August 28, 2011

The Uncanny X-Piles LIV

Astonishing X-Men #40
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Juan Bobillo

It’s been so long since the last issue of this arc, I forgot about it. And I forgot about its importance. I’m wondering why Astonishing is still being published. The stories being told are not ground-breaking. The art is mediocre. And we know there will be no long-lasting effects of this story since this takes place before Kitty gets out of her bubble suit. That’s another reason why this back-and-forth storytelling is rather ridiculous. By the time this story wraps up a month from now, Kitty will have been out of her suit for 3 or 4 months in the rest of the X-books. Having said that, the one thing I like about this story is that it’s a different take on the Brood. I always wondered how the X-Men could be so protective of the human race, and yet were willing to decimate an alien race like the Brood. Sure, they’re ruthless and engaging them is a “kill-or-be-killed” type scenario, but it has surprised me that no one before now has written this story of the possibility that the Brood might have some redeeming qualities. Greg Pak did it over in Planet Hulk, but other than that, we’ve not seen compassionate Brood before. So while I wasn’t crazy about the first part of this arc, this one got a little better. Bobillo’s art takes some getting used to…but ultimately I’m drawn to it. I’m not crazy about how he draws the Beast, or that for some reason Colossus has no shoes, but I like his original designs on these characters. -JJ

Avengers Academy: Fear Itself #16
Christos Gage
Artist: Tom Raney

From a mutant point of view, which is the point of our column, there’s not much to report on here. Hazmat and Mettle are absent from the cast, which leaves the only character present with an X-gene, Quicksilver. He and the Mighty Avengers, with some of the Academy kids, are going up against Crusher Creel and Titania- two hammer wielding Worthy. Pietro gets a few shots in on Titania, and attempts to suffocate her by replacing her air with a vacuum. However, the move fails and he gets hammered. From a Fear Itself point of view, this issue was well done. While Fear Itself may be treading water, Avengers Academy is staying the solid book its always been and enduring being shoehorned into an event. But why can Creel and Titania speak plain English, but all the other Worthy talk in tongue? I don’t get it. The spotlight is mainly on Veil here as she lets her rage take control, which leads to her killing some Nazis. Due to her action being witnessed by a young girl, this choice to take a life in the heat of the moment upsets her. Mettle had a similar moment earlier on in the event, and just like the kids of the New X-Men before them, the kids of Avengers Academy are seriously being put to the test early on. Whereas Youth in Revolt is a horrendous teen book, Avengers Academy is consistently hitting home runs. -AL

Fear Itself: The Deep #2
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Lee Garbett

When you have bad guys who don’t bat an eye at the Silver Surfer, that should mean they are badass…but that doesn’t really come off here. This is just one of the annoying moments in this issue, which is truly unfortunate because I want to like- no, love- this book. Cullen Bunn’s The Sixth Gun over at Oni Press is absolutely phenomenal. But that’s his creator owned series. So what is it with these Marvel characters that feels so off? Well, for starters, the main villain is supposed to be Attuma, an Atlantean who’s now one of the hammer chucking Worthy. So this issue should feature him, right? He’s on the cover. Wrong! He doesn’t even show up! How lame is that? That alone makes this a weak Fear Itself tie-in. Now that I think about it, Fear Itself as a whole is doing a bad job of giving the Worthy depth and character, let alone any sort of motivation. Are we supposed to feel bad for these guys that they’re possessed, or want them taken down even more than before? I’m not sure, and that shouldn’t be. Also, why is everyone who writes Namor outside of a direct X-book make him out to be such a pussy. Sorry, but it’s true. Stuart Moore handled him horribly in his recently canceled ongoing, and here, Bunn keeps Namor completely out of the fight. He’s being emo and pouting in the corner. WTF is that all about? In all the main X-books, Namor has stones of steel, telling Cyclops to shut up and hitting on Emma Frost left and right. So why the character shift? Loa, the teen mutant, is present too but she just says stupid things. There’s an unnecessary moment with her and the Savage She-Hulk, hinting at a shack up with Doc Strange. Yeah, it was weird. Picturing Doc Strange banging some teenager is messed up. And on that note, we should move on. –AL

New Mutants #28
Writer: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Artist: Michael Ryan

Oh, Michael Ryan, where have you been? Thank you for saving us from the horrible art that this book has been suffering from! I’ve loved Ryan’s art from when he did New Excalibur and then illustrated the Joss Whedon run on Runaways. He needs to be on a regular book. Unfortunately, he’s only filling in on this issue only, as next month, the New Mutants are drawn into the train wreck that is Fear Itself and David LaFuente takes his turn. This issue fires on all cylinders. You have a therapist buddy of Moonstar’s coming to check up on her team. In the grand tradition of Peter David’s “X-aminations” from X-Factor way back, we get some insight into the team after their harrowing experiences in Limbo and Age of X as well as the “new member” X-Man. Cannonball is revealed to ultimately be a chicken, Karma is accused of being selfish, and Magik, even though she is imprisoned, seems to be the sanest one of all. One surprising scene was Hope offering to retrain Nate Grey, the way Cable trained her. And speaking of the convoluted continuity of the X-Men, DnA give a fantastic and funny nod to the confusion when Dani tries to explain who Nate is and how he connects. Overall, this is a great issue, and proves to me that DnA will find success here if they get the right artist on the job. Ryan would be a shoe-in on this, although I think he has the chops to be on a bigger book. -JJ

Ultimate Comics Fallout #3
Writers: Jonathan Hickman & Nick Spencer
Artists: Steve Kurth, Eric Nguyen & Carlo Pagulayan

