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 drop; green indicates the book stayed put.
1. Wolverine & the X-Men: 37 (27)
2. Avengers Vs. X-Men: 31 (28)
3. Uncanny X-Force: 31 (25)
4. Uncanny X-Men: 31 (14)
5. X-Factor: 30 (25)
6. New Avengers: 28 (34)
7. Age of Apocalypse: 28 (26)
8. Avengers: 25 (20)
9. Astonishing X-Men: 24 (20.5)
10. AvX: Vs: 22 (31)
11. Gambit: 22 (21)
12. X-Men Legacy: 17 (26)
13. New Mutants: 16 (25)
14. X-Treme X-Men: 16 (9)
15. X-Men: 14 (15)
16. First X-Men: 13 (20)
17. Wolverine: 7 (8)
Boy, I have lots to say about this issue that will probably move beyond “review” and into more commentary. Let’s get the review out of the way.
Bendis and Coipel are a masterful team and reveal exactly why the two of them are the cream of the crop when it comes to events. Bendis certainly knows how to build the drama. I could almost hear the orchestra playing the dramatic movie score as this story unfolds. Bendis knows how to write the pain and conflict that these characters are experiencing. He puts all the major players at the forefront of the battle with Cyclops, the ones with the most emotional teeth. The reader can feel how dire this situation is and it makes your stomach sink when Xavier finally confronts Scott.
Coipel should have been drawing this all along. He has a grasp of the importance of this story and deftly draws the appropriate emotion on everyone’s face. The action is huge. Not one of Coipel’s clean lines is wasted in this book. Everything fits and comes across as the epic story for which we were all waiting.
But there are a few major problems I have with this book. Despite the action scenes, there is a LOT of standing around here. There’s one double page spread in which everyone is literally standing like they’re waiting for the bus, not like they are fighting for their lives. This sapped a little of the energy that was found elsewhere in the book.
Now for my commentary. For years, I have been saying that Xavier needs to die in order for the dream to continue. In the third X-Men movie, I thought they handled such a death perfectly. When Xavier “died” in LegionQuest, I thought that was the perfect way for him to die. When he “died” during House of M, I thought that was done succinctly, even if it was off-panel. When he “died” at the end of Messiah Complex, I thought, “Finally, they did it right!” Yet none of these times did Xavier actually die. Now, they are claiming he really is dead and that he has died at the hands of his greatest students. I love the concept, but the actual page of the death was not done very well. We really don’t know what Scott did to kill Xavier. The panels were confusing, leaving much to interpretation. Perhaps it was set up this way so that Xavier can return in the next year or two, which will only serve to anger me more. Besides this, Xavier has barely been a player in this drama or in the Marvel Universe in the last few years. His death feels random and undeveloped.
I don’t like that Cyclops ended up being the villain. He started as ambiguous, and ended as a petulant child. I wish they had developed his point of view a little stronger. He does not become the sympathetic villain like Magneto has always been. Instead, in the last few years, he has only become more and more of a jerk. Now that he’s killed his mentor, I am interested to see where his character will go, and I hope he’s not killed himself. Maybe the road to redemption will be handled better.
Hulk’s inclusion is incredibly forced. Why didn’t they bring him in earlier? I like what he does once he’s there, but the scene where Captain America begs him to join up felt a day late and a dollar short. As for the rest of the Avengers, I feel that Marvel’s obvious favoritism towards them is a bit heavy-handed, and only due to the success of the movies. As an X-Men fan, I feel as if their cause has been minimized and will be swept under the rug as the X-Men are assimilated into the Avengers. This series has been a turning point for me as an X-fan, and it’s not a direction with which I’m wholly excited.
Overall, I’m convinced that this series could have been done in six issues and done by Bendis and Coipel solely. All of the excess could have been trimmed and this event could have been incredible. All the problems that have plagued this series has been due to Marvel’s growing greed and gluttony. The irony is that I have felt this series has been led by the editors, and yet there has not been any editing of this series.
So while this issue works in the traditional sense of good art and writing, it’s also the culmination of the absolute failure of Marvel’s current status quo of inflated storytelling, grandiose plots that will eventually go nowhere, and poor management of these characters. –JJ
Cover: 7/10 Writing: 7/10 Art: 8/10 Relevance: 9/10 TOTAL: 31/40
New Avengers #30
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato
While the New Avengers are transporting a defeated Emma Frost they are attacked by the Purifiers. They hate mutants and mutant sympathizers and bring out the big guns to make sure no one is left standing when this is all over. Though the battle is chaotic and brutal, Luke Cage is fighting another battle at the same time that will determine his future.
