Good vs. Evil in Astonishing X-Men 12

by Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

“Good vs Evil” implies that there are two sides — two warring factions — battling for the fate of the world. It’s a compelling image: a battlefield with good guys on one side and bad guys on the other. Good and evil are separate forces, and in our imaginations, represented by two different groups of people. While Charles Soule and Gerardo Sandoval’s Astonishing X-Men 12 still gives the reader avatars of light and darkness in the forms of X and The Night King, the armies fighting for each side are made up of all the same players. Old Man Logan is both a reformed ally-murderer and an irredeemable death machine; good and evil waging war within one mind. Continue reading

Lettering Through the Psychic Fog in Astonishing X-Men 11

By Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

CORRECTION (5/3/18): A previous version of this piece credited Clayton Cowles with the lettering, as is indicated in the credits. The issue was actually lettered by Travis Lanham.

Astonishing X-Men is one of those telepathic mutant clusterfucks. You know the type: there are psychics and reality warpers and a shapeshifter all int he mix at once. The audience’s ability to tell what is happening and what is not happening will likely vary from reader to reader, but I had a hell of a time tracking who was where and what specific threats they faced. This disorientation cues the reader up for that mind-bending twist on the final page. But you can’t just be confused for 20 pages, can you? With Ron Garney’s artwork and Charles Soule’s script both actively working to distance themselves from the reader, we have to look to letterer Travis Lanham for signposts of stability. Continue reading

Are New Mediums Influencing the Artwork in Astonishing X-Men 10?

by Taylor Anderson

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Much has been made about how the internet and e-books are killing the printed word. Even though that’s a bit hyperbolic, it is true that more and more people are reading books on an electronic device. This same trend holds true in the world of comic books, where sites such as Comixology have cut into the traditional printed market. I myself prefer to read comic books on my iPad these days, and as I do so, I sometimes wonder how this change in medium might be affecting the way comics are made and published. With that in mind, I couldn’t help but consider Astonishing X-Men 10 an interesting case study in the way electronic formats might be alternating the way comic book artists produce their craft. Continue reading

Melting n’ Melding Bodies in Astonishing X-Men 8

by Taylor Anderson

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

There’s a scene in John Carpenter’s The Thing when Kurt Russell and the rest of crew at an Antarctic research station realize that their sled dogs have been melted by an alien and blobbed together into one hideous creature that is the stuff of nightmares. Like a lot of the movie, it’s disturbing to say the least. There’s something about the the design of the blob-dog-alien creature that just rings as…wrong. Eyes are where they shouldn’t be, jaws open up from weird crevices, and melted organic all make for something that looks like it came straight out of Hell. It sounds awful (which it is), but that’s also what makes the movie great and, coincidentally, is what makes Astonishing X-Men 8 enjoyable as well.

Continue reading

Resurrection Breeds Suspicion in Astonishing X-Men 7

by Taylor Anderson

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Charles Xavier has been dead for some time now and while that’s not new ground for a comic book character, it is notable just how long he’s been departed. It was way back in the quaint year of 2012 when Charles was killed by a Phoenix-possessed Scott Summers. Since then, his spirit has been wandering around various spirit realms. Now, however, Charles is back in the world of the living, having possessed the body of Fantomex. While the rebirth of Charles Xavier sounds like a good thing, it’s also important to remember that rarely does someone coming back from the dead a work out for the best. Continue reading

The Frustration of ‘Almost’ in Astonishing X-Men 5

by Taylor Anderson

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

I’ve recently been playing a lot of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and while I love the game, there are times it frustrates the hell out of me. Usually, this frustration comes in the form of puzzles located in shrines scattered throughout Hyrule. While a lot of the shrines are solved using logic, there are some that just require skill and a lot of patience to complete. I can’t count the number of times I’ve come close to solving one of the skill shrines only to have something get bungled up at the last minute. This sense of frustration in the face of near victory is familiar to me now, and it’s why I recognize it so readily in Astonishing X-Men 5. Continue reading

Temptation Lurks in the Shadows in Astonishing X-Men 4

by Taylor Anderson

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Being human, we are all slaves to our desires. True, most people are able to keep their impulses in check and only give in every so often. However, the urges are always there and it is only through self control that we’re able to be productive members of society as opposed to fleshy hedonism bots. So ingrained is desire in our culture that it frequently presents itself in pop-culture, usually as a dangerous temptation for heroes as they struggle to achieve their ends. For the X-Men, who are more than human, will temptation prove too great in their fight against the Shadow King? Continue reading

Logan’s Mind and Body in Astonishing X-Men 3

by Taylor Anderson

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Wolverine has always been the perfect blend of superpower and persona. On the mutant side, Logan’s body regenerates from virtually any damage he may sustain. On the persona side, Logan is strong-willed and once his mind is set to do something, there’s little that can get in his way. The marriage of Logan’s unflinching resolve and undying body is poetic in the way each side reflects the other. What exactly that makes of the man’s psyche is the topic of discussion in Astonishing X-Men 3. Continue reading

Astonishing X-Men 1: Discussion

by Taylor Anderson & Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

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Taylor: About a month ago, the Golden State Warriors won the NBA  championship with ease. So easy was their win, in fact, that many pundits are calling them a super team that practically has the next several championships already won. It’s tempting to think that building such a dominant team is the result of careful planning and deep pockets. In actuality, what brought so many talented players together was a series of fluke accidents and coincidental timing that amount to little more than dumb luck. In much the same way, another super team is also being built, albeit this one on the pages of Astonishing X-Men. That might sound like a haphazard way to build a team — maybe it is — but it’s also a refreshing take on the typical team-up concept.  Continue reading