Thursday, 24 May 2012

Astonishing X-Men #50 review

Northstar's getting married in the mor-ning ...

Well, not quite. Jean-Paul Beaubier does indeed propose to boyfriend Kyle this issue, but the answer is a big fat no - Kyle reckons JP is popping the question 'just to put a Band-Aid on our problems'. Which he kinda is, but there's no need for Kyle to be quite so whiny about it, flouncing off with tears in his eyes.

Northstar sheds a few sobs too, as he flies back to an urgent X-Men mission he took a break from in order to ruin Kyle's day with his declaration of love. But that's how it is, he's a fighter and a lover. He's about to rejoin Iceman and Gambit at a private prison connected to the Marauders when his mobile phone rings, alleging that a kidnapped Kyle is at the base.

As it turns out, the Marauders are dead, having apparently killed one another while mind-controlled, and a hoodooed Gambit and Iceman are ready to murder Northstar. As is Wolverine, who's at the jail after learning the ins and outs of the prison's history from Black Widow, who's not an X-Man but is in a very popular summer movie.

Someone who's neither of these things, but is the best thing in the book, is Warbird, Shi'ar bodyguard to Wolverine's pupil, Kid Gladiator. Accompanying Logan on his fact-finding mission/lunch, she steals the few panels she's in with her haughty warrior ways. A few more pages of her and a few less of the Northstar and Kyle soap would go some way towards making this a good comic. As things stand, it's a generic X-Men tale with a well-publicised stunt in the move towards Marvel's first on-panel gay marriage. Writer Marjorie Liu's dialogue is a pleasure when it's superheroes swapping banter, but painful when it's Gays of our Lives. I can't believe that someone as traditionally fiery as Northstar would pine over a wet dishrag like Kyle, who almost has a breakdown because he can't get his wi-fi to work (hmm, if only he had access to a brilliant blue scientist, a machine empath or a walking, talking Danger Room).

The biggest problem with the script is Northstar leaving mid-mission to attend to his lovelife, without so much as a 'see you later, guys'. In one scene he's in the middle of the prison investigation, a few pages later he's in civvies and catching up with Kyle, after that he's flying back to the jail and being, frankly, a pathetic wassock (click on images to despair).


The art by Mike Perkins is stagier than I'm used to from him, with the Black Widow scene actually awful - panel after panel sees her posing rather than interacting. Though I do love her little black (widow) dress, a cross between her first two uniforms.
The proposal pages are the best-drawn sequence, with believable emotions and a nice bit of business involving a vendor's hat; it's just a shame the narrative is so cringe-making.

The cover by Dustin Weaver and Rachelle Rosenberg is just glorious.

I admit, I've not bought this comic in ages, but curiosity about the proposal persuaded me to give it a go. I won't be back next time to see Northstar rescue Kyle (who's likely tied up and fretting about the colour of the ropes) because this is an issue that's average at best, poor at worst. It's stunt-driven, and while I love a good stunt, this one is just bungled and really not worth the $3.99 Marvel charges for it.

11 comments:

  1. huh, I knew I lived in a small town, but my local comic shop is (I thought) well stocked especially on Marvel and DC titles. But I didn't even know Astonishing X-men was still around... huh what do ya know. Still I think it's good for marvel to be pushing the main stream comics into the realm of gay marriage. Anyway, great review Martin. I always enjoy reading your comments and views. Keep it up!

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    1. It's not surprising you've lost track of this book, there are simply too many X-titles. Is it four or five main ones? Anyway, let us know what you think if you get to read it.

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  2. Re: "the move towards Marvel's first on-panel gay marriage"...

    Let me know when Mephisto shows up.

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  3. Hey mart I saw this interview and thought you might be interested
    http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=37533

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    1. Thanks ... was there anything in particular in there? I read it late at night and may have missed something.

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    2. fred van lente are working a new series in the vein the incredible hercules with clayton henry doing the art, it's called archer and armstrong and i thought you might me interested

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    3. Cheers, I got that ... Just wondered if I was missing a link to something we'd been chatting about!

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    4. no I left this http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=37533 for you to copy and past, anyways it's great sounding book with huge possibilities made a dynamite team

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  4. I agree with your review. I was disappointed that Cecilia Reyes was not in issue #50, but still it was pretty good. The mission at the warehouse was well written, and the interaction between Jean Paul and Kyle was very natural (super powers aside). I wish that cover artist Dustin Weaver did the interiors as well. This new aspect of Iceman's powers is really badass.

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    1. I've not read a comic with Cecilia in it for years, she was one of the reasons I tried this book, Jose. Darn!

      I hope the writers of the X-titles agree that they'll use Bobby for a sustained period. Every few years he seems to get a few issues in the spotlight, maybe a power upgrade, then vanishes. I always liked the fella.

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