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Uncanny X-Men #1 – Review

UNCANNY X-MEN #1

By: Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Chris Bachalo (pencils & colors), Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza & Al Vey (inks), and Joe Caramagna (letters)

The Story:  An inside man approaches Maria Hill with an offer to help take down Scott Summers.

The Review:  One of the concerns I had about this book going in was the way it would differentiate itself from All-New X-Men.  Yes, I realize it wouldn’t feature the time traveling teens, but Cyclops and his gang have appeared quite a bit in that book such that having them star in this one seemed to be some serious overlap.  Thankfully, Bendis quickly dispels this concern.  It’s not so much that Cyclops team are front and center, which they are, but rather that the tone of the book has been subtly altered.  While part of it may be due to Bachalo’s artwork, with its muddy colors and its lack of distinct, clean lines (as opposed to Immonen and Marquez on All-New), the big reason for this is the subtle change in tone.  The book feels more shadowy, more “underground,” and a touch more edgy.  The humour isn’t there and the soap opera of All-New is shifted into something that’s a little closer to twisty, spy-thriller dramatics.  All-New is the above-ground, flagship story.  Uncanny is what happens beneath and on the revolutionary fringes that Cyclops and his team currently occupy.
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WCBR’s Top Picks

Dean’s Top Picks

Best of the Past Week: Scarlet #6 – Not only was I really looking forward to this comic and pleasantly surprised to see its anti-establishment message back, it reappears against a real world backdrop of Christopher Dorner proving that police aren’t all nice guys.  Even the photorealistic art by Alex Maleev doesn’t bother me because Maleev does it so well.  This comic is smartly written, looks great and has something to say.  Bravo!

Most Anticipated: 1). Batman #17 – Well….the last issue was a masterpiece, so I expect great, great things from this conclusion to the Death of the Family story.  Enjoy this run by Snyder, Capullo, Glapion and Plascencia because it could be a long time before a Bat-book is this consistently excellent again.

2). The Walking Dead #107TWD usually tops my “Most Anticipated” list, but the last issue was a bit of a non-event.  Hopefully, Robert Kirkman can get the story into gear in this issue and help wash away the bad aftertaste of Sunday’s dreadful TWD episode.  At least we’ll get to see what Negan has done with little Carl.

3). Star Wars #2 – I was pleasantly surprised by the first issue of Star Wars.  It wasn’t an awesome comic book or anything, but it was nice to see a Star Wars story about the characters I grew up enjoying instead of all that “Old Republic”, ancient Jedi Knight stuff I’ve never been about to get into.  I don’t expect this comic to be great; I just want it to be enjoyable.

4). Uncanny X-Men #1 – Brian Bendis has been doing a wonderful job on All New X-Men, so I expect that his Uncanny X-Men will probably be solid too.  It’s funny how the last few years of Avengers made people forget that Bendis is a pretty good writer.  I think his chatty style of dialog is actually more appropriate for the X-Men than it ever was for the Avengers (who don’t seem like “chatty” people to me).  Plus–Chris Bachalo artwork!

5). Morning Glories #24 – This is the next to last issue before #25 concludes “Season One” of Morning Glories.  I’m expecting a few answers that help me make sense of the story so far.  I really appreciate the commitment to long-form storytelling that Nick Spencer has shown with Morning Glories.

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Alex’s Top Picks

POWERS: BUREAU #1

Pick of the Week: Green Arrow #17 – I’ll be honest, nothing really blew my socks off this week.  That said, there were several really, really solid reads (Dial H, Secret Avengers, and New Avengers were all very good).  Of these, I’ll give the prize to the first issue of Lemire/Sorrentino’s Green Arrow.  No, it’s not Hawkeye, but it’s nonetheless a breath of fresh air for the book and one that is very distinctive in both its art and its general tone from anything else DC is putting out, and that sort of distinctiveness is something DC is definitely in need of.

Most Anticipated:  Powers: Bureau #1 – Last week, I expressed my complete and utter amazement at Scarlet‘s return.  Now, to challenge the limits of reality once more, as if that wasn’t enough, Powers: Bureau is out…and only one week after Scarlet!  What he hell is going on?  Craziness, that’s what!  I am a big, big fan of Powers; it was the first Bendis book I ever read and was one of the books that got me back into comics.  It’s a big part of why I’ll follow Bendis around no matter what he writes.  So any week with an issue of Powers out is a good one.  Better still is how the last volume closed, which was a HUGE moment for the book; I’ll even go so far as saying that the second last issue of that volume was one of my favourite issues of Powers ever.  Bring it on, Bendis and Oeming!  My body is ready!

