Friday, July 23, 2004

Astonishing X-Men #2
Writer: Joss Whedon
Artist: John Cassaday

Isn't that just an amazing looking cover? I'm not one to buy pamphlet comics, that's why this review is so late given that I only just found it on the newsstand at my local book chain store. Yet even if Joss (Buffy:TVS) Whedon wasn't writing this book, I think the cover alone would make me at least look through it. It is very striking, and actually is a metaphor for what happens in the story.

The plot itself, a doctor has come up with what appears to be a way to cure mutants and the main team trying to find a new way by taking an old path. Aren't anything new or that inventive from a plot standpoint.

Yet that's okay as Whedon isn't out to reinvent the wheel here, a trap I think too many new to comic writers all into. His story while not anything revolutionary, is compelling because he puts interesting twists on them.

I've seen stories before about someone thinking they found a cure for the mutant gene, yet none that seem to offer this personal of a response from everyone. Usually in the past such stories focused on one or two mutants, who just wanted to look normal

Here there is that element of course, but there is the reaction by some of being labeled a disease. Which though only a short piece in the comic so far, caused an interesting thought process. Because it caused me to wonder, what if there was a drug or process that made everyone "normal" or like most everyone else?

That would be a scary thought, if the mob rule of normalcy had the power to shift people they feel are different around to their way of thinking or life. Imagine if you are just an extremely smart person, which intimidates many of those around you. Or perhaps like where I live aren't into the "outdoor life" (hunting, camping etc.) which makes me a bit of an oddball.

If such a thing was possible, I wonder whether others might consider trying to make me more their sense of normal. For my own good, and so I would fit in of course. Which just puts an entirely different spin on the whole mutant oppression thing, that I had never really thought of before.

A good element to Whedon's run, is that I haven't read more than an issue or two here and there of any X-Men book in probably over a decade. Yet so far Whedon has managed to use the history in such a way that it in intriguing to me, like wondering if the animosity between Emma and Kitty is something with history. Or perhaps if this is something Whedon himself invented this because the characters are such mirror images of each other.

Whichever it is it works quite well and puts a very interesting dynamic into the mix.

One thing that I found myself doing when reading this, was to try to equate the characters to Whedon's Buffy tv series characters. Which on one level is kind of fun, and even easily doable in this instance. With Cyclops= Giles, Kitty=Willow, Wolverine=Buffy, Anya=Emma, and Beast=Xander being easy touchstones.

Yet that's not really fair to Joss as a writer, thinking he can only write certain character types, and not really fair to myself as a reader. Mainly because if I pay more attention to what I think those characters would be like in relation to that, I don't allow them to be like they truly are displayed.

Cassaday's art is quite attractive, with very defined looks for each character and has created a vibrant world. His scene breakdowns could use some work, especially in the action scenes which are stiff and very stagnant. Still his use of facial expressions and body language are high above what I see in 90% of mainstream artists.

I still find myself very surprised to be reading an X-book, even more so one in the monthly pamphlet format which I thought I'd sworn off. Yet each month I feel the need to get it, rather than wait for the trade, because there is an anxiousness to see what happens next. Something I haven't felt in a very long time.

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