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November 25, 2012

The Uncanny X-Piles 116

Welcome to the 116th edition of the Uncanny X-Piles! More new books from Marvel NOW!, a bunch of new mutants pop up, and a long-unseen X-character returns!

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. All-New X-Men: 34 (first issue)

2. Uncanny X-Force: 34 (29)

3. Uncanny Avengers: 32

4. Uncanny X-Men: 31 (16)

5. Wolverine : 29 (27)

6. A + X: 28

7. X-Men: 26 (9)

8. X-Factor: 25 (27)

9. Gambit: 23 (25)

10. X-Men: Legacy: 22 (32)

11. Age of Apocalypse: 22 (28)

12. Astonishing X-Men: 22 (16)

13. Wolverine & the X-Men: 18 (28)

14. First X-Men: 11 (14)


“All-New X-Men” #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Stuart Immonen

New mutants are popping up everywhere and Cyclops and his X-Men are making it their mission to “rescue” as many as they can. However, with his rampage as Dark Phoenix and murder of Professor X very fresh in everyone’s minds along with his recruiting methods his closest friends are concerned that he will only elevate mutant prejudice and hatred back to where it used to be. Or even cause a mutant civil war. So, one of Cyclops’s closest friends does something extreme to try to right this situation. From the cover and the many solicits from Marvel you most likely already know what that is.

Though the entire time travel premise raised some eyebrows and brought a lot of doubts, Bendis pretty much nailed it in the first two pages of this issue. He made me care about what happens to Henry McCoy again and gave this story a bit more of a compelling edge than expected. There are small bursts of action but what makes this issue worth the read is how Bendis handles the X-Men. The issue is exposition heavy but when the characters are written this well it just makes you want more.

With the announcement that Immonen would be handling the art there was at least. His Beast is “normal” (as normal as you can get when you’re big, blue, and furry) and doesn’t look like the cat/goat/bear he’s been depicted as over the past few years. With this being an exposition heavy issue Immonen only draws a few action scenes but as usual he makes them practically leap off of the page. When we have a more intense scene with characters just talking he’s great at bringing angles into play and the close ups to heighten the drama. We won’t forget the colors and inks of Gracia and Von Grawbadger that round out the great looking art in this issue.

It’s going to be an interesting journey since Bendis is bringing the original X-Men to the present to meet their future selves. So, if you were on the fence about picking up this issue then I suggest you get on the side that leads to you buying this one.- IS

Cover: 8/10 Writing: 8/10 Art: 9/10 Relevance: 9/10 TOTAL: 34/40

“First X-Men” #4
Writers: Christos Gage & Neal Adams
Artist: Neal Adams

There’s not much more to say that I haven’t said in previous editions. This book is just rough.

I’m not sure how a newer talent like Christos Gage can share the stage with a huge legend like Neal Adams. I guess Gage is really handling the scripting while Adams does the plotting. But what I know about Adams and his recent work, it appears that he’s the one really steering the ship here. There seems to be little collaboration, or this issue would really be good.

Adams has brought together a true motley crew of characters. There is little development of any of them. They remind me of characters created in the ’90s, who have one-word names which describes their power: Bomb, Holo, Yeti, etc. You can pretty much imagine exactly what these folks are like based on their names. There’s not much more to them.

The most disappointing aspect is the bizarre personalities of Wolverine and Sabretooth. Neither of them contain the edge that has made them Marvel icons. They are both sappy and sentimental and generally inconsistent with the other stories written about them pre-X-Men days.

The villain of Virus is interesting enough, and this issue we get his origin. He is quite a creepy dude, but the fact that he rides on the back of who he possessing is a little overt and could have a more subtle tinge to him. I find it hard to believe that the government would allow such an overt bad guy with possession powers to just roam around as an agent.

Adams art has it’s moments. I think what I miss most about his work is the cleanliness of his lines. In this book, it’s anything but clean. This book could have been crisper and tighter, both on the story and the art.

At this point, if you’re collecting in issues, go ahead and stick around for the last installment as these characters will undoubtedly be killed under Logan and Creed’s watch, and perhaps they will inspire a young Xavier and Magneto. That’s my prediction, at least. But if you were hoping for some deep retconning truths about these characters to emerge in this series, you may want to go back and read “Deadly Genesis” instead. –JJ

Cover: 2/10 Writing: 3/10 Art: 2/10 Relevance: 4/10 TOTAL: 11/40

“Gambit” #5
Writer: James Asmus
Artist: Diogenes Neves

Gambit is captured by Borya Cich and forced to do a “job” for him as repayment fir steeling and destroying most of Cich’s artifact collection room.

