Editor's Note: Astonishing X-Men #27 arrives in stores tomorrow, October 15.
With a strange mystery brewing on the edges of the X-Universe, the X-Men must turn to S.W.O.R.D. to determine what new toy they have found. Both of their subjects of interest are dead, with only a vial of blood and the mysterious Ghost Box to answer their many questions about what has been happening in San Francisco. (With small-ads like that I could write summaries for Marvel!)
Honestly, this book kept me engaged with the mystery throughout the issue. Warren Ellis does a good job of delivering enough storyline to keep you interested while also delivering some fun characterizations that pull you out to remind you that there is more going on in the X-Men than just this one storyline.
Clearly, Ellis has a fondness for three of the big names: Cyclops, Wolverine and Beast. He knows exactly how to write them, and it reminds me of some of the old stories I used to read as a kid. They jab at one another, and carry on like old buddies. This gets played a little much at times, which detracts from the story a little; however, I would rather have too much of the comraderie than ignore the past entirely. Ellis even has some fun reminiscing about the X-Men's simpler times and points out to the reader how much more complicated the world is for our merry mutants.
Ellis also seems fond of Agent Brand, with the animosity between her and Emma still present. The pointed commentary about the Beast and Brand relationship is a good one, and could be a metaphor for any number of topics regarding sexuality that are regularly taboo in mainstream comics. However, even though I am rather liberal about the contents of my comics, I felt that the "Oh they are having sex" card was played a few too many times in this book. My feeling is mentioning it once would be sufficient to make the point if done correctly.
The story evolves naturally, and I am tentative to reveal too much about it, as I think that some of the power of the story is that you really do not have a clue what is going on, but you are piecing it together as a reader. It almost feels like you are one of the X-Men in the room. It feels like the reader is the unspoken team member who is along for the ride. That is my favourite type of team book storytelling style. There is a major leap of logic near the end of the book that I did not quite follow after even the second reading, so I am unsure if I am missing something in the book, or it will be covered in future issues. The conclusions that Beast draws at the end of the book seem kind of like a big leap from fact to deduction.
The art is really hit and miss. I actually like a lot of Bianchi's style, but my feeling is that he needs more time to truly deliver it. There are moments where it is hard to tell the difference between Emma and Storm. Armor was all but unrecognizable throughout most of the book. There are some serious size problems, with Beast ranging from being shorter than Cyclops to being quite a bit taller. Further perspective problems can be seen with Wolverine's claws being well over a foot long. In fact, looking at it now, the only character that is consistently drawn is Wolverine.
With this being said, there are some amazing panels in this book. The "secret area" in China is gorgeous, and makes me want to have an oversized print of it. Kudos to Bianchi and his team for producing a great effect.
This book is solid, but not outstanding. I am interested to see where the story goes.
What did you think of this book?
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