X-Men Red 3 Offers a Portrait of Our Time

by Drew Baumgartner

X-Men Red 3

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

…it occurred to me that instead of them just being heroes that everybody admired, what if I made other people fear and suspect and actually hate them because they were different? I loved that idea; it not only made them different, but it was a good metaphor for what was happening with the civil rights movement in the country at that time.

Stan Lee on creating the X-Men

That the mutants of the Marvel universe are reviled and oppressed has long made them an allegory for any number of minorities the world over, which in turn makes the X-Men an allegory for any number of civil rights activists. Much has been written about the MLK/Xavier and Malcolm X/Magneto parallels, but as the twentieth century churned on, those movements coalesced less and less around recognizable figureheads. These movements weren’t leaderless, by any means, but the leaders were no longer the household names they were in the early ’60s. X-Men comics responded in kind, broadening its cast and bringing in an array of perspectives to cover the more diffuse push for civil rights across the globe. This made the X-Men generalists in terms of their symbolic power — maybe they were drawing parallels to the gay rights movement, or apartheid, or even the holocaust. But that generalist nature may also have blunted any one of those parallels, limiting how specific any one of them can truly feel.

Or so I thought. I’d come to accept the X-Men as a broad comment on the nature of oppression and activism, but never turned to it for “ripped from the headlines” representations of discrete real-world events. Maybe I (and the rest of the world) wasn’t paying enough attention to real-world events to recognize them. Maybe those events weren’t being covered in the way they have been over the past few years. Whatever the case, I was completely bowled over by the unapologetic allegory for Charlottesville that Tom Taylor and Mahmud Asrar present in X-Men Red 3. Continue reading

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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

Rogue and Gambit 1: Discussion

by Mark Mitchell and Ryan Mogge

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

Mark: There’s a thin line between romantic pursuit and creepy, unwanted attention, and fan favorite X-Man Gambit falls too often onto the “creepy” side of that line in Kelly Thompson and Pere Perez’s Rogue and Gambit 1.  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

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

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