November 6, 2010

The Uncanny X-Piles XVI

Hi everyone, and welcome once again to another edition of The Uncanny X-Piles! Jeff and Andy had a big week of books, so let’s start digging through the…um…piles?

Avengers Academy #6
Christos Gage
Artist: Mike McKone

Wow. This series is the surprise hit of the year! It’s all new characters with origins tied to Dark Reign and Norman Osborn, who each have personality and individuality, and get their fair share of the spotlight. Christos Gage is weaving a fluid story with an interesting cast, allowing the already established Avengers to play a more co-starring role to the kids. McKone’s art is great too! His attention to detail, and talent at drawing expressions is money. This issue mostly spotlights Reptil, the kid who can transform part of his body into a dinosaur, as he accepts his new role as team leader. The story follows him as he goes from teammate to teammate, showing them that he cares. Eventually he comes to Quicksilver and Finesse, whom he believes are having a fling, much to his envy. That isn’t the case however, as he discovers Pietro is training Finesse in the lessons of Magneto…or at least, that’s what he thinks. Believe me when I say that this is an Avengers series worth reading. I know people are usually skeptical when trying out a new series of new characters, but rest assured that you will not be disappointed with Avengers Academy! But, ah, the Les Miserables quote at the end was just…weird. -AL

Generation Hope #1
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Espin

X-Men. New Mutants. Generation X.  New X-Men. Young X-Men. A long legacy of teenage mutant books. Add to the list Marvel’s newest ongoing X-book: Generation Hope, which surprisingly doesn’t have the letter “x” in it, although they squeezed it into the logo. This book picks up where last week’s Uncanny X-Men left off. Hope and her new crew of muties are off to save another “light,” or new mutant since M-Day. I have not been enjoying the gathering of the first cast members because, as I said in last week’s X-Piles, these are the least original mutants in a long time. But I realize now why I didn’t like the gathering of Laurie, Gabriel, Idie, and Teon: Matt Fraction & Whilce Portacio. Neither of them had the voices of these characters correct, nor the look. But with Kieron Gillen and Salva Espin on the case, I am much more “Hope”-ful that this could be a great book. Add to the unoriginal concepts a most original new character by the name of Kenji, who has some kinda awful mutation, and you have a hook that I’m pleasantly surprised by. Espin’s art is perfect for this book, too, with fluid, kinetic line work. These kids actually look like teenagers, and Gillen has them actually speaking like them too. This is a great jumping on point for any of you who are fearful of X-Men books because of the gargantuan backlog of continuity. You don’t have to know anything about the X-Men to enjoy this book, and although Cyclops, Wolverine, and Rogue make appearances, they are practically inconsequential to the story. So check this out, it’s got some promise. -JJ

Namor the First Mutant #3
Writer: Stuart Moore
Artist: Ariel Olivetti & Fernando Blanco

While this particular issue didn’t grab me as strongly as the other two, this series keeps moving along nicely. What threw me was the addition of Fernando Blanco’s art. While not bad, his style is very different from Olivetti’s work, so it came as a surprise. Plus, Blanco’s scene was mostly exposition driven, and it took place within the first 7 pages of the comic, making for an unexpected beginning. Namor needs to find a way to destroy the Aqueos threat quickly; to not only save the Atlantean people from sure extinction, but also to secure his role as King, and regain the faith of his people. So through study of ancient lore and a quick visit to the resident wizard guy, Namor arms himself with a spell to eliminate the sea vampires, and takes a small honor guard into their deadly city to cast it. Through the cries of battle, and blood stained waters, Namor ends up coming face to face with a figure from his past, and I expect the blood of this figure will play a role in the elimination of his parasitic monsters. I don’t know what’s expected of this series after the Curse of the Mutants tie-in arc concludes, but I’ll be sticking with it for some time. Like I’ve said before: I’ve never cared about Namor until he joined the X-Men, and I’ve never liked Namor until this series. -AL

Wolverine #3
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Renato Guedes

This is like a hellacious (pun intended) romp through every Wolverine book ever published. Jason Aaron is literally poking through every aspect of the ever-present Logan, to show us that there is no place that is not going to be touched by the evil that is rearing its ugly head. While Logan continues to be tortured in Hell, new and old supporting cast members are also getting beat on pretty badly. I had to admit, I laughed out loud at Silver Samurai getting annihilated by that ridiculously big sword the Devil had. But what’s even cooler about this story is that Logan is finally going on the offensive, and that spells trouble for the ruler of Hell. Meanwhile, the demon who is possessing Wolverine visits Utopia and smacks Kitty Pryde around, only to be greeted by Colossus. It will be interesting to see what happens there. The back-up story in this issue was weak, focusing on a group of Wolverine-haters who are bent on destroying Logan no matter who they go through. The last two back-ups, focusing on Silver Samurai and Amiko, were really great, and this one just fell flat to me. Overall, the thing I enjoyed the most about this issue was the “return” of Sabretooth, who I assume (and hope) will be coming back, along with other dead Wolverine characters. Jason Aaron is killing this and he might be the best Wolverine writer in a very long time. Guedes’ art isn’t my favorite, but it could be worse. I would have preferred Ron Garney on this arc, but I’ll continue to hang in there with Renato. Overall, this book is consistently good! -JJ

