By Charles Soule, Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, and Jason Keith
X-Men fans have been complaining a lot over the past few years, (rightfully so), about the quality of the X-books. There have been some decent stories, and some cringe worthy ones (IvX and Death of X, I’m looking at you) but it’s been hard to find a good and consistent book. Fear not X-fans, Astonishing X-Men is back! While we’re only 3 issues into the story, there has been a lot to like from the cast to the villain. Under the wing of Charles Soule this series seems to be headed on the right track and looks to be the book that X-fans have long been whining for.
Charles Soule was involved with writing Inhumans vs X-Men, a book that rubbed fans of both teams the wrong way. Get ready though, because the Charles Soule road to redemption is here and it goes through the pages of Astonishing X-Men. This issue focuses most of its time on Old Man Logan. Soule shows us Logan in many different eras of his life, which is cool and essential to what he has to go through to get to the Shadow King. One interesting element of the plot is the appearance of Charles Xavier. We’re not sure what his intentions are yet, and Soule keeps the mystery going this issue. It appears like he’s trying to help Old Man Logan, but he could very easily just be using him or tricking him. The only other part of the story that is touched on focuses on Psylocke, Bishop, and Angel as they protect the bodies of those in the astral plane. The most interesting part about this section of the issue is Angel battling to control himself. Soule has given us glimpses of Angel getting ready to turn, but so far he’s kept it in check, like when he gets injured trying to take a peaceful approach to these soldiers. Soule is planting some good seeds in this series and it’s been more exciting each month.
The pencils this issue are handled by Ed McGuinness with inks by Mark Morales and colors by Jason Keith. The pencils by McGuinness are good, but it’s hard to judge this fairly because it’s a completely different tone from the pencils and colors on the first two issues. McGuinness’ work feels very animated this issue, almost like it could be used for a cartoon, although there is a certain amount of grit to his work. Looking at the opening page, we see Old Man Logan crawling up a wall, blood coming out of his claws. There are some very cool panels between Logan and Xavier. The colors and shading done by Mark Morales and Jason Keith are very key in these panels as Logan’s face is blacked out and much of Xaiver’s backside is shaded. There is also a really well drawn, inked, and colored panel where Angel starts to turn into Archangel. McGuinness does particularly well at showing the strain it takes Warren, as veins shoot up his neck. Keith uses just the right amount of blue as it circles Warren’s eye and fills out one of the veins going to his head.
There really shouldn’t be a doubt anymore that Astonishing X-Men is the premier X-book. Soule is weaving a story that is engaging and well written. There may be a rotating cast of artists on this title, but if they are continually A-listers, there shouldn’t be any complaints. We’re 3 issues in, and so far, this is the most promising the X-Men have looked in a very long time.