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February 22, 2013

The Uncanny X-Piles 128

Welcome to the 128th edition of the Uncanny X-Piles! The flagship X-book is BACK and better than ever!

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 X-Men: 39 (31)

2. All-New X-Men: 35 (37)

3. Cable & X-Force: 31 (28)

4. X-Factor: 30 (30)

5. Wolverine : 30 (24)

6. Astonishing X-Men: 27 (27)

7. Age of Apocalypse: 26 (20)

8. Gambit: 25 (23)

9. Uncanny X-Force: 23 (29)

10. Uncanny Avengers: 21 (29)

11. X-Men: 21 (23)

12. X-Men: Legacy: 20 (19)

13. Wolverine & the X-Men: 19 (32)

14. Savage Wolverine: 17

15. A + X: 16 (18)

______________________________________________________

“Age of Apocalypse “#12
Writer: David Lapham
Artist: Renato Arlem

Everything has been building to this moment as Jean’s assassination attempt on Weapon Omega (AoA Wolverine) has unforeseen results. Very dangerous and potentially world destroying results. Now, with the seat of power vacated Lady Penance is ready to take control and lead the people to a much better world. However there’s still Scott and Alex summers to contend with along with those that like the world the way it is. This issue is definitely a bright spot in the series considering the last few have been really hit and miss. The main distraction for me has been that Lapham hasn’t made the X-Terminated a team to care about so if they live or die on a mission, it’s of no consequence. It seemed as if their character development was cast aside to focus on just moving the plot to this climactic moment. Now, there is a very good balance of action and suspense as Lapham puts certain characters in very precocious situations stemming from past plot threads.

Arlem’s work continues to do well. His look for this title is gritty which perfectly fits the world these characters inhabit. There are no pretty landscapes and slick looking visuals here as this are a war weary people who live in rubble and chaos and constant life or death situations. It’s carried over well and it’s a nice touch that every character looks battle weary and worn even when we are in the Hellfire Club and it’s members are dressed in elegance. With this status quo change things are actually interesting again and it’s worth taking a look if you strayed away like myself or want to start. –IS

Cover: 6/10 Writing: 7/10 Art: 7/10 Relevance: 6/10 TOTAL: 26/40


“Cable and X-Force” #4
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Salvador Larroca

Now that we are 4 issues in, the concept behind “Cable and X-Force” is becoming concretely apparent. Basically, Cable has visions of the near future and tries to prevent disasters before they happen, but missions of this nature are bound to not go according to plan. Anytime any writer deals with time travel, it’s always a risky thing. You end up with the potential to write yourself into paradoxes or leave gaping plot holes in your wake. So far, Dennis Hopeless has done a fine job of making something confusing make sense and even throwing in some fun twists. If you’ve been following the story, Cable and his team are trying to prevent an outbreak that would be labelled a Mutant terrorist act since Mutants are immune to the virus appropriately named “Girth”. This has been a fun read and so perfectly fitting for the Cable character and his band of merry men (and woman). The team dynamic is especially entertaining where Hopeless writes the cast with a real “A-Team” vibe that plays to each individual’s skill set and strengths. If you are a Deathlok fan, be sure to check out this issue as an intriguing cameo from the character seems to hint at a possible future plot. Larroca’s pencils and inks are gorgeous and brought to a whole other level thanks to Frank D’Armata’s colors. A wonderful collaboration that extends to the effectively intimidating close-up shot of Colossus’ face on the issue’s cover. Even though I still don’t quite understand why Cable keeps referring to Forge as “Skitch”, bottom line is that Cable and X-Force has been a surprisingly entertaining title that stands alone amongst the other X-titles, much like X-factor, where the reader can get full enjoyment without having to follow the flagship X-Books. –SG

Cover: 8/10 Writing: 8/10 Art: 9/10 Relevance: 6/10 TOTAL: 31/40

“Uncanny X-Men” #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist/Cover: Chris Bachalo

Now this is an “Uncanny X-Men” worthy to be called a “relaunch!” After the debacle of the last iteration of the flagship X-Men book, Marvel decided to take a bit of a breather and restart this so that it feels completely different with a new voice, a new look, and a new status quo. For once, I feel like this was worth starting from #1. We’ve seen bits and pieces of what Bendis has been planning for Cyclops and his side of the X-Men over in “All-New X-Men,” but this book gives us a much more focused look, from the eyes of a mysterious person explaining Scott Summers’ modus operandi to SHIELD agent Maria Hill (by the way, is Hill or Daisy Johnson the Director of SHIELD now? I’m confused.).

