November 3, 2010

The Uncanny X-Piles XV

Welcome back to a most X-Cellent edition of The Uncanny X-Piles! There are lots of books to cover this week as plenty of X-Men popped up in non-X titles. Sorry, but X-Men Forever 2 #10 didn’t make the list, due to it selling out at Andy’s store before he had a chance to read it. Oh well.

Fantastic Four #584
Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Steve Epting

Let me begin by saying that Jonathan Hickman’s run on the F4, beginning with #570, has been nothing short of pure sci-fi brilliance. That being said, the way he tied the X-Men into this issue was a great surprise! Essentially, Sue leaves the F4 HQ (for reasons other than what she tells Reed) and heads for Utopia. There she is greeted by Cyclops and Emma Frost. In just 2 panels and 2 words of dialogue, Hickman writes a thousand things with the initial exchange between Sue and Emma, and it was easily the best X-Moment I read all week. Anyway, Sue is there to meet Namor who speaks of meetings and unions. What this means exactly isn’t clear, but I’m dyin’ to find out! Oh, and apparently a member of the F4 is supposed to die at the end of this arc. My money is on Johnny Storm since both Toro and the original android Torch have returned to the Marvel U recently; and does Marvel really need three Human Torch’s? This ain’t DC! -AL

Klaws of the Panther #2
Jonathan Maberry
Artist: Gianluca Gugliotta

Two issues in and I’m digging this series, but unfortunately, it seems to be getting no love anywhere on the web. Maybe it’s the obscure featured character, or the adventurous art, but whatever the reason, I think X-fans should give it a shot. Issue #1 featured regular X-friendlies, Ka-Zar, Zabu, and Shanna the She-Devil, and here in issue #2 we get guest stars in Storm and Wolverine. Shuri, T’Challa’s sister and the current Black Panther (to find out what’s in store for T’Challa, click here), is out to stop the master of sound, Klaw. Remember, in the conclusion of DoomWar, all Wakandan vibranium (the only material that can kill Klaw) was destroyed. Klaw sees this window of opportunity to essentially make himself invincible, and Shuri makes it her personal mission to stop him. Storm shows up to save the day, preventing a nuke from going off in the Savage Land. Wolverine’s role is much larger as he mentors Shuri in ways to control her rage; which is what prevented her from defeating Klaw the first time they tangled. I’m not sure how long members of the X-family will stick around, but even it’s not much longer, this mini-series is still worth a look. -AL

Secret Avengers #6
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Mike Deodato

Jeff used to slam this book early on in the X-Piles’ tenure, and while I didn’t wholly agree with his criticisms, I definitely saw where he was coming from. This series started out with the team taking on a cosmic level threat that was very out of place for a book billed as the black ops squad of the Marvel U. Not to mention most of the characters involved seemed to be severely underpowered when compared to that of their foe. However, this issue gives me hope that this series may finally be on the right track. Essentially, Shang Chi’s father is back, wanting to get down and dirty. Unfortunately, we don’t get much of Beast in this issue, aside from his deliverance of some dialogue loaded with exposition. It’d be cool if he gets a chance to show us what he’s got as an Avenger sometime within the first 12 issues. So far Hank hasn’t really done much in service of this squad, and I’m beginning to wonder why he’s even needed there. -AL

Thunderbolts #149
Jeff Parker
Declan Shalvey

Hot damn I’m loving this series! I’m a fan of most of Jeff Parker’s work, and here he writes the T-Bolts with the perfect blend of action and comedy typical in his stories. Declan Shalvey’s art is ok for this arc, but I’m looking forward to the return of Kev Walker. Overall, this T-Bolts reboot has been great, and if you’re looking to get started on it, you’d be fine with just picking up this issue and taking it from there. However, it is a Shadowland tie-in, so you may be a little lost if you haven’t been following that event. Basically this issue is loaded with the ‘Bolts kicking the crap out of Hand ninja. Crossbones torches scores of’em with his flamethrower, while Moonstone squishes a bunch with a stone dragon. What’s crazy is that Crossbones develops some kind of superpower; a laser that mows down Hand lackeys like a proton torpedo to a Death Star thermal exhaust port. Our boy Juggernaut gets lots of face time, completely obliterating the dudes in red pajamas. He punches them, crushes them, pounds them, and flattens them. Juggs even briefly, and believably, takes the role of team leader! -AL

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #15
Brian Michael Bendis
Sara Pichelli

This issue was fan-flippin-tastic even though there wasn’t any action, because it was jam packed with character moments galore. From the scenes with Gwen Stacey and MJ, to Aunt May and Peter, to J. Jonah Jameson’s new take on life after discovering the identity of Spider-Man- there was never a dull moment. But let us not forget the real reason why this issue is being reviewed here: Iceman! I love Ultimate Iceman. Not in an “Ultimate Colossus” way, but more like in a “happy fan” way. Ultimate Iceman may be the coolest Iceman to grace the pages of comics in years; The 616 Iceman sure as shit isn’t doing anything worthwhile, and AOA Iceman has been MIA for ages, so thank The Maker for Ultimate Ice! Bendis has really given Bobby a voice in this series (even though he doesn’t even say much), finding the perfect roles for him and Johnny Storm as Peter Parker’s sidekicks. The Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends take in this series is playing out brilliantly, and I don’t want anything to change come issue #150. That’s right- don’t go looking for Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #16 next month because you won’t find it. The series is going back to the original numbering next issue (134 issues of Ultimate Spider-Man + 15 issues of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man = next issue being #150), so it’s the perfect jumping on point for any new readers or people who have been off the Ultimate Spidey boat for awhile. Seriously though- Ultimate (Comics) Spider-Man is without a doubt the best Ultimate title…ever. -AL

