Joss Whedon seems to be a master of all mediums. He has written and directed films, created TV shows, and even wrote a few comic books. Today I will be looking at my favorite X-Men run of all time. This is especially strange since the X-Men as a concept kind of bug me (more on that later). The concept of Astonishing X-Men was brilliant, it was canon, but also not canon. It contained elements of the original comics but avoided the big crossover events and for that I have mad respect for the series.
Joss Whedon actually stated that he hated crossover comic books because they felt they were hectic and unfollowable, especially with the crazy continuity that the X-Men have. Honestly I freaking love Whedon for doing this, it proves why he is one of my favorite writers of all time. As you are well aware I think that giant company crossovers are the bane of comic books nowadays and to see 25 issues of a single comic book and not have any of them deal with the big crossovers of the time was freaking amazing.
In the first volume Gifted starts off with Kitty Pryde (our main character) returning to Xavier’s School for the Gifted and meeting up with old friends and enemies. The X-Men are trying to up there reputation among the masses and try to do more “superhero” type things I think my favorite part is when Cyclops gathers the group together and tells them why they NEED to wear colorful costumes (it’s also a nice potshot at the costumes from the X-Men film, the one Joss did a treatment for!)
While all this is going on a warrior alien from Breakworld named Ord causes trouble for the X-men, and on top of that a new “mutant cure” has been discovered, and mutants all over the world are lining up to get it. I guess Brett Ratner liked the cure idea so much he decided to include it in the third X-Men film, which sucks because that was the worst one, and Joss received no money or props for it, but honestly, for a movie like that, maybe its best he didn’t get any props…
Whedon brings his best to this book, all the dialogue is Buffy quality. I have never laughed this much at a well told serious story as I have at this one. Kitty Pryde has to be my favorite mutant and Whedon made me love her even more. Whedon once stated that Kitty Pryde was his inspiration for the personality of Buffy Summers, and in turn Buffy Summers influenced his take on Kitty. While this can be read as a stand alone volume it works just as well with the rest of his run.
In volume 2 we are introduced the character Danger. Danger is essentially the embodiment of the danger room.She went all Skynet and began to kill mutants left and right. She gains a physical form and it is up to the X-Men to stop her. Joss ups the stakes of the story and pits the team against a threat that knows all of their moves and every single way to kill them. Joss also brings us Abigail Brand, and her top secret government agency called S.W.O.R.D. It’s basically the galactic version of S.H.I.E.L.D. and helps protect the earth against any treat from beyond our own galaxy. Dangerous was freakin’ amazing and it brought back one of my favorite mutants, Colossus, who gets very little movie love and that needs to change. We also find out that Brand and Ord are working together to get rid of the mutants due to the fact that one of them has been prophesied to destroy Breakworld.
Moving on through to volume 3, Torn, Whedon doesn’t let the action stop. The X-Men are brought to their lowest of lows when a telepath, Cassandra, messes with a good portion of the group’s minds and renders them completely useless. This is both terrifying and hilarious at the same time. She turns Beast into a mindless monster and gives Kitty Pryde the worst nightmare imaginable, she also does the most terrifying thing to Wolverine ever…she turns his mind into that of a creepy nine year old. This version of him his scarier than him with popped claws. Don’t believe me?
Though it was a very fun read, volume three suffers from a very strange plot twist that makes no sense. The only thing that saves the twist is that Kitty actually points out how weird it is. Self awareness is Joss Whedon’s biggest strength as a writer, he can make you believe something by making the characters not believe it, it’s genius.
Volume four, Unstoppable, is epic. We get to see the X-Men in a cosmic setting, on the alien planet known as Breakworld. S.W.O.R.D. has sent them their so that they may stop the leaders from destroying earth. It all concludes in an issue of Giant-Sized X-Men and features several other Marvel characters trying to help the X-Men stop the Doomsday Device that is headed towards Earth. It’s intense. There is a plot device used by Whedon in this issue that bugs me, and I understand WHY it had to be done, but