There are three mini-stories in this issue, but we’re only focusing on the second two here for the purposes of our column. The first was all about Tony Stark and his new role in the Ultimate Universe. The second stars Kitty Pryde, as she storms out of Peter Parker’s funeral in disgust (it’s a media parade), disrupting an interview outside the church. She meets up with Bobby Drake, a.k.a. Iceman, whom she vents to over the flurry of press attending Parker’s funeral. Iceman wants no part of it either, and he’s pretty shaken up about the whole thing. Kitty, his ex-girlfriend, comforts him and even offers him a spot on the new X-team… but with some strings attached. Bobby agrees to the terms, but only if Johnny Storm can come too. Nick Spencer, who will be penning the new Ultimate X-Men series, writes this tale. While brief, it nicely sets the stage for the new book, as does the third story in this issue, written by Jonathan Hickman, starring Karen Grant (Jean Grey) and The Hulk. Basically we learn that Karen is working for Fury who is allowing her to have The Hulk on her team- as long as she can telepathically control him. She can do that, but admits to it becoming more and more difficult each time. That should be interesting to see play out. The artwork on all three stories looks great. I’d be happy with any of these guys working on the new X-title, especially Carlo Pagulayan. He pulls off his best Art Adams impression here. Fallout has been pretty lackluster for me so far, but this issue puts the Ultimate X-book in a good place. Things will be totally different than what’s going down in the 616, which is how the Ultimate Universe should be. -AL

Uncanny X-Force #12
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Mark Brooks

Remender just likes to give us X-fans orgasms. That’s all this book really is, just one amazing thing after another. We’ve all been jonesing for a Logan/Jean reunion, and he gives it to us in spades, not only displaying how hard it is for both the 616 Wolverine and the AoA Jean to be in the presence of one another despite both losing their reality’s counterparts, but in allowing them to lip lock! Melita? Melita who? Meanwhile, Fantomex and Psylocke’s relationship takes a turn as well, as Fantomex confronts her about her feelings for Warren, to which she lands one on him with a “kludd.” However, mere panels later, they share a kiss as well, which makes this book the most dramatic one going right now. Wolverine shares some time with his “daughter” from the AoA, which makes her the Rachel Summers to Logan’s Cyclops. Wolverine even comments that perhaps this cast should come to the 616 universe, which sets up a really cool hint of perhaps things to come. Finally, we’re introduced to the Black Legion, made up of mash-ups of all kinds of Marvel characters, and led by Blob, who appears to have taken out Iceman (sorry Andy and Decapitated Dan). But the ultimate cool thing in this issue is the reveal of who has taken Apocalypse’s place, and if you remember your AoA history, you know it’s not Angel. I wonder if they’re ever going to mention that Logan was once brainwashed to be Death at one time too. This certainly hints at it. Once again I have to say, this is the best X-Men book on the shelves. -JJ

Wolverine the Best There Is #8
Writer: Charlie Huston
Artist: Juan Jose Ryp

When the “catch up” blurb on the first page of your comic misspells the name of the main villain, there’s a problem. For the purposes of this story, it’s “Winsor” not “Windsor.” Regardless, this book is getting better with each issue he’s not in, which has been only two so far. Juan Jose Ryp’s art is great. He deserves to be on a Wolverine book, but unfortunately the script in this series doesn’t match the level of talent he’s bringing to these pages. Pair him with Jason Aaron for a few issues of the main Wolverine title and lets see what happens! I gave this series a chance early on, but it lost me with each installment of the opening arc. Things do seem to be getting better, but Charlie Huston has already lost a large chunk of his reading audience. Things are taking a completely different turn than in the first story, which is definitely a good thing. Huston has a second chance here to show us what he’s got, and I’m hoping he follows through… but I won’t hold my breath. –AL

X-Men Legacy #252
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Khoi Pham

I really like this team. It has all the workings of an interesting X-Men grouping, which Carey is so good at. However, this story is dragging on a bit too long for me. The X-Men are still trying to gather up Legion’s missing personalities. I feel like they could have ended it in this issue. Instead, we get a lot of pages of the team walking around aimlessly looking for Styx and talking. But more so than the weak story here is that Khoi Pham really disappoints on the art. His characters are flat and lack detail. Every few panels he will provide some rendering up close, and when he does that, it works. But when he pulls the camera back, the characters lose their dynamism and their detail. Of course, Rogue gets injured and will ultimately be used to save the team, as Carey is adept at doing. But this story just seems to linger, and I think some editing could have been done to pace it a little better. -JJ

X-Men: Schism #2
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Frank Cho

Something about Schism is not working for me. I really want to like this. I like Jason Aaron. I like Frank Cho. I loved the idea behind Schism. However, we still have yet to see what the break is between Scott and Wolverine. Aaron is planting seeds, of course, but the problem with touting this as the Civil War of the X-Men is that it makes me compare it to Civil War. In Civil War, you knew immediately what the issue was between Captain America and Iron Man and you could choose a side. That tension is what carried the book. However, Aaron spends a lot of time making Scott and Logan kiss each others’ ass throughout the issue.  Sure, this is to make sure when the split does happen, we know the emotion involved, but it’s really out-of-character, and the tension is removed from the coming schism between them. I don’t want an exact repeat of Civil War, mind you, but I feel like this story is lacking. Frank Cho provides the pencils and while Carlos Pacheco drew Wolverine in husky-size, Cho makes Cyclops look like Chris Evans in the Captain America movie. My biggest irk with this issue is why Quentin Quire is given refuge, when all other X-Men villains are locked up in the brig?!? Very strange, and while I know the schism is supposed to put us on either side of the debate, I’m finding myself compelled to side with Wolverine on this one. -JJ

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: I wanted to pick New Mutants because of Michael Ryan, but the combo of Remender and Brooks on Uncanny X-Force #12 makes it my favorite book this week.
Andy: Broken record time: Uncanny X-Force #12!

Schism this.

Jeff Jackson

Andy Liegl



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