Uncanny X-Men #529
Matt Fraction
Artist: Whilce Portacio & Harvey Tolibao

I’ve been dogging Uncanny for a few months now, and while I still think this book needs some help, this issue is a bit stronger than the previous ones post-Second Coming. First, the art: Portacio is still struggling, and I find that it’s not just his badly drawn figures, but his storytelling that hurts. Some of it is Fraction’s fault, too. But the switch to scenes is jarring and because of the composition Portacio uses, it takes me a while to figure out what’s going on. However, what is redemptive in this issue is the 3 pages at the end done by Harvey Tolibao, who doesn’t even get billed on the cover. I’d love to see more of his stuff. Now to the actual story: these Five Lights characters are painful. Now we’ve got Wildchild Jr. on the team, along with Storm/Sunfire Jr., Quicksilver Jr., and the blue chick who’s powers are ambiguous. These are the most unoriginal mutants we’ve seen in a while. The more interesting story is the Emma/Fantomex/Kitty/Shaw story, which is engaging. Fraction does much better with small groups of characters instead of all these large ensembles he’s been juggling. A big weakness is that in order to juggle them all, he throws in completely random one-page scenes that have nothing to do with anything. Last month, we got a scene with Northstar and Dazzler, which came and went in a blink. This time, we get a one-page scene with characters we don’t know, nor do we know what actually happens. I know that these will likely be touched on later, but they seem so out of place. I think Fraction has really lost his touch with this book, and I’m hopeful that Kieron Gillen will help straighten things out in the coming months. Speaking of Gillen, a preview of next week’s Generation Hope #1 is in the back of this issue, which looks pretty good considering the characters we’re stuck with. Looks like the new Light will spice up the cast. -JJ

X-Men Curse of the Mutants: X-Men vs. Vampires #2
Author: Various

This issue is the second, and last, installment of the X-Men vs. Vampires mini-series. Like #1, we have 4 original short stories, all by different creative teams, featuring different mutants. The first story was a solo Gambit adventure as he takes on a slew of sexy, slutty, vampires. The whole thing is a narrative where Remy compares his chase of these blood sucking ladies with that of a young relationship. Next up is a dialogue-less segment starring Armor and Rockslide as they take on a vampire blue whale. Yes, you read that correctly. Howard Chaykin provides the art and story for the next segment, as Xi’an Coy Manh (Karma) battles a vampire with a weight problem. Next up, Angel tracks down one particular vampire in conjunction with the SFPD (for some reason), and as he battles the vamp, we are tuned in to his inner monologue which involves a Jekyl/Hyde or Deadpool-esque conversation with his Death persona. To close out the issue is part 2 of Uncanny X-Men #159; the team’s first encounter with Dracula. All in all, this mini was decent, but skippable if you aren’t a fan of the cast involved. -AL

X-Men Legacy #241
Mike Carey
Artist: Clay Mann & Tom Raney

What’s up with double artists this month? Clay Mann couldn’t get the job done, so they called in Tom Raney, which is a big help. I’ve been critical of Mann’s lack of energy on this book, and in the few pages Raney does, there is a dynamism that has been sorely lacking. Finally, this arc has wrapped up and like Uncanny above, this was the strongest of the issues. But I’m not saying it was good. Reflecting on the whole arc, I’m wondering what the point was. We are introduced to Luz, who I couldn’t care less about. We get to see Indra make a decision about his life as an X-Man. But even in those two instances, nothing changes. I kept thinking Luz was going to join the X-Men, or that Indra would get sucked into Quitado, but neither happens. Instead, these characters are exactly where they were before the arc started. I do like seeing Rogue and Magneto on the same team, but Carey’s Magneto has no real bite to him at all. There is no tension in their relationship. Anole and Loa are thrown in there for good measure, and there was a moment where they and Indra are rushing to free their mentors from the Children of the Vault, but guess what? That doesn’t happen either. Carey had some great opportunities with these characters and completely wasted them. Carey has been great on Legacy because he has developed folks like Xavier and Rogue in creative ways. But none of these cast members get their due, and that’s why this book has suffered. Throw in a bunch of technical jargon about how to get out of their predicament, and this book ends up in the stink pile. -JJ

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
I picked up X-23 #1 (2nd printing) along with these, and that would be my pick, but since it came out last month, I’ll eenie-meany-miney-moe it to Uncanny #529.
Andy: My pick doesn’t even go to an X-title this week: Fantastic Four is close, but I gotta give it to Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #15!

For previous installments of The Uncanny X-Piles, click here!

Andy Liegl

Jeff Jackson



  1. Billy

    Sounds like T-bolts is doing great!

  2. Andy’s pick of the week is the one with Iceman as the only X-character in it…..Shocking.

  3. Actually, I went with F4 which has no Iceman.

    ; )

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