Astonishing X-Men #32


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Astonishing X-Men #32


  • Words: Warren Ellis
  • Art: Phil Jiminez
  • Inks: Andy Lanning
  • Colors: Frank D'Armata
  • Story Title: Exogenetic Part 2
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Nov 4, 2009

So, where do we begin? Well, it should be duly noted I am a Warren Ellis fan; have been since the late 90s, circa Planetary. So, unfairly, when I review anything he comes out with—good or bad—I’m extremely subjective. So, knowing that, let’s get on with it

Astonishing X-Men #32 starts off with a nice splash page of what can only described as an organic Sentinel—a Sentinel made up of human skin, guts, and viscera. That should tell you already that this story is very Ellis is nature.  That is, his “science-gone-wrong” concepts are palpable throughout the issue. No one writer in the industry is better at creating beautiful monsters that are both old and new at the same time, while keeping the reader engaged. And Ellis, a beautiful monster himself, furthers his inglorious reputation as Marvel’s very own mad scientist tucked away in some Southend-On-Sea laboratory he calls home, by creating such a monstrosity as an organic sentinel. The very same monstrosity that shoots Brood bullets from its fingertips.

The issue I take is that the book should really be called The Astonishing Agent Brand & The Beast, because these are the only voices that resonate the clearest, that cut through the dialogue bubbles, the ones that speak to us. Forget Cyclops (whose pastiche of being a milksop dressed in the thin armor of an overcompensating leader-figure has been unattractive for some time), forget Wolverine (who isn’t tired of him?), and forget even Storm, Emma Frost, and Armor (although, I give credit to Ellis for always writing strong female characters). Beast and Agent Brand are Ellis’s clear favorite, and one can even hear the mad scientist’s voice through Beast (he seemingly does this in all of his stories; he picks one character that acts like his very own avatar: in Planetary he was Elijah Snow, in Transmetropolitan he was Spider, etc.). Preferentially, I could have done without all the chemistry-defunct flirting between Brand and Beast; their ongoing love-banter seemed odd.

The panel layout was the real winner in this issue. It’s a breath of fresh air to see Phil Jimenez’s master of utilizing panel space, when comparing this arc to that of Ellis’ and Simone Bianchi. There are some very nice layouts in the issue. Now, I realize that a writer dictates page layout, and often, how many panels there are to a page, but it’s up to the artist to optimize the situation. And Jimenez does that in spades.  There’s one particular page where we see the destruction of the Sentinel, and it’s a beautiful example of an artist understanding what needs to happen on this page. Accordingly, Jimenez shows us the destruction of the upper half of the organic Sentinel in a five panel layout; but the first three panels are a separation of one shot. Meaning, it’s one image, separated by three panels; and it gives a better effect than a single panel would do. As noted above, I just don’t see Jimenez’s predecessor being able to do that (his forte was splash pages).

The issue’s ending was not revolutionary, but it was all about science, which always wins in my book. And this nicely wraps up what I was referring to early: ELLIS LOVES SCIENCE. And with that, with his natural tendency to write about science, and what evils or beauties come with it...well, the man’s writing and concepts always charm me. And he and Jimenez make quite a nice package, and produce a product that’s worth the $2.99 tag.

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  • Bart Croonenborghs

    Bart Croonenborghs Nov 10, 2009 at 3:15am

    Phil Jimenez on Ellis' X-Men, can't wait for the hardcover! :)

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