January 19, 2012

The Uncanny X-Piles LXXII

Magneto: Not A Hero #3 (of 5)
Writer: Skottie Young
Artist: Clay Mann
The uber talented Skottie Young directs this four issue mini with a convincing sense of purpose. It is amazing how he is able to make me care about this book even though it seems somewhat outside of current continuity. I suppose this is what good storytelling is supposed to be all about.
In this, the third installment of the series, Magneto pulls the cover off of part of the copycat organization committing atrocities in his good name. Thanks to a little old school ruthlessness, Magneto is able to escape the cloned Brotherhood of Mutants gang and coerce a little intel of his own. The question now is, can Magneto stop his clone Joseph before the situation gets out of hand? Oh, and what is Joseph really up to?
As I said in the introduction, Skottie Young really crafts a tight script for this issue. For someone who has gained fame as an amazing illustrator (probably my favorite on the planet!), he really shows some diversity with this script. The situations play out in a very natural way, the banter is contagious, and characterization is spot on. Young truly is a modern Renaissance man.
I personally have a real difficult time letting go of responsibilities when working on a task. I usually have to handle all of the duties or none, with no gear in the middle. I can’t imagine how it must feel for Young to have somebody else draw his books. In this case, Clay Mann is the illustrator of both the interior and the cover art. Despite the obvious differences in style, Mann does a good job on the picture duties. I really enjoed the way he depicted the epic battle scene at the start of the book. Upon looking back, I even noticed that it was mostly Mann doing the storytelling in the opening frames, with Young going light on the dialog. Excellent storytelling, Mr. Mann. I particularly loved seeing Quicksilver embedded in the side of that house by the pick-up truck!
So far this has a been a great stand-alone series. In fact, it would probably make a real nice addition to anyone’s collection in trade paperback. Like all good series, it is unfortunate that this one is almost over. Hopefully that isn’t true, and the fun is just beginning for Magneto and his hippie clone look alike Joseph! –CK

Art: 8/10 Writing: 9/10 Cover: 8/10 Relevance: To Be Determined….

Ultimate Comics X-Men #6
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artists: Paco Medina & Carlo Barberi
The bad part about ordering my comics rather than getting them at an LCS is that I have to place my order three months in advance. That means I have to keep reading this horrible, horrible book for another month. You all know from my previous reviews of this book that the only decent thing here is Paco Medina’s art. Well, because of the stupid double-shipping of this title, Paco is joined by Carlo Barberi who, if you read X-Men in the 90s, is like the Roger Cruz to Joe Madureira. Barberi’s art is fine on its own, but when paired with Medina’s it looks awful and a little too much like it’s trying hard to be Medina. Add to the art problems the fact that this story is about 5 issues too long. Guess what…Quicksilver finally leaves the conversation with Val Cooper and the President…6 issues later! But the real trouble here is how Spencer unveils Stryker’s master plan. Stryker was revealed to be a mutant who can talk to and control machines last issue. This issue, they explain that the way he was “healing” mutants was that he was telling the mutant gene to self-destruct because the gene is a machine. Let me say that again: In the Ultimate Universe, the mutant gene is a MACHINE. If that’s not the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, I don’t know what is. There’s also a horribly rendered reveal at the end to make us think that Professor X is alive when he was killed not long ago. Ugh. And to top it off, it has perhaps the worst cover by Kaare Andrews who has Christina Ricci as Kitty Pryde with her arm through her own head. Awkward and just unnecessary.  –JJ

Art: 5/10 Writing: 2/10 Cover: 2/10 Relevance: 0/10

Wolverine #300

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Adam Kubert, Paul Mounts, Ron Garney and Jason Keith