Bendis has a knack for dealing out a great amount of character building and to balance it out during a very cool fight is just the icing on the cake. As usual, his dialogue is so on point and the humor hits at just the right times. Making this issue just as fun to read as it was to look at! The Purifiers were also a nice touch and was better than seeing yet another Sentinel attack on the mutants. However , Luke Cage’s internal struggle was what really drives the heart of this issue. Bendis has spent the better part of the decade building this character and giving fans a reason to cheer for Cage. This made the outcome of the issue hit that much harder and we’ll just have to wait and see how it all plays out.
Deodato continues to blow these panels away. Whether it’s Cage and Daredevil chatting in the back of a truck or Mockingbird and Thing roughing up some Purifiers everything looks great. What’s also a plus is that Bendis lets us get to see Deodato’s visual storytelling skill and doesn’t clutter a lot of the panels with dialogue or thought captions. The two page attack on Cage was a great example of this as with each blast from the Purifier, Luke would flashback to his family and friends. You know an artist is doing his or her job well when the writer can sit back and know their story is still going to be moved well without their words.
A great balance here between action and heart from a creative team that has given fans one of the best Avengers books worth reading. This is also one of the better tie-ins to Avengers vs. X-Men and definitely worth picking up just to see what’s going on with the Avengers. – IS
Cover: 5/10 Writing: 8/10 Art: 8/10 Relevance: 7/10 TOTAL: 28/40
I ate a whole pint of Ben & Jerry’s Bonnaroo Buzz due to my depression that Rick Remender is leaving this title. Sure, I’m excited about what he’s got coming, but as regular readers of this column will know, this book has been the best X-book in years.
This storyline is really ramping up as it heads into it’s final few issues. The team is finally back from the future, but things are still looking pretty grim.
Remender effectively starts the issue with a flash forward, as we see some individuals who look like Wolverine and Psylocke looking pretty rough, with a newly costumed Evan as Apocalypse. Remender is great at dropping these kinds of things, but they are never quite what they seem. My prediction is that is Sabretooth and Mystique that Evan is triumphant over.
Speaking of Sabretooth and Mystique, we get lots of time with them this issue, doing gross things with each other. But more importantly, we find that there is dissension in the ranks amongst the Brotherhood, which creates some great tension. Sabretooth also verbally “adopts” Daken as their relationship builds. I am so impressed by Remender’s handling of the new Brotherhood and am hoping and praying they’ll stick around somehow in the future.
But Remender always does best when he has the X-Force team at each other’s throats morally. He continues to push this team to the brink in every story arc, and it’s looking like it’s going to come to a head next issue. Somehow Remender can create incredible weight in this story, while also tossing in humor that doesn’t seem out of place or hokey. It’s really a testament to his abilities as a writer.
Phil Noto returns to art in this issue. He’s not my favorite artist by any means, but he gets the job done. Missing from this book is Dean White’s colors, which is really noticeable. White’s palette has been perfect for this book, and it’s a shame they couldn’t keep him on this book long enough to finish the run. It really would have been nice to have Jerome Opena come back for these last few issues too. But Noto delivers some good panels here, especially when he’s drawing faces.
Overall, this book continues to deliver the goods, and even despite the art changes, it a fun romp. –JJ
Cover: 7/10 Writing: 8/10 Art: 6/10 Relevance: 10/10 TOTAL: 31/40
Uncanny X-Men #18
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Ron Garney
Warning: Read Avengers vs X-Men #11 before you read this issue!
The issue itself was interesting. We essentially get two short stories. The first shows Colossus and Magik as they deal with losing their respective portions of the Phoenix Force and also face the reality of their actions while hosting the cosmic entity. A family quarrel ensues.
The second part is the one that I found to be more interesting. The readers become privy to a quiet dinner conversation between Cyclops and Emma Frost. It’s actually kind of creepy. I won’t spoil it any further except to tell you that if you want to get the full effect, you really do need to read AvX #11 first. It’ll add background noise in your head as you read it.
Ron Garney’s art is top notch and is really what holds this entire issue together. He manages to drive the script home. It’s an emotionally filled issue and the facial expressions presented to us by Garney. You’ll feel like you’re watching a soap opera, but that’s ok because the story calls for it.
As a standalone, readers might be a bit confused as to what’s going on, but it’ll pack a punch if it’s read in tandem with AvX #11. That Garney/Milla cover is killer too. –SG
Cover: 8/10 Writing: 7/10 Art: 8/10 Relevance: 8/10 TOTAL: 31/40
Wolverine and The X-Men #16
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Chris Bachalo
Wow! Wow, wow…wow. This story was fantastic. Plain and simple.
In this issue, we delve into Kade Kilgore’s origin. Jason Aaron scripts a guided tour into the psyche of the creepiest underage sociopath in the Marvel Universe. We learn how Kilgore came to be the leader of the new Hellfire Club. To those who thought these were just a bunch of rich kids that picked up the pieces left behind by Sebastian Shaw, you are in for a surprise. All I can say is that if Kilgore and his entourage are this dangerous now, I don’t want to know what they will be capable of when they reach adulthood.
