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January 22, 2013

Uncanny X-Piles 123

Welcome to the 123rd edition of the Uncanny X-Piles! Check out what tickled our fancy and what pickled our pansies.

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: 37 (34)

2. Uncanny X-Men: 31 (16)

3. Wolverine : 30 (24)

4. Uncanny Avengers: 29 (32)

5. Uncanny X-Force: 29 (30)

6. X-Factor: 29 (27)

7. Cable & X-Force: 28 (26)

8. Astonishing X-Men: 27 (18)

9. Wolverine & the X-Men: 25 (27)

10. Gambit: 23 (22)

11. X-Men: 22 (26)

12. Age of Apocalypse: 20 (20)

13. X-Men: Legacy: 19 (15)

14. A + X: 18 (29)

15. First X-Men: 15 (11)


“Age of Apocalypse” #11
Writer: David Lapham
Artists: Roberto de la Torre & Renato Arlem
Cover: Kris Anka

Every time I think it’s about time to put this title down, David Lapham goes and reels me back into it. This book has unfortunately had a lull in the last few issues, but all has been leading up to this battle. Prophet and the X-Terminated have put all their chips on the table in their struggle against the corrupted Weapon Omega (Wolverine).

Lapham will pull out a really neat trick every few issues which will make the story that much more engaging. In this issue, he has Donald Pierce, using a contraption that uses Quentin Quire’s brain, to make himself look like Quire and trap the ever-elusive Shadow King, who has always been Weapon Omega’s ace-in-the-hole. With Shadow King out of the way, the X-Terminated have a shot at taking Logan down once and for all. I like how Lapham set up the ruse and surprised us with Pierce’s plan.

It’s really the high action in this book that keeps things going for me. Seeing the team mount Sentinel-technology to storm the castle was fun, while teasing another fight between Prophet and Keeper Murdock makes me want to see more.

The emotional thread in this issue is that Weapon Omega has captured the de-powered Jean Grey, who is his wife in this reality. Jean goes to some extensive lengths to get the jump on Logan, and we get a bit of Logan’s reasonings for being the way he is here. Laphams leans heavily on the drama between Jean and Logan, which reaches its crescendo this issue. I’m not exactly sure what happens at the end of this issue, which makes me look forward to the next one.

De la Torre and Arlem are a phenomenal art team, and I still can’t believe they are on this book. The dark, sketchy lines and heavy tone of the colors is perfectly suited for this story. I would love to see them on a book like “Wolverine” or “X-Factor” in the future.

If you’re not already invested in this book, then you really shouldn’t bother, but for those of us who have remained these 11 issues, this issue made the wait worth it. –JJ

Cover: 5/10 Writing: 6/10 Art: 6/10 Relevance: 3/10 TOTAL: 20/40

“Cable and X-Force” #3
: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Salvador Larroca

Cable has a vision of the very near future where a deadly virus, dubbed The Girth, spreads via a fast food chain. It seems that only mutants are immune to the virus. Cable and X-Force must stop the outbreak before it begins.

Hopeless made this issue fairly interesting. There was very little setup and plenty of action. So much so that it was hard to make heads or tails of things as the story jumped from a “then” to a “now” perspective and sometimes it seemed a little hard to keep track of that, especially when you add in Cable’s narration of his vision of the future. That’s 3 timelines in a single book! I kind of like this “Minority Report” idea though. It’ll be interesting to see how long Hopeless can keep that up before it starts falling flat.

I was never a big fan of Salvador Larroca. I didn’t like him on “Amazing Spider-Man” and I very much disliked his work on “Invincible Iron Man”, but the art in “Cable and X-Force” is phenomenal! Strong inks, great colors and fantastic, beautiful detail. This team of Larroca of D’Armata is a winning combination. I would keep reading this title if the art stays on par with what was presented in this issue. That cover is just full of win too.

All in all, “Cable and X-Force” #3 was not a terrible book, but hopefully we are not seeing the best that this creative team has to offer. I think this title needs time to grow. At least the team roster has already displayed an interesting dynamic. Let’s see where this goes. –SG

Cover: 8/10 Writing: 7/10 Art: 8/10 Relevance: 5/10 TOTAL: 28/40

First X-Men” #5
Writer: Neal Adams & Christos Gage
Artist: Neal Adams

So, it’s all been building to this? The final fight with the team and the Sentinels which sets things in motion. The “actual” fallout between Wolverine and Sabertooth, the beginnings of Xavier’s school, along with several other milestone moments in mutant history.

Being that I haven’t enjoyed this series there’s not much in this issue that’s going to change that opinion. Adams and Gage wrap things up pretty well aside from that. Since this is set in the middle of continuity there wasn’t much that could be done that would be a surprise to the reader. It was also hard to wrap my head around the idea of Sabertooth being anything but a cold blooded killer since that’s how he’s been portrayed for decades now. Adams and Gage’s brief glimpse of him as an actual caring person just wasn’t enough to dispel years of character building and seemed very out of place.

