So, to be honest: I hated the first couple issues of this book. They smelled off. “CSI: X-Men”? No thanks, bra. But then…
Whoa, right? Of course, sure, there were images like this in the last issue, but I guess they didn’t register with me like this one did, or maybe I hadn’t read enough of Brubaker/Fraction’s awful Uncanny run to fully appreciate Ellis and Bianchi’s version of the X-men. It’s so refreshing. It feels out of continuity and I think I can fall in love with this, given time.
You know what? It feels Sci-Fi in the way Morrison’s X-men felt Sci-Fi, cutting edge and all that jazz. Funny, now that I think about it, I’m sure Bru and Frac consider the garbage they’re spinning out every month “bleeding edge”… PFFT.
Anyway, it’s definitely Morrison, but that’s obviously just the starting point. Within the pages of Astonishing there exists all kinds of Ellis-isms. Like, all the pseudo science babble (which isn’t all that “pseudo” if you’ve been doing your homework):
This next one cracked me up. When was the last time you had characters in a mainstream title calculating flight times?
All the sciency stuff is cool, but without likable characters, it won’t amount to jack-all. If you recall, I believe I bashed Ellis’ characterizations of the X-Men in issue 25. But, damn, all of a sudden, I feel like he’s really got the hang of these guys. For instance:
Cyclops threatening murder? WTF! Who is this guy… wait, this is awesome!
Four panels so far, do we think he’s spent too much time on this joke? Not at all. If it had been any shorter, we may not have reached this particular punch line…
…which honestly made me laugh out loud. I’m easy like that.
Later, Bianchi shows off once again with the following two-spread page:
So far, this issue includes three full pages without dialogue and I don’t feel cheated one bit, not when we have someone as competent as Simone Bianchi on the art chores. More please. It’s all simply TOO wonderful.
And finally, almost, the idea that firmly hooked me into this book; the concept that utterly locked me up for the remainder of the run:
It’s not by accident that a non-American writer came up with this idea. Seriously, how arrogant is it for us to believe that American mutants would be the first to form a group of “X-Men”? And I love that these Chinese X-Men were all about dreaming and enlightenment whereas the American X-Men, despite appearances and tired rhetoric, are about just the opposite. Ah, Science Fiction, how I adore your socially conscious ways.
Of course, the comic wasn’t a complete home run. Inexplicably, the following panel made it, albeit awkwardly, into the comic:
This reminds me of that classic line from the movie “Doom” where a marine (the one into underage prostitutes) informs the Mars base security chief that he’s, and I quote, “…taking a shit, you ####ing gimp.”
I wonder if Warren Ellis has seen that film?