X-Men: To Serve and Protect #1
Writers: Chris Yost, James Asmus, Brian Reed, & Joshua Hale Fialkov
Artists: Derec Donovan, Jon Buran, Pepe Larraz, & James Harren

Finally! The Yost! Has Returned! To The X-Men! Well, at least for a few pages. This is yet another X-Men anthology book (didn’t X-Men vs. Vampires just wrap up?), and like all X-Men anthologies, there are a few good stories and a couple stinkers. First, Chris Yost is back with Rockslide and Anole, and it’s like slipping on an old pair of comfy shoes. He and Craig Kyle dominated on New X-Men a few years ago, and one of the best things about their run was the interaction between Santo and Victor. This time, they’ve run afoul of Mr. Negative, so I’m excited to see what will happen next. That story alone is why I’m picking this book up. The other stories center on Emma Frost vs the Mandrill, Cypher vs. HYDRA, and a bizarre fight with Batroc the Leaper vs. Fantomex, both French thieves. The highlight for me was Jon Buran’s gorgeous art on the Emma Frost story. I want to see more of that in my Marvel books. The rest of the stories were a little weak, if you ask me, and the Batroc/Fantomex stuff was trying a little too hard to be funny. I don’t know why Marvel insists on throwing in a “funny” story into these anthologies, because they’re usually the weak points of the book. But check out the Rockslide/Anole stuff, because it’s a lot of fun, and is actually funny, action-packed, and really dang good. -JJ

Young Allies #6
Writer: Sean McKeever
Artist: David Baldeon

First, I want to give my co-writer here, Andy, a big thank you for getting me on to this book. I missed the first 2 issues because this was not even on my radar screen. But Andy needed me to cover an extra book and told me to hop on this one. Unfortunately, this is the last issue of Young Allies, and understandably so. It’s not an Avengers book, it’s not a Hulk book, it’s not an X-Men book. Not only that, but it stars all B-to-C list characters. Even though the Avengers showed up last issue and Emma Frost this issue, they haven’t even marketed this book to what’s popular at Marvel right now. Unfortunately, that really hurt this book. For all intents and purposes, this was the direction the newest New Warriors books should have gone in. At least if they had called it New Warriors, it might have had a longer shelf life. But despite the poor marketing, this book really rocked. The Young Allies is the best non-team that ever existed!  In this final issue, the spotlight is on Firestar, who is really the reason I read the book. Not only is she a mutant, but she was an Avenger and New Warrior, and one of Spidey’s Amazing Friends from back in the day, and she’s one of my favorite B-list characters. In this issue, she’s invited by Emma Frost to join the X-Men and other mutants on Utopia, and defiant as ever, Firestar says no. The issue ends with the team never forming after all, and while they are slated to reappear in a crossover next year, that’s really it. McKeever once again shows his amazing strength in writing these kinds of characters and Baldeon’s art is a real treat. So while there will one less book in my pile, I will be looking forward to what happens next to McKeever, Baldeon, and the Young Allies. -JJ

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: I have to give it to Young Allies #6. Not only was it the strongest issue of the series, but it deserves a good send off of the X-Piles!
Andy: I gotta go with Wolverine #3. The art is just sick, Jason Aaron is the man (read Scalped!), and I can’t wait to see Colossus and a possessed Logan throw down.

For more editions of The Uncanny X-Piles, click here!

Jeff Jackson

Andy Liegl



  1. What’s with the anthology books being a baisc waste of paper and time? The last anthology X-Book series was a tragedy after the first issue.

  2. I actually don’t mind the anthology books. Like Jeff said, the really good short stories make up for the bad ones most of the time. The only really bad X-anthology series in recent history was Nation X. All the others carried their weight I thought. It’s a good way to showcase mutants who aren’t used all that often.

  3. Billy

    Great reviews guys! It sounds like Gage picked up right where he left off with Avengers Initiative! Namor sounds good too. “Hopefully” (he he) the Generation Hope book will turn out to be a good one.

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