December 3, 2010

The Uncanny X-Piles XIX

We’re back again with more uncanny reviews of the world’s merriest mutants. Lots to get through this week, thankfully it was Thanksgiving so we had lots of books to stuff our minds with while our bellies were stuffed too!

Chaos War: Alpha Flight #1
Jim McCann
Artist: Reilly Brown

The Great Beasts, longtime enemies of Alpha Flight, are the only ones who have the power to bring the fallen members of the team back to the realm of the living. So Sasquatch brokers a deal with them; protect the Beasts from the minions of the Chaos King, and Guardian, Vindicator, Shaman, and Marrina may remain alive on Earth. Fail to aid them in their struggle, and they get sent back to wherever they were spending their afterlife. Which was some sort of limbo that Shaman was holding them all in since dying (off panel, mind you, in New Avengers #16), preventing their spirits from crossing over. He couldn’t save everyone though, as we know Puck slipped through the cracks and is currently residing in Hell (see the new Wolverine series). He is absent from this issue. A brief, and somewhat awkward reunion takes place between the team, and then a large battle ensues, pitting the Great Beasts and Alpha Flight against the might of the Chaos King. Aurora makes a comment to Northstar in the heat of battle about how they belong fighting here amongst their friends, and not the X-Men. She must really have it in for the X-Men because last I checked Aurora hasn’t ever set foot on Utopia, and Northstar has been M.I.A. for quite sometime. Throughout the brawl, Snowbird freaks out about aiding the Great Beasts; if allowed to defeat the Chaos King, they will only turn their might against Earth and kill everybody anyway. As harsh as it may seem, she wants to kill them while the opportunity exists, but if this course of action is taken, her revived teammates will be sent back to death. Vindicator sides with Snowbird and quickly gets the team to agree to let the Chaos King finish off the Great Beasts, despite their personal consequences of these actions. However, Alpha Flight discovers that since the Chaos King destroyed death, as long as he lives the revived cannot die. They all understand that even though this may be, the Chaos King must not be allowed to live, and in the end, agree to aid the God Squad in taking him down. This one-shot was the best of all the Chaos War tie-ins so far, and worthy of a read from any Alpha Flight fan. -AL

Deadpool #29
Writer: Daniel Way
Artist: Carlo Barberi

Daniel Way is on a roll with this series. This current story line with the Secret Avengers (well, Steve Rogers, Moon Knight, and Black Widow) has had me chuckling all the way through. I mean just the name of the main villain, Dr. Bong, is humorous in and of itself, and I don’t even recall any marijuana jokes popping up either…ok, maybe one. There’s plenty of action and violence too, as Wade hacks, cuts, and even decapitates the lackeys of Dr. Bong. Even Moon Knight gets vicious, snapping necks. Which leads me to this thought: why the heck did everyone get their panties all in a knot when Daredevil killed Bullseye in Shadowland #1? The heroes are killing people all the time, and here, MK does so right in front of Steve Rogers with just a slap on the wrist as punishment. Anyway, I digress. Lets talk about Carlo Barberi’s art and how great it is. I’ll give it the penultimate compliment: It reminds me a lot of Paco Medina. Yes, it’s true. Uh-oh, I just mentioned Paco Medina. You hear that? I think Jeff just giggled like a little school girl who discovered an unexpected strawberry muffin in her lunchbox. There’s more good news; according to Rogers, this team up isn’t over just yet, so the Secret Avengers/Deadpool antics should continue for a few more issues at least. Although, knowing Deadpool, he’ll probably F it up somewhere along the way. If you’ve been looking for an issue of Deadpool to read, feel good going into this one; the banter, the jokes, the visual humor- it’s all there and it’s all well delivered! That’s not always the case with this series, so when it does bat .500 or higher (like now), it’s time to check it out! -AL

Deadpool Pulp #3
Adam Glass & Mike Benson
Artist: Laurence Campbell

There’s the main Deadpool series, and then there’s this one which is absolutely nothing like it. If goofy, silly humor isn’t your thing, than this book definitely is. Deadpool Pulp is a totally original take on the titular character, completely eliminating his zany side, and totally tapping into the sociopath, hunter-killer psyche of Wade Wilson. It’s dark, suspenseful, and it looks damn good too. The setting is post WWII in the midst of the Cold War, and Deadpool has been commissioned by U.S. General Stryfe and F.B.I Director Cable to take down a traitorous mole inside their organization. She has grand plans for a stolen nuclear device. Of course, not everyone is as loyal to the mission, or the U.S., as they may appear on the surface… The best moments in this issue were the flashback bits between Wade and Cable’s first encounter. They were both escaping a P.O.W. camp, Cable the worse for wear, and Wade gets them through it. Knowing how these two guys are good pals in the 616 Universe really helped cement the impact of what happens here in a more serious setting. I would recommend this series to any fan of the pulp genre, and anyone who likes a good “catch me if you can” type story, complete with a fresh take on one of the most overused characters in Marvel. -AL

