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Joss Whedon - "Astonishing X-Men" Comic Book - Mmail.com.my Review

Wednesday 18 January 2006, by Webmaster

WRITTEN by Josh Whedon and illustrated by John Cassaday (with some stunning colour work by Laura Martin), Astonishing X-Men emerged from the wake of Grant Morrison’s celebrated run on New X-Men to be one of the more interesting comics by Marvel.

If you haven’t picked up the book or any of the trades yet but want a quick way of getting up to speed on the stories, then this book is for you.

It summaries the entire one year run of Whedon-Cassaday into 48 pages and primes you for their next run which is due to begin shortly.

The 12-issue run can be broken up into two major story arcs.

At the end of Morrison’s run, Jean Grey had died (again). Scott Summers (a.k.a. Cyclops) had begun a relationship with fellow X-Man Emma Frost and together they run the school while Prof X departs to Genosha.

Astonishing picks up where New X-Men left off. And there are spoilers in this summary review.

Cyclops and Emma are well into their relationship. Wolverine is grieving over Jean’s death.

Kitty Pryde returns to the Mansion to help teach a new generation of mutants. And life goes on.

But, as always, trouble dogs the X-Men. Just as things begin to settle down, news of a ‘cure’ for the mutant gene surfaces.

A world-renowned geneticist, Doctor Kavita Rao, had attempted to cure the deadly Legacy Virus plague.

While she failed in that quest, her continued research at Benetech Labs hit the mark and she discovered a ‘cure’ for the mutant gene.

Upon learning of the news, the X-Men found themselves in a tough spot, and had to figure out how to respond to Rao’s discovery.

While the X-Men regrouped, about 1,600 mutants began lining up outside the Benetech hq to demand the cure.

Rao gave the Beast a sample of the cure to tests its validity, which put him in a tough moral spot as he was in conflict as to if he should use it on himself or not.

However, when Beast’s investigation revealed that the cure was developed from a sample of a gene of a dead or thought-to-be dead X-Man, the team heads over to Benetech to question Rao.

There, they are confronted by an alien warrior named Ord who has been backing Rao’s plans to suit his own ends. And the arc ends with the return of Colossus.

It was revealed that after his death, his corpse was stolen and reanimated to facilitate his use as a guinea pig in an underground mutant research complex associated with the mysterious alien, Ord. Rescued, Colossus has since been added to the team line-up.

The second arc deals with the now sentient Danger Room, and ‘her’ attempts at killing the X-Men and her ‘father’ Prof. X.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, The Danger Room is a training facility built for the X-Men.

After befriending the Shi’ar the X-Men rebuilt the Danger Room with Shiar hard-light holographic technology. These upgrades were largely added by Henry McCoy (Beast).

The story-arc ended with a rather disturbing revelation about Prof X, which shook the trust his X-Men had in him.

Now, like I said, if you’re looking for a quick way of coming up to speed, then this book is it.

But I don’t recommend it. Because, when it comes to Astonishing X-Men, it’s not just the story, but also the telling of the story.

You lose all that great character moments and nuances that the creative team infused into the comic if you just read the ‘summary’ version of the story.

For example, the sentient Danger Room story, on the surface, doesn’t look very original. But what makes it outstanding is the telling of it, as the creative team tells a highly entertaining moral play about how far should one go in suppressing the rights of some for the greater good of others.