Overview

Astonishing X-Men #18

Review

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Astonishing X-Men #18

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: Nov 15, 2006

The truth behind the new Hellfire Club is exposed as the X-Men prove that they can put themselves back together again...just in time to face all their enemies and the Breakworld.

Writer Joss Whedon closes out the "Torn" story arc and sets things up for his final run. Like many a middle act, however, this one has a number of flaws and weaknesses. Enough to bring down the arc? Well....

Now powerless, Scott Summers is seemingly resorting to some drastic measures for dealing with the Hellfire Club as his teammates recover and regroup. All is not as it appears, however. Not with Scott and not with Emma Frost. The truth behind Emma’s actions are revealed but can she be saved – body and soul? More to the point, can this still shaky group face the new arrival of some old threats as time runs out for the Earth?

As fun as Whedon’s work on this title has been, issue #18 is probably the weakest one so far. The big reveal will come as no surprise to many and, to a certain extent; it does feel like a cop-out. Additionally, the issue feels a little padded, as if Whedon had been stuck with too little story for the end of this arc but too much story if he had tried to mix this with the start of his next arc. The one saving grace in this tale is the emotional intensity he packs in here. While the plot is cliché, there are some great dramatic moments for Kitty Pryde and some truly hilarious ones for Logan and Hank McCoy. In fact, this issue made me remember how well Beast and Wolverine can play off of one another in the hands of the right writer.

No matter how weak the plot, artist John Cassaday continues to bring his "A" game to the field. By this time there really is little that can be said about his work that has not been said before – from his detailed style, to the pitch perfect expressions he puts on the characters’ faces – Cassaday is a true, talented, professional.

While the story arc suffers here at the end from a weak reveal, a clichéd plot, and an easy out it is, in the final equation, merely a means to an end. The events of "Torn" were designed to situate the characters where and how Whedon wanted them for the final arc. If nothing else, this will hopefully prevent any cries of "acting out of character" or the characters having no motivation for the things they will do.

Astonishing X-Men #18 will not go down as Joss Whedon’s most stellar bit of writing but the way he has ordered this run insures that it will eventually stand or fall as a coherent whole, rather than being judged on its single issues.

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