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Astonishing X-Men #17

Posted: Monday, September 25, 2006
By: Shawn Hill



Writer: Joss Whedon
Artist: John Cassaday

Publisher: Marvel Comics


Plot: Madcap fun! As the Beast chews on Bambi on the grounds of the X-mansion, Cassandra Nova preens and flashes her gruesome eyebrows while Kitty finally succumbs. Meanwhile, in extra-planetary orbit, Agent Brand tries to figure out what’s going on as well as keep a bead on the Ord situation. Answers? Few. Clues? Plenty.

Comments: Okay, I give. All is forgiven. Maybe it’s just the fact that Emma is locked up in a catacomb thanks to Kitty, but there’s finally a sense of a lot going on this issue. A portrait of what might be going on starts to emerge.

Also, cover of the year. And Cassaday’s skill doesn’t stop at depicting the freshest, most unexpected take on Wolverine in years. There’s a grim solemnity to the mystifying scenes of Kitty’s suddenly realized happy family which open the book, topped by the brutal determination on her face when she feels her child is being endangered. If ever a sense of the inevitable love of Kitty and Peter was captured; well, Cassaday did it already on the cover of #6, and he does it again in panel after panel this issue.

Whedon is in his element here, writing not cinematically but in a manner that fits the comic format; long-running characters hitting crucial character defining points, whose suffering is that much more potent because we know them so well. There’s a wonderfully understated classic Wolverine moment (to counter that startlingly amusing fresh take of the last few issues: just try speaking any of his dialogue aloud, with a posh Canadian/British accent if you can), and seeing poor deluded Kitty use her powers so skillfully is both inspiring and deliciously frustrating.

I can’t even begin to describe the power of the creepiest big reveal I can recall outside of Y: The Last Man. And I still don’t know how this Cassandra fits in with Ernst or the rest of Morrison’s run, or who the new Emma is.

But take a close look. Our Emma in her few scenes is bitter, grumpy, cold, resigned. The newly old school one is nearly Avril Lavigne, she looks so young and unformed. In fact, she looks a fair bit like another avatar of the dead (Nagasonic is definitely dead, and isn’t Shaw dead, too?) I can think of: Esmé.

Things have definitely gone cuckoo in this book at any rate. But this is the best issue yet of this arc, despite the unwelcome return of “Danger.” “@#$%ing Shi’ar [tech]” as Agent Brand grouses.



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