Current Reviews


Astonishing X-Men #1 [Shaun M.]

Posted: Wednesday, June 2, 2004
By: Shaun Manning

Writer: Joss Whedon
Artist: John Cassaday

Publisher: Marvel Comics

The Story:
Kitty Pryde returns to the X-Mansion as the team prepares for a new school year, and reassesses their role in the world at large. Wolverine and Cyclops settle their differences, then slip into some shiny new spandex. Meanwhile, a convention is held hostage by a lizard-looking guy, and an enterprising biologist may have found a new solution to the mutant “problem.” (Also, this issue was written by that Buffy guy.)

The Reaction:
A lot of reviews have concentrated on broad generalizations about the writing, basically saying that if you like Buffy you will like AXM, if not, then not. The story is solid and more than a bit exciting, if not “Evil Willow” intense so far. Regardless of one’s opinion on Mr. Whedon’s craft, however, there is still the matter of art. And it is a disaster.

While the lines are crisp and the colors vibrant, the actual characters look utterly ridiculous. Cyclops looks like a chubby teenager, with his neck swallowing his chin in at least two panels. Moreover, the new visor looks heavy enough to ruin his posture. And if this makes Scott Summers a difficult sell for romantic lead, his belle isn’t any better. Indeed, the once-voluptuous Emma Frost has transformed overnight into a used-up old prostitute. At least Beast is kind of cute.

Returning to the story, there is a lot of fun here. The interaction between Logan and Cyclops is priceless, as is Emma’s reaction to Kitty’s tardiness. Beast’s miscalculation of scale in a Danger Room mediation is also classic Whedon. Reintroducing costumes goes more smoothly for the characters than for the reader, but avoiding an overlong explanation is probably to everybody’s benefit. It’s unbelievable that with three, four, five X-Men team books, though, that Marvel couldn’t leave at least one in black leather.

The Verdict:
Most people have already made up their minds on whether they want to pick this up. For the hypothetical fence-sitter, Astonishing X-Men is certainly worth a look. While action is sparse in this first issue, Whedon’s vision for the characters is already taking shape and is quite intriguing. Lots of people like John Cassaday’s art, too, so maybe it will be less of a detractor for some fans. Bottom line, it’s three dollars, a small price to pay for an informed opinion on the biggest X-event of the year.

Market Watch:
This week’s special Two Fingers Award goes out to retailers who thought it would be fun to charge $30 and up for the variant covers on Big Wednesday. At least a few Chicago shoppers will get the reference (you down with GCC? yeah you know me!). Free market and all that, they’re entitled to charge what they want, but asking $30 for a comic they ordered at $1.50 isn’t likely to inspire customer loyalty.

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