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October 4, 2012

The Uncanny X-Piles 109


Welcome to the 109th edition of the Uncanny X-Piles! We’ve got a huge bump from last week with seven books to review. So let’s not waste any more time and jump in!

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 drop; green indicates the book stayed put.

1. Wolverine & the X-Men: 33 (37)
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. X-Men: Legacy: 26 (17)
9. Avengers: 26 (25)
10. Gambit: 24 (22)
11. AvX: Vs: 22 (31)
12. New Mutants: 19 (16)
13. Astonishing X-Men: 16 (24)
14. First X-Men: 13 (20)
15. X-Men: 12 (14)
16. X-Treme X-Men: 10 (16)
17. Wolverine: 8 (7)


“Astonishing X-Men” #54
Majorie Liu
Mike Perkins

Things go from bad to horrible for the X-Men pretty quick here as Liu gives us a most unexpected connection between hero and villain. Now, the team is being forced to take over Madripor and hand it over to Susan Hatchiorshe’ll kill them along with New York City.

When this issue starts it’s nice and strong. Liubuildsthe tension while the team is trapped underground. The dialogue is urgent and there’s a bit of humor thrown in. Perkins adds to this with the barely lit panels and the team all cramped together in Cecelia’s force field. What puts it over is his depiction of Cecelia and the determination in her face over seveal panels that really sells this sequence. However, once free, the book begins to waver in it’s momentum and just wasn’t too much fun anymore. And if you’re not having fun anymore while reading a comic then what’s the point, right?

Scenes that were supposed to build the tension pretty much had me rolling my eyes instead. Especially involving Iceman and his predicament. When you take into consideration what he’s capable of then you’ll understand why this little plot point is a bit unbelievable. Even moreso if you read “Uncanny X-Force” and saw how the AoA Iceman was taken out. The flipside of this is that if it’s all part of a ruse then it’s a little too obvious.

If you’re one of the people enjoying this series then maybe you can point out what I’m missing but until then, this title just isn’t for me.

Cover: 4/10 Writing: 4/10 Art: 5/10 Relevance: 3/10 Total: 16/40     

“Gambit” #3
Writer: James Asmus
Artist: Clay Mann

The story continues as Gambit follows a rival thief to an unknown place in hopes of getting rid of an ancient artifact that has lodged itself to his rib cage. The mystery woman leading Gambit on this adventure is an interesting character.  She’s presented as being a bit of a Lara Croft with a dash of Catwoman.  Whatever it is, it’s sexy, it works and I like it.

Asmusiscrafting a fun story for the ragin’ Cajun. The only problem with it is that you’ll get the feeling that you’ve seen all of this before.  If you’veplayedgames like Uncharted and Tomb Raider or have seen your fair share of Indiana Jones and Mission Impossible movies, you’ll fall into familiar territory with this Gambit series. Unfortunately, as fun as that vibe is, none of it feels very original, bordering on predictability. Fear not though, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be reading it, I continue to recommend Gambit and at 3 issues in, it’s only getting better as each issue compliments the ones that have come before.

Clay Mann is doing a bang up job with art duties.  His interpretation of the human form has a certain realism and solidity to it. The only spot were his work took a bit of a dip was during the heavy action sequence in the middle of the book. Some of the proportions were a bit off.

Overall, the series has been excellent.  A lot of fun to read and the artwork is top notch.  Asmus makes Gambit a much more likeable character. The biggest selling point for me is the fact that it doesn’t tie in to everything else going on in the X-World right now.  A little break is a good thing.-SG 

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

“Wolverine” #313
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artist: Simone Bianchi

Last issue we were left with the cliffhanger that Wolverine himself might have been responsible for his own transformation into Weapon X. While this premise is a little old and not worth retconning, I was at least intrigued to see how Loeb might pull it off. I’m both happy and sad to say that Loeb decided not to go through with it.

It’s puzzling how this story even got through editorial. I guess since Loeb is a high-muckety-muck, they let him do it. But it’s amazing how unfocused and overly complicated this entire arc was. It was supposed to be the explanation as to how Sabretooth came back from getting his head whacked off. However, Loeb explained that pretty simply a couple of issues again. Instead, Loeb spent more time tightening the knot of Wolverine’s history by introducing yet another mysterious woman, Remus, and tying her into the mess that is Romulus. Romulus becomes the avatar for all the writers who have gotten their mitts on Wolverine in attempts to uncover the mystery of Weapon X. Loeb writes Romulus as the ultimate liar, who confuses the story over and over again. What this does is solidify that Loeb is the one who has muddled this so badly that no one really cares about Wolverine or his past any more.

In the end, Wolverine somehow subdues Romulus (off-panel no less), and goes to the beach with Cloak, Dagger, and Remus. Yes, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds. Does Loebnot know that Wolverine has a girlfriend named Melita? Even withtheir recent problems, it seems strange to see Logan hooking up with Remus for no reason other than that she’s a redhead. Do we need more women in Logan’s life?

Simone Bianchidoesa good job, especially on the last page, of imitating a sleazy romance novel, with Remus wrapped around Logan in a beach scene. It’s painful how over-rendered this book is. Bianchi’s work is like drinking sugar water, it’s too sweetly rich yet has no real substance.

This is the worst this book has been in a long time. Glad to see Bunn and Pelletier back next issue. -JJ

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

“Wolverine & the X-Men” #17
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Mike Allred

Now for something completely different! After all the heaviness of AvX and everything else in the X-Men books, Jason Aaron and Mike Allred team up for one of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time.

