Astonishing X-Men Ultimate Collection Volume 1

By Joss Whedon

Rating: 4 stars

I must confess that I’m not hugely familiar with the X-Men. I used to watch the cartoon when I was young, and watched the first couple of films. This first half of Joss Whedon’s run with the X-Men covers two story arcs. In the first, the idea of a cure for mutation is introduced, along with an alien who has a vendetta against the X-Men. In the second, a damaged sentinel attacks the X-Men mansion under the orders of an unseen mastermind and there is danger from within.

The volume focusses on a core group, missing Professor X, who reform the X-Men as a superhero team to be visible and a beacon for the good that mutants can do in the world. Scott Summers and Emma Frost are co-leaders, with Hank McCoy, Kitty Pride and Logan filling out the ranks (superhero codenames are hardly ever used). It’s a fun book, filled with Whedon’s trademark humour (a particular favourite is a fight where Kitty and Colossus have thought bubbles that are mostly angst, and then we cut to Logan who’s just thinking how much he loves beer). It’s a great way to cut the tension and stop it feeling too “woe is me”.

It’s also a decent introduction to the characters, even for someone like me, whose knowledge of the X-Men and the universe is limited. We get up to speed with who everyone is, what the setup is and what the factions are quickly, and without infodumping – as you would expect from a writer of Whedon’s calibre.

The art is pretty good, although I wouldn’t call it special. There are some good splash pages and it fits the superhero style well. The one disconcerting thing for me in terms of the art is that Nick Fury is white. As far as I’m concerned Nick Fury is, and has always been, black (and looked like Samuel L. Jackson). This series predates the MCU by a good four years, but it’s still disconcerting for someone who’s main entry to Marvel has been the MCU.

So a good entry to the X-Men universe, with good characterisation of the cast and a fun book to read, enhanced by Joss Whedon’s ear for dialogue.

Book details

ISBN: 9780785161943
Publisher: Marvel
Year of publication: 2004

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