Welcome to the 110th edition of the Uncanny X-Piles! This week, we gave SpidermanGeek the week off, and he ungratefully left us with some stinkers.
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. Uncanny X-Force: 29 (31)
3. New Avengers: 28 (34)
4. Age of Apocalypse: 28 (28)
5. X-Factor: 27 (30)
6.X-Men: Legacy: 26 (17)
7. Avengers: 26 (25)
8. Gambit: 24 (22)
9. New Mutants: 19 (16)
10. AvX: Vs: 17 (22)
11. Avengers Academy: 17
12. Uncanny X-Men: 16 (31)
13. Astonishing X-Men: 16 (24)
14. Avengers Vs. X-Men: 14 (31)
15. First X-Men: 13 (20)
16. X-Men: 12 (14)
17. X-Treme X-Men: 10 (16)
18. Wolverine: 8 (7)
“Age of Apocalypse” #8
Writer: David Lapham
Artist: Renato Arlem
David Lapham is one crazy dude, which makes him the best writer to work on this book. I can almost hear Marvel editors saying to him, “Do whatever you want in this book, just make it awesome.” And awesome it is.
The X-Terminated crew continues to build their master plan to overthrow the evil Weapon Omega who is in control of the Age of Apocalypse. So far in this series, it has been a slow build to see exactly what Prophet has in mind. Last issue, they traveled to Latveria to retrieve old notes of Reed Richards’ who designed a machine that can be used as a weapon against Weapon Omega. The weapon, though, only takes the death seed out of Weapon Omega and puts it into someone else. It doesn’t destroy the seed. These notes were in the clutches of Victor Von Doom, a freedom fighter against the mutants. However, we discover that Doom doesn’t have the notes, but rather memorized them and destroyed them, then building the machine himself. Doom was planning to inject the seed into himself, which isn’t Prophet’s idea of fun. The team attempts to escape Doom, but is seemingly betrayed by Deadeye. Lapham throws a swerve in at the end, showing that Deadeye’s betrayal was in the plans all along, and gets her closer to Doom so that she can kill him and decapitate him. The last page shows that she is taking Doom’s head to Prophet. Twisted!
It’s neat stories like this that make “Age of Apocalypse” so great. Lapham really has free reign to do whatever he wants in this book, and the crazier he makes it, the better it is.
Arlem’s art continues to be a great compliment to Lapham’s script. His dark-toned, yet photo-realistic panels express the mood of this world and it’s hopeless feel. The colors are subdued throughout as well, which fit Arlem’s lines.
The cover is a bit misleading as it looked to me like Jean Grey was kissing Quentin Quire while holding a Doom mask. However, I guess this was supposed to be Doom and Deadeye make out in the negative space of Weapon Omega. You can’t sell a comic without shoe-horning Wolverine in there, even though his AoA-counterpart wasn’t even in the issue.
This book just works, and I’m glad to see it continue! –JJ
Cover: 6/10 Writing: 8/10 Art: 8/10 Relevance: 6/10 TOTAL: 28/40
“Avengers Academy” #38
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Tom Grummett
Because you demanded it…well, someone must have demanded it. Gage is closing out his run on this book by having a little fun. I included this book in here this week because this issue has the flag football game between the Avengers Academy kids and the Jean Grey School kids. I guess all that tension during “AvX” is over and now they can have fun.
Overall, this is a throwaway issue. Nothing of consequence really happens. There are a lot of goofy interactions, like Gambit teaching Reptil about relationships, the revelation that Rockslide has no “junk,” the two gay kids Striker and Anole talking to one another, and a bizarre make-out session between Warbird and Quicksilver.
If you are a fan of the old “baseball” issues of X-Men, then you might like this, but overall, it was a pass in terms of depth, which I think is totally what Gage was going for with the story. Grummett’s art just doesn’t do it for me here as it looks a little too basic. It’s not bad, per se, but nothing really stood out. The cover by Camuncoli is a really bad homage to a classic X-Men cover, but that guy needs to stop (and he needs to stop drawing “Amazing Spider-Man” too). –JJ
Cover: 2/10 Writing: 6/10 Art: 5/10 Relevance: 4/10 TOTAL: 17/40
“Avengers vs. X-Men” #12
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Adam Kubert
At long last, we finally reach the end of the “Avengers vs. X-Men” saga. Having finally read the entire mini-series, along with all the tie-ins, I have to say that this event was a complete and utter…FAILURE. I mean, it’s right up there with “Fear Itself” but at least that event had pretty art.
I can only imagine that this whole series was planned to put everything back in its place after the entire Bendis run on “Avengers” and all the “No More Mutants” stuff in the X-books. The end result of this series is simple: the Phoenix is gone, mutants aren’t extinct anymore, the X-Men are all back at the school, the Avengers are once again the premiere super-hero team. In effect, all the really great stuff that has happened in the last 10 years is now a distant memory. The only difference between pre-“House of M” Marvel and post-“AvX” Marvel is that Professor X is dead again and Cyclops is in prison, which are two things that really didn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Frankly, I’m rather disgusted with Marvel overall with this, and this issue summarizes it for me. First, they got a talented writer like Jason Aaron to “write” this, in neither his style nor his voice. We see none of the really excellent ideas that Aaron has come up with lately. Instead, practically everything in this issue is summary and blatantly mandated by editorial. A meaningless fight between Hope and Wanda? Hope quickly becoming the Phoenix, then she and Wanda deciding to make the Phoenix go away? What was the point of the Iron Fist connection to the Phoenix? All of these things were hastily included and not really well-thought out.
