Comic Book Review: Astonishing X-Men #1


I remember what the last Astonishing X-Men book was about, and it was definitely one of the more obscure of the X-books. When they announced that there would be another Astonishing X-Men ongoing, this grabbed my attention because the story could be about anything, as well as the roster of mutants involved. I must say I am impressed by the X-Men they chose for this book. Psylocke, Logan, Bishop, Archangel, Fantomex, Gambit and Rogue? It would have to be one heck of a threat to bring a team like this together.

From the start of this issue I’m glad they took the time to address just what would bring these mutants together on the same team. I look at these X-Men and even though I’m not caught up with all of them I know that they would not all so willingly work together unless there was a good reason. Luckily they did not treat us like we are dumb either because it would be quite the slap in the face to simply roll with the idea that this would work without proper motivation. While bringing them together it is welcoming that there was a little room to sum up what you need to know about these guys. Some of their deals are obvious, though you can’t assume readers know what’s up with characters like Fantomex or Bishop. I would say Bishop in particular since most would think he died off long ago during some event you probably don’t even remember.

The dynamic is rough, but there is no doubting the capability of these X-Men when they are working together. Some of them pull off some appealing combinations. Though it is the dialogue between them that you pay more attention to. There’s some fun interactions that you miss from some of them together again, while others you can tell will be a problem just for their clashing personalities. I was never expecting to see a duo of Gambit and Fantomex, but I think that is something which won’t get old too soon.

This situation dealing with psychics is interesting for the fact that there is a lot you can do in this territory. There is definitely a lot of trouble that can come with the wrong psychic losing control. This may not be your typical mutant problem, but you can’t deny that when it comes to attacking the world’s most powerful minds, that usually means mutants rather than anyone else. For a first issue they did an excellent job of establishing the threat level. The psychic who was under attack wasn’t too obvious, though it was the right person to get everyone’s attention. Especially when finding out the villain behind it all is really the only justification for this book coming into being. I was thinking maybe they would try to create a new villain, though this was just as good since a villain we were bound to come across inevitably.

We have quite the art team for Astonishing X-Men. Rightfully so from flipping to that first page and beyond. Jim Cheung was the right guy for the job here as someone who can handle a story of this scale. A lot goes on from start to finish and these are the books where you need an artist detail oriented who will fully capture the characters, the settings, and at the very least give us some satisfying action. Just from that opening sequence I felt drawn in because of the intensity in these psychics losing control of their powers. Speaking of intensity, this is one of the few times I would even overlook that many inkers involved. They proved to be very necessary to bringing out the depth to these pencils, as well as helping to set the mood and atmosphere during key scenes. It’s hard to argue with what a team of inkers can do when that will not distract you like the idea of more than one penciler with a different style. The colors were also impressive for the way they shined a stunning light on how strong Betsy really is. Certainly the most creative we’ve seen her powers put into action with the aid of some well applied warm colors. It was appreciated that with this said, the colors didn’t overpower the pencils or inks. That aside, it should be said that Bishop looks much better when he is back in his classic attire. It only took some getting used to the way Gambit looks now, considering he looks more western than french.

Around this time you would normally look for that one obscure X-book. From this line-up of X-books I would have said Generation X before this week, but now I would say Astonishing X-Men is that book. Not a bad thing either. Not only do they bring together an unlikely team, but they are brought together to face down one of the most dangerous villains for the X-Men. Their reaction to this person pulling the strong is the same as ours.

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