Friday, December 29, 2006

Comic Book Review: Astonishing X-Men #19

Astonishing X-Men is always an entertaining read. Whedon has done a great job making this title a must read each and every issue. This current story arc is an absolute blast and I always have fun reading this title. I’m sure that Astonishing X-Men #19 is going to be another enjoyable read. Let’s hit this review.

Creative Team
Writer
: Joss Whedon
Artist: John Cassaday

Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with a scene of the Breakworld. We learn that this planet has been ravaged by a massive war between the ruling clan called the Open Hand and the oppressed masses. There is no end to this brutal war and the people on the Breakworld have no hope that anyone will ever be able to save them.

We shift back to the S.W.O.R.D. space ship where Agent Brand activates a localized gravity surge that pins the X-Men, Ord and Danger to the ground. Kitty Pryde then appears behind Agent Brand and phases a gun through Brand’s head and threatens to put a bullet in Brand’s head if she doesn’t let the X-Men free. Brand orders her soldiers to turn off the gravity device.

Brand informs Danger that she has already been infected with seven hundred thousand viruses by the S.W.O.R.D. ship computer. That this should keep Danger in check until they return to Earth. Cyclops then asks Brand if she has a psychic aboard the ship who can conduct a search of Emma’s mind to see if Cassandra Nova is still in there.

We cut to Powerlord Kruun back on the Breakworld. An assistant delivers a message from Ord. Krunn plays the message and Ord tells Kruun that he is a board a S.W.O.R.D. warship on direct sluing to the Breakworld. Ord then gives Kruun the ship’s coordinates. Ord then says that Colossus is on board the ship. Kruun then orders his Bruteships to intercept and destroy the S.W.O.R.D. vessel.

We cut to S.W.O.R.D.’s psychic searching Emma’s mind. The psychic says that Cassandra Nova is no longer in Emma’s mind.

We shift to Kitty and Colossus sitting in an awkward silence. Kitty tells Peter that Emma’s nightmare that was placed into Kitty’s mind is finally starting to fade. Kitty tells Peter that he betrayed her in the nightmare. Kitty then says that Peter dumped her the first time they were close with each other. And then the second time he killed himself. Kitty says how does she not know that Colossus is going to disappear again? Kitty tells Peter that she is going to need some time before they can be together.

We zip forward to Agent Brand briefing the X-Men on the situation on the Breakworld. Brand tells them that the Breakworld’s psychics, called Augurs, have hunted for the X-Man destined to destroy their world. Brand says she doesn’t know why Colossus is the one believed to be the X-Man prophesized to destroy the Breakworld. Peter jokes that he has been planning to do it since he was a kid. He plays it so straight that nobody laughs. Peter then mutter that this is why he never makes jokes.

Agent Brand says that Kruun’s armada that was originally sent for Earth where Colossus was pinpointed. Now, thanks to Brand’s plan to let Ord tell Kruun their coordinates, the armada is now headed for the S.W.O.R.D. ship. Brand says that they needed to draw the armada away from Earth. Brand sys that the best way to keep the armada from blowing their ship to pieces is to get to the Breakworld before they can intercept them. At their current speed, they should just make it.

Agent Brand tells the X-Men that the Breakworld is governed by one principle: domination whether by war, violence or extermination. Powerlord Kruun of the Open Hand is global rule of the Breakworld.

That somewhere, possibly on their smallest moon, the Breakworlders have built a failsafe. A missile. This missile could crack the Earth in half. The Earth cannot mount a force enough to attack the Breakworld and the Earth can’t defend against their attack. Right now, Agent Brand needs the help of some super heroes. And that is where the X-Men enter the equation.

Agent Brand says the plan is the locate the missile and disable it. Suddenly, before Agent Brand can continue to explain her plan, she is interrupted by one of her officers. The Open Hand armada has already arrived. The armada launches a bunch of missiles and the S.W.O.R.D. ship is rocked by a huge explosion.

Cyclops asks Agent Brand what is Plan B. She responds that they all die. Cyclops retorts what is Plan C? End of issue.

