Comic: "Astonishing X-Men"
Published by: Marvel Comics
Written by: Joss Whedon
Artist: John Cassaday
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.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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