on between the two warring races Rogue makes her escape with a member of the Swarm who is deemed a traitor. Now they’re on a mission to stop a war and expose the truth.
I  guess Rogue really wasn’t that important in the Avengers vs. X-Men storyline so she’s stuffed into this arc here. Not to say  that it doesn’t have it’s moments but Gage’s story really seems like it’s being shoehorned in. What does keep this story bearable is that Rogue is a great character and Gage works her strenghts just enough so that you still have someone to root for. He even manages to make Tritt a decent sidekick character through all of this. What’s a bit off putting is that things seem quite predictable at times and none of this seems too dire. Even though Rogue is in danger you never get the sense that she’s not going to come out of this one. When the enemy has you at point blank range yet all of their beams hit the ground you pretty much see where the story is going.
We still get great artwork from Sandoval from beginning to end. The panel layouts during the mind link were a great way to move those sequences especially when the chains broke around the hexagon and Rogue revealed the truth. Rosenburg’s colors and Tarragona’s inks round out an issue that is visually one of the best out of the X Books.
All in all, this is a decent story but at such a pivotal time in the AvX event this one just doesn’t fit. –IS
Cover: 10/10 Writing: 5/10 Art: 8/10 Relevance: 3/10 TOTAL: 26/40

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: Liu seems to be finding her footing with Astonishing X-Men #53 now that the wedding is over.
Infinite Speech: Suprising to say, Astonishing X-Men #53 was the standout pick for me this week. I can’t believe just said that!
SpidermanGeekX-Men Legacy #272. Although the story is falling into the chasm of predictability, it’s still a fun read with excellent art.

Jeff Jackson

Infinite Speech




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