Astonishing X-Men #14 review

I’m a sucker for new X-Men line-ups. And the one that’s assembling in the latest Astonishing X-Men series has real promise.

The set-up, established last issue, is that after a period of being evil – not his fault, honest – Alex Summers aka Havok – wants to lead a new team of mutants, doing good for the world. But because of that villainous blip, the existing X-Men teams don’t trust him, and fear he’d besmirch their name (because none of the X-Men has ever gone Dark temporarily…). So he’s approaching non-allied heroes to put together an off-the-books group. First, he hooked up with Hank McCoy, apparently in one of the odd months he’s neither an X-Man, Avenger, Defender or X-Factor-er, and they were instantly attacked by longtime X-foes The Reavers. Happily, the Beast, currently working as a lecturer, has another old chum on site.

And someone else turns up to assist.

Reavers ravaged, Warpath explains that X-Men leader Kitty Pryde has assigned him to keep an eye on Havok. Which means that he’s acting as a member of the new squad without officially being one. Havok, though, wants a dedicated strong guy.

Strong Guy being unavailable, Alex and Warpath find an old pal who’s at a loose end.

Having learned from a broken Reaver that there’s a hit list of mutants, Hank suggests he, Havok, Colossus, Banshee and Warpath find the next person on it. So it’s off to a pop concert.

Alison Blaire’s rocking her old school disco look for an anniversary tour, and as it’s not going that well, she’s thrilled at the chance to join Havok’s new team. Sadly, it’s not her they’ve come for… it’s technical manager Forge, the mutant who can build any machine. Dazzler, who it turns out was wearing a wig, is not impressed.

Before the end of the issue, though, she gets her big moment…

There’s a lot I like about this comic. Havok’s never say die attitude. The fact that whatever they intend, Charles Xavier’s old pupils and associates can’t help themselves drifting into teams. The mystery of why Banshee is so quiet when he’s not fighting. Penciller Greg Land’s action sequences and splash pages. The return of Banshee’s crumpled top lip, rarely seen since his debut in the Sixties.

I also have a few Dislikes. Matthew Rosenberg’s having characters cussing constantly; we get it, it’s 2018, but %#@.& and so on gets old very fast – you’re a writer, write around it! Also, Dazzler isn’t a ditzy Valley Girl throwback, she wouldn’t be, like, ‘Oh my God!’ every second sentence. And why does nobody show any concern for the emotional pain Banshee’s obviously in?

Then there are Land’s inappropriate toothpaste-ad-cum-Stepford character expressions… inker Jay Leisten helps give his pics a little more life, but I know Land can do better. And while colourist Frank D’armata does a generally good job, he might pay more attention to Warpath and Forge’s skintones – for Native Americans they’re pretty darn White.

I wonder whether letterer Clayton Cowles was told to add ‘Dazzler’ in display fonts on that splash panel – the stage logo Land has used makes it unnecessary and the word balloon version is so very, very ugly, with that oddly angled ‘A’ and weird mix of upper and lower case.

Greg Land’s Jim Steranko-style cover is delicious, announcing the arrival of Dazzler with real style.

The character mix and confidence of the creators offsets the problems I have, so I think I’ll stick with this book for a few issues to see where it’s going.

Sorry, where it’s %#@.& going.

6 thoughts on “Astonishing X-Men #14 review

  1. What’s funny is the guy that leans more towards DC liked this way more than the guy that leans more towards Marvel. I had zero problems with the art. Land is a master storyteller. Even folks who don’t like his style could follow any of his books much easier than one by Sorrentino or Williams. Plus it’s just filled with such a sense of fun and joy. Now, what I disliked was how flip it was. You can’t take anything in the book seriously because the writer doesn’t. Colossus’ pain becomes a funny drunk scene. Nonpracticing lawyer Dazzler has led teams but here is an airheaded singer. The list goes on. I’ll keep reading because of Land, who I’ve followed onto worse books but don’t expect much to come of this series…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve not been reading Gold, so didn’t know how much pain Colossus was in, but i don’t doubt you’re right. My main problem with land is that he has people toothpaste-grinning when they’re saying something that doesn’t lend itself to cheeriness.

    Thank you for reminding me Ali studied law, I’d forgotten that!


    1. I wish a writer at Marvel would remember! Imagine the shock value of Matt Murdock or Jennifer Walters going to trial and hearing ‘and for the defense, Alison Blair’!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That would be amazing. She’s surely had time to renew any license she’d need to practice law. Heck, Daredevil could share his book, they both start with DA…

        I’m trying to remember, has she been on a team with Banshee previously? Theit powers combined could be pretty impressive.


  3. I got the first issue and liked it a fair bit. It reads a little like the writer’s dream team, the random mutants Rosenberg wants to write.

    This issue seems to be continued fun and I am a Dazzler fan. So maybe you have once again convinced me to go out and buy a comment.

    Liked by 1 person

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