March 21, 2011

The Uncanny X-Piles XXXIII

5 Ronin #1
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Tomm Coker

The story takes place during a time in Japan where the Samurai are no more and have been reduced to wandering Ronin. This 5 issue mini will feature 5 different Marvel characters in each issue: Wolverine, Hulk, Punisher, Psylocke, and Deadpool. This first chapter stars Wolverine, and right off the bat, we’re treated to a killer fight scene where the big bad shows his mettle. It sets the tone- that there’s a faction of Ronin who has tossed out the old code, and has, in a sense, become guns for hire. Logan is known as the Ronin who cannot die and has vowed vengeance on these renegades and their employer, The Daimyo, who murdered his master. From what I could deduce, Logan has his healing factor and enhanced animal senses, but I’m not so sure about the claws. Clearly, he doesn’t have an Adamantium skeleton, but we’re led to believe that he doesn’t have bone claws either, since he uses a pair of hand-held metal claws for combat. There was a great twist at the end of this issue, one that I didn’t see coming. I love the 1602 vibe this issue gave off, which may be fitting considering the story takes place in the 1600s. Tomm Coker’s artwork is right for this series, giving it an old-world feel, and Peter Milligan doesn’t bog us down with unnecessary exposition or dialogue. There is one Ronin who makes a cameo in this issue whose face we cannot see, and I assume it’s Deadpool. Read this mini-series. I think any fan of a self-contained, non-cannon story can appreciate it. For a more in-depth review of this issue by our very own Infinite Speech, click here. -AL

Avengers Academy #10
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Sean Chen

Sean Chen takes over artistic duties from Mike McKone in this one, and while I loved McKone’s work, I didn’t even notice his absence until filling in the credits above. So props to Chen for finding consistency here and not changing the tone of this series, because it’s a damn good one. We learned something of note in this issue: at least one of the members of the Avengers Academy is a mutant, and it’s Hazmat, the girl who constantly emits lethal doses of radiation. As a result, she must be contained in a yellow hazard suit at all times- much like the one Kitty Pryde is romping around in these days on Utopia. Hank Pym, in order to help Hazmat with her anger issues, brings in Leech to lend a hand. Why Leech? With him around, Hazmat’s powers are null and void, so she can take her suit off without harming those around her with him by her side; hence how we now know Hazmat has the X-gene. It’s a cool scene when Pym explains this to her, that she can be free of her body-forming prison for a day. Gage does a nice job of showing us the broken kid whose trapped inside that yellow suit. Leech spends the afternoon with her, and she’s so happy just to have the sun on her face, which says a lot. Eventually, Hazmat visits her parents, and unfortunately, this is where the day turns sour…her parents aren’t thrilled their daughter is a mutant, and are a bit turned off by the physical appearance of Leech. This was a harsh realization for Hazmat, as she always believe her parents to be level-headed, not bigoted, but here she learns all along that was just a lie. To make matters worse, her teammates get attacked and she’s powerless to help them as Leech’s effects still lingered despite his absence. She learned what it’s like to not have powers when you desperately need them, and she comes to terms with some issues she has with herself. Now I’m left wondering- how many other members of the Avengers Academy have the X-gene? Gage also writes a solid redemption moment with Speedball in this one…man you can’t help but feel bad for that guy. -AL

Daken: Dark Wolverine #6
Writer: Daniel Way & Marjorie Liu
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli

This was my favorite issue of the series so far, and Daken didn’t even have to kill anyone. Well, not directly anyway. He just did what he does best: manipulate people. Daken’s secondary mutation may just be the art of getting people to do what he wants them to, because he knows what buttons to push. He’s calm, cool, and in total control and he knows it. The people he’s manipulating have to know it too, but Daken is so skilled in the art of manipulation, it doesn’t matter if he shows his hand. In the end he even gets control of one the best secondary characters in a Wolverine book, Tyger Tiger. Tyger has a history with dudes who have claws and healing factors, and last issue she used this against Daken, but now, Daken has her where he wants her. He’s in control of the Madripoor crime scene, and Tyger is his right hand woman. I can’t wait to see these two tear it up together in coming issues. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again because it’s truth: Giuseppe Camuncoli cannot leave this book. Ever. He has defined Daken just as much as Way and Liu have, if not moreso, giving him attitude in how he’s depicted, and finding the right beats that make Daken work. Plus, Tyger Tiger is flippin’ hot thanks to him. Next issue is the right time to jump into this series if you’ve been waiting on the sidelines, as it commences the X-23 crossover. I’m not sure how these two will tie in, but it may have something to do with a group of children we saw here who were experimented upon; is this a tie-in to Malcolm Concord and his quest to discovering the secrets of a healing factor? We’ll see soon enough… -AL

Deadpool #33.1
Writer: Daniel Way
Artist: Bong Dazo

The opening page, which contained a nice tribute to sci-fi geekdom, was probably the best thing this issue had going for it. ‘Pool travels back to Earth real quick to take on the wacky mission of evicting The Wrecker from his apartment. Most of the issue is just that- the Wrecker and Deadpool going at it. It bears mentioning that the Wrecker, at one point in his career, fought the Avengers to a standstill…all at once. So here, Deadpool actually gets his ass kicked before finally delivering. As a .1 issue intended to rope people into this series, I’m not sure if that goal was accomplished. Way’s writing wasn’t all that hilarious, and while Bong Dazo (I love that name) may be my personal favorite Deadpool artist, this issue didn’t really force him out of his comfort zone. I guess I just expected more from this issue, one that’s aimed to “wow” new readers into the series. Instead, it was just your typical run-of-the-mill Deadpool comic that was totally unrelated to the main story…which was odd because the main story, with Deadpool running amok in space, is actually humorous. Instead, we got a “morality” story, which probably wasn’t the best choice for a .1 book starring Deadpool. -AL

