Astonishing X-Men #1
Writer: Charles Soule
Penciller: Jim Chueng
Inkers: Mark Morales,Guillermo Ortego, Walden Wong
Colorist: Richard Isavone, Rain Beredo
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
A review by Gregory Brothers
After years of being on the back burner, Marvel has finally decided to flip the script and go all in on bringing the X-Men back into the forefront with the Resurrection initiative. While other books launched a few months ago, Astonishing X-Men was announced a few weeks later with a July launching point.
While it was nice to see some of the other titles and characters get their chance to make an impact, Astonishing X-Men #1 was the book that I was looking forward to the most. The team of Rogue, Gambit, Psylocke, Archangel, and Bishop sounded like the team of X-Men that I remembered the most. The addition of Fantomex and Mystique also created the opportunity for some interesting and exciting character interactions.
In addition to the character line-up the creative team stood out to me as a group that could really make some noise on an X-Men title. Charles Soule has always told stories that have a nice balance of action, while also building characters and relationships. With pencils by Jim Chueng, who has been a Marvel mainstay on art for the last 10 years, it became obvious the company was all in on Astonishing X-Men #1.
Astonishing X-Men #1 starts with several unnamed psychics around the globe laying in pain as an unknown force attacks them. Cut to Psylocke in London when she is attacked by this same unseen force. Instead of giving into the power she is able to get a distress signal out to former teammates and friends seeking help. Through teamwork and some quick thinking, the team is able to stop the initial threat to find out that there is something bigger and more sinister at work.
While Soule starts the series out like many other X-Men books, with the reader thrown right into the action, he quickly starts to establish some of those character traits and relationships. The reason for the team that is established in Astonishing X-Men #1 feels very organic, as each member has a reason that they show up to help Psylocke in her battle. The introduction of each character establishes what they have been involved in since they were last featured in a book, while also starting to lay the ground work for problems that may come later. Soule has obviously done his homework on previous runs of X-Men stories as he addresses those previous relationships and tensions throughout the interaction of the characters. Those tensions and interactions are already starting to plant seeds for future stories. Soule’s final reveal presents a fresh set of questions that can lead in several different directions.
I’m picky when it comes to my X-Men art. Pet peeves like the age in Gambit’s face and the wrong amount of white in Rogues hair can quickly derail an X-Men book, in my opinion. Thankfully Cheung, Isanove, and Beredo hit the notes perfectly in Astonishing X-Men #1. The colors pop throughout with the right amount of brightness. The pencilling and inking create characters that are true to their origins. Panels are filled with the right amount of action and detail to establish them for the book while staying close to the source materials.
Buy it! Astonishing X-Men #1 is the book you are looking for if you are a fan of the X-Men franchise. Familiar characters mix with new characters to create a team that has enough of a history that long time readers will not feel like stories are just being rehashed while new readers will not feel overwhelmed by the long history of the franchise.