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Astonishing X-Men #3

Posted: Friday, July 30, 2004
By: Shawn Hill



Writer: Joss Whedon
Artist: John Cassaday

Publisher: Marvel

Plot:
Internal conflict X-Men-style continues, but with growing subtlety and against some very serious threats that justify their divided opinions.

Comments:
The meat of this issue is exactly the right move for this story to make at this time. Whedon has set up the basic issues for his limited run: a cure for mutancy exists, it’s apparently legitimate, and various factions are involved in the creation of it.

Rather than explore those factions in detail yet, Whedon keeps the focus on his main characters, and their varied reactions to this climactic news. There’s no way this topic is not politicized, not for these warriors on the front lines of mutant rights. So here Whedon has allowed himself to do what he does best, what he developed so well in three excellent TV shows: he lets people who care deeply about each other rip each other apart while we watch.

There’s been quick movement on the “Beast wants the cure” front, opposed this issue by a very spooked Wolverine. Whedon is the true successor to Morrison on the X-books (sadly, he may be the only current writer who even understood what Morrison was doing), and he’s zeroed in on the fear and self-doubt that Morrison’s Hank only barely dealt with.

He’s also keeping Kitty (a fairplayer by nature) and Emma (never one to worry about her own contradictions) in sharp focus. And if Scott’s still a bit of a blank … well, when isn’t he?

Also interesting:
I had really thought Cassaday would save his best ideas for Planetary and other hipper projects. I hadn’t really seen him pull out all the stops yet on this series, overpriced cover promotions aside. Heck, he even had Emma manifesting a force bolt out of her hand at one point, which is just sloppy.

But this issue is inspired. I don’t think there’s ever been a cooler Wolverine scene than him dropping through the air towards Hank, claws sheathed because he just wants to kick his friend’s ass, not kill him. And while I think the cat-face is still quite odd (with or without snout is always a big issue for man-beasts), Hank’s fluid roll to kick his feet up at his opponent is beautiful mutant battle ballet.

Also, that final danger room space where Emma throws cold water on the proceedings amidst a giant nursery room is genius.

Worrisome:
The final cliffhanger stopped me cold, as I really predicted Joss wouldn’t go there again so soon. How does Cassaday manage to make a vertical slit of red on Cyclops’ visor look “wide-eyed” in shock?



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