Zilla and the Comics Junkies

Monday, July 18, 2005

Astonishing X-Men V1: Gifted

Since I've started reading comics again - I've seemed to mostly enjoy all the good "non-mainstream-superhero" books. The Goon, Hellboy, Usagi Yojimbo, Samurai Heaven and Earth, Powers (loosely qualifies), Conan, The Walking Dead. Sure i picked up Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate X-Men, and i'm desperately trying to get into The Incredible Hulk, but there aren't really any superhero books that "knock my socks off". I picked up the Ultimates and really dug on that, and was referred to Astonishing X-Men. I've had it in my stack for a while and finally got around to reading the first Astonishing X-Men TPB: Gifted (Whedon/Cassaday).

Astonishing X-Men takes place at the X-Men school during Prof X's sabbatical. Scott Summers and Emma Frost have put together a rebooted squad (Wolverine, Kitty Pryde, and Beast to begin with), and are attempting to reinvent the X-Men image as superheros and not just protectors of Mutant interests. A bombshell drops when a colleague of Dr. McCoy's (with the help of technology provided by an Alien named Ord from the Breakworld with some pretty cool alterior motives i won't give away) discovers a "cure" for the Mutant "disease". Near full-scale riots break out in the X-school and across the world as the news spreads - Mutants unhappy with their "gift" and desperate to be "normal" (man i've used a lot of quotes in the last 2 sentences) are becoming more and more runted and vocal. Even Hank McCoy (who we know has always struggled w/ his mutations) begins to ponder whether or not he would rather be "human" than the Beast. McCoy obtains a sample of the cure and discovers that a familiar mutant DNA is being used to create it... and we know the X-Men cannot stand for cruel scientific experimentation on Mutantkind. It's now officially "on".

In an attempt to learn more about this cure and the people/motivations behind it, the revamped X-team storm the labs where the cure is being created/studied, and find out some very interesting news (let's just say S.H.I.E.L.D and W.O.R.L.D are involved). Additionally - we discover (hype!) that the believed-to-be-dead-after-saving-the-world-from-the-legacy-virus Colossus is one of the Mutants undergoing experimentation. I love me some Colossus so i was happy to see Whedon hook this up (even though it was impossible not to have heard this news before reading this so it wasn't much of a surprise).

Ok - some overall thoughts: Whedon has done a pretty good job with the story so far. This really was a good arc (one of the best superhero arcs i've read since i've been back), and i'm especially pleased w/ the way he handled McCoy's inner turmoil about using the cure on himself, the relationship between Ord and the Breakworld, S.H.I.E.L.D and W.O.R.L.D, and Colossus' rebirth (and subsequent reunion w/ Kitty Pryde). I do get the feeling though (and i know a lot of people out there agree w/ me) that this is another case of Marvel "playing to the trade". We definitely could have told this story in 3 or so issues. Additionally, the whole "bringing the team back to repair the X-Men image" felt a bit hokey at first (Scott Summers and his plans usually do to me), but eventually we learn that there may have been an alternative reason for the reformation. Marvel chose a pretty good (albeit slimmed down) squad of X-Men for this title - and the late addition of Colossus rounded it out pretty well IMO. Ord is a decent villian and Dr. Rao (McCoy's scientist colleague) is solid and adds a genuine, believable "human" touch to the story.

Cassaday's art isn't really anything to run down the street naked about - but it's certainly not bad either. It works for the title and I don't have any problems w/ it (even though i'm not a huge fan of the overly squat Wolverine, but on the other hand he does draw a great Beast). The new X-Men uniforms are decent in most cases (Beasts lower-half only suit is the best of the bunch IMO), but i seriously think Wolverine's age-old digs are in need of a reboot. Cassaday draws action pretty well (something i always look for) and there's an awesome scene toward the end where Colossus dwarf tosses Wolverine (sounds beat i know but give it a chance - it really works out cool).

I've been looking for an X-book worth the cost of admission (still on the fence about Ultimate BTW) and i think i've found it. For now. There's a lot of potential to this story since the Mutant "cure" is still out there (great cliffhanger), and the creative team is solid. Hopefully this title only gets better in the 2nd trade (and beyond). B+.


18 July, 2005 12:50, Blogger Christopher Green said...

What's the Canadian cover price fo the trade?

18 July, 2005 14:12, Blogger zilla said...

24.00! But it's $11US and change at visioncomix.com (they take paypal) and only $8US at www.instocktrades.com (love them).

18 July, 2005 14:26, Blogger Christopher Green said...

Thing with ordering traqdes online, is even if the U.S. price gets knocked down, despite the fact that the Canadian dollar isn't that far behind the U.S. dollar anymore (only about 20 cents difference), they make up for it with ridiculous shipping prices. In the end I'd end up paying almost the same price as if I just got my comic shop to order it in.

18 July, 2005 14:42, Blogger zilla said...

that blows man - i can't imagine having to pay that much - i'd be forced into being REALLY choosey. at instocktrades.com (w/ their free shipping over $50US) i can get like 6 books for 50 bucks.

19 July, 2005 02:45, Blogger Christopher Green said...

That's cool. I have no idea when I'll ever be able able to afford trades though.

19 July, 2005 09:34, Blogger Ryan X said...

Zilla, would you recommend this TPB as a jumping on point for someone wanting to get into X-men long term? My fondest childhood memories revolve around the X-Men although I have yet to break back into them since my return.

19 July, 2005 09:36, Blogger zilla said...

that's exactly what i'm using it for. this trade starts at #1 of AXM and it's kind of a "reboot" so you can jump right in. highly recommended x-book (best out right now by far).


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In no particular order:

Criminal, The Goon, Daredevil, Exterminators, Punisher, Hellboy/B.P.R.D (All), Powers, Godland, Usagi Yojimbo, The Walking Dead, Invincible, Conan, Ex Machina, DMZ, Desolation Jones, Fell, 100 Bullets, All-Star Superman, Ultimates 2, Loveless, and Fear Agent.

I'm recently back reading after a 15 year comics hiatus.

Zilla is not my real name.

I'm from Tejas living in VA. I'm married w/ 2 dogs. I'm an IT security consultant cranking the wheel for a big consulting firm in "real" life.

I watch the History Channel, Nat'l Geo, TLC, Mil Channel, ESPN and NFL Network, CourtTV (forensic files, etc.) and the Cartoon Network (love Genndy T's Samurai Jack and Clone Wars Adventures). My taste in movies: Gladiator, Last Samurai, Braveheart, Godfather, Tarantino (whatever), Kung-Fu (whatever), Westerns, Top Gun, Big Lebowski.

I love the outdoors and bs'ing around w/ my dogs.

In addition to being a comics junkie, i'm also a sports junkie especially when it comes to the Texas Longhorns and the Dallas Cowboys.

Blog contents copyright © 2005 Rod Wetsel