Astonishing X-Men

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It's been about 15 years since I've read comic books. Back in the day, I used to read the various X-Men books faithfully. It was a little easier then-- there were only four: Uncanny X-Men, The New Mutants, Excalibur, and X-Factor. Since then mutants have become Marvel's own suburban sprawl. Apparently since I've been gone Jean Grey has died (again!), Colossus "died", Magneto took over Xavier's school, then went evil, then went undercover at the school, then attacked Manhattan, and now Emma Frost is not only running the school but is swapping bodily fluids with Cyclops.

15 years is apparently a very long time.

The only reason I know all this is because I heard that Buffy and Firefly creator Joss Whedon has the reins of a new X-Men series, and that it was getting incredible buzz. I just finished the first six issues of Astonishing X-Men, and all I can say is... wow. The man is good. He's really nailed it. The characterizations are all spot-on perfect. Particularly delightful is Kitty Pryde, who's apparently grown up now and on the senior staff of the school. Kitty is a character who's been grossly mishandled in the past (her ninjafication in the Kitty Pryde and Wolverine mini-series being the most striking example), but Whedon understands and respects the character's roots. The dialogue has the same great touches and pop awareness we've come to expect from Whedon-- when Kitty shows up late to an assembly on the first day of school, she asks if she's missed the sorting hat-- and the scripting devotes more time to character development than pyrotechnics. These X-Men are far more "real" than any incarnation I've seen before. The books read like one of Whedon's television shows, with characters exploring their relationships and wrestling with who they are and what they represent.

The artwork is also rich, vibrant, and appealing, making the product as a whole some of the best superhero work I can recall. If you're a comics reader, or if you used to be, Astonishing X-Men is well worth your time. Borrow the back issues from somewhere and check it out.

5 Comments

Not too long ago I found the old X-Men had been put into a book-ish format, allowing me to re-read the stories I had grown up with. They are on plain, thin, black and white paper, but I still enjoyed reading them again. They are available at Amazon if you are interested.

But, the real reason for this post... Check THIS $10 deal out:

http://www.hsn.com/cnt/prod/default.aspx?webp_id=1353656&web_id=1353656&sz=0&sf=&dept=&cat=&subcat=&gs=&attr=&ocm=sekw

ok Pete, I looked around that forum... and got lost. Do you have a direct link to a post about Astonishing X-Men?

I found them for sale at $2.99 here if anyone cares:

http://www.popcultureshock.com/reviews.php?id=3038

I've been waiting for years for someone to handle Kitty Pryde correctly. I'm always astonished at how badly Claremont writes her -- I'd think he'd write Kitty better than anyone, but he just gave her a lot of leather and tattoos. Claremont also came up with the worst power trick I've ever seen: "I'll phase us and the world will spin around us and immediately we'll be at the exact location we need to be!" Uh huh....

So why can Joss write Kitty so much better than her own creator? Because he's been writing her for 7 years: Buffy is partially based on Shadowcat (see http://www.scifi.com/scifiwire/art-main.html?2004-02/27/09.00.books). And, also, better dialog.

The one big complaint I've been seeing is that the Astonishing X-Men aren't "cutting edge" like the Grant Morrision run. Honestly, do we need our superhero comics to be always pushing every single boundry? I like having a basic X-Men book where the characters are believable, the dialog is fun, and the plot is interesting. For cutting edge, I can read Powers.

Larry: I updated the link to point to the tracker instead of the forum. Search for "Astonishing X-Men".

Debbie: As far as stupid power tricks go, I've always had a problem with Kitty's phasing to begin with. When she phases, her molecules just pass through solid matter. So how does she get any kind of friction to propel herself forward? Standing in place makes and not falling through the ground makes sense, if she has 0 mass when she phases. But phasing and then controlling her motion-- especially something like dropping over 100 feet straight down through solid metal-- requires that we not examine the whole superpowers thing too closely. If I recall correctly, the official explanation is that it's all done with magnetic fields, which is why she disrupts electronics. Whatever.

Thanks - I'm grabbing some stuff now - can't wait to see it!

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