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November 10, 2012

The Uncanny X-Piles 114

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Written by: Jeff
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Welcome to the 114th edition of the Uncanny X-Piles! A couple of books come to an end this week while we get another mini-series starting! What did the X-freaks think?

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. Uncanny Avengers: 32
2. X-Men: Legacy: 32 (26)
3. Uncanny X-Men: 31 (16)
4. AvX: Consequences: 30 (27)
5. Uncanny X-Force: 29 (31)
6. Wolverine: 29 (27)
7. Wolverine & the X-Men: 28 (31)
8. Age of Apocalypse: 28 (28)
9. A + X: 28 (first issue)
10. X-Factor: 27 (27)
11. Gambit: 25 (24)
12. Astonishing X-Men: 22 (16)
13. New Mutants: 15 (19)
14. First X-Men: 14 (13)
15. X-Men: 9 (12)
“A + X” #1
Writer(s): Dan Slott & Jeph Loeb
Artist(s): Ron Garney & Dale Keown
Don’t confuse this issue with anything that has to do with the Avengers vs X-Men event that recently wrapped up. It’s over, the teams have kissed and made up, and now this title is basically a team up book that is a bit more enjoyable.  The first story has a WW II era Captain America and his sidekick Bucky on a secret mission. The Nazis are burying strange robots and they intend to blow the entire operation to hell. However, Cable shows up who is on the trail of a time traveling Trask and the guys team up to stop him.
Not only does Slott deliver a great done-in-one story it actually feels like it could have carried the entire issue! With it being only 11 pages it seems as if a lot of what could have been really cool was left out. Though we are treated to some very tight dialogue that captures the total essence of these characters. Slott also alludes to Bucky’s future as the Winter Soldier towards the end which helps to cap off a fun story. Not to mention just how great Ron Garney’s artwork is for the entire story. This guy hits all the right beats from panel to panel and delivers some very intense action. You’ll want to keep going back and reading the story because it’s all over way too fast.
The second tale teams up Wolverine and Hulk as they battle a (possibly) Days of Future Past version of Logan and the Hulk’s future counterpart, Maestro. Sent back in time on a mission they four of them mix it up in classic Hulk vs Wolverine fashion. And considering that the two Avengers were about to scrap over a piece of cake this diversion makes for a much better reason to throw down. Jeph Loeb gets straight to the slashing and smashing and even manages to throw in a joke or two. The real story though lies in the individual behind Logan and Maestro’s mission and why they need to carry it out. Former “Incredible Hulk” artist Dale Keown gives us a good looking story that delivers quite a bit of excitement in a short time. Though I wonder why the Hulks only get any type of facial hair only when they get really old.
“A+X” #1 is a fun title though the price could have been dropped a bit. If you’re looking for something that has nothing to do with that recent event and just want to kick back and have some fun this is right up your alley. -IS
Cover: 7/10 Writing: 7/10 Art: 9/10 Relevance: 5/10 TOTAL: 28/40
“AvX: Consequences” #4
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Mark Brooks
This little mini-series is a much better conclusion to Kieron Gillen’s X-Men run than “Uncanny X-Men.” He’s tying up all the relational ends from the Extinction Team that he set up after “Schism.”
To that end, we finally see what Namor has been up to since he washed out Wakanda and got dropped by the Phoenix. Hope continues her search for Cable and goes searching in the ruins of Utopia at the bottom of the sea and finds Namor there. I was really hoping to find a Namor that was a little less smug than he was, but it appears they’re going to keep him an asshole.
More interesting than that is how Magneto really turns this story around. First, it appears that he’s working with Agent Brand, and we find out about a secret about her. She’s helping Magneto by keeping him off the radar screen of the authorities. Meanwhile, Magneto meets with Storm after she visits an emotionally defeated Colossus. I’m really looking forward to seeing where they take Piotr now that he’s Juggernaut-less and Phoenix-less and really pissed at Magik.
Finally, after Scott experiences another mutant death in prison, he decides it’s time to bust out. Last issue I missed the subtle communication he was having with Magneto via the metal shavings. I thought it was salt, so I had no idea to whom he was talking. This issue makes that much clearer. Magneto, along with Danger and Magik, are heading to break Scott out of prison, and I can’t wait to see how that turns out.
Mark Brooks should be a starting artist on a major Marvel book instead of these mini-series only. He’s been offering the incredible covers on “X-Men: Legacy” and the one below for this week might be one of my most favorite team-shots in recent years. His work is much more polished when he colors his own stuff, so don’t expect exactly the same level of work as on the “Legacy” cover, but still, he gets the proportions right on all the figures he draws. He’s been a welcome edition to this book.
This has actually been a good follow-up to “AvX” and in many ways, I’m enjoying it more. There are very few Avengers here, though, so perhaps this should have just been the concluding arc in “Uncanny.” –JJ
Cover: 6/10 Writing: 7/10 Art: 8/10 Relevance: 9/10 TOTAL: 30/40
“New Mutants” #50
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Artists: Felix Ruiz & Klebs