Fantastic Four #585
Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Steve Epting

This issue is only being covered here in the X-Piles because Namor had one helluva appearance. Before I get into that though, let me just say that Jonathan Hickman’s run on the F4 so far (beginning with #570) has been nothing short of a grand slam. It’s been awesome. He truly captures the classic feel of the F4, returning them to their sci-fi/exploratory/adventurous roots. Essentially what I’m saying is read it if you haven’t been because it’s solid stuff. Ok, so onto Namor. Sue Storm has made a secret getaway to visit the King of the Seas to act as mediator in an effort unite the underwater people, or at least better their relationships with each other. Namor, at Sue’s behest, is holding a meeting with a neighboring fish-people, negotiating underwater boundaries. You think Namor is listening to Sue, tapping into his more tempered side in listening to the grievances and demands of this tribe when -BAM! Namor grabs his trident and thrusts it through one of the guards of the neighboring King. He then guts the leader himself proclaiming, “There is but one king under the sea…IMPERIUS REX!” It was freakin’ awesome. Pick this issue up if for nothing else than that scene, but I recommend going back to #583, the beginning of this story arc, or better yet, volume 1 of Hickman’s run. It’s just that good. -AL

Namor the First Mutant #4
Stuart Moore
Artist: Andres Guinaldo

…and then there was this issue. This was probably the biggest disappointment of the week for me here in the X-Piles. Not because the issue was bad per se, but rather, when I opened the book I had to double back to the cover credits and the intro page credits to make sure I was seeing correctly. I felt let down; Ariel Olivetti had absolutely no hand in the art in this issue. What the hell. After reading this one, I realized that he played a major role in my enjoyment of this series, and I’m unsure of how to feel going forward with issue #5, which is no longer a part of the vampire tie in with X-Men. If the cover is any indication, a hot blond chick and some WWII action is involved. Anyway, Moore’s script is ok in this one, but Olivetti’s underwater visuals were so striking and a perfect fit for this series that really can’t be replaced. While Guinaldo does a decent job at filling in (and I’m sure he was given the gig last minute), his style is so drastically different from Olivetti in a less extreme way, that it changes the whole mood and feel to the story. Again, Guinaldo’s work is decent, but it’s just nowhere near what Olivetti provided in the previous two and a half issues. This series made me a fan of Namor, but I’m not sure if it can keep the momentum going. -AL

New Mutants #19
Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Leonard Kirk

My goodness, this is the best the New Mutants have been in decades! That said, the cover is a little misleading. It says that this issue is the Fall of the New Mutants conclusion, but it’s not. Thank goodness. I’m just not ready for Zeb Wells to be done here. When we last left the mutants, they were flattened by the Inferno Babies. But the tide is about to turn. Wells does a phenomenal job taking these characters and developing them and their powers. First of all, Shan becomes a major player again, successfully switching the Inferno Babies’ powerhouse Face against his captors/teammates. Second, in all but a couple of issues, Wells has set up Sam and Dani as having a deep relationship. As she is being tortured, we get hints that their relationship might go somewhere if they get out of this alive. And despite her utter creepiness, Illyana proves that she still has some plans for the team. We know that at least one person isn’t going to get out alive, and this issue hints that Magma might be the one on the chopping block. But overall, Wells has created a fantastic tale that truly seems epic in the lives of these characters who haven’t changed much in the last 10 to 15 years. Leonard Kirk’s art has been really good on this story too, and I think it’s some of his best work to date. If you’re not reading this right now, you are really missing out on the “Disassembling” of the New Mutants. -JJ

Uncanny X-Force #2
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Jerome Opena

This is how I wish all creative-team-transitions were like. You all know I mourned the loss of Kyle & Yost on the former X-Force book, along with Mike Choi and even Clayton Crain. But here you have something completely different, yet something just as good, if not better. I’ve not read anything drawn by Opena, and I was hesitant at first, but his craft here is mesmerizing. The absolute detail in every panel, every face, is exquisite! Remender introduces the final Horsemen of Apocalypse, and thankfully, he stepped away from the cliched versions of taking former X-Men and making them bad guys. These new Horsemen are bizarre and unassuming, so when the new Pestilence, who looks like a beautiful geisha, opens her mouth to spew bugs all over Deadpool, you are genuinely creeped out! Remender also does a great job with his cast of characters. Exploring Warren and Betsy’s romance/co-dependence, displaying Deadpool and Fantomex’s only reasons for being on the team, and Logan and Warren juggling their co-leader roles despite distrust, all are done extremely well. Even Deadpool is handled with the proper amount of care. He doesn’t steal the show, but is still hilarious. Finally, in an X-universe where it almost seems there’s not much more to do with any of these heroes or villains, Remender reminds us (heh, heh) why Apocalypse is a scary dude. Now that he’s a little boy makes him even more dangerous. Hang on to your face masks, folks, Uncanny X-Force is a force to be reckoned with! -JJ

