31 July 2013

Astonishing X-Men is still a good read

Once Upon A Time the World was a much simpler place, there was one Fantastic Four comic, one Avengers comic and one X-Men comic. Then Marvel decided that there was more money to be mined from their top brands and the number of titles proliferated and new titles featuring their main characters come and go all the time.

Astonishing X-Men was created in 2004 to allow Joss Whedon to play with the X-Men without causing too much damage to the main canon. His stories stood slightly to the side of the main Marvel Universe and were the more interesting for it.

Jos played for two good years and then Warren Ellis took over and took the X-Men in to even more unusual places for about a year.

Astonish X-Men could have been cancelled after Joss' run or after Warren's but it kept going and is now, thanks to reboots elsewhere, the longest running X-Men title, though it remains at arms length from the main titles.

The current writer is Marjorie Liu who majors as a writer or paranormal romance and urban fantasy novels (so Wikipedia tells me). The stories remain quirky and off-centre.

The headline grabbing story was the same-sex marriage of Northstar which went past the sensation and explored the feelings of his partner as he came to terms with being with a famous superhero.

The current story arc elevates another of the lesser characters in the X-Men rota, Iceman.

For reasons we have not yet learnt his powers have escalated and he has caused a world-wide freeze.

It is the different approach and the grand scale of the story that I like. When I was younger I was happy to read stories about two costumed people having fist-fights which resulted in the villain going to prison only to escape a year or so later. And so on.

Now I need something more challenging and while that excludes a large number of superhero comics there are still titles like Astonishing X-Men out there that deliver what I am looking for.

Sadly not for much longer though. The X-Men titles are being stirred again (I am also reading Uncanny X-Men and X-Men, both of which are in single-digit issue numbers) and Astonishing X-Men is due to finish with issue #68. I'll miss it.

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