So let’s get the obvious out of the way first, the numbering.  Numbering has been a hot topic in the comic world lately, and is a particular thorn in the side of my compatriot Jeff Jackson.  I mean, when it comes to Wolverine the numbering is a little….suspect.  With issue number one thousand coming out last year and issue three hundred this year, I don’t think anyone can argue that!  I understand that it increases sales, but I am of two frames of mind on this topic: A) It is a cheap gimmick.  If you want a book to run up to one thousand copies, then let it run all the way up to one thousand copies, plain and simple! B) If the comic braintrusts spent half as much time thinking up better stories instead of better ways to make money, they wouldn’t have to resort to cheap gimmicks like this!  Whew, now that that is out of the way, let’s get on with the review itself.
Jason Aaron knows what it is to make Wolverine tick.  He shows respect to the great stories of the past by having Logan travel back to Japan in issue three hundred.  Wolverine, Japan, ninjas and battles over family honor seem to be a lot of what have defined the character over the years.  Aaron expertly pays homage to a series of devices that help readers recall stories from the beginning of Wolverine’s epic journey, but in a way that advances his story and keeps it contemporary.  So we have characters like Yukio, the Silver Samurai, and Sabretooth, but: his former lover Yukio is paralyzed, the Silver Samurai is actually the original’s son who happens to be romantically involved with Wolverine’s daughter, and the appearance of Sabretooth is one giant mystery considering he is supposed to be dead!  Classic storytelling with some new twists!
Like almost any book that splits up the artistic duties, I found the switches from chapter to chapter slightly distracting.  Strangely enough, though, I found it less distracting than usual.  I am not going to lie, however; I would have preferred to see one artist on the whole book.  One thing is for sure, Adam Kubert draws a great Wolverine!
The story continues to examine the feud over control of the Japanese underground, between the Hand and the Yakuza.  Unfortunately for Wolverine, he has multiple stakes in this war, especially now that his daughter is involved.  Aaron begins to look at some finer points as well, though, and it is this plot development that interests me the most.  For instance, I love the evaluation of the Hand organization by Azuma Goda.  When he refers to ninjas and their recent roles as guys in black suits smashing through windows with swords, he couldn’t be more right.  I’ve long waited for that cliché to be dismantled, and it looks like Aaron is about to get it done.  Hopefully we can anticipate stealthy, mysterious operations in the future.
Ultimately, this story stirred my Wolverine juices. I know it doesn’t take much, being the fan that I am of the character, but I really loved the direction this book takes.  I don’t know how we could possibly expect more hacking and slashing than this issue provided, but with Wolverine’s daughter now in peril, I’m sure there is more on the horizon.  This is a great jumping on point for any level of reader, so put your Wolverine biases away, and go check out a great book! –CK

Art: 7/10 Writing: 8/10 Cover: 6/10 Relevance: 8/10

Wolverine & the X-Men #4
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Nick Bradshaw
Now THIS is the flagship X-Men title! This is everything that Uncanny X-Men is not. First, the cast contains everyone I want in a main X-book. But even with such a large cast, no scene is wasted. No interaction between characters seems inappropriate or out of place. Every character bears an importance to what Aaron is crafting. The faculty reflect the deep connections and history, along with the humor and comfort they feel in one another’s presence. You really get the feeling that these characters are bonded in their effort to make this school work. Aaron has also created a cast of students that is everything the cast of Generation Hope is not. Aaron does a good job of giving these characters history just by putting a new spin on old X-Men tropes. You know have an X-Men class with a Broodling, a boy Gladiator, and a kid Apocalypse, along with the best of the New X-Men, and I couldn’t be happier. This book feels like classic X-Men, New Mutants, Generation X, and New X-Men all rolled into one. But Aaron doesn’t just play in an old sandbox. This issue ties into what’s been going on in Uncanny X-Force, with the addition of Angel and Genesis to the students, and Deathlok showing up to teach a class. Aaron seeds a lot of future threads in this issue, foreshadowing what may happen with Angel and Genesis. We get some really neat scenes, including a future look at Quentin, Idie, Kid Gladiator, and Broo battling Genesis as the new Apocalypse. All of this is drawn by Nick Bradshaw, who’s style is not anything like Chris Bachalo, but fits really well. Bradshaw is basically the next generation Art Adams, and while his style takes a little getting used to because of the baby faces he draws, he has a great sense of dynamism in his panels. With a cast of students, Bradshaw’s art really fits well. Overall, Aaron has created this book as a nexus of all that is great in the X-canon, and I feel like he and his buddy Rick Remender may be the guys to carry the X-Men into some future glories. –JJ

