Thursday, 21 June 2012

Astonishing X-Men #51 review

I've only been to one gay wedding and it was good fun - love in the air and guests dressed up to the nines. The drag here is even more awesome, as the Avengers and Alpha Flight join the X-Men for the wedding of Jean-Paul Beaubier and Kyle Jinadu.

Before that, though, there's superhero action as Jean-Paul, aka Northstar, persuades Kyle not to shoot him. It's not pre-wedding jitters, he's being controlled by the New Mutant, Karma - she possesses people. She scarpers, Kyle accepts the proposal from Northstar which he turned down last issue, and the pair get hitched in Central Park.

This is really rather good. Yes, Marvel has pumped this wedding for everything it's worth in the real world, but as a special issue it holds together rather well. While the wedding party isn't attacked by the Circus of Crime or whomever, the other tradition of gorgeous nuggets of characterisation is adhered to by writer Marjorie Liu. So we have Rogue wondering what would have happened had her two evil mothers, Destiny and Mystique, tied the knot, while Wolverine recalls the tragedy of his own wedding day, without raining on Northstar's parade. And there's a lovely line from Beast emphasising that the heroes of the various teams really are simply one big (occasionally) happy family.

Most pertinent to Northstar's story, the new Warbird tells him that, with regret, she won't be attending (click on image to enlarge).
At first, I was impressed by the cleverness here - it looks like she's from a backward race of bigots, but of course, it's just that her people don't have marriages as we know them. Then I remembered that's she's Shi'ar, a race whose Majestrix, Lilandra, married Professor X a few cripplings ago. Perhaps if Northstar and Kyle were of differing species ...

It's disappointing that the only character to declare they have a problem with two men exchanging vows (Alpha Flight pal Puck can't get his head around it, while Havok wonders what his grandma would think - yet both attend the service) is extraterrestrial. It seems a little easy, as if only daft aliens disapprove.

Otherwise, I like Liu's story choices. After Kyle's refusal to marry Jean-Paul last time I was wondering how on Earth they'd be in position to wed here. Well, Liu uses the kidnapping as the spur for Kyle to realise how much he loves Jean-Paul, as he embraces the notion that 'life's too short'. Previously the blandest of the bland, Kyle grows throughout the issue, until he's goofily declaring his love for Jean-Paul and I'm filling up. And Liu doesn't forget about Karma in the excitement of Northstar's big fat gay wedding. Jean-Paul is worried about her, but Wolverine assures him that the search is continuing. 

The icing on the wedding cake is a cracking ending, which may even bring a few of the curious back next time.

Mike Perkins, as well as appearing at the party with Liu and other members of the creative team (another fine Marvel tradition), draws this issue in fine style. The action scenes flow well, while the wedding sequence is a masterclass in how to make heroes at rest recognisable, and engaging. There's a real charm and crispness to the artwork here, and credit must also go to co-inker Andrew Hennessy (Perkins also inks). The only moment I don't like is the big cameo by some New York mayor or other - you crawlers, Marvel!

And as you can see, the cover by Dustin Weaver and Rachelle Rosenberg is a cracker.

I approached this comic expecting it to be all stunt, no heart. Do I admit I was wrong?

I do.

10 comments:

  1. Nice review as always Martin, but I did find a minor error. You referred to Rogue's mothers as "Oracle and Mystique". You got the Mystique part right, but it's Destiny, not Oracle. It's cool man, everybody makes little messy-poos every now and then.

    Carry on chap.....

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    1. Oops, thanks, I'll change that. The Marvel Oracle, she's a Starjammer, yes?

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  2. So, if I may ask, was Karma's deal? Has she gone randomly evil? I think her only character development over the past 2 decades has been (1) she's now gay, and (2) having part of her leg chopped off, both for no real reason. Giving her orientation, It doesn't seem likely she'd be possessing Kyle to turn down Northstar's proposal. Also, I saw Karma was mentioned in Avengers vs. X-Men 6 and seemed to still be with the X-Men, but this story must have taken place before the big crossover, given how well everybody seems to be getting along.

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    1. I'm afraid I don't know about Karma, I've not been following this book. I've seen a future Dustin Weaver cover with Karma and her metal leg, which looks great, so it seems a focus is upcoming. I liked her when she wasn't just evil, but super-husky too.

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    2. Liu promises big story on Shan and hints she'll use all her horrible life as story beats. Let's see, dad dies, she and mom were raped together which killed Mom, constant kidnappings of siblings, killed and absorbed twin, possessed by evil, weirdest weight gain and loss ever, and now a fake leg that one text to Elixir could fix. It's a miracle Karma didn't snap before...

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    3. Now that's interesting, I'd not heard that, Steve. I'd love to see Karma have some good luck for a change - it's as if she did something awful in a previous life.

      She is the Nexus of all Indignities.

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  3. Nice review! Glad to see that Liu and Perkins stuck the landing on such a high-profile book.

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  4. I don't get it mart you didn't like the book now you do while still no wolverine and x-men reviews in months whats up with that.

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    1. I didn't like last issue, but this issue was very good - if every issue was of the same quality there'd be no point reviewing consecutive issues. Which is why Wolverine and the X-Men hasn't been reviewed of late - it's always darn good, so the books where I have somnething to say other than 'still good' go to the top of the queue. I can only do a few reviews a week, full-time job and other stuff, you know?

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