Uncanny X-Men #530
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Greg Land

Don’t worry, folks, no more Portacio-bashing this month. Instead, Greg Land stops by to provide interiors. While Land gets a lot of crap from critics about his obvious swiping, I’ll take it any day over Portacio. Land at least knows how to tell a story a little better. Whereas Portacio’s panels were stiff and confusing, Land moves the story at a smooth pace. Ok, so there was some Portacio-bashing. Sorry. However, Uncanny is still plagued by Fraction’s insistence on juggling way too many stories with way too many characters. There are 5 or 6 distinct story lines going on in this book, with 27 speaking characters, and while they might all tie together eventually, I’m stuck feeling like Fraction decided to take all of his remaining ideas and cram them together in one book before he gives the book completely to Kieron Gillen. I really want to like some of these story lines, too. I was intrigued with the Emma Frost/Sebastian Shaw story from last issue, but here it went nowhere. The Quarantine piece is interesting too, along with Sublime’s new X-Men. And I love the solidified group of X-Men in the city (Storm, Angel, Pixie, Northstar, and Dazzler). However, in a perfect example of how quantity does not equal quality, I think Fraction should have stuck to telling individual stories in individual issues. It would have made a much easier pill to digest. -JJ

X-Men Forever 2 #12
Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Rodney Buchemi

I actually enjoyed this issue. To be honest, I kind of miss Genosha in the 616 Universe (damn you Cassandra Nova!), and here it’s the focal point of the story. Essentially crazy evil Storm wants to annex the nation to Wakanda. This causes problems not only on the political scene, but with the X-Men as well, because this version of Storm is absolutely insane. The story line that caught my attention though, is that of the Ghost Panther and Little ‘Ro, both of whom I have criticized in the past. But in this issue, for some reason, I really liked their scenes. Essentially GP is the “Batman” of Genosha, and Little ‘Ro is his Robin. Recently on the island nation, mutants were given equal rights as humans. Obviously, this causes some conflict in the local masses, so Ghost Panther and Little ‘Ro are there to maintain the peace. Maybe it’s because these parts are the only true original elements of this series so they don’t come off as terribly recycled, or maybe it’s something else, but whatever the reason, I liked them. However, then I’m reminded of how much I can’t stand this series when I turn the page and see a human looking Nightcrawler, a blue-Nightcrawler looking Rogue, and Kitty Pryde says, “On it, bub.” Wait a second…was I just talking about “Ghost Panther” and “Little ‘Ro?” What kind of names are those? And wait another second… on the final page it’s revealed who Ghost Panther is- aw, no! Jeeeeeeez!!! Just when things were getting better than god-awful, this reveal happens: now my friends, there are three Storm’s running around. What. The. Hell. -AL

X-Men Legacy #242
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Paul Davidson

I love the character Hellion. I have since he was first introduced in New Mutants (vol. 3) and to see him develop over the years has been excellent. Now that they’ve taken away his hands, he is in prime position to become a break-out character in the X-Men. It looks like Mike Carey is the one who is going to explore this. Rogue, Magneto, and the New X-Men are back on Utopia after that forgettable arc in Mumbai. Cyclops sends a team out to rebuild San Francisco, including the aforementioned Hellion and another old face, Omega Sentinel. Carey has done some great work with Karima in the past, so returning to her is a really good thing. I’ve come to realize that Carey is really good with characters he loves. He writes a great Rogue, for instance, but when you throw in random characters, he’s a little weak. For example, his handling of Hope seems a little awkward. But overall, this is a fun first story in a new arc. Paul Davidson joins Carey this time, and while his stuff is easy to look at, it took me about half the issue to figure out that the story is told as “flashback” with characters being interviewed on what happened. I don’t know if this is a problem with the script, per se, but Davidson’s panels don’t do a good job of explaining what’s going on here. While this issue is a step up from the recent issues, it still lacks the punch it once had. -JJ

Most X-cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: Uncanny X-Force #2 gets my vote! Can’t wait to see what happens next!
Andy: Uncanny X-Force #2, no question.

To read more editions of The Uncanny X-Piles, just click the link!

Jeff Jackson

Andy Liegl



  1. I’m grabbing Deadpool Pulp in trade so I can just enjoy it at once and I’m surprised to see one of the Forever books in the X-Piles here lol They end up in the quarter bins about a week or two after release and I don’t think there’s been one that I’ve liked yet.

  2. Billy

    Wow, does Uncanny X-Force and New Mutants sound great! When I start buying again, those are the first two books I’m getting.

  3. Jeff Jackson

    Didn’t Carlo Barberi do some issues of New Mutants (vol. 3)/New X-Men around the time Paco Medina was doing it? His art is a lot like Medina’s, and that is a compliment!

  4. Uncanny X-Force kicks major ass! I love this series so far.

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