Wolverine: The Best There Is #4
Writer: Charlie Huston
Artist: Juan Jose Ryp

I don’t think any X-book has been more raped in online reviews than this series. I have actually defended it for the past three issues, but after this installment, that has come to an end: I’ve joined the ranks of the haters. Before we touch on why, it bears mentioning that this issue poses relevant questions about the technical workings of Wolverine’s mutant abilities: how does he maintain his memories after taking vicious beatings, and what is the nature of his healing factor and how much it can endure? The twisted villains delve into the “science” of Logan’s healing factor, seeking answers to these questions, which is admittedly interesting. One conclusion has been reached: the more Wolverine is burned and beaten, the faster he recovers. Good to know, but the road Huston takes his characters down to get this information has been…too much. Besides this entire issue featuring Wolverine being gruesomely tortured, the writing itself gets weird during a scene where all the goons get unruly and start insulting each other. Winsor, the main bad guy, goes on a long-winded monologue about one shitting themselves to death. Huston tries a little too hard, and comes off like a bad issue of Crossed. And I hate Crossed. Seriously- the issue where I saw a woman cut out her own fetus and eat it, that’s when I knew Crossed wasn’t for me. Sadly, despite giving Wolverine: The Best There Is a chance, I’ve concluded that it’s only going to get worse before getting better. Which is unfortunate because Juan Jose Ryp’s art is fantastic. Why is it being wasted on this series? -AL

Wolverine/Hercules: Myths, Monsters & Mutants #1
Writer: Frank Tieri
Artist: Juan Roman Cano Santacruz

Why in the world is Wolverine the Best There Is $3.99, but this one is $2.99? If anything it should be switched, but I assume it has something to do with Ryp coming with a higher price tag. Anyway, this story takes place a few years ago, and by the looks of Wolverine’s outfit, I’d venture Grant Morrison’s New X-Men era- so before the recently concluded Chaos War, when Herc still had his mighty Olympian powers. This issue was everything you’d expect from a team-up featuring two guys who love their libations: They’re downing beers, scoping chicks, telling stories, and beating up bad dudes. In fact, remember a few months ago when Deadpool Team-Up kicked off with Hercules? Yeah, this issue is everything that one wasn’t (which is a good thing). Tieri captures Hercules’ bravado, and I’m glad he went with a more modern style Herc as opposed to the “Thee” and “Thou” Herc of old. He writes Wolverine just fine too, as he’s pissed off and wants to take down an old enemy: Matsu’o Tsurayaba. Matsu’o most recently appeared in 2010’s Psylocke mini-series, and since this one takes place in the past, it was before Wolvie helped Psylocke kill him. Matsu’o is expecting Logan, and with some of his Hand ninja nearby, an enemy of Herc’s seeks out the villain: the burly minotaur (but don’t call him that), Achelous. Together, the two go after Wolverine and Hercules, with the intent of bringing back from the dead ancient mythical creatures to destroy our heroes. I thought this issue was well done, and most importantly, fun. If you’re a fan of either Wolvie or Herc, definitely check it out. –AL

X-Factor #216
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Emanuela Lupacchino

One of the things you can count on with Peter David’s X-Factor is that he will always return to random plot threads. A few issues ago, we were introduced to a new character called Ballastique who kills a guy and we have no idea why. It seems so out-of-the-blue, but David always has a plan. In this issue, Ballastique is back, this time recruiting an old friend with one big flamethrower. Somehow these villains are being awoken as sleepers, and they are tied to a general who happens to be good buddies with J. Jonah Jameson. Said general was the guy that Ballastique killed a few issues ago and now JJJ is looking for answers. He ends up getting Madrox and company on the case when the police find no leads. Once again, David creates an interesting case for the team to tackle, but at the same time delves into these characters and their relationships in just a few panels. M explores Shatterstar’s feelings about Rictor over a game of chess, Layla lays down the law with Rahne, and Madrox lets us in on his deal with JJJ. Spider-Man makes a shoe-horned guest appearance, but it’s so inconsequential that you don’t even notice. Another treat in this issue is watching Emanuela Lupacchino’s art get better with each issue. Her style is very similar to Terry Dodson’s style, which is a real bonus on this title. From the knockout way Monet is drawn to the stunning visuals of the villain who is torched in order to remember who she is, Lupacchino is doing just a great job. Like every issue of X-Factor, this issue is funny, intriguing, and downright solid. There’s a reason why the last 3 issues of X-Factor have been my picks of the week. -JJ

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Andy: 5 Ronin #1. I love the concept and have no clue what to expect.
Jeff: Since it was all I picked up, plus because it was great, I have to go with X-Factor #216.

By the way, did you see the recently teased image for The Dark Angel Saga? It’s f&%#ing amazing! Check it out:

Be sure to check out previous editions of The Uncanny X-Piles!

Editor’s Note: has been officially nominated for an Eagle Award! Please click here to vote for us in the “Favorite Comic Book Website” category (question #27). Thank you for your continued support!

Andy Liegl

Jeff Jackson



  1. Of these books i really like Daken and Wolverine and Herc, but my pick would also be X-Factor. Spidey’s swinging from a cloud line was hilarious.

  2. Billy

    Gotta get that Wolvie and Herc book!

  3. X-Factor has been consistently great for months now. It’s easily one of my top three X-books right now.

  4. […] X-23 is hunting Malcolm Concord, whom she believes to have fled to Madripoor, whilst Daken, in his own series, has just become the boss of all crime there. It’s inevitable and fitting that these two […]

  5. […] crossover makes its way into the Dark Wolverine title, and I’m pissed. In my review of last issue, the point was made that artist Giuseppe Camuncoli has truly defined Daken as much as Daniel Way […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Website Protected by Spam Master