Current Reviews


Astonishing X-Men #4

Posted: Thursday, August 26, 2004
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer: Joss Whedon
Artist: John Cassaday

Publisher: Marvel Comics

As the X-Men travel to the Benetech Labs to investigate a unsettling element of the new cure, we see while they are away the alien that called himself Ord pays a visit to the X-Academy, where he leaves a message for our heroes. Meanwhile, Kitty descends into the lowermost level of Benetech Labs where she has an encounter with a familiar face.

There are going to be many readers who are going to jump on the fact that Joe Quesada made a point out of saying that dead characters are going to stay dead under his watch, and yet this issue offers up yet another example of a writer who doesn't look to be paying much heed to this ruling from down on high. However, I'm not going to make much noise about this return from the dead largely because I'm delighted to see this character being brought back, as I was of the mind that their death was a transparent attempt by a writer to add a sense of importance to a plot thread that had lingered around for such a long time that readers had long since lost any interest in it. In any event while Joe Quesada's head was in the right place in trying to curtail the revolving door when it came to death in comics, the simple fact of the matter is that the only characters who don't come back from the dead are either ones whose deaths have made a profound impact on a book's established formula (e.g. Uncle Ben, Gwen Stacy), or ones that have no fan base that would demand their return (e.g. Bucky, Jason Todd). This character's death falls in neither category so their return was inevitable in spite of Joe Quesada's bid to give Marvel deaths a greater sense of importance. As for the rest of the issue, there's an intense little exchange where the big, bad villain of the story pays a visit to the X-Academy, and the book also does a pretty fair job of leaving the X-Men in a harrowing situation.

John Cassaday still makes me a bit nervous as this book's regular artist as he has never really proven himself capable of delivering a monthly title, and I'd be lying if I didn't have some concerns. However, four issue and he's delivering some lovely art that manage to do a convincing job making one glad he's on board, with his work in the final pages doing a fantastic job of selling the dramatic impact of this character's return. There's also a great jump scare moment where we see the young flying mutant discovers there's no escaping the evil villain that attacked them. My only quibble with the art is that the dialogue boxes from Kitty as she descends through the solid steel should really be thought balloons.

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