Finally, this book is being put out of its misery. And the amount of effort in this is indicative of why we’re not seeing a “New Mutants” title continue in Marvel NOW.
This issue is really just an attempt to put everything back to where it was before DnA got their hands on things. Everything from Doug Ramsey’s bizarre future problems to Magma’s romance with Mephisto (I can’t believe I just wrote that) are all worked out with no real lasting implications for the characters. The only dangler that I was really disappointed in seeing resolved was how they swept Dani and Sam’s relationship under the rug, along with Dani and Nate’s.
This is really the problem with Marvel. They obviously mandate their creators to put all the pieces back together so that nothing of consequence ever really changes or develops their characters. That’s certainly true of this book. What started out as an epic series written by Zeb Wells has devolved into nothing of importance.
The only really nice thing about this book is the cover by John Tyler Christopher, who once again hits a home run. The rest of the art is not even worth mentioning.
It’s a shame that DnA didn’t find a foothold with this book, but perhaps now they can move on and write something that’s more of a fit for them.  –JJ
Cover: 8/10 Writing: 3/10 Art: 1/10 Relevance: 3/10 TOTAL: 15/40
“Wolverine and the X-Men” #19
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Nick Bradshaw
The Jean Grey School for Higher Learning gets attacked by a super villain, receives a visit from a vampire hunter, the Devil’s son, a Mojo-verse celebrity, some Canadians, a gorilla, a spirit of vengeance, a werewolf, Spider-Man and Deadpool… all before first recess. We also look in on a budding romance, students volunteering on the moon, Beast reenacting “Inner Space”, Angel pulling a daredevil stunt to take his company back and Wolverine tracking a killer.
Needless to say, there’s a lot going on in this issue. Jason Aaron throws everything but the kitchen sink at the reader, but surprisingly doesn’t make it feel overwhelming in the least.
Nick Bradshaw’s art is on par with what we’ve come to expect from him.  This book was a tall order for him to fill just in the variety of characters alone getting some panel time, but he pulled it off quite nicely. You gotta love the fact that he has Peter Parker wearing a bowtie and a vest.
Inks and colors are also as solid as usual.  There is nothing predominantely wrong with any aspect of this issue.  It all melds rather well together, but readers might still be left unsatisfied because this book appears to serve more as a “where-are-they-now” for the characters while the pick up the pieces in the aftermath of “AvX” as we head into Marvel NOW!
Aside from Deathlok fans probably saddened to see Unit L-17 tasked with Administrative Assistant duties, “Wolverine & the X-Men” continues to offer a little something for everyone and makes good use of its huge roster of characters. –SG
Cover: 6/10 Writing: 7/10 Art: 7/10 Relevance: 8/10 TOTAL: 28/40
“X-Men Legacy” #275
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: David Baldeon
The Final Issue!  …for now.
As can be expected with any final issue, not all that much happens.  It’s not like the writer can start exploring other facets of the character or introduce us to new ones.  The point of a final issue is to end things.  Christos Gage does the admirable thing and shines a one hundred million candle power spotlight on Rogue. However, some might find this issue a bit preachy.  It plays out like a bad after school special as the southern belle teams up with Mimic to answer a distress call from a prison warden where super villains have started to riot. The adventure only serves as a backdrop to have Rogue dump all of her moral baggage onto Mimic as she essentially sums up what she’s learned about herself and the path she has taken since Xavier “fixed” her.  It made sense to have Mimic use her as a sounding board since there are a lot of parallels between the two characters, but for those of us who have been reading “Legacy” since it sprung from the adjectiveless “X-Men” title back in 2008, Gage isn’t telling us anything we didn’t already know about Rogue. The blatant info dump we received in the first 5 pages was especially harder to digest.
With that being said, another one hundred million candle power spotlight shone brightly on David Baldeon. Gage’s story managed to lend itself perfectly to the artist.  Baldeon’s work is absolutely flawless in this book.  We should also give credit where it’s due to inker Jordi Tarragona and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg. This trio knocked it out of the park. The visuals are eye poppingly beautiful. The art is worth the price of admission alone and that Mark Brooks cover is the cherry on the Sundae. A poster worthy piece that’s perfectly suited for a final issue.
Yes, the story was a bit weak, but in Christos Gage’s defense it’s also a great summary of who Rogue is and how she came to be the character she is at this point in time of the Marvel Universe.  I encourage anyone who is unfamiliar with Rogue to pick this issue up if you plan on being a regular “Uncanny Avengers” reader. –SG
Cover: 10/10 Writing: 6/10 Art: 10/10 Relevance: 6/10 TOTAL: 32/40
Most X-Cellent Pick of the week:
Jeff: A really nice ending to “X-Men: Legacy” with really fantastic art inside and out.
Infinite Speech: “X-Men: Legacy” was just awesome and should also be in the category for having the best damn cover also!
SpidermanGeek: “X-Men: Legacy” is a great final issue highlighting Rogue. The art is flawless.
Jeff Jackson
Infinite Speech



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