Astonishing X-Men #34
By Zak Edwards
July 4, 2010 - 14:54
It seems Ellis has largely lost interest with what is going on in the regular Astonishing X-Men and is probably having a better and more successful time with the Xenogenesis mini-series, which is not only dealing with problems of greater interest than this regular series, but is telling stories with more style and flair (and looks cooler too, but that isn’t really a slight against artist Phil Jimenez). This issue has a general feel of indifference on the writing half while Jimenez’s art, which is labeled somewhat curiously, along with Andy Lanning, as ‘Breakdowns’ and ‘Finishes,’ respectively, contains many of the qualities the writing seems to be lacking. The book is, unfortunately, lacking the wit, humour, and relevance which made the book so popular in the first place.
The story, and I had to go back and remind myself what was happening because of delays, revolves around a mysterious villain who is genetically... doing stuff to dead mutants to create... zombie mutants who can blow up and stuff. At least, that’s what this issue appears to convey; this, and Emma Frost’s ability to take care of splash-page time-waster giant mutants by merely telepathically suggesting things to the... zombie mutant things. The dialogue, from the man who can come up with some brilliant phrases seemingly on the fly in most of his works, is limited to things like “I hate bein’ treated like a kid” (Wolverine) and “It wasn’t me I didn’t do it and you can’t prove anything” (Morally questionable Agent Brand, grammar as in actual). Mostly, the thing is awful to read and filled with direct forms of discussion in order to straight up tell the audience how everyone feels and has as traits instead of simply showing. The days of Whedon are long behind us, but hopefully this can be used to finance another trade of Doktor Sleepless instead of poorly contrived and executed superhero stories lacking any semblance of the original. I usually enjoyed Astonishing X-Men because of its general disregard for the excessive amount of crossovers present in the other X-Men books, but things are getting bad and I’m becoming indifferent. With the entire X-Men line seeming to try to split itself up again (hopefully) and give each other some independence, now may be a time to consider other options if you feel the need to regularly consume mutant books. Of course, the mini-series is still not that bad, having much more style and interest than this series, so maybe that book is the proper route.
As for the art, Phil Jimenez and Andy Lanning, coupled with Frank D’Armata’s colouring, has an attention to detail and high quality almost in direct proportion to the writing’s opposing qualities. Every panel, be it a large splash page with plenty of action and elaborate backgrounds or a single small panel of dialogue, has an attention to detail which has an obvious extra effort put in, despite the strange way the credits are arranged. Jimenez and co.’s more realistic style, coupled with the outrageous elements of the story, like giant were-pterodactyls and giant “What if Willy Wonka was an underground genetic pervert” (possibly the only good line in the entire issue) laboratories, is a great combination striking right at the heart of escapism the genre attempts to capture. Special mentions have to go to D’Armata, whose colours are simply amazing, especially with background psychedelic colours during the bigger action sequences, which has a flair to it I found particularly enjoyable and well done. The colouring is also very detailed to match the art, something else which is immediately noticeable. While the story leaves more than something to be desired, the art is the complete opposite, I almost wish the speech balloons weren’t present!
Grade: C Not worse only because of the art.
Last Updated: September 6, 2021 - 08:15