Uncanny X-Men #1 – Of Marvel NOW, All-New X-Men #1 was probably the biggest surprise for me.  Years of uninspired, often phoned-in work on Avengers gave me some pretty tempered expectations.  But ‘lo and behold, All-New X-Men has seen a revived Bendis, delivering injections of addictive, mutant soap opera goodness.  And now I’m going to have ANOTHER ongoing of Bendis X-book goodness?  Sold!  I’ll admit that I’m not the biggest Chris Bachalo fan in the world, but his work can be fun from time to time and doesn’t detract much from my excitement.

Batman #17 – It’s Snyder’s Batman and, hopefully, it’ll reveal what’s under that silver dish.  This has been great, creepy, tense stuff so far and this is quite possibly DC’s best book from their best writer.  As such, Batman will basically always make this list.

Fatale #12 – Another “always makes this list” entry, Brubaker/Phillips keep right on doing their thing, delivering a highly polished creator-owned book that is all their own.  And, oh wait, what’s that?  We’re getting a one-shot set in Medieval times?!  As a big fantasy fan, that’s right up my alley; a mash-up of medieval horror noir is too good to pass up!

Manhattan Projects #9 – I love this book, but last issue was INCREDIBLE.  MP is always an injection of pure craziness, but last week delivered gritty, manly heroism in a big, man-sized portion.  That’s only raised my enthusiasm for this book, one where I genuinely have no idea what the hell I’m going to get or what’s going to happen in any one issue.

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Hugo’s Top Picks

THRESHOLD #2

Pick of the Week: New Avengers #3 – This was an amazing issue, full of important and absolutely bold events. Jonathan Hickman promised big things and he really delivered with this one. I have no idea where this title will go, but I can’t wait to find out.

Most Anticipated: 1) Batman #17 – ‘’Death of the family’’ has been nothing short of fantastic, thanks to Scott Snyder pacing and Greg Capullo’s art. With the big finale in this issue, I am anxious to see just how he could possibly end this and still keep the same quality.

2) Threshold #2 – More cosmic goodness from Keith Giffen, who has created one of my favourite event comic of all time: Annihilation. I truly cannot wait to see if he can achieve the same level of greatness on DC cosmic side.

3) Fatale #12 – This mix of noir and horror has really caught my attention, as the Brubaker/Phillips duo are really doing some amazing work in this setting. If they keep up the same level of quality from the previous issues, this one should be great.

4) Uncanny X-Men #1 – Brian Michael Bendis is doing some great work in the X-Corner of the Marvel universe right now. Not just that, but he’s doing something that I always thought impossible: making me like Cyclops as a character. I am eager to see if he can continue this quality streak with a title headlined by Cyclops and his gang.

5) Secret Avengers #1 – A new number one on this series which last volume ended last week. I am curious to see if Nick Spencer and Luke Ross can get our attention with their S.H.I.E.L.D variation of the Secret Avengers theme.

Uncanny X-Men #1 – Review

By: Kieron Gillen (writer), Carlos Pacheco (pencils), Cam Smith (inks), Frank D’Armata (colors), Sebastian Girner (assistant editor) & Nick Lowe (editor)

The Story: We’ve seen Team Wolverine’s light-hearted high school.  Surely Team Cyclops will be up to more adult things.

Five Things: 

1. Really like the more adult tone of this title.  It’s too soon to really tell, but it seems like Uncanny X-Men will be a lot more serious than Wolverine and the X-Men.  That’s great because the world isn’t served well by having 4-5 roughly similar X-Men titles as we’ve endured the last few years.  So, while Wolverine is putting up with the hi-jinks of Iceman, Rockslide, Gambit, Rogue, Kitty, etc., Cyclops is going to deal with real mutant issues by setting up an uber-team of mutants who can tackle any problem and scare the pants off anyone who’d think twice about crossing the mutants.

2. Speaking of super-teams.  He calls them the “Extinction Team” and it consists of Cyclops, Magneto, Storm, Namor, Hope, Juggernaut-Colossus, Danger and Illyana.  Oy vey!  That really is a pretty horrifying concentration of power.  Just dealing with Magneto, Namor and Super-Colossus is pretty scary.  Oh, and Danger now has some kinds of super battle modifications which is pretty interesting given how formidable she was already.  And, then you’ve got Storm whipping up a hurricane and Cyclops shooting energy bolts and Hope copying whatever mutant’s powers would be most convenient.  Holy Hell!  I also really liked how Cyclops compared this team to a weapon of mass destruction and pointed out that Iraq (who didn’t have WMDs) got invaded whereas North Korea (which does have nukes) just got economic sanctions.   Then later when the Dreaming Celestial goes nuts, he says not to bother calling the Avengers because if his Extinction Team can’t manage the problem, what are Cap and Hawkeye going to do?  Totally badass and he’s right!

