One of the best comic series of the past decade or more is, undoubtedly, Astonishing X-Men, by Joss Whedon and penciled by John Cassaday. Together they created one of the most comprehensive, cohesive and controlled pieces of comic literature we’ve seen in a long time. Whedon’s story was breathtaking, and Cassiday’s art was better.

So let’s see how long it takes before it all comes crashing down. Why? Because Warren Ellis and Simone Bianchi are now on the book and they aren’t no Whedon and Cassaday.

Astonishing X-Men #25

I was actually surprised to see that this series was continuing, seeing as I figured Marvel would let it finish with Whedon and Cassaday’s departure. However, as I looked at the pull list this week, there it was, all new and shiny, and I couldn’t say no. I’m a big fan of the X-Men when they’re done well, and so I had to at least give it a shot.

And I find myself pleasantly surprised. I was right to assume that the new pairing weren’t going to live up to the hype of the previous 24 issues (plus one giant sized to finish it off), but they didn’t do horrible. OK, more to the point, Ellis didn’t do horribly. I’ll deal with the art later.

The story sees our heroes setting up shop in San Francisco (anyone else find themselves singing that song when they see that cities name?). The first note I want to make, is I do not think Scott Summers, no matter how much of a pansy he is, would sleep in a round bed. He gets enough crap from Logan as it is, and I’m sure he has a modicum of pride.

And Ellis’ fascination with sex and beer continues in this issue, with the entire team apparently having spent the past few weeks on spring break.

However, the new storyline intrigues me. I was a bit annoyed at Storm’s arrival, but I can deal with that in the long run. The team’s ability to realize that spandex and lycra aren’t the most appealing and comforting outfits was nice, as too was a realization that they aren’t all idiots. This came in the ability that Logan, Scott and Ema had of understanding Hank’s scientific babble. Some people don’t like it, some people do; it’s a matter of taste.

I also liked the banter between Logan and Scott; it wasn’t a no-holds barred pissing match, but rather just the conversation of two men who aren’t the best of friends, but still respect each other. And the opening panel with the Twitter reference was, well, I have to admit it, it was cool!

Bianchi’s artwork is… well, it confuses me. Not in that I don’t know what is happening, each panel is clear, and I like the way they are laid out. It isn’t the strict 3×3 layout of some comics, and I can appreciate that. However his characters seemed to have realism in one panel, and then jump entirely to ballistic nonsense the next.

Scott, Hank and Emma were pretty much drawn great throughout the entire book, although Scott apparently has to scream everything at the top of his lungs judging by his facial expressions. Ororo jumps between weird and seriously realistic, and Logan’s hair is just… totally out of control! Whereas young Hisako does not for a moment look like a real person.

However, all in all, I didn’t hate this book. I give the story 4 out of 5, and the artwork 4 out of 5.


The Author

Joshua Hill

Joshua Hill

I'm an aspiring author who just happens to also work on the web, reporting on the environmental research and science at that makes sense of the climate change hype, reviewing fantasy books at FantasyBookReview, because I love fantasy books and want to tell you all about it. I also blog over at Life As A Human and at Extralife.

Previous post

Image Comics Sneak Peek of the Week

Next post

Radical Publishing for September 2008


  1. JMF
    July 4, 2008 at 11:46 am — Reply

    I enjoyed the first issue as well. Looking forward to see where it goes. Hope the art grows on me though i found it really hard in parts to follow. You can tell its written by Ellis though thanks to his Science Babble bout 2/3rds of the way through the issue.

  2. Mr. Dou
    July 4, 2008 at 1:08 pm — Reply

    I love the Astonishing X-Men series, and I felt like the tonal shift from Whedon to Ellis is nice…

    And call me naive, but I actually expect this one to be on time.

  3. Baal
    July 4, 2008 at 8:16 pm — Reply

    I came into Whedon’s run in the middle and despised it until I bought the issues I’d missed in trade and realized that was the problem. Whedon wasn’t writing with an eye on the individual chapter. Ellis? He realizes you need to focus on the issue at hand as well as the story arc and my god, but he is a smart writer. Between the alien ship graveyard and the triploid business (on top of that staggeringly deep alternate history in newuniversal) I think Ellis might even be the most intelligent man writing comics today. Bianchi? What I could make out through the muddy coloring was underwhelming and Cyclops had to have removed part of his legs to fit in that bed. The best I can say about the art is it didn’t get in the way of my enjoying Ellis’ story.

  4. July 6, 2008 at 9:15 am — Reply

    I did not like Wheddon’s run, a lot of noise, but…
    On the other hand, this Ellis’ number was quite inteligent. I am glad to be alble to read intelligent X’men comics again.

  5. Cory
    July 6, 2008 at 10:16 am — Reply

    I loved this issue. However, on Warren Ellis’ Blog “Whitechapel” this weekend, he claimed that the 24 Issue run that was announced, may not happen.

    I really like Warren Ellis’ writing but he just can’t commit to anything and I think it’s really hurting him as a writer. If he can’t do 24 issues on a title like Astonishing X-Men then to hell with him.

    Oh, and we get this after the announcement that Ellis plans on doing the TERRIBLE “Doktor Sleepless” for 50 issues.

    I’ll continue to pick up Astonishing X-Men but I don’t expect anything really spectacular.

    Sometimes I think that Ellis is just completely psychotic.

  6. Cory
    July 6, 2008 at 10:22 am — Reply

    It’s also possible. That the “wait and see” comment indicates that Quesada and Dan Buckley are involved in this decision. I suspect that if Astonishing X-Men doesn’t match the sales numbers of Whedon that Quesada may remove Ellis from the title.

  7. Cory
    July 6, 2008 at 10:25 am — Reply

    Which would be monumentally STUPID from a creative point of view and a financial point of view because I really don’t think that Quesada has another writer in his stable that would even come close to Joss Whedon.

  8. Jericho
    July 6, 2008 at 7:09 pm — Reply

    The story sees our heroes setting up shop in San Francisco (anyone else find themselves singing that song when they see that cities name?).

    It should read: “city’s” name.

    As for the rest of things regarding this issue, time will surely tell the tale, as it is written so profoundly in comics today. With so many changes in writers and artists, it is no wonder some readers are confused about the potential of a storyline in their favorite comic series.

  9. Mike
    July 7, 2008 at 7:18 am — Reply

    “Together they created one of the most comprehensive, cohesive and controlled pieces of comic literature we’ve seen in a long time. Whedon’s story was breathtaking”
    Still waiting for the punchline…

  10. Morpheus11
    July 7, 2008 at 8:42 am — Reply

    I didn’t read any of the first 24 issues, although I am going to go back and pick them up in trades after hear reading #25. I really enjoyed this book. It reminded me of some of my favorite X-men comics of the ’90s. I hope that Ellis can keep this going. He has me hooked on this title.

  11. applejack
    July 8, 2008 at 7:46 am — Reply

    As far as Whedon’s writing goes, I enjoyed in the first 8-10 issues. The Breakworld thing started to get reeeeaaaalllly old after a while, though. A writing change may do the book some good, I don’t know. I was getting bored. However, if I had seen in the previews that #25 was going to be penciled by a 3-year old baby wearing a blindfold, I would have been giddy. I am so excited that Cassaday is gone. His art, much like Quitely, actually causes me mental anguish. I’ll stick with the book for a little while, but I fear it may go the way of Ultimate X-Men for me: gone.

You know you have something to say, say it in the comment section