This is a one-shot containing material original published in Astonishing X-Men #1 (2004). Cyclops, Emma Frost, Beast, Wolverine, and Kitty Pryde have returned to the mansion to take over the school. It’s a new era for the X-Men, and their goal is to show the public that mutants aren’t all dangerous and/or evil like Magneto. But when a mutant attack occurs and a cure is found for the mutant gene, what chance do the X-Men stand?
Writer Joss Whedon writes this issue really effectively, in large part due to the character interaction. Granted, we do see a fight between Scott Summers and Logan but, honestly, when do they not fight? It did look bad in front of the students, but the unity of the group is preserved when Scott makes a speech about them being a superhero team and needing to act like one. There is some humor thrown in here and there, like Beast, Cyclops, and Kitty whispering while Emma gives a speech to the students. There is also a pretty funny aspect of the group looking forward to their new costumes.
The story moves along at a really steady pace, but fast enough that it builds up a nice sense of suspense towards the end; I was trying to turn the page before I was even done reading the current one. The only qualm I have is that towards the second half of the issue, the story jumps around from location to location and event to event. If this is done on different pages, it’s generally easy to follow. However, this was done from panel to panel, leading to a little confusion when it came to the linear continuity of the issue. Overall, it’s still plenty understandable, but just might require an extra read or two.
John Cassaday’s illustrations tell the story really well. Some of his character designs stray from what we’re used to seeing, like Beast looking rather dog-like. It’s not that they’re bad designs, but just different than what we’re used to nowadays.
The illustrations paired with Laura Martin’s colors help bring a lot of realism to the story. For example, we can see Logan’s claws shimmering from the sunlight. We can see shadow underneath Scott’s chin when he’s outside. I’m a big fan of correct use of light sources, and this issue uses them perfectly to create an immersive and entertaining story.
Astonishing X-Men is available in trade paperback form at your local comic shop, so head over there to see what happens next!
Written by: Joss Whedon
Illustrated by: John Cassaday