Art: 7/10 Writing: 9/10 Cover: 7/10 Relevance: 10/10

X-Factor #230
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Emanuela Luppachino
I’ve been covering X-Factor in this column for a long time and I always tend to say the same thing about Peter David’s handle on the book. The only criticism I have in this issue is the forced inclusion and lack of voice he gives to Wolverine. You can tell that once again PAD is being mandated to include X-Factor into Regenesis, and he does so with his usual creativity. However, in this issue, Wolverine appears and in a week where Wolverine appears in a lot of books, he just felt off. Layla is mourning Madrox and for some reason Wolverine is the grief counselor? Once you read the whole issue, you realize that Wolverine is only there to set up the ending, which would have been a great reveal if PAD had his way. Unfortunately, Marvel spoiled the ending with the return of Havok and Polaris. I had to push those solicitations out of my mind, and once I did, that reveal is actually really well done. Nevertheless, it’s Wolverine’s inclusion in the rest of the book that seems out of place. That said, this issue is the usual X-Factor greatness because PAD knows how to write this group standing in a room arguing. It’s just hilarious to watch, from Pip’s excellent smack down of Monet, to the back and forth quips between Shatterstar and Guido, to the reveal of Longshot sexting with Dazzler. But the greatest treat in this issue is Emanuela Luppachino returning to great form. But what really stood out to me was the colors of Matt Milla. He seems to take the inkers black inks and add color to them, so that it gives a depth to the rendering. Not only that, but the hues to each scene reflect the moods perfectly. The scenes of Layla and Wolverine are cold, reflecting the bitterness Layla has as well as the “death” of Madrox. The scenes of the team arguing are fiery and warm. Very well done. And let’s not forget Madrox, who is anything but dead, but is still bouncing around the multiverse. I love this direction, this art team, and love when PAD isn’t forced to include Wolverine. Let’s hope next issue he’s not handcuffed like this. -JJ
Art: 8/10 Writing: 7/10 Cover: 9/10 Relevance: 7/10

X-Men Legacy #260.1
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: David Baldeon
It seems as though the X-books have really taken advantage of the 0.1 numbering system lately; in the best kind of way!  When you think about it, the 0.1 system is a natural fit for a group like all of the X-folks, considering how many characters are involved in their day-to-day interactions and ethos.  In my opinion, it would be great to see all of the 0.1 books focus solely on “in between issue, character development.”  This would be a great approach for readers, as they would know what type of tone to expect going into the book.  Legacy has been a meaningless book for a long time now.  Attaching the Regenesis arc of this series to the Jean Grey Institute is a can’t miss idea.
In this issue, Christos Gage expertly exposes some of the agendas of key characters within the JG School.  It is amazing that I have never made the connection before, but I loved the way Gage set Rockslide up to be the next Iceman.  Rockslide has always had the potential to be a powerful character, but for some reason seemed to be more important for his comic relief than his super powers.  When he first came back from hell in Quest For Magic there were hints of Rockslides immeasurable potential.  Like then, Rogue pushes Rockslide in this issue and even steals a page from Emma Frost’s book, by stealing his powers and demonstrating just how awesome he could be.  Maybe more important than all of that however, is the obvious protective feeling the staff; in particular Rogue, have for the students.  I love how hard she works to disguise the conflict on the school grounds, ensuring that the students continue their lessons uninterrupted.  Throw in some new romance, and Gage proves why he is one of the best writers in the industry, especially on a team book!
Personally, I found the art a little too cartoony for my taste.  I prefer wither a wild stylized approach like Skottie Young or Chris Bachalo, or a highly polished look like Mike Deodato or Clayton Crain.  By no means were David Baldeon’s lines horrible.  I just found them a little too sterile for this story.  The cover art by Mark Brooks is a good example of what I would consider beautifully polished work!
I hope that Gage, and the braintrust at Marvel, continue to attach the Legacy stories to the Jean Grey school.  I think this idea of the school is firing on all cylinders right now, and Marvel really should ride this wave for a while. –CK

Art: 6/10 Writing: 8/10 Cover: 8/10 Relevance: 8/10

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: With last week being such a “meh” kind of week, this week was packed with good things. I have to give credit to Jason Aaron, for putting out 2 awesome books with “Wolverine” in the title, but Wolverine & the X-Men #4 gets my pick.
Capekiller: Wow, so many good books to choose from!  Wolverine and the X-Men #4 was my X-pick ‘O  the week (the cover sealed it for me!)  I love the direction of this book.  X and school go together like PB&J!
Jeff Jackson



  1. How is the Magneto book out of continuity? I thought it was in-continuity?

    RE: Wolverine #300…I actually don’t mind renumbering up, it’s rebooting to #1 that I can’t stand. I understand why they do it, but it’s annoying.

    Hey, Infinite Speech, did you see the number of times they called them “ninjas?” LOL

    I loved X-Men: Legacy too. A great start to Gage’s run!

    • That was annoying as hell! lol

  2. Re: Magneto. I just said that because he seems to be a lot of places at the same time right now. With the return of Joseph and the cloned Brotherhood, this title seems to be the most out of place of the lot. Probably the one that comes and goes without making a ripple in 616 at all. I don’t refer to continuity as just alternate universes. I use it in the context of 616 stories that might as well be other dimensions as well!

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