Monday, August 5, 2013

Astonishing X-men #1

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[Before I begin, I want to apologize for some of the blurriness in these scans. Judging by the ginormous ink smudge on one of the pages, I didn't get the best printing of this issue.]

We start with Magneto once again calling together his people to send them on missions they may not return from. The X-men don't really see a difference between this and every other mission they've been on in this dangerous world.  The title of the issue is "Once More With Feeling." Beyond making me think of Buffy, I can't really see why they chose that name.  Banshee makes his first appearance in the Age of Apocalypse in this issue on page 3. And then is never seen again for the rest of it.

Their meeting is interrupted by Blink teleporting in with Sunfire. She's chided for doing so, as they were being followed by one of Apocalypse's minions which means she could have revealed their location. But Sunfire is in really bad shape, so she didn't have too much of a choice. We see that these X-men are a pretty good team as Storm, Magneto and Iceman all work to keep Sunfire from burning out and hurting them all, and then Blink cuts the minion Delgado in half as she closes the portal on him. Unfortunately, the damage is already done and now Apocalypse does in fact know their location.

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He also likes to hang around a pile of human skulls because it soothes him. They really couldn't have made him any more evil if they tried.

Gambit has still not left the mansion since his appearance in X-men Alpha, despite already being given his assignment to go find the M'Kraan Crystal. See, he's got to flirt with Rogue first. In contrast to how things looked in X-men Chronicles #2, this Rogue clearly as feelings for Remy still, and very nearly gives in to his request for a kiss until Blink comes along to interrupt them.
 
Magneto and Nightcrawler have a conversation that seems to exist solely to get you to buy the other issues available this month. Seriously, check out all those asterisks:

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After Magneto once again tells us that he's forever changed because of Xavier's death, we cut to Quicksilver catching Rogue taking a team with her to intercept Apocalypse's plan to slaughter a bunch of humans. There's this great moment where Magneto walks up, and Pietro thinks it is his father giving him a sweet goodbye...

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but it's really Morph.

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This kind of humor was what Lobdell always excelled at back then, and it's great to see him get to write this character. I also like that they deliberately point out that this is in fact the same character as the Changeling.

As Rogue and her team leave, Bishop wonders aloud why these people would so willingly sacrifice their lives on such a dangerous mission. Quicksilver assures him that even though this world may be "wrong" it is still theirs and they're willing to die for it if necessary. Bishop quietly responds to himself that he thinks the Professor would be proud.

Still so much set up and not a whole lot of actual story, but there's definitely some great character moments here. It's the kind of set up that leaves me wanting more without feeling cheated. And since you may not read every single one shot and series out there, they have to keep covering their ground with these intros. Though I admit I'll be very happy once I get out of #1 issue territory.

5 comments:

  1. +JMJ+

    I remember this one, too! Your recap highlights something I hadn't considered before. In our world/timeline, the X-men are described as protecting those who fear and want to destroy them. The rest of us only seem to have our act together, not understanding that if they vanished, we'd have . . . oh, I don't know . . . an age of apocalypse or something. =P

    On the other hand, in this dystopian world/timeline, the civilisation which the X-men were once protecting is gone; so now they are ordinary citizens of the world fighting for their home, just like everyone else. Perhaps they are still mistrusted by regular humans, but now there's no way for the latter to ostracise them. Same mission, different world.

    It was striking for me this time around, because I understand their heroism in the original world/timeline better than their heroism in this alternative one. Once everything goes to hell, I'm kind of the sort who says, "Oh, well. We tried," and then graciously lets the winners party. The idea that the X-men have such a sense of mission and responsibility that they would just keep doing what they do, no matter what, is quite inspiring!

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    1. It's also worth noting that in this reality, humans have every right to fear mutants! :) Though I think in the absence of heroes like Captain America, Iron Man, etc. the humans seem to have realized that the X-men are the good guys. At least I don't remember seeing any moments where they reject their help.

      But you're right, these X-men being willing to fight despite their very small chance of succeeding makes them incredibly brave. I think I would just be worrying about surviving and not trying to stop Apocalypse.

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    2. Do they ever actually say what happened to the other heroes, or are they just written off as dead and never mentioned beyond that?

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    3. The two issue X-Universe series serves that purpose exactly. Captain America doesn't show up, but I'm guessing the idea with him is that he's still frozen in the arctic.

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  2. This is a good issue. You're right that not a whole lot actually happens beyond setup, but they break it into nice nuggets which set a steady momentum in how everything is revealed. It's also written in a way that follows up Alpha while still being a good starting point for those who haven't read it (unlike Generation Next), as we get little bits of character that quickly established who they are. Morph is the goof, Sunfire the noble dying warrior, Rogue and Gambit still have a thing but she's made her choice, Quicksilver is dedicated but has doubts, Sabretooth is atoning for his past. Most interesting is Blink, who seems like the new plucky teen audience proxy, but then she straight up kills a dude, then judgmentally ruins a moment between Rogue and Gambit. It's an interesting character.

    Aside from a couple clunky lines, I really like what Lobdell does here. And Joe Madureira's art is gorgeous. He was always one of my favorites of the exaggerated Image artists, bringing a nice bit of manga influence and cartoony stylization to things, but not pushing it so far as to look silly. If you've never read his series Battle Chasers, I highly recommend it.

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