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Joss Whedon

Joss Whedon - "Astonishing X-Men" Comic Book - Issue 13 - Silverbulletcomicbooks.com Review

Monday 27 February 2006, by Webmaster

"Torn"—Part One

Writer: Joss Whedon

Artists: John Cassaday, Laura Martin(c)

Publisher: Marvel

Astonishing X-Men earns five bullets because the story offers a rich tapestry of characterization that does not function to distance the characters from the reader. Instead, the reader likes these characters. The reader laughs with these characters not at them. The reader feels something for each of them.

Whedon’s dialogue lends a smart believability to the situations. The super-hero stuff is science fiction. The emotion is real. Kitty’s attraction to the recently returned from the "dead" Peter Rasputin is given dignity. Whedon approaches their attraction as realistic and optimistic.

Whedon gets that Wolverine while being a badass is also a source for comedy. His behavior is so unlike reality but works so well for him within the story’s context that it provides humorous moments that contrast the basis to the new storyarc, the potential betrayal of the X-Men by Emma Frost—the former White Queen of the Hellfire Club.

Most important is that Whedon creates a story that requires no previous history with the characters. He lays out exactly what’s going on but through subtle dialogue and situations. He lets the photorealistic artwork of John Cassaday provide commentary and give the reader the opportunity for interpretation. Many scenes are wordless but filled with meaning. Others leave the meaning wide open. Does Emma attack Kitty’s mind because she loathes her and is after all a villain, or is she attacking Kitty because she believes she hates and because she’s trying to work up the will to revert back to what she was?

Whedon brings back SWORD an organization he introduced in his premiere storyarc and appeared to forgot about in his last storyarc—if it was indeed his writing that produced the awful X-Men vs. Robot of a Star Trek Holodeck Gone Amok Plot. Again, there’s no need to read previous issues to understand what’s going on. The conflict between SWORD and SHIELD is self-evident. Even had you never heard of these organizations, you would know that something big because of the presentation is happening, and SHIELD cannot see it. You can even distinguish them by color. SHIELD wears the blue. SWORD wears the green. It’s on the surface very black and white, but within that surface are nuances and eddies of cleverness that would escape most writers’ abilities.

Perhaps best what sums up Whedon’s level of skill is the moment in which he turns a super-hero cliché one-hundred-and-eighty degrees: "You can’t see the big picture from this far down."

How often have we heard pretentious street super-heroes make some sort of claim that while you look at the big picture, the small picture escapes your notice? Whedon turns it all around, as he so often does.