Second, Marvel gets another classic Marvel artist to rush his work in order to get this book out. Didn’t anyone mention to Marvel that Adam Kubert’s dad died? Maybe he needn’t draw this issue. I think Kubert is immensely talented, but this issue looks scribbled. Certainly there were other artists who could have helped out here. The lack of detail and storytelling in this issue is horrendous.
The new Nova, who hasn’t been seen since issue #1, gets tossed back in, which you can tell is a set-up for something that probably has more to do with the movies or TV shows than it does these books. Cyclops’ last scene talking to Captain America was so out-of-character, it’s like Marvel decided to make him Norman Osborn. Considering all that Cyclops has done of the years, I thought he would at least go out like a hero and sacrifice himself. Everything that made the original “Dark Phoenix Saga” so emotional, was not used and made this issue trite and ridiculous.
Marvel needs help. Badly. If only they would allow their talent to be talented, I think they could have had a winner here. Instead, it’s 2003 again. –JJ
Cover: 7/10 Writing: 0/10 Art: 3/10 Relevance: 4/10 TOTAL: 14/40
“AvX: VS” #6
Artist(s): Jim Cheung
Amidst the madness that has become “Avengers Vs X-Men” we get this issue of “AvX: VS” that is actually good! Not good in an amazing mind blowing story kind of way but that it pokes fun at the core title and just has fun with it. Everything most fans have complained about concerning the things that have been going on are touched on after the main fight.
Kieron Gillen and Jim Cheung deliver a pretty nice bout between Hope and Scarlet Witch that almost destroys the planet.From there we get eight more stories that are pretty short but quite entertaining. The stand outs would have to be Verbal Abuse from Bendis, Jim Mahfood, & Joe Caramagna which shows Cyclops and Captain America exchanging some pretty hilarious verbal quips at each other. Another would be Squirrel Girl going up against Pixie via a role playing game brought to us by Dan Slott and Katie Cooko. By the end of this story it’s pretty evident that this whole thing just may be their fault.
This final issue provided more enjoyment than the ending of the main title. At least “AvX: VS” had a clear agenda which was to provide nothing but slugfest after slugfest. Sure the outcome of most either didn’t make sense or seemed to heavily favor the X-Men but it sure did deliver on it’s premise. – IS
Cover: 3/10 Writing: 7/10 Art: 5/10 Relevance: 2/10 TOTAL: 17/40
“Uncanny X-Force” #32
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Phil Noto
The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants have successfully outmanuvered X-Force and in actually revealing the truth to Genesis have set in motion everything the heroes were trying to prevent. With their lies finally catching up to them, X-Force has to make sure that Genesis doesn’t become Apocalypse and that Deadpool doesn’t kill him either.
Remender has made “X-Force” one of the top X titles to come out in the past few years. This arc has pretty much proved that as it seems to be tying up plot threads from the very beginning. Remender has given us a very credible new Brotherhood that is not to be taken lightly. They are dangerous and their ranks are filled with actual killers instead of a collection of run of the mill bad guys. However, what was most impressive here is that Remender has toned down the comedy of Deadpool just enough that he’s also infused a bit of seriousness that balances the character out. This makes him a lot more enjoyable and really pushes the impact of his decision. We even get a very good twist at the end that I didn’t see coming until now. The story is visually strong thanks to Noto’s artwork. Deadpool’s hallway fight was one of the stand out parts of the story that made the Wolverine vs Sabertooth skirmish pale in comparison. When you take into account Frank Martin’s colors everything comes together to make a good looking issue.
It’s a shame this title will be coming to an end soon but Remender looks like he’s going to deliver one great ending to wrap this series up with! – IS
Cover: 7/10 Writing: 8/10 Art: 7/10 Relevance: 7/10 TOTAL: 29/40
“Uncanny X-Men” #19
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Aritst: Dale Eaglesham
This issue takes the ending of “Avengers vs X-Men” #12 and expands on the final moments of Scott Summers as he transforms into Dark Phoenix. Most of the story is flashes of the destruction he is causing across the globe along with parts of his past while he also narrates. Gillen’s story here is a look inside of Scott’s mind but there’s nothing happening that is either new to the story or even entertaining. What is even worse is that when Scott is told he is responsible for the deaths of many across the world he seems oblivious because new mutants are also appearing. This pretty much throws out years of character developement as the Scott Summers pre “Avengers vs X-Men” was willing to sacrifice his own life to save all. Where now post “Avengers vs X-Men” he actually feels the deaths of innocents is acceptable beacause of the emergence of the new mutants? How does anyone expect the reader to buy that shoehorned ending and forced character change?
Eaglesham’s artwork holds up the story for the most part though he’s not given a lot of cool things to draw. It’s mostly panel after panel of Dark Phoenix Cyclops reflecting and killing. There’s also some inconsistancey with the way Beast looks as Eaglesham draws him as he was and not the cat like form he’s mutated into over the past several years. I’ll also add that the last panel is a bit over the top and laying it on thick.
It’s going to be interesting to see how Marvel sweeps this under the rug and makes Cyclops the hero again. A good point was made in Gillen’s script from Beast regarding the amount of mutant hatred that will come from all of this. Let’s wait and see if there is any follow through. – IS
Cover: 5/10 Writing: 3/10 Art: 5/10 Relevance: 3/10 TOTAL: 16/40
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