Welcome to the 108th edition of the Uncanny X-Piles! Sorry for the delay folks…my computer was infected with a techno-organic virus and tried to steal my life-glow. This week, we only had 3 books to review, which was a relief after last week’s barrage of books. Avengers this week technically isn’t an X-book as no X-Men showed up, but since we’re covering the tie-in books, somehow it fits into the mix.
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. New Avengers: 28 (34)
6. Age of Apocalypse: 28 (26)
7. X-Factor: 27 (30)
8. Avengers: 26 (25)
9. Astonishing X-Men: 24 (20.5)
10. AvX: Vs: 22 (31)
11. Gambit: 22 (21)
12. New Mutants: 19 (16)
13.X-Men Legacy: 17 (26)
14. X-Treme X-Men: 16 (9)
15. X-Men: 14 (15)
16. First X-Men: 13 (20)
17. Wolverine: 7 (8)
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Walter Simonson
Super heroes may have the same problems as regular people but they deal with them in very different ways. As we find out here when Hawkeye and Spider-Woman deal with their relationship issues while trying to stop Mr. Negative and his crew from stealing weapons left over from Fear Itself.
At best this is a filler issue but that doesn’t mean it’s not a solid read. Bendis keeps the conversation between the two Avengers pretty entertaining throughout the issue. The banter though serious is still kept pretty light and it’s even slightly comedic at times. The problem with this issue is that if you really don’t care about the relationship between Hawkeye and Spider-Woman then this issue may not be for you. There is the subplot involving Madame Hydra and her exploiting the good guys that seems to be leading to something much bigger later down the line. Maybe this will end up being the next major event because Bendis has been giving glimpses of Hydra plotting something for quite some time.
Simonson’s artwork lends to the light hearted tone of the script. However when the tension grows he does a good job of showing Spider-Woman cut loose on Mr. Negative’s crew. It’s overall a lot better than the previous issues and maybe because the cast has been trimmed down a bit here. Still there were a few scenes that seemed a bit cartoony for my tastes.
As stated earlier, this is a filler issue that takes place soon after Avengers vs. X-Men from the way it reads. However it’s still pretty solid with the dialogue and the hints of things to come.
Cover: 8/10 Writing: 7/10 Art: 5/10 Relevance: 6/10 TOTAL: 26/40
What makes an X-book really work these days? It seems like an almost impossible task to have a successful book with such a backlog of continuity and so many characters. In my humble opinion, you have to have some crucial elements to make an X-book really great: 1. respect for the past, 2. vision to carry the characters forward, 3. good character dynamics. If an X-book has those three things, I can pretty much look past the art or the dialogue even to appreciate it. Even if a book has 2 out of 3 of these elements, it will work.
However, this book currently has none of these elements.
Abnett and Lanning are attempting to address #1. By bringing in the Hellions, and the continued conflict with this future version of Doug Ramsey who has been infected by the transmode virus, they are touching on elements that I once loved about New Mutants. However, this was done much better recently in Necrosha. This doesn’t work because Doug as a villain is just not convincing. His motivations are obtuse. Plus, the idea of “overwriting” a present character with a future one doesn’t really make much sense. I love time travel, but this idea just doesn’t work for me.
I don’t know where they are going with element #2. Cannonball and Sunspot are moving on to the Avengers soon, but the rest of these characters are inconsequential. There is nothing in this issue or this story that suggest any change or development and this is evident by the fact that when Doug wakes up in the end, nothing at all has changed. This is the classic flaw of the “Dallas-syndrome” where “it was all a dream.” If Doug was going to end up not being changed, why did we spend all that time with his future self?
Finally, there’s barely any character interaction here. Why is Doug professing his love to Dani, when we know that Dani and Nate (and Dani and Sam) have something going on? I personally don’t understand why everyone is in love with her. Magma, Sunspot, and Blink barely do or say anything in this issue and end up becoming excess.
The art in this book is not bad. Ruiz and Klebs (?) have a style that is not quite a fit for these characters, but they do OK with what they have. I’d love to see Ruiz on a darker title, like Age of Apocalypse. John Tyler Christopher does a great job of selling this book with the cover, but if you’re expecting something like that on the inside, you’ll be disappointed.
This book can’t end soon enough for me. I’m hoping whatever happens next will be better than what we’re getting here. –JJ
Cover: 7/10 Writing: 3/10 Art: 6/10 Relevance: 3/10 TOTAL: 19/40
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Leonard Kirk
Peter David’s Breaking Points storyline continues this month as this issue primarily focuses on Banshee (the Irish Lass formerly known as Siryn). The original Banshee’s daughter’s story picks up pretty much where we last found her after her battle with The Morrigan in issue #239. Theresa had been having visions of her father until she finally heeds his advice and decides to summon The Morrigan once more with the help of Layla Miller. What transpires next changes the status quo of Banshee’s character. Whether it’s permanent or not will remain to be seen.
It’s a funny place for Peter David to go with this character. I’m not sure what his game plan is or why he’s slowly getting rid of his X-Factor cast. Is he tearing the team down to rebuild it, or is he going to change the entire team dynamic with new additions? It’s all up in the air at this point and Peter David remains tight lipped about it, but that’s part of the charm and the fun of being an X-Factor fan. And honestly, by definition, that’s the whole point of this series.
The X-Factor: A variable in a situation that could have the most significant impact on the outcome.
X-pect the unexpected, folks.
Before we dive into Leonard Kirk’s artwork, I want to take a minute to show some well-deserved appreciation for David Yardin’s amazing cover. It’s simplistic yet powerful. The color contrasts, the play on shadows and most importantly, the emotion that the character’s face conveys. Sometimes, subtlety is a powerful tool in artwork and the devil, or Banshee in this case, really is in the details.
As far as the interiors go, Kirk continues to do an admirable job with the pencils. The panels that offer a low camera angle point of view outshine the otherwise bland sequential art. I’m still finding a level of inconsistency as far as details are concerned, but Kirk still manages to effectively tell the story. His work on characters’ facial expressions keeps improving and I wouldn’t mind if he became this series regular artist.
I’m not sure that those who aren’t fans of Banshee or who aren’t X-Factor die-hards will get much out of this issue though, so it loses points on accessibility, but on the flip side for those of us who do follow the series, we feel like we’re part of Peter David’s elite X-Factor clubhouse and we read his stories much in the same way as a wine connoisseur delights in drinking a good Chianti or Bordeaux in a different way than your average beer swiller would, but that’s not to say that we can’t all just get drunk and have a good time, right? –SG
Cover: 9/10 Writing: 7/10 Art: 6/10 Relevance: 5/10 TOTAL: 27/40
Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: Boy, this was a terrible week. I’ll go with X-Factor #244 as I disliked it the least.
SpidermanGeek: X-Factor #244 is all I got!
Infinite Speech: The pickings were quite slim this week but I’m going to go with Avengers #30. The subplot really has me eager to see what’s next!