Astonishing X-Men #25
By David Fain
July 15, 2008 - 21:51
After four years of being helmed by a talented duo, Astonishing X-Men #25 heads in a new direction under the sci-fi madman, Warren Ellis and smoking artist Simone Bianchi. It's too soon to tell if this book will out shine Josh Whedon and John Cassaday's run or ill in comparison, but it looks like it won't take long for this book to blast off to its former glory.
At the end of a hellish space journey, what's left of the team is adjusting to peace time in sunny San Fransisco. Beast is whistling a tune, Wolverine is drunk in a tree and Scott and Emma have gone back to sharing a bed. So far, the only tension comes from Armor looking for a new codename. An alarm rings in the new X-compound but rather than herald the arrival of some sick villain, Storm enters in all of her 1980s glory. If you thought Halle Berry made Storm sexy, imagine a scantily clad goddess descending from the sky adorned with a combination of Wakandian royal attire and X-Men brandings. The unchallenged life of a queen has drawn her back to her roots for more adventurous times. After she proves her merit to Emma, the real siren sounds, the phone.
The team, with Storm in tow, head to the streets to investigate a murdered mutant. Out of the remaining 200, no one is able to identify the floating, flaming corpse. This finally gives light to an obscure panel on page 2 buried between some of Beast's happier moments. The deceased's diary shows that he was tracking his killer and a tissue sample reveals that he is not a mutant, but a different genetic anomaly. The killer's destination, so says the diary, is the space coast of Singapore. Don't confuse it for Cape Canaveral, Chaparanga is where futuristic space ships go to die and offers last chances to flee Earth.
You can see Bianchi's familiarity with most of the X-crew from his previous work on Wolverine but the transition to his shadowy style doesn't work for everyone. Characters that are more than an arm's length away seem to get lost in this deep fog and the need for dramatic silhouettes. What surprised me was the amount of detail in of the team leaders waking up next to each other. Panels like this have quickly become just as obligatory as Wolverine popping his claws. As opposed to focusing on their canoodling, the entire room is defined by the objects in it and gridded out by the wooden checkerboard floor.
There is one thing that will separate the new from the old; the layout is a lot less conventional, favoring multiple slanted panels crashing on top other with diaolog streaming through out the page. Top it off with random lines passing underneath the mess, it becomes unbearable. I like these elements in other books, it usually makes pages seem more dynamic but, in this degree, a page can turn into nine-car pile up and the only survivors are befuddlement and confusion.
It's clear that this book is going back into orbit and that's where it belongs, far away from Skrulls, Magneto and any other major storyline passing through the Marvel U. Ellis set himself up with enough science gimmicks to keep us entertained through the arc, but it's going to take more than that to have the lasting power of it's predecessor.
Rating: 7 /10
Last Updated: January 24, 2022 - 11:00