Current Reviews


Astonishing X-Men #15

Posted: Monday, June 26, 2006
By: Mark J. Hayman

Writer: Joss Whedon
Artists: John Cassaday, Laura Martin (colors)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Bam! Sock! Pow! What do you mean no action? Not that every single panel explodes off the page, but the Joss'n'John show provide more visceral stimulation in one book than nearly the entire previous story arc (and the first two issues of this one...), with more to come. "Kitty Unleashed" might be a pun of an oxymoron, but it's shaping up to be the working title of #16. Or, she'll arrive on the last page, ready to start mopping up. Whatever the case it's rewarding to see that the Jay Boyz can deliver the action when they dang well feel like it. And if you don't appreciate young, strong, courageous, and generally beautiful female protaganists, you wouldn't be reading a Whedon book.

The Hellfire Club have struck, Emma has revealed herself as a traitor (just like Kitty'n'me always knew she would), and the Astonishing Ones are down and/or out. That's hardly a spoiler if you've read the last two issues; it was gonna happen. I mean, that was the whole point. That the team would take it in the teeth was a foregone conclusion; the H-Club have maybe the first and third most powerful telepaths on the planet, and the creepy Goth Chick has her psychic mojo up and running (speaking of whom, is it officially "Negasonic" or "Nagasonic" Teenage Warhead? The former evokes images of impending doom while the latter is, if I'm not too mistaken, a cut-rate producer of consumer electronics). Peter getting to face off against Sebastian Shaw is a pure fanboy moment, alas with predictable results. Until now I didn't know that Pete bled metal, unless what's running from his snoot ain't blood, in which case you'd want to give Colossus a wide berth if his sinuses start acting up. I was slightly confused about Shaw's injuries; if Pete can pound him hard enough to bust up his face, why not hard enough to have to scrape him off the wall? Oh well, dramatic license and all that. The only player still to be heard from is the mysterious "Perfection", though she does offer a gloomy one liner toward the end.

Beastifying Hank is kind of a no-brainer (nyuk, nyuk, nyuk), but Cassandra Nova's scrambling of Wolverine's marbles made us smirk a lot. It hearkens back to Capt. Picard's warning to Logan about smoking in the Cerebro chamber in the first X-Movie. As Whedon wrote an early draft of that screenplay, some of which is rumoured to have made its way into the film (hint: the big fight scene at the end), it's possible that he was reclaiming his own joke. I didn't really dig the "proper English schoolboy" bit, it might have seemed funny at the time but reverting Logan back to his own early childhood could have provided an opportunity for pathos as well as humour. There's been discussion as to the nature of Scott's powers - which aren't related to the workings of his deeper psyche - but it's all fantasy, so we'll let Whedon take another license so long as he doesn't do it again. Remind us not to make Hisako angry, you wouldn't like her when she's angry. Instead of Tron-esque psychic armour she goes all giant, red Go-Bot, setting her up as a major player-to-be if she lives long enough to graduate.

Goth Chick's attack on Kitty brings up the always troubling question of the nature of Kitty's powers. She sinks because she has mass and is affected by gravity. If this is the case, it should always be so, meaning that every single time Kitty becomes sufficiently intangible to pass through (any) surface, she should immediately begin to sink. It's been made clear that it takes considerably more effort to "climb up" through matter, such as steel or rock, and is dependent in part upon her ability to hold her breath (well, to keep her system oxygenated); she has what appears to be a long climb ahead of her, including an ascent through a magma pocket, so it might be at least an issue before she shows up to save the day. She will, though; my faith in and affection for Kitty appears second only to Whedon's (and perhaps Cassaday's).

Possibly evil Agent Brand continues to, I guess, plan for the disposition of the yet-to-be-revealed Mutant Destroyer Of Worlds. Dunno who was chatting up Ord; it looked like Danger but that'd be very, very silly. Probably a resurrected Morrison creation who may or may not play a role as the story rolls along. All we know is that a posse from the Breakworld are on their way to bust them up some mutants, and that SWORD's unidentified mole is still active within the X-Mansion.

Fun, violent, silly, creepy, and drenched with foreshadowing. Gorgeously illustrated, 'natch. The first Astonishing issue (in, what, years? that has me actually looking forward to the next one.

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