As far as the visuals are concerned it was still hit and miss depending on your tastes. Sometimes the exaggerated canines of Logan’s and Creeds’s seemed more distracting when it came to Adams showing their expression. The strongest page was during Creed’s murder scene which conveyed everything it needed to. Though it’s still a head scratcher why Magneto looked like a vampire pimp.

You have to be a really huge fan to see the necessity for this series. There was nothing here that demanded our attention or seemed really integral to the history of any of the principal characters.-IS

Cover: 5/10 Writing: 4/10 Art: 4/10 Relevance: 3/10 TOTAL: 15/40

“Wolverine and the X-Men” #23
: Jason Aaron
Artist: Nick Bradshaw

When we last left our heroes, Frankenstein’s Monster had Idie in his clutches while the Murder Circus’ Magic wore off of the senior X-Men. Needless to say, Wolverine and the X-Men are in no mood to play around under the Big Top.

At least the final issue of this Murder Circus arc was much less wordy than the previous one. It made it a brisk read that got right to the point and the payoff gives reader a tease at what the Jean Grey School will have to face off against next. A character also decides on a name change, although it’s hard to say what kind of impact that will have in the future.

Jason Aaron managed to write a decently fun adventure, although it seemed out of place for this particular cast, it was still a refreshing to read, post AvX.

Nick Bradshaw’s artwork continues to be solid and clean. Maybe it was a little too clean for a story that tried to lean toward the macabre, but it did help sedate the potentially gorier scenes. Let’s not forget that this is a T+ rated book. A different artist could have given the reader a totally different experience with this story though, but it’s tough to say if it would have made anything better. Maybe somebody else wouldn’t have thought of framing a page with shots of Doop kicking all sorts of Zombie-clown ass.

The cover was generic and didn’t really offer any punch.

The bottom line is that this “Wolverine and the X-Men” adventure was a welcomed break from all the seriousness in the fallout of AvX and amidst the Marvel NOW shuffling around of characters. Especially if you don’t mind focusing on two characters that you’d probably otherwise wouldn’t give a second thought to, but otherwise you could skip this all together and not feel like you’ve missed much. –SG

Cover: 6/10 Writing: 7/10 Art: 7/10 Relevance: 5/10 TOTAL: 25/40

“X-Men: Legacy” #4
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Jorge Molina
Cover: Mike Del Mundo

This title finally gets what it’s been missing: X-Men. After 3 issues of setting up that Legion is full-on cuckoo for Cocoa-Puffs (which we already knew), yet altruistic, the end of last issue had him staring at a squad of X-Men. This story picks right up where the last one left us. Like you might expect, there is quite a bit of conversation and posturing between Legion and the X-Men. They want him to leave the kids he just saved alone, knowing that he’s been responsible for not one, but two alternate realities. Legion just wants to be left alone to continue his father’s work, but also to put his own spin on it.

It’s not an altogether new concept, but it is certainly much better than the previous issues. Spurrier chooses an eclectic and zany group of X-Men including stalwarts Wolverine, Storm, and Beast, but also includes Chamber, Blindfold, and Frenzy. Honestly, I would love to see an X-Men book with a team led by Legion including those last three. Just Legion and Chamber seem to make an interesting pairing as they go up against one another this issue.

But Spurrier still hasn’t found his footing with this book. It’s unclear what he’s trying to do. Is this book about Legion carrying on Xavier’s legacy? Is it about the battle for his own powers? Is it about his relationship to the X-Men? There doesn’t seem to be a cohesive status quo with this book. It’s as jumbled as Legion’s multiple personalities.

Jorge Molina appears to be the go-to X-Men guy, having done issues of “X-Men,” “Wolverine & the X-Men,” and now this. He knows how to get the job done as this issue really takes a step in the right direction ascetically. Tan Eng Huat, while a talented artist, wasn’t really holding my attention. Molina has more of a classic X-Men style and handles emotion and character moments well. I don’t know if Molina is just filling in or if he’s here to stay, but I wouldn’t mind seeing him here longer.

Mike Del Mundo continues to pump out awesome covers which are surreal and wonderful.

This issue is a step in the right direction, but I still can’t see this lasting until Spurrier decides which kind of story he’s trying to tell. –JJ

Cover: 7/10 Writing: 3/10 Art: 6/10 Relevance: 3/10 TOTAL: 19/40

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: I liked the “Ocean’s Eleven” vibe of Cable & X-Force #3, which felt promising.
Infinite Speech: Out of this batch “Cable & X-Force” #3 is my pick. Even though Forge is already screwing things up.
SpidermanGeek: Call me crazy, but I actually enjoyed the story in “Cable & X-Force” #3. I’m still on the fence about some of the characters though.

Jeff Jackson

Infinite Speech




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