Comic: "Astonishing X-Men"
Published by: Marvel Comics
Written by: Joss Whedon
Artist: John Cassaday

Reviewer: Protoclown
Posted: 3/10/2008

Plot: Joss Whedon breathes new life into the X-Men in a 24-issue series featuring a stripped-down core team of classic X-Men fighting memorable villains, some old, mostly new.

Review: For fans of Joss Whedon it should come as no surprise that he's written the best X-Men story to come out in a damned long time (sorry, Grant Morrison fans). One of the problems that plagues the near infinite number of X-Men titles is that there are just too damn many characters for anybody to get a chance to shine. And most writers tend to overuse the same characters anyway and neglect others, but Whedon balances his team extremely well. His team consists of Cyclops, Emma Frost, Beast, Wolverine, Shadowcat, and Colossus, and eventually new X-Man Armor.

Whedon's gift for dialog serves him very well here, and he even makes characters who are usually boring like Cyclops interesting, which is something that can't be said for most X-Men writers. The dialog between team members just pops off the page, full of wit and humor. The X-Men have never been more fun to read, and he seems to understand the team and what makes them click better than anyone.

And before you shake your head in disgust at yet another book featuring Wolverine, I would like to emphasize that Whedon does what few writers manage but all of them should: using him sparingly. Wolverine gets tiresome when he's at the forefront of every splashpage charge, but Whedon refrains from giving him center stage until the story really needs it, and some of his scenes have been the funniest in the book.

Whedon has also introduced some compelling new villains, most of whom will probably be forgotten in years to come, but Danger will probably become a permanent fixture in the X-Men corner of the Marvel universe.

And some people have complained about the delays caused by John Cassaday's beautifully composed artwork, but now that the series is almost over it's easy to forgive that when you see the finished product. "Elegant" is probably the best word I can think of to describe his linework. It is crisp and clean and detailed at the same time; not a single line is wasted.

If you've stayed away from the X-Men for years because of muddled storylines and crappy writing, this is the series for you. And the best part is it's a standalone story not mired in normal Marvel continuity, so you can pick it up and understand it completely without having to read a million other Marvel titles.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeWhole
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

You'll thank me later...
Mar 10th, 2008, 12:49 PM
I've got to agree, Joss did the absolute best he could with what the mess X-Continuity has become, with all the stupid ideas and piss poor "plot" in the last 15 years or so. This isn't the end all be all, but this is absolutely readable, even enjoyable, which is something I haven't been able to say about the X-men in a long time.
Mar 10th, 2008, 12:56 PM
Looks like I'll be picking up an X-Men comic?

Did I just say that?
Radio Ninja
Mar 10th, 2008, 01:00 PM
Is this the series where Kitty has an orgasm and falls through the floor into the X-mansion living room?? When I heard about that I said..."Looks like I picked the wrong decade to quit reading X-Men."
The Moxie Nerve Food Tonic
Mar 10th, 2008, 01:11 PM
Yeah, this run had a ton of memorable moments. Whedons pacing and dialogue are honed to perfection by his years of TV work. Each arc is like a Buffy or Angel season and I totally agree with Proto that Wolverine (and for that matter, each character) gets held in reserve until they are what's needed to balance the moment. He measures each players strengths not just in terms of superpowers, but in diction, wit, timing, who they click with and who they hate. He's the perfect script writer for a team book in that he treats them like an acting ensemble.

In this day and age, with all the money at the disposal of the big companies, there is just no damn excuse for not having this kind of quality more often. I guess you can make the same complaint with TV and movies, all that talent out there and they just shovel crap at you, but it makes me sad.

This wasn't ground breaking stuff like "Watchmen" or "Dark Knight", but that's not what it tried to be. It's just good, solid comics, what ought to be the damn baseline of the form, not miraculous home run.
Mar 10th, 2008, 05:03 PM
I'll wait for the compilation(s) which, knowing the comic industry, will be out a few weeks after the last issue.
Ordinary Blogger
Mar 10th, 2008, 07:43 PM
I miss FireFly
Mar 11th, 2008, 01:05 AM
Looks like one to add to the list. He's a good bloke, that Whedon.
Mar 11th, 2008, 09:50 AM
Whedon done the impossible and made me actually give a damn about the X-men, especially with the way he messes with Wolverine. I've read a few issues and I'm actually looking forwards to reading the entire series.
is hopped up on goofballs
Mar 11th, 2008, 11:27 AM
Let me the first to say: Meh, Whedon.
That guy...
Mar 11th, 2008, 03:58 PM
I like beer.

Mar 14th, 2008, 02:46 AM
I refuse to believe there is such a thing as a decent X-Men comic.
Forum Virgin
Mar 15th, 2008, 03:31 AM
I didn't like the Danger retcon. Otherwise, good.