I am a huge Allred fan, and recently got the X-Statix Omnibus. If you’ve read any of that, you will certainly better appreciate this issue. If you haven’t, you might not get the point. Back in that series, the mysterious Slimer-esque creature known as Doop was introduced. Doop speaks in an alien tongue, which ends up being a code language and a really great running gag. Doop can seemingly do everything and anything, and it’s this playful deus ex machina concept that makes his character both ridiculous and hilarious. Back in that title, it was also established that Doop and Logan had a very unique relationship.

When Aaron introduced this book, he brought Doop onto the cast, however, he’s only been a background character thus far. The main question for us longtime fans is, “Why is Doop there?” Well, it turns out Logan has brought him there for a really specific reason. Aaron parodies the idea of X-Force’s purpose by making Doopresponsiblefor handling threats to the school that aren’t even really worth mentioning. In the meantime, Doop sleeps all the time and everyone at the school wonders what he’s up to.

Aaron does a great job of making this book one of the genuinely funny books I’ve read all year. Logan has to perform all sorts of tasks for Doop in order to get him on the staff, which was just great. The best was Wolverine dressing up as Cyclops and stabbing himself in the face in front of an audience. Aaron retains the humorous side of the old X-Statix book, and makes this book a great homage.

You can’t really do a story like this without the visual mastery of Mike Allred. He is really the only guy who can draw Doop correctly. Allred’s pop-style fits a story like this really well. I wouldn’t want him on every issue, but in this, his art just sings. It’s always fun to see him draw a multiplicity of Marvel characters, and in this issue we get everyone from Howard the Duck to She-Hulk. It’s a visual treat.

In a week of very mediocre X-books, this one stood out and made me applaud! -JJ

Cover: 7/10 Writing: 9/10 Art: 9/10 Relevance: 8/10 TOTAL: 33/40

“X-Men” #36
Brian Wood
David Lopez

Sometimes I think Jeff and Dan only brought me to help on The Uncanny X-Piles so they could take a break from reading books like this one. There was nothing in my eyes that made this issue enjoyable.

The team here has found a mystery man named Gabriel Shepard whom they believe is one of the first Proto  Mutants. In questioning him about David Michael Gray they arouse his suspiscion’s which prompts an attack on them during their flight. Things go from not fun to really not fun as the issue progresses and leads to a pretty lame cliffhanger. The tension between Cyclops and Storm seems to be the most important thing going on here but even that has lost it’s impact since the events of “Avengers vs X-Men”.

Since there’s nothing that was enjoyable about this issue all I can say is that I really hope it gets better and delivers on the fun again. – IS

Cover: 3/10 Writing: 3/10 Art: 4/10 Relevance: 2/10 Total: 12/40

“X-Men Legacy” #274
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: David Baldeon

Rogue is back on Earth after being conveniently taken out of the AvX equation and sent to another realm. We find the heroin in Washington DC, helping to rescue some survivors that are trapped in the subway system after it collapsed following the events of “Avengers vs X-Men”.  Magneto decides to pop by to have a conversation with Rogue and ends up being roped into lending a hand as well.

There’s not much left for Gage to do with Rogue since there’s only one issue to go. The opportunity he took in this issue to give readers a little bit of closer between Magneto and Rogue was much appreciated.

David Baldeonkeepsblowing me away with his artwork.  I am becoming a big fan and we can only hope that Marvel gives this guy another regular series once Legacy ends. Tarragona’s inks and Rosenderg’s colors complement Baldeon’s pencils perfectly.  We also get another stellar Mark Brooks cover.

I’ve said it before, but it’s a real shame that Legacy is ending.  Things are winding down on this title and I can’t help but feel sad and slightly disappointed that it might end with fizzle.  Fans of this series deserve a finish with a bang though, so I hope Gage can deliver something exciting for the final issue.-SG

Cover: 8/10 Writing: 6/10 Art: 8/10 Relevance: 4/10 TOTAL: 26/40

“X-Treme X-Men” #4
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Paco Diaz

Every once in a while, a book comes along that is so bad, that it’s really not fair to keep ragging on it. We persevered through the first arc, which never really worked at all, and now that we’re onto a new story, I thought perhaps Greg Pak might pull off a Hail Mary. Instead, we get yet another pointless and uninteresting story, mediocre art, and a yucky feeling in my stomach. I really wanted this book to be good, as Pak’s introduction to these characters in Astonishing X-Men was perfect. But for some reason, this just doesn’t work for me.

First of all, Dazzler is just not a good character. She never has been. She doesn’t carry the weight or the personality to be the lead character. Finding reasons for her to sing a song in each arc is painful. Kurt, Howlett, and the floating Xavier head also don’t seem to hold much interest either. Placing them in alternate realities, hunting evil Xaviers is also a boring status quo.

Paco Diazjustdoesn’t really have what it takes to put this book over the edge, either. I like his work, but with this premise, I feel like he’s not being pushed to levels that would make him a really great artist. This story arc is set in a western town, and his visuals are so stereotypical and even anachronistic, that it takes me out of the story. The costume designs are steampunk cowboys, which just makes me groan.

I have to say that after four really bad reviews on the X-Piles, I don’t have the heart to keep reviewing this book. So unless SpidermanGeekor Infinite Speech are itching to continue with this book, I think it’s time to send X-Treme X-Men packing. -JJ

Cover: 4/10 Writing: 2/10 Art: 4/10 Relevance: 0/10 TOTAL: 10/40

Most X-Cellent pick of the week:
SpidermanGeek: Gambit #3
is still a fun adventure to read even though it’s not very original.
Jeff: Wolverine & the X-Men #17 was head and shoulders better than anything else out there this week
Infinite Speech: There’s nothing here that even remotely piqued my interest. Nothing.

Jeff Jackson

Infinite Speech




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