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March 16, 2013

The Uncanny X-Piles 131

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Written by: Jeff
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Welcome to the 131st edition of the Uncanny X-Piles, where we give you our thoughts on the week’s worth of X-Men books!

The X-Piles

Numbers next to each title are the cumulative ranking of the latest issue out of a total of 40. Numbers in parentheses indicate the previous issue’s rating. Blue indicates a raise in the chart from last issue; red indicates a drop; green indicates the book stayed put.

1. Uncanny X-Men: 39 (39)

2. All-New X-Men: 36 (35)

3. Wolverine : 30 (24)

4. Astonishing X-Men: 28 (27)

5. Uncanny Avengers: 28 (21)

6. Gambit: 27 (25)

7. X-Factor: 25 (30)

8. Savage Wolverine: 25 (17)

9. Cable & X-Force: 23 (31)

10. Age of Apocalypse: 23 (26)

11. X-Men: 21 (23)

12. Uncanny X-Force: 20 (23)

13. Wolverine & the X-Men: 19 (32)

14. X-Men: Legacy: 15 (20)

15. A + X: 11 (16)


A + X #5
Writers: Kathryn Immonen & Kieron Gillen
Artists: David LaFuente & Joe Bennett

If there’s two writers I already have little taste for, it’s Kathryn Immonen and Kieron Gillen. So my predisposition was to already dislike this issue. I have to say, though….I was right.

Marvel has decided that team-up books are their new cash cow. With Avenging Spider-Man taking the place of the old Marvel Team-Up and Savage Wolverine unofficially being Marvel Two-in-One without the Thing, it’s no secret that Marvel loves to pair up characters. This series is no different, except they’ve tried to shoehorn some of the strangest characters in a team-up.

The first story is by Immonen and David LaFuente featuring Doop and Iron Fist. What I like about Doop is that he’s a mystery in the X-world. What I don’t like is how everyone seems to know him, and can speak his language. It was funny when Peter Milligan did this in X-Statix with Wolverine, but the joke is old and worn out. Immonen forces Iron Fist into a relationship with Doop. There’s no explanation why they are together. It’s supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, but fails on every level. Putting Wolverine with Doop is fun because Wolverine is everywhere and Doop denigrates his character a bit. But Iron Fist needs no denigration. He’s not popular enough to be paired with Doop. Instead, both characters look ridiculous.

I’m not a fan of LaFuente’s art, so he does nothing to make this worthwhile for me. His style works for a character like Doop, but once again, his rendition of Iron Fist makes it look like a parody of a character in serious need of strengthening.

The second story puts two of Gillen’s favorite villains together: Loki and Mr. Sinister. Gillen has spent a lot of time with these characters and tries his hardest to make a connection between them. I personally don’t like the watered-down Sinister who can clone himself at will. Gillen’s Loki steals the scenes, but again, this story feels so forced. Bennett’s art is a nice companion and salvages a bit of this issue for me.

A + X is just not working for me. I’ll give it another issue, but it may be on the X-Piles chopping block. –JJ

Cover: 2/10 Writing: 3/10 Art: 4/10 Relevance: 2/10 TOTAL: 11/40

Age of Apocalypse #13
Writer: David Lapham
Artists: Renato Arlem & Valentine De Landro

Things are finally looking up for the Age of Apocalypse. That can only spell trouble for our heroes though, as doom lurks around the corner.

This issue is really a set-up for the X-Termination crossover. We get to see AoA Nightcrawler, who has decided he needs to get back home, scheme a bit with Mystique before he jumps Dark Beast in hopes of getting a return ticket to the AoA. Meanwhile back in the AoA, Prophet and his crew are trying to return to normal lives. The world is rebuilding after the fall of Weapon Omega, but I can’t help but think that this is the calm before the storm.

