Joss Whedon wrote the first 25 issues of Astonishing X-Men, which is really what got me on the series initially. The fact that Warren Ellis, a favourite comic writer of mine, took over for a period after that was another nice little surprise.
I was just getting back into comics when I read the Whedon run of this, so I wasn’t sure if it was me adjusting to the comic format or the comic itself that left me a bit bewildered. There were a lot of moments that I loved, little Whedonesque dialogue quips and such, but I was lost on the overall story. I just went with the flow and pretended to understand. Oh, we’re in space now? That’s wonderful and makes complete sense to me.
This first collection of the Ellis run was a remarkably similar experience in many ways. The story was a lot easier to follow, but it was just as over the top. I think that must be their aim in this line of books, which I can get behind in many ways (it’s a superhero book after all), but I think my problem is there’s no build-up to these events. That makes everything a little jarring. I haven’t really read any other X-Men comics before, apart from a smattering of issues as a child, so this might just be how they’re typically written. Warren Ellis is hilarious, and a lot of his humour came through in this, so that made it fun to read if nothing else.
The story, boiled down, is that there are mutants from a parallel universe that may or may not be planning to invade our dimension using these Ghost Boxes, which are cubes that create a tunnel between dimensions. The more these boxes are used, the more time and space degrades around them. The parallel universe that the other mutants come from has fallen into chaos due to this, so they need to find a new home.
At the end of the book, we’re treated with a few short stories in the alternate dimensions. These were probably my favourite part of the collection. They’re quite depressing, but fun and original. Plus – Steampunk Wolverine!
Simone Bianchi’s art is beautiful, but I had a hard time following the action. My eyes just weren’t drawn to the correct panel, so I found myself having to examine the page to try and figure out where I was supposed to be looking. It worked well at times, but during action scenes, in particular, it was cluttered and very complicated. It’s a shame because I loved his style and character designs.
It’s a fun series at times, but I doubt I’ll carry on with it.