The third part of Greg Pak and Mike McKone’s four part story came out this week.

General Information

Title: Astonishing X-Men #46

Author: Greg Pak

Illustrator(s): Mike McKone (art) and Rachelle Rosenberg (color art)

Cover Price: $3.99 US

Premise

This issue reveals the back story of this alternate universe, depicting exactly how the two universes diverged, and then gearing things up for the action in the final chapter.

High Point

Alternate Nightcrawler: Wait, where are they going?
Alternate Emma: Don’t ask.
Alternate Nightcrawler: I already did.
Alternate Emma: They’re going to find that butcher savior. And they’re going to kill him.
Alternate Nightcrawler: Oh. You mean the fun stuff.

Low Point

Now that we know why Cyclops was captured and what Savior wanted in the first place, why was he allowed to even keep his visor in captivity? The way his powers work, taking the visor away helps Savior and restricts Cyclops. Similarly, why were the trophies all kept, particularly the helmets?

The Scores

In a way, this is a very original vision. (Expanding on “in a way” constitutes spoilers and won’t be done in these reviews.) This feels like a fresh X-Men story that fits well following Schism and has to potential to lay down pieces for the upcoming Avengers vs. X-Men event. Despite that, this story feels like it can stand alone as well. I give it 5 out of 6.

The artwork by McKone is great. His experience on Exiles during those fantastic early years serves him well here creating various alternate reality versions of familiar characters. I wonder why the optic blasts are undisrupted by the helmet peak, but that’s a minor quibble. I give it 5 out of 6.

The story holds together very well, with the possible exception of the low point. That said, if the Savior’s ego is sufficiently large, then the low point is just a mistake the character would genuinely make. I give it 5 out of 6.

The characterization is what this is all about. Cyclops’ interactions with the familiar yet unfamiliar really helps things gel and combine, highlighting the core elements of everyone and the way they fit together. Moreover, Pak really gets my favorite character and has him front and centre, which certainly helps. I give it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response is strong. This is a genuinely interesting premise that has been executed well. I give it 5 out of 6.

The flow is very smooth and engaging. This portion of the story would probably elapse in minutes, which always helps the flow and perception as the story moves forward. I give it 6 out of 6.

Overall, this is another engaging chapter in the story arc that wraps up next month. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Astonishing X-Men #46 receives 37 out of 42.