Comic Review – “Astonishing X-Men Vol. 1: Gifted”

The first story arc will hit the market as a trade
paperback tomorrow, Wednesday, December 15.

General Information

Title: Astonishing X-Men Vol. 1: Gifted

Author: Joss Whedon

Illustrator(s): John Cassaday

Original Publication Date: Issues 1-6 came out in the
latter half of 2004.

ISBN: 0-7851-1531-5

Cover Price: $14.99 US

Buy from: Amazon.com
or Amazon.ca

Past comic reviews can be found here.

Premise

Cyclops, Emma, Shadowcat, Beast, and Wolverine band
together to form a
superteam that does all sorts of public relations
type missions. Just
as they’re out for the first time in this capacity, a
human doctor
announces a cure for the mutant disease.

High Point

“I’ve got two words for you.” Man, what an
incredible fanboy moment.

Low Point

If that was the first time the X-Men went on a
mission like that, how
did Ord know that’s what would draw them out?

The Scores

It’s not original. This is a return to the
glory days.
Storm was once “cured” by Forge, for example. It’s
great to see the
heydays of the X-Men return, but we can’t pretend
this type of thing
hasn’t been done before. The good news is, it’s
being done better
here than it has for a long time. I give the
originality 2 out of 6.

The artwork is spectacular. Cassaday is
doing an excellent
job with expression. The first issue has some
off-model moments, but
after that, he seems to have gotten used to the
characters, and he
consistently nails them. I give it 6 out of 6.

The story is well told. There’s the one
problem I mentioned
above, but the rest seems to hold together quite
well. The banter is
excellent, and there are hints of things to come that
may not be
terribly pleasant. I give it 5 out of 6.



The characterization is excellent. Whedon
obviously knows
and loves these characters, and makes good use of
them all. He
understands the team dynamics, the roles they play,
and what changes
have really pulled them away from where they were
when Claremont was
at the top of his game. It looks to me like he’s
aiming to bring them
back there, and that’s a good thing. I give it 5 out
of 6.

The emotional response, if you hadn’t
already figured it out
by now, is wonderful. As a long time fan, I love it.
I loaned the
issues to a friend whose only exposure to the team is
through the
movies, and she loves it. This captures everything
that’s great about
the X-Men, and it’s all right here. I love this arc,
and want more
now. I give it 6 out of 6.

The flow is excellent. The pacing,
intercutting of scenes,
and general feel is excellent, and the action scenes
move quite well.
I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, this is a very good product. If
you’re a fan of the
X-Men comics of the past, pick this up. If you only
know them from
the movies, this will show you how great the source
material can be.
(You may need some background on Emma Frost, but this page
will cover that.)
If you want to read new X-Men comics, read this one.
I give it 6 out
of 6.

In total, Astonishing X-Men Vol. 1: Gifted
receives 35 out of 42.

2 replies on “Comic Review – “Astonishing X-Men Vol. 1: Gifted””

  1. UncleJam says:

    Eh…

    I honestly don’t get the hype surrounding Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men. Is it good? Certainly. Is it better than a lot of X-Men runs in the last 10 or 15 years? Sure. But is it this amazingly awesome achievement that required its very own book and deserves the paroxysms of joy that everyone is having over it? Not at all.

    In particular, I don’t think he has managed to get away from one of the problems I’ve noticed in his writing, even in the early seasons of Buffy when he was at the top of his game: every character sounds the same. Every character has the same sense of humor, every character has the same pop culture sensibilities, every character snarks like there’s no tomorrow. Close your eyes and have someone read an issue of Astonishing to you, leaving out any character-identifying info like names and such, and you’d be hard-pressed to say who was speaking from panel to panel.

    On the other hand, the Cassaday art sure is pretty…

    • fiziko says:

      Re: Eh…

      I honestly don’t get the hype surrounding Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men. Is it good? Certainly. Is it better than a lot of X-Men runs in the last 10 or 15 years? Sure. But is it this amazingly awesome achievement that required its very own book and deserves the paroxysms of joy that everyone is having over it? Not at all.

      I’ll give Whedon a break for the launch of a new title, since that wasn’t his idea. He signed on to continue with New X-Men after Morrison left, and Quesada decided that, since the Whedon name might draw in people who’d never read an X-book before, they’d be able to sell more if it started with a first issue instead of a 150th issue. This is probably also why we don’t get a lot of background for the characters; Whedon planned to continue the run that had created a lot of that back story.

      As for the character voices, I don’t think they are quite as indistinct as you seem to. Yes, they have a lot in common with their senses of humour, but Emma, Kitty, Wolverine and Cyclops can all be identified quite readily, I think. Possibly not with every line, but every time they string more than two or three sentences together, we’ll know which is which.

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