Kade’s face to face with the Phoenix Five had me in stitches. This quintet, which host immeasurable psionic power, has beat the snot out of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, yet this kid has the balls to talk to Scott Summers as if he was nothing more than a common street shoe shiner. Brilliant.
Chris Bachalo’s art just propels this script into the stratosphere. I don’t always enjoy Bachalo’s work as it’s sometimes messy and hard to follow, but this issue was absolutely flawless. The single panel showing the Phoenix Five’s grand entrance is awe inspiring and the story and art really begin to pick up after that. It just gets better.
Even if you have no idea who Kade Kilgore and the new Hellfire Club are, you will enjoy the hell out of this book. Nothing more needs to be said. –SG
Cover: 9/10 Writing: 10/10 Art: 10/10 Relevance: 8/10 TOTAL: 37/40
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Roland Bosch, David Lopez, & Alvaro Lopez
Sometimes an issue comes along and makes you lose all hope for a title. For me, this was that issue. Considering what and who the X-Men have gone up against over the years there didn’t seem to be much of a threat here. However, the threat seemed to be heightened just for the sake of stretching out the story. Now, Wood does provide some very good dialogue between the characters especially during Psylocke and Dominoe’s exchange. Though the rest of the issue fails to deliver on the fun part of the comic reading experience.
With so many artists on the book there were several panels where the shift in styles really hurt the storytelling. I’m not familiar enough with each artist to pinpoint who was responsible for what but overall this issue was hurt by varying styles.
Not an issue I’d recommend unless you’re a completist. – IS
Cover: 4/10 Writing: 4/10 Art: 3/10 Relevance: 3/10 TOTAL: 14/40
This is an example of “what do we do with this book while we wait for AvX to end?” Well, the only thing that Gage could really do is have Rogue do something that doesn’t involve any other regular Marvel Universe characters. Also, since she’ll soon be featured in the flagship Uncanny Avengers book by Rick Remender, Gage is also handcuffed in doing anything to progress Rogue’s character at all.
So in other words, this arc is absolutely meaningless. I found myself skimming through it looking for the slightest suggestion of something that would further Rogue’s story. Instead, we get an extremely wordy resolution to these species that we are likely never to see again.
Rafa Sandoval does some solid work, despite the fact that he’s having to draw useless characters. I’d prefer to see him drawing X-Men instead of similar-looking armies of bugs and cats. I don’t think it’s his fault. He draws bugs and cats just fine, but the material he’s been given isn’t that great.
The only plus to this issue is yet another incredible Mark Brooks cover, which looks like something out of Beastmaster. I wish he would do interiors that looked that seamless. –JJ
Cover: 9/10 Writing: 2/10 Art: 6/10 Relevance: 0/10 TOTAL: 17/40
X-Treme X-Men #3
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist(s): Stephen Segovia & Paco Diaz
Since this series started I questioned it’s relevance and ability to just be a fun read. Pulling in X-Men from an alternate reality storyline that didn’t impress too much and then throw in Dazzler and it’s going to take a lot to impress me. Well, it’s the third issue and it’s far from impressive which is very sad considering Pak’s ability to write some great stories. The overall mission is to reality hop and kill the ten various Charles Xaviers that happen to be evil. Now, the problem with this is that Dazzler makes it clear that X-Men don’t kill so more than likely she’ll provide the distraction while someone else pulls off the dirty deed. Just like in this issue where Storm, Thor, and several others rule the world as gods.
One thing Pak does well is throw a twist into this otherwise uneventful story along with a very somber moment with Kurt. It’s these sequences that made the issue a bearable read. The decision to have Dazzler as the tether back to the regular Marvel Universe is a bit confusing since she’s been a lower tier character for some time now. Having only popped up occasionally to lend a hand in a big fight but not much has been done with her character as of late to warrant leading a team in a series.
The art did a fine job of moving the story along though it was definitely stronger in some parts than others. The appearance of Hercules and his confrontation with Howlett was a great looking set of panels. Much better than the more important parts of the story that should have had a greater impact.
I don’t see the reason to pick up this issue unless you’re a die hard fan of Dazzler and alternate reality stories. – IS
Cover: 6/10 Writing: 4/10 Art: 4/10 Relevance: 2/10 TOTAL: 16/40
Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week
Jeff: I’m really torn here, but I think the book I enjoyed the most this week was Uncanny X-Force #31.
Speech: New Avengers #30 had everything you would want in a comic. Great character building that fit right along with some fantastic artwork and just plain fun!
Geek: Wolverine & The X-Men #16 blew my socks off. Creepy kids are creepy.