Overview

Astonishing X-Men #17

Review

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Astonishing X-Men #17

Credits

  • Words: Joss Whedon
  • Art: John Cassaday
  • Inks: John Cassaday
  • Colors: Laura Martin
  • Story Title: N/A
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Sep 20, 2006

The White Queen spins a fairy tale for Kitty that can only lead to trouble, SWORD’s mole at the mansion is revealed, questions are answered and new ones are asked.

As this title settles into a monthly schedule for the rest of writer Joss Whedon’s run, the story picks up pace. Whedon continues to display an excellent grasp of character, pacing and plot as well as a love and understanding of X-Men history and characterization. He cherry picks some of the best elements from former X-Men writers like Chris Claremont and Grant Morrison and then expands on those elements and ideas, taking them in new and exciting directions and taking the reader with them.

This issue opens with a joyous event – the birth of Kitty and Peter’s son, Michael. Yeahbuhwhat?! The White Queen (A.K.A. "Perfection") is messing with Kitty’s mind for the Hellfire Club’s nefarious purposes. Meanwhile, SWORD struggles to catch up with Danger and Ord but those two engines of destruction are at least two steps ahead. Enemies abound and the X-Men are at their lowest ebb. The thing is, the X-Men can be taken down, but they are a lot harder to keep down....

One of the key things with this series so far is how Whedon has cleverly continued to lead readers along by offering up mysteries and enigmas and slowly doling out the solutions, all the while leading to more mysteries. He times the revelations with stopwatch precision, knowing exactly the right moments to spring them on the readers with the snap of a Jack-in-the-Box.

Beyond the impeccable pacing, Whedon infuses these characters with more heart than your average comic book character. The best example of this is Kitty’s part of the story. The White Queen has immersed Kitty in a psychoactive scenario that shows the strength and steel in this young woman, as well as how far she is willing to go for love and family.

There is humor here as well. Wolverine turned into an innocent little boy at the turn of the last century has been consistently funny and twisted. Here that subplot has a payoff that is note perfect with a little wink and nod to the fans.

John Cassaday still turns out his usual beautiful, expressive artwork with its emphasis on realism. His attention to detail really shines through with the little touches – like the way Beast’s fur or a character’s hair moves. He is ably added and abetted by the too-often unsung colorist Laura Martin. Martin must convincingly hue no less than four separate environments and enough action, explosions, and rubble for a Michael Bay movie. She does it all without a single miscolored moment.

Astonishing X-Men has consistently been the best of Marvel’s "X" titles and is certainly a candidate for being the best-written and penciled series of Marvel’s entire line. The series is always a surprise, twisting and turning, keeping the reader guessing and then gasping for breath. There is heart, humor, action, adventure and characters you know and love. This is a big part of what comic books are all about; so jump on and see where the Mr. Whedon’s wild ride is going.

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