Astonishing X-Men Annual 1 Corrupts a Generation

by Patrick Ehlers

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

One of the frustrating things about our currently social and political landscape is that the generation pulling our country to the right was once a force for radical social change. When the baby boomers where hippies, they believed in equality and rejected conformity and corporatization. They championed peace, both as an antidote to war and on its own merit. We can argue about the efficacy of that countercultural movement all we want, but the point is that they were idealistic once. Somewhere over the last 50 years, peace and love turned into opportunism and xenophobia. To this point, the original X-Men have been spared this curmudgeonly fate. Introduced as avatars of otherneess in 1963, Jean Grey, Hank McCoy, Warren Worthington and Bobby Drake have such a long way to fall. Matthew Rosenberg and Travel Foreman’s Astonishing X-Men Annual 1 shows this corrupting influence in action, slowly radicalizing the most level headed, unimpeachable voices for equality in the marvel universe.

It’s a truly heartbreaking ride. 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.

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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

Color and Foreshadowing in Astonishing X-Men 6

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Patrick: Over the weekend, a friend who had fallen out of comics asked me how the Iron Man comics were these days. He was last reading like four years ago, when Kieron Gillen was writing about the secret origin of Tony Stark. Between the Tony Stark A.I., Riri Williams, and a reformed Doctor Doom, I realized it was almost impossible to walk him through all of it in any meaningful way. I mean, just explaining how / why Doom could be a good guy requires briefing him on all of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers and Secret Wars run. And in summary, it all sounds nuts — like the ramblings of a lunatic — but the moment-to-moment fireworks display that brought us to that point was exciting, compelling, and fun. That’s exactly what we get in Astonishing X-Men, a technicolor extravaganza content to sell the spectacle of the moment over the logic of the scene. But, man: what a spectacle it is! Continue reading

All-New X-Men 9

all new x-men 9

Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Michael D. are discussing All-New X-Men 9, originally released March 20th, 2013.

Patrick: ­”What are we doing here?” It’s a practical question, but it’s also often a petulant one. The question is so charged, packed with implications about the many other ways the asker would rather be spending their time. In my experience, the next thought after “what are we doing here?” is usually “I’m leaving.” When you’re young and unattached, it’s a dangerous question because it can lead you to take almost any course of action. So when a time-displaced mutant that feels alienated from his only friends asks “What are we doing here?” it’s cause for alarm.

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All-New X-Men 8

all new x-men 8

Today, Ethan and Shelby are discussing All-New X-Men 8, originally released March 6th, 2013.

Ethan: ­Time-travel narratives always have the potential to bring up questions of self and identity. Though he wrote in less sci-fi context, Famous Dead White Guy David Hume talked about self not in terms of one, coherent, persistent soul but as a collision of different, constantly changing ideas and perceptions, like a train barreling forward with an ever changing set of passengers. While I may feel like I’m one, same person from one day to the next, I’m occasionally startled when my brain abruptly serves up a memory from the past. I remember the experience, the decisions, the stimuli as if it was me, but the choices and statements made by that past person often seem alien. That person was, in many real ways, NOT the me I am now. Reading All-New X-Men 8, I was happy to see that writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist David Marquez took some time to play around with these ideas.

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All-New X-Men 5

all new x-men 5

Today, Patrick and guest writer Ethan Andyshack are discussing All-New X-Men 5, originally released January 2nd, 2013.

Patrick: I had to do a group English project in the first quarter of my Sophomore year in high school. We were on the Junior High / High School system, so this was actually my first year at the school, and sort of my first experience really having to work with new people. There were four of us, and because it was high school, we got together the night before the project was due to essentially do the whole project. I won’t bore you with the details of the project (gigantic literary baseball cards), but there came a point in the night where all three of my other group members thought we were done… but then I noticed that we had woefully neglected the assignment requirements and we actually had another night’s work ahead of us. This was around midnight, so we tabled the project for a second and had to decide which was worse: the unpleasant task of staying up all night or failure? We chose the former and still ended up just getting Bs.

This all relates to All-New X-Men, I promise.
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All-New X-Men 4

Alternating Currents: All-New X-Men 4, Patrick and Drew

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing All-New X-Men 4, originally released December 19th, 2012.

Patrick: Time travel narratives end up appealing to our vague understandings of chaos theory and the butterfly effect (thanks Jurassic Park, for introducing those into our media-vocabulary). But usually that assumes a time-lapse: events unfold differently throughout time and our future is changed to match the changing past. All-New X-Men shows these same ripples, but throughout the present, as the emotional impact of Beast’s time-travel project effects everyone in turn. Instead of seeing a cause, and then skipping 25 years later to see the effect, we’re subjected to the slow, real pace of cause and effect. It makes for a much smarter, much more sincere time travel story. Oh and there are X-Men in it too. Continue reading

All-New X-Men 1-3

Alternating Currents: All-New X-Men 1-3, Drew and ShelbyToday, Drew and Shelby are discussing All-New X-Men 1-3, originally released November 7th, 21st, and December 5th 2012, respectively.

Drew: Regret is a funny thing. We’ve all felt it, even if for something as simple as wishing we had ordered that other thing that looked good on the menu. It comes in many flavors, from shame to wistfulness, but all require us to be removed in time from the event we regret. As an observation, that’s almost too obvious to mention — except when time stops working like we expect it to. We’re used to looking back, but how does regret work if you can look forward, as well? At the end of its first three issues, All-New X-Men seems poised to address this very notion, as we rapidly take the perspectives of people looking to their pasts, as their pasts gaze into their future. It’s a crazy idea, but just like the plan that brought it about, it might be just crazy enough to work. Continue reading