Comments
The Good
: Astonishing X-Men #19 was another solid read. Whedon definitely took this issue to catch his breath and lay the foundation for the final push to the conclusion of this story arc. Whedon continues to show off his sound plotting skills as all of the pieces to this story arc are beginning to slide together.

The dialogue, as always, was well done. Whedon has a great feel for each character and simply knows how to write the various X-Men. Whedon also displays his trademark humorous dialogue. There are several scenes that get the reader chuckling. My favorite was when Colossus attempted to make his joke during the briefing.

It is obvious that Kitty Pryde is Whedon’s favorite X-Man. Personally, I have never been impressed with her character. I don’t dislike her. She is just like vanilla ice cream. It tastes fine, but I’m probably never going to order it. However, I must say that Whedon has done a great job making Kitty the most interesting that she has ever been before.

Whedon has given Kitty more depth and range to her personality. I like that Kitty is more assertive and takes less shit from other characters. You know that Kitty is no Wolverine and certainly won’t kill Agent Brand in the beginning of this issue, but her new inner toughness at least makes you think twice about crossing her path.

I also thought Whedon did a great job conveying Kitty’s confusion and hurt that is inside of her during her scene with Colossus. Even though Emma’s nightmare wasn’t real, it doesn’t mean that Kitty’s emotions weren’t real. That was an incredibly traumatic even to go through and it is understandable that it is going to take Kitty time to get over it.

Everything has been moving so quickly since Colossus return from the dead that Kitty really hasn’t had much time to let thinks soak in and to really contemplate what has happened. It is pretty realistic that Kitty would need some time to sort things out before jumping right back into a committed relationship with Colossus. I had thought that Whedon had rushed things a bit with these two characters ever since Colossus’ return. I’m glad to see him ease off the accelerator with this relationship.

Whedon leaves the Cassandra Nova plotline dangling with this issue. Nova is no longer in Emma’s mind, but that certainly doesn’t answer just where that menace is currently located. I’m sure Cassandra Nova’s plotline will be addressed once again at some point in the future.

Whedon definitely delivers one wild ending to Astonishing X-Men #19! An entire armada arriving earlier than anticipated and blasting away the S.W.O.R.D. ship. Our heroes are left in a deadly predicament where there appears to be no way for them to escape this attack. This ending certainly left me at the edge of my seat and hooked me into wanting to read the next issue immediately.

Cassaday’s artwork was as pleasing as always. I enjoy Cassaday’s style and think he delivers one fine looking comic book. Cassaday does an excellent job packing plenty of emotion into his facial expressions. This really helps to boost Whedon’s humorous dialogue.

The Bad: Astonishing X-Men #19 was certainly slow and rather uneventful up until the final two pages. And I certainly found this issue to be one of the weakest issues so far on Whedon’s run on this title. However, it is a necessary evil as Whedon has to give the reader some background information on the situation and then lay a solid foundation for the final part of this story arc.

The Breakworld seems like nothing more than your standard issue alien threat. Just add water and mix. There is nothing unique or particularly compelling about the Breakworld or its people. And Powerlord Kruun is nothing more than your typical cookie cutter violent alien despot all the way down to his generic “training” with his soldiers where he kills them all.

Haven’t we seen that scene about a million different times through out comic book history? Absolutely nothing about Kruun engaged my interest. I found the scenes on the Breakworld to be rather bland and uninteresting. Hopefully, Whedon can make this into something more distinctive and interesting.

Overall: Astonishing X-Men #19 was a good read. Whedon continues to deliver a nicely plotted story arc. I definitely think that we are in store for a wild ride with the next issue. Astonishing X-Men is still one of Marvel’s more entertaining titles and is certainly worth your hard earned money.

2 comments:

neru said...

Thank you so much for a readable and insightful summary of this issue. Synopses are the only access I get to current comic titles, and this was one of the better ones I've come across. Thanks again!

Rokk Krinn said...

No problem! Thanks for the compliments. I'm glad you are enjoying the reviews.