Bendis knows how to kick off a series, letting us see the X-Men through a different set of eyes. He does an excellent job introducing the team to the reader, from longtime Cyclops supporters like Emma Frost and Magneto to the new mutants Scott has gathered to his side. One of the things I love about comics is that you can disguise a character yet have them speak fully. Without a soundtrack, comics have the ability to further tease out a character without revealing much. The mystery man to whom Hill is talking obviously knows a lot about Scott, and is highly dangerous, but we never know who he is until the very last page. I love short mysteries like this because they keep me guessing throughout the entire issue. I was certain that the mystery man was going to be Sebastian Shaw (spoiler: it’s not!). But in that final reveal, Bendis has set up a perfect device for tension, intrigue, and drama. The added element to the story is that something is going on with everyone’s powers. Despite the fear that everyone has for Cyclops, Magneto, and the rest, no one knows that they are severely depowered, and that also creates a tremendous amount of tension for the book. Bendis is completely nailing his take on the X-Men, and I, for one, am extremely excited about what’s to come.

Chris Bachalo was born to draw the X-Men. His dark tone to the book adds a level of severity to the mood. In fact, I’d say that Bachalo’s work on this issue is a better match than what he did on “Wolverine & the X-Men.” Bachalo has contributed to pretty much every major X-Men title, and he continues to show why he’s one of the most consistent best artists to ever draw the mutants. His close-ups are detailed, yet unrevealing, and his wide-angle shots are dynamic. Bachalo’s art has been criticized as being muddled, but I found none of that in this issue. It’s some of his strongest work to date. The new costumes might take some getting used to, but they do a good job of conveying the new status quo for the X-Men. This is the kind of “Uncanny” that I’ve been missing for a few years. Finally, the writer and artist have made this book truly “uncanny!” –JJ

Cover: 10/10 Writing: 9/10 Art: 10/10 Relevance: 10/10 TOTAL: 39/40

X-Men #41
Writer: Seth Peck
Artists: Jefte Palo & Guillermo Mogorron
Cover: Adam Kubert

The end of an era! Well, until next month’s relaunch. Seth Peck gets the honor of wrapping up this volume of “Adjectiveless” and like I’ve said before, he’s done a pretty good job with the few issues he’s done here. I can honestly say I’m sorry to see him go. Picking up from last issue, a new mutant has emerged, and both the X-Men and the new Freedom Force are after him. This issue gives us a brief origin to the new Freedom Force, and an overview of their powers. Peck does a good job of introducing us to these folks quickly, and they are characters with some pretty interesting powers.

But, it’s a shame we probably won’t see this team again since this is the last issue of this volume and Brian Wood will be back. I highly doubt Marvel would let Peck introduce major characters in the last issue of a second-tier X-Men book. Once again, Jefte Palo and Guillermo Mogorron share the art duties. They must have been under the gun on this arc and pulled these guys in at the last minute. Palo’s art looks the strongest to me in the first half of the book. His characters are exaggerated and angular and that works well for the new Freedom Force characters and the X-Men like Chamber and Iceman. The second half of the book is extremely poor in the art department. The faces are all disfigured, the perspective from panel to panel is awkward, and the characters seem very flat. Adam Kubert provides the cover, which would make a nice poster, but has nothing to do with the interiors. I like large team-shots, but I wonder why Kubert went retro here. It would make more sense to include a team shot of characters that have been portrayed in this volume of “X-Men.” One might be fooled into thinking this was a retro book, but would be really disappointed when you opened the book. I’m looking forward to Coipel being on the book, and hopefully Wood will bring a better story than his last stint on this book. An all-female team of X-Men sounds great, but I’m pretty skeptical when it comes to Wood.  –JJ

Cover: 6/10 Writing: 6/10 Art: 4/10 Relevance: 5/10 TOTAL: 21/40

Briefly X-Posed:
Wolverine & the X-Men #25: There’s something off about this title since AVX. Perhaps it’s the new students who aren’t doing much for me (I miss Kid Gladiator and the New X-Men kids). This is the first of a new arc which takes Wolverine and the kids to the Savage Land for a team-building exercise. Besides meeting the obligatory dinosaurs, Logan comes across his long-lost brother Dog. I’m struggling to see the connection here. It seems random. Ramon Perez joins on art duties, and I think it’s going to take a bit to get used to his style. Overall, this issue was weaker than usual. –JJ

Cover: 3/10 Writing: 5/10 Art: 6/10 Relevance: 5/10 TOTAL: 19/40

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: Uncanny X-Men #1 was awesome! Gimme more!!!
Infinite Speech: It’s going to have to be Uncanny X-Men #1 for me!
SpidermanGeek“Cable and X-Force” #4 offers something different than the other X-Titles, so it gets my vote.

Jeff Jackson
jeff@comicattack.net
@FrJeffJackson

Infinite Speech
infinitespeech@comicattack.net
@InfiniteSpeech

SpidermanGeek
spidermangeek@comicattack.net
@SpidermanGeek

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