Lapham continues to flesh out interesting counterparts to the regular universe. Everyone is hardened, and even though they are hopeful, there is a sense of dread looming. Lapham does a good job of building the tension and making the reader uneasy. He is helped by Arlem and De Landro, who’s dark-toned artwork has become the signature of this series.

There’s is only a few issues left of this series, and I have to say, it’s been a fun ride. I’m excited to see how this world will collide with the 616 in the upcoming storyline. –JJ

Cover: 5/10 Writing: 6/10 Art: 6/10 Relevance: 6/10 TOTAL: 23/40

“All-New X-Men” #8
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Marquez

We get a classic team-up story for most of the issue as Angel goes out for a rip in the sky with his younger self before flying down to rescue the Avengers Tower before it gets completely destroyed by Hydra.

If you’ve been reading “All-New X-Men” since the first issue, you can expect to find the same level of quality here. Bendis continues to write an extremely compelling version of the young X-Men. When the original five X-men first decided to stay in the present Marvel Universe to figure out how things “got this bad”, the most reluctant of the bunch had been and continues to be Angel. Spending the day with his older self does not help matters since the current timeline’s Warren has figuratively flown over the cuckoo’s nest. Every story element in this issue serves a purpose. I won’t go into it much more than as to not spoil the experience in case you have not read it yet, but all I will say is that this is not a filler issue.

Marquez’s art is absolutely flawless once more. You really can’t go wrong with having either Immonen or Marquez helming the pencils here. The lines are clean, the colors, thanks to Marte Gracia, are vivid and exciting. The action sequences are intense and dynamic. There really isn’t anything to criticize here. Beautiful.

Stuart Immonen handled the cover and although there’s nothing inherently wrong with it and gets the point across (the original X-Men will have a run-in with the Avengers), it’s kind of generic.

Bottom line is that “All-New X-Men” is STILL one of the strongest X-title on the shelf, along with the newly re-launched “Uncanny X-Men”. All in all, it’s a great time to be an X-fan. –SG

Cover: 8/10 Writing: 10/10 Art: 10/10 Relevance: 8/10 TOTAL: 36/40

“Cable and X-Force” #5
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Salvador Larroca

Following the disaster at the Eat-More factory, Cable and his X-Force have split up to lay low and let things cool down. Cable has another vision of the future while Forge and Dr. Nemesis have a go at their own version of “Real Steel”.

I’ve been liking Dennis Hopeless’ direction with this cast so far. In my opinion, he’s building a “world” that is perfectly suited for Cable and his friends. This issue however, is not his best go at it. Not much happens here to drive any sort of narrative forward. Everybody’s on the run. Cable has a vision while doing his re-enactment of “Easy Rider”, Colossus gets laid after whining like a little baby while Forge and Nemesis really didn’t have anything better to do than build giant robots to fight each other. Hopeless still has a good handle on these characters’ voices though. Everybody is acting like they should, even though they had nothing to do.

Larocca’s artwork is extremely bland here. The panel layout is as boring as the story. You can’t blame Salvador though, because the characters really had nothing to do. It reminds me of his run on “Invincible Iron Man” where he basically had to draw Tony just sitting around talking to people most of the time. The giant robot fight, which lasted all of one page, was the most exciting thing to see. Colors and lines are tight though, so at least it wasn’t sloppy.

This issue will read better in trade paperback form. It’s a quick read with little to no payoff, but will make a tolerable bridge between story arcs once collected. I still have no idea why Cable refers to Forge as Skitch. Is this something that the reader is simply supposed to adopt as fact or are we going to eventually find out why Nathan has given Forge this nickname? Only time will tell. –SG

Cover: 6/10 Writing: 6/10 Art: 7/10 Relevance: 4/10 TOTAL: 23/40

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: That bouffant hairdo of Jean’s freaks me out. All-New X-Men #8 continues to be incredible.
SpidermanGeekAll-New X-Men #8 was a fantastic read and showcases Angel in a fun to read way.

Jeff Jackson




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