Monday, April 04, 2005

ASTONISHING X-MEN #9

I know it's Joss Whedon and Joss is Good, but can I help it if I keep waiting for the Danger Room to start singing "Daisy" as it powers down? And, no, six weeks of mocking "The Danger Room is angry" apparently wasn't enough. Because while we're waiting for the kernel of existential philosophy that Whedon is wending his way toward to appear... my patience is being tested a bit. [And if this turns out to be some iteration of Cassandra Nova, I may not forgive him.]

This wasn't necessarily a bad issue, but it certainly wasn't great by any stretch. It sometimes feels like this arc was written as one screenplay for one story (the Astonishing X-Men Movie) and then broken down for transport without adapting each part to a serial format. Whedon's had years of episodic work for television, but two dozen pages of funnybook is different from an hour of film that may or may not need to tie closely into every hour that has come before it. Buffy wasn't 24 in terms of adherence to the serial format. There are scenes in Astonishing that would work fine in a two-hour movie or an hour of action drama, but feel dragged-out in a short and strictly serialized story and given an unnecessary importance simply because they take up so much space in an issue.

This time around, it was all the standing around and talking and wondering that Scott, Emma, Piotr, Logan, and Hank were doing. While their range of options was admittedly limited, they seemed a bit lacking in dynamism as they realized that. The intercutting with Kitty's tense scene didn't carry the impact it would have if it were on film -- it made the others look static and useless instead of working on a parallel track toward the point of convergence (understanding).

Also, there are dangling plot threads that are not keeping fresh. We are also still waiting for the true purpose of Agent Brand (the green-haired chick doing her best Sarah-Connor-in-T2 impression) and the whole Shi'ar plan to be made plain. While making us wait is fine, the question is whether we will remember -- or care -- when they are revealed. Agent Brand not being on screen for twenty-five minutes of a two-hour movie is not fatal, but Agent Brand not furthering her plotline for four calendar months may be. The bottom line may be that Whedon: Year One is a couple of kick-tuchus trade paperbacks.

To stop griping for a second, because this wasn't even close to the worst thing I've read thus far this week... The Dave versus HAL Kitty versus the Danger Room struggle was the high point of the issue, mostly because it had Kitty being smart and just radiating experience, which she has in spades and yet rarely has gotten to use so effectively. Whatever else happens in Whedon's first stint as X-writer, his fantastic treatment of Kitty -- letting her be a mature, thoughtful young woman -- may be how I remember him. Yet while Whedon's character work has been generally spectacular, I'm still not sure what Logan meant when he decided that Piotr going caveman on the Danger Room fusebox was a sign that the big Siberian was really back to his old self -- apart from the fact that it was Kitty he was worried about, Colossus acting like Juggernaut is not exactly how I'd encapsulate the essence of Piotr. Big Pete's modus operandi was usually that he was too much in his own head, not that he thought with his fists.

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