Friday, September 16, 2005


I've been out of the loop for a bit, so is it all right to be a little underwhelmed by the season finale of Astonishing X-Men?

Overall, I'm of very mixed opinion about the issue and the season (borrowing the usage from American television and Ed Brubaker's Sleeper). There were some fantastic moments of characterization and human drama. Everything with Piotr and Kitty, separately and together, was superb. The sureness of Scott's tactical skills combined with his far more uneasy navigation of the personal. Hank's despair at a mutation gone one step too far and recollection of the joy he once took in it.

There were also plenty of whiskey-tango-foxtrot character moments -- for example, almost anything to do with Logan. Emma split the difference and the last-issue reveal of Charles Xavier's actions was deplorable even if you're sick of his pacifist-past-the-point-of-reason ways. And I am. But considering that the last issue took place in Genosha, that the memory of past travesties in Genosha was key to saving the day... go back one atrocity before the nuking and you are back with Jenny Ransom and the enslavement of the mutates and that jars incompatibly with Xavier's newfound pragmatism. Xavier's tolerance and idealism, however irritating, cannot be warped in this fashion.

The plot of both season and issue... was a mess. There were enough dropped threads here to knit a sweater and I don't care if they are all going to tie into things in Season Two. It felt sloppy, not generally a trait associated with Joss Whedon.

Whatever happened to Agent Brand and her case? What about the kids at the mansion? What about the other X-Men? What about the aliens? What about SHIELD being compromised? All of these things got forgotten in favor of Emma's cohort stepping out of the shadows. And while I'm all for a Hellfire Club plot that builds upon the real power someone like Sebastian Shaw would have, all this does is toss another chunk of unattached, unresolved plot onto the bonfire. Emma's place with the team dates back to the nuclear bombing of Genosha, so this is an arc that (either coopted from Grant Morrison or simply following through on his original intent) has been around for a long while. Why is the Hellfire Club deciding now to infiltrate the X-Men?

I'm not all disillusionment and disappointment here. Colossus fangirl or not, the return of Piotr Rasputin was arguably the best reanimation of a dead X-Man in a long time. Possibly ever. Buffy and Willow were only the test runs because Whedon did so much for Kitty Pryde that not even the forgettable current miniseries can dim her light. And, plot failures or not, this was the only readable X-Men core book for the duration of its existence. I look forward, without reservation, to the second season.

Whither the Shrew? A few days off turned into a fortnight and I apologize for going AWOL and thank those who expressed their concern. This is still a hobby and sometimes Real Life must come first and foremost and sometimes there are distractions both serious and frivolous that must be followed. The backlog will get attacked -- I'm so far behind on anything to do with Infinite Crisis that I don't want to contemplate it -- and the snark shall return.


Blogger Chris Tamarri said...

Nice to see you back.

That's it.

Fri Sep 16, 04:23:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aye. Good to see your reviews gracing my LJ friends list again.

Now here's a question: What's with this season crap? Just another excuse for Marvel to churn out new #1s?

Fri Sep 16, 06:01:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Cullen Waters said...

Very good to see you back at it.

Fri Sep 16, 07:47:00 PM EDT  

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