Pick of the Week

05.26.2004 – Astonishing X-Men #1

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Writer – Joss Whedon
Artist – John Cassaday
Colorist – Laura Martin
Letterer – Chris Eliopoulos

Marvel Comics – $2.99

Again, big surprise right? Yes I love the X-Men. I’m not ashamed. In fact, I’m proud. Having lived through more X-Men reboots than I can count, I have to say each time I get excited and hopeful, and with this recent reboot this month, Astonishing X-Men #1 was the book that had the most buzz, the most excitement.

As you may already know, the creative team on this has quite the resume. Joss Whedon is best known for creating Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the spinoff Angel, and the other not so successful show Firefly. John Cassaday is as close to the rockstar artist in the biz there is. This book, on paper, had all the makings of a winner.

Is it a winner? Well, not out of the gate. The first issue is good. Didn’t knock my socks off, but it was enough to keep me excited. The “back to superhero roots” angle this X-Men reboot has been taking is crystallized with the formal re-opening of the school, under the tutelage of the teaching staff/X-Men team members of Cyclops, Emma Frost, Beast, Wolverine and the newest teacher and returning X-Man, Kitty Pryde. Cyclops reveals his desire to get back into the fray as superheros, Wolverine bitches about the costumes, and by the end of the issue, we have the team in their new uniforms marching out to the latest mutant related crisis.

As I said, this wasn’t a knockout, amazing issue. There are a lot of things I disliked – as great as Cassaday’s art is, I hate the Cyclops skull cap uniform approach; Beast’s uniform looks ridiculous; and (not to pick on Cyke) the magic stick on Ruby Quartz visor just looks stupid. While Whedon is stretching his legs with this medium and characters, the entirety of his script didn’t flow as smoothly as I thought it would. But, its the first issue of a 12 issue arc, so I’m willing to be patient.

What overcame the bad points were the good points, which I can boil down to the following:

– Kitty Pryde – She’s back! She looks normal! She’s not in leather! The first three pages of her return to the mansion were awesome. Further, it seems that the same fondness that Claremont has for this character is carried over to Whedon, as the majority of the best lines from the issue are delivered by Kitty. As a long time Kitty fan, this issue in this regard, was like a breath of fresh air after not breathing for years.

– Those last two pages = Excitement. Regardless of the hokeyness of the “back to tights” concept, I can’t say I wasn’t excited at the last few pages. As the team gears up and walks out to the X-jet, it gave me that burst of adrenaline that the X-books have lacked over the past few years.

Now, I don’t normally talk about the books that were almost my pick for the week, but this week was tough. Ultimate X-Men #46 and The Flash #210 were VERY close to toppling Astonishing X-Men #1. Both books were top quality and I strongly encourage them as well.

Ron Richards
Never watched Buffy
E-Mail: ron@ifanboy.com

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Comments

  1. Love the skullcap!

    I really liked ASTONISHING X-MEN, and I agree with Ron, ULTIMATE X-MEN and FLASH were excellent. I myself am glad that I didn’t have to choose a POW this week.

    Truly, Ron Richards is wiser than I.

  2. Yeah…Beast’s costume is awful.

    I’m a big Whedon fan, so this was far and away my favorite this week. The characters are really popping, Kitty is HI-larious (the “stopped to put on clothes” line was great), and it embraces what has gone before (Kitty’s memories, Wolverine/Cyke wrangling) without getting mired in it (we don’t have to know WHY the school was recently destroyed; or where exactly Jean is; or what all the other teams are up to). Really dug Emma’s speech/stunt to the students. And the last few pages build more momentum/excitement than the entire run of XTreme and anything Chuck Austen’s written put together.

    My 2nd favorite this week was probably the only other X-Book I really enjoy – Mystique. Pleased to see it is holding up post-Vaughan.

    Flash was good, but I’m also enjoying Ron Marz’s return to Green Lantern (Kyle is Kyle again).

    JLA continues to blow hard.

    Not among this weeks releases, but if you guys haven’t read The Goon yet, do yourself a favor and check it out. Funniest book on the stands these days BY FAR.

  3. http://www.thexaxis.com/astonishingxmen/astonishingxmen1.htm

    This review brings up a good point. It was good, but it wasn’t, “Holy poop on a stick I have to read it next week” good.

    The story seemed so small.

    Morrison could do these huge big big stories and still have the small moments in them. That’s old school Claremont – that’s what the X-Men should be: big big and very personal.

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