James Asmus continues to write extremely entertaining adventure stories featuring Gambit. Although I still maintain that these stories are fairly generic and Gambit is simply a good choice of “skin” for the lead character as pretty much any of the X-Men could have been written to star in these stories. My main gripe though is Gambit’s use of the French language. As a reader, I have the slight advantage of being bilingual. Although contextually, the French words used by Gambit seem to fit, they are just not applied as properly as they could be when trying to mash both languages together. Then again, I am French Canadian, not Creole or Cajun. So I’m probably just being nitpicky.

I believe this is Diogenes Neves debut work on this title. They couldn’t have picked anyone better to follow in Clay Mann’s wake, because both styles are very similar. This really helps the reader feel a better sense of continuity, especially when jumping into a different chapter after the first 4 issues. Readers shouldn’t have much to complain about regarding the art. Neves has a great grasp on the human anatomy and physique, just as Mann does. Vibrant colors and strong inks help complete the package.

Bottom line is that Gambit is still a really fun series. Some guilt free blockbuster action can be found in those pages, so break out some popcorn and enjoy the show. –SG

Cover: 6/10 Writing: 6/10 Art: 7/10 Relevance: 4/10 TOTAL: 23/40

“Wolverine & the X-Men” #20
Jason Aaron
Steve Sanders

Have you ever read a series that has been so good that you knew a dud was coming eventually? Well, this is that issue for me. Angel is attempting to recruit a new mutant into the Jean Grey School but it seems as if Mystique and the new Silver Samurai are also on her trail. So we get the inevitable tug of war battle between the two groups.

What does go well in this issue is that Aaron has given us a bit more info on Angel’s current situation regarding his powers. Hopefully laying the groundwork for a future storyline. Now, everything else seems a bit inconsequential and not too exciting or entertaining. Shark Girl’s abilities do make for a couple of comical moments especially when she bites down on Mystique’s head. Other than that Aaron gives us everything that is so “by the book” that it’s really disappointing. Especially when most of the previous issues have been so wildly unpredictable and that has been the very cool part about the series so far. Sanders’s artwork was great during Shark Girl’s opening sequence and even when she fought Angel. As the issue went on things were noticeably a lot stronger during the faster paced scenese and they really helped sell the story. The quieter moments looked a bit too comical and Beast looked like a large, blue, shaggy goat. Oh, and a cover that shows a character missing at point black range are silly regardless of how well they’re drawn.

Not a necessary issue to pick up but if you’re into the weird and very quirky characters then go ahead and take a look in the pages of this issue.  –IS

Cover: 3/10 Writing: 5/10 Art: 5/10 Relevance:  5/10 TOTAL: 18/40

“X-Men Legacy” #1
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Tan Eng Huat

It’s a new day for “X-Men Legacy” in the Marvel NOW era. How does it hold up?

You have to be a really stellar book to have an X-Men title, but feature few, if any X-Men in it. Legion has never really been a full-on X-Man, having been on the fringes of books like “New Mutants” and “Uncanny X-Men” when he was on the Muir Island non-team. Legion has been best portrayed as an out-of-control villain, who was responsible for the Age of Apocalypse, and most recently, the Age of X. Zeb Wells did a good job with him in the last incarnation of “New Mutants.” But can a relatively unknown mutant like Legion carry his own book?

The jury is still out based on this issue. Certainly, Legion is a complex character and has a pretty interesting status quo going into this series. He has multiple personalities, each with their own set of super-powers, and most are creepy serial killer types. His father has just been killed, so what kinds of kooky stuff will he get in to?

This issue really just sets up the premise of the book, giving us insight into where Legion has been, and what’s going on inside his head. When Xavier dies, Legion goes nuts and ends up obliterating the commune in which he’s been living. As I write that, I realize that idea has a great deal of promise. Yet when I read the book, I didn’t get a sense of urgency or drama.

Perhaps it was that too much dialogue was spent on Legion and his guru who was teaching him how to control himself. Perhaps it was the mediocre art of Tan Eng Huat. There was nothing dynamic in these panels. The colors even were mellow and lacked the mood that the story pieces suggested.

I did enjoy the cover which has a collage of Legion’s face made up of classic images of Cyclops, Wolverine, Cable, and Magneto. I hope that points to something that will help develop Legion’s character.

I will withhold my overall judgment after the first arc, but this story has an uphill battle if it’s going to make me a believer in Legion.-JJ

Cover: 7/10 Writing: 5/10 Art: 4/10 Relevance: 6/10 TOTAL: 22/40

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: With awesome art and a really exciting premise, All-New X-Men #1 makes me hopeful!
Infinite Speech: I first read All New X-Men #1 because I had to. Now it’s going to be read because I want to!
SpidermanGeekAll-New X-Men #1 was a great start. Immonen and Bendis killed it. I’ll be curious to see where they go from here.

Jeff Jackson

Infinite Speech




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