Saturday, August 17, 2013

Astonishing X-men #2


Rogue, Sunfire, Morph, Sabretooth (with Wild Child over his shoulder), and Blink are all in Chicago trying to save the humans there from being killed by Holocaust's impending attack. The humans are panicked and fleeing, and things are made worse when suddenly Sunfire loses control and starts flaming out in front of them all. Rogue is forced to absorb his powers to calm him down, and in doing so she views his memories of a time when Apocalypse killed his friends and family while Nemesis held him back. Nemesis being Holocaust's former identity.

The above is a perfect example of how the comic medium can be used so well to call up emotion in the reader.

Meanwhile, Blink and Sabretooth are off alone and discussing their own plan. In order to give everyone the best chance, Victor wants Blink to send him directly to where Holocaust is now so he can take him on and slow him down. He fully accepts that it is a suicide mission. Blink initially balks at this, unable to see her mentor go. This moment is very sweet and touching, and it's a sharp contrast to the psychopathic killer we're used to seeing in the main timeline. They were clearly trying to suggest that in different times Victor could be very similar to Wolverine, though I have to admit it's a little hard to believe that this guy is one and the same. Still, it's a well executed moment. Rogue tries to stop their plan but Blink temporarily subdues her and sends Victor off.

He and Wild Child are transported to Indianapolis, directly in front of Holocaust. Holocaust plays the role of a James Bond villain expertly by revealing to Victor where his Infinite processing plant is – i.e. the place where they create the soldiers who serve Apocalypse - because he's confident that Sabretooth will be dead soon anyway. However what he didn't realize is that Wild Child is not quite as wild as his name suggests, and Victor sends him off hurriedly to spread that bit of news. Why Holocaust doesn't run after him but instead sticks around to fight Sabretooth, we'll never know. Regardless the two of them duke it out, and reveal that it was Magneto who put Holocaust into his current state as revenge for killing the Scarlet Witch. Sabretooth tries to rip the head off his containment unit, but apparently that doesn't work very well to hurt him and instead he ends up beaten on the ground unconscious while Holocaust moves on to Chicago.

Back in New York, Bishop asks why Magneto isn't out there with his followers. He holds the baby Charles in his arms and explains to Bishop that if he must destroy this world as Bishop suggests, than he should be allowed this night to say goodbye to his son. Not far away, Apocalypse has located Magneto's current location and proudly announces that he is coming for him himself.

Say what you will about Scott Lobdell as a writer these days, but there were definitely times in the 90s where he really was fantastic at character moments, and this is one of them. Rogue and Shiro, Victor and Blink, and Magneto and Bishop all have really strong moments together here, and credit must also be given to Joe Maduriera's art as well for helping to convey that emotion. All around just a good, solid issue, and while some of the other series in this event seem to be specializing in weirdness, Astonishing seems to be holding on to what the X-men are all about, regardless of the reality they are in.


  1. +JMJ+

    What I found most memorable in this issue was Erik's moment with his sleeping son.

    That's an interesting point about Sabretooth becoming the Wolverine figure in this reality--a twist that redeems him a bit. Of course, Wolverine himself is still very much in character, which is an even better sign for him as a character. Would you say that most people's essential natures have stayed the same, despite some changes due to different circumstances?

    1. I think most of them do seem pretty true to their natures, which is why the few of them who are very off are so disappointing.

    2. +JMJ+

      But so far, is there a dramatic difference that you are buying?

      (I'm thinking of Heroes Season 1 in which an alternate reality is shown, and someone who is a villain in the main reality is one of the good guys in the other world. That twist is never explored beyond that short glimpse, but I think the acting totally sold it. And now it's one of the most haunting moments in the entire show. Now that I'm thinking about it, though, I wonder whether an attempt to explain it, in order to sell it better, would have only made it seem off.)

    3. I'd say Havok's turn to villainy makes sense given the environment he's been in. Beast also works, though we never get any explanation of how he turned up "on the dark side" to begin with. There aren't too many villains on the side of good (besides Magneto himself, of course, but he's had moments of heroism in the normal continuity so it's already believable) besides Sabretooth, and I never feel like we get enough history to explain why he's so much more calm and rational here.

  2. So, remember how I said I had yet to read a single story by Scott Lobdell I've enjoyed?


    ... I stand corrected. :)

    This is a really damn solid issue, with powerful character moments and a driving momentum, and Madureira's art is captivating and exciting. I especially love Sabertooth's moment of victory, followed by him not realizing he actually lost. My jaw was on the floor.

    1. See? I'm not saying he's perfect, but he had some pretty good moments back then! :)


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