3.  Also deals with other mutants on Utopia.  This was great too.  While we thankfully didn’t dwell on these other mutants, it was nice to see that everyone has a role on Cyclops’ team.  There’s the science team, the security team, the street team, the clean-up crew and Hope’s crew.  Each has distinct jobs and the young mutants like Loa and Surge get folded in wherever they make sense as part of their training.
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Dean’s Top Picks

Best Of The Past Week: Wolverine and the X-Men #1 – This was a really strong week for Marvel as either Amazing Spider-Man #672 or Secret Avengers #18 could have been the pick here.  But, in the end, it was impossible to resist the great job that Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo did on this kick-off issue for a new era for the X-Men.  Anyone who reads WCBR knows that Bachalo is one of my favorite artists, so it’s not surprising that the lovely detailed and fun art was a high point of the issue.  Then you combine that with the fun story that Aaron weaves as Logan and Kitty have to get the new school approved by the New York State Board of Education and you have a really fun issue.  I know a lot of people associate Jason Aaron only with Scalped, but the dude is really funny in a dry and black sort of way.  He’s shown that humor on PunisherMax and Wolverine, but from the jabber online, I get the impression a lot of folks just expect grit from him.  And I loved the back matter that included a course catalog for the new mutant academy.  Trust me….this will be awesome.

Most Anticipated This Week: Uncanny X-Men #1 – It isn’t too imaginative given the pick above, but this should also be a harbinger of what’s to come.  Wolverine and the X-Men was fun, and…..it should be fun since it’s basically set at a high school.  Uncanny X-Men is the “Cyclops book”, so that means it is a serious “NO FUN” zone.  Hopefully Kieron Gillen is up the task of giving us a good story since he may not be able to resort to much humor.  A little concerned about the Carlos Pacheco art since I haven’t liked anything he’s done in a long time.  Still…..Uncanny is what got me started in comics, so it has to be the pick here.

Other Picks: American Vampire #20, Swamp Thing #3, Animal Man #3, Sweet Tooth #27, Giant-Size Elephantmen #1, Hack/Slash #9, Witch Doctor #4, Infinite Vacation #3, Amazing Spider-Man #673, Avengers Academy #21, Six Guns #1

Uncanny X-Men: The Heroic Age #1 – Review

by Matt Fraction (writer),Whilce Portacio, Jamie McKelvie, & Steve Sanders (artists)

The Story:
We center on three X-Men (Cyclops, Beast, and Hope) as they reassess their lives and deal with the aftermath of Second Coming, while at the same time coming to grips with what to do next with themselves.  Cyclops is welcomed into the Heroic Age by Steve Rogers, a visit with the Fantastic Four leads Hope to decide that she wants to discover he true parentage, and Beast’s run-in with a Runaway (See what I did there?) helps him celebrate the present rather than mourn his past.

What’s Good:
While I’m not sure we need yet another “breather” issue after X-Men: Second Coming #2, also released this week, Fraction pulls it off nicely and makes this one-shot feel natural and welcome.  There are basically three chapters in this one issue, drawn by three different artists.  I appreciate the decision to not present these in anthology format and instead have us cut back and forth between them, giving the stories a more cohesive feel.  While there were some satisfying moments in Cyclops’ scene with Captain Rogers and it’s always nice to see Molly Hayes from the Runaways show up anywhere since her title was cancelled, my favorite of the three was, surprisingly, the Hope segment.  During the recently concluded X-event, Fraction seemed to struggle a bit with Hope’s characterization, sometimes making for scenes that downright ripped me out of the moment at times.  He seems to have gotten a handle on her here, though, as he scripts some pleasant and touching scenes between her and Franklin Richards and her realization that she knows nothing about her lineage, but would truly like to.  Her maturing relationship with Cyclops is also welcome, as her constant yelling at him was getting somewhat tiresome.  McKelvie pencils this segment and knocks it out of the park.  I read this issue and wonder why the hell McKelvie isn’t on a monthly title while artists like Greg Land and Whilce Portacio are constantly offered prime gigs.  He’s got a great handle on the emotions and character beats necessary to make a story affect you.  Hope’s “…Mine was great,” moment tugged at my heart strings like nothing else this issue and it was all thanks to the artist.
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