Monday, July 11, 2016

Crabby Mini-Marathon: Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon & John Cassaday Ultimate Collection, Book 1

 Remember back when Joss Whedon wasn't a billionaire from Avengers movie money yet....?

 This book is a trip down OCD lane for me.

 I stopped collecting floppies in May of 2011, and became a trade-waiter. HOWEVER.....I was already sitting on nearly a decades-worth or backlogged floppies, which I insisted on reading in total continuity. Which meant that continuity-heavy stuff, mostly Marvel and DC, kept getting further and further backlogged. I started reading Whedon & Cassaday's ASTONISHING X-MEN almost immediately when it was released, but eventually the continuity-mania caught up, and I fell behind, and.....I still have most of this series in floppy, sitting in a stack, unread.

 So I decided to just order the two trades, and continuity be damned!! I'd just up and read them!! Which I finally got around to doing today....

 First off, ASTONISHING X-MEN BY JOSS WHEDON & JOHN CASSADAY ULTIMATE COLLECTION, BOOK 1 is a gorgeous book. John Cassaday is a tremendously gifted artist, as witnessed by his work on books like PLANETARY and this volume. I wish he was more prolific.

 The story, by BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER/FIREFLY creator Joss Whedon, is kind of a mixed bag...I remember loving the book when I read the floppies, but the story didn't wow me as much eleven years later. (The next volume is filled with issues that I still haven't read, so maybe that one will knock my socks off. Stay tuned....)

 Whedon is using his twenty-five issue run to tell one massive, interconnected story, and it starts out with the discovery of a "cure" for the mutant gene, which I believe was ripped-off for the third X-MEN film. (Who knows which medium came up with the idea first? I'm leaning towards the film ripping Whedon off, personally...I hope he got some of that X-3 money for his idea.) The discovery of the cure coincides with the arrival of an alien named Ord, who hails from a place called "The Breakworld". According to Ord, a mutant is destined to destroy The Breakworld at some point in the near future, killing all of it's inhabitants, so he's decided to be proactive and wipe out mutantkind first. This whole arc seemed rather silly to me, but maybe it'll all come together in the end.

 The second arc finds The X-Men confronted by their own Danger Room, which has become sentient (Or was it sentient all along..? Hmmm.) This arc fared slightly better, in my opinion, but was still a little ridiculous and out of left field. Cassaday's art saves a lot of this book from itself, and Whedon makes up for the more outlandish aspects of the plot by delivering some amazingly good character moments, especially where Kitty Pryde is concerned. He manages to grow her as a character, and as a powerful member of the team, in a way that I haven't seen since John Byrne made The Invisible Girl grow into The Invisible Woman. Great stuff here, especially if you grew up with Kitty, like I did.

 Overall, a good, solid book, but not a great one, which some less crabby than I make it out to be.

 ASTONISHING X-MEN BY JOSS WHEDON & JOHN CASSADAY ULTIMATE COLLECTION, BOOK 1 collects ASTONISHING X-MEN #'s 1-12, with all covers and variants, a John Cassaday interview and sketch gallery, Joss Whedon 's e-mails to Marvel regarding the project, and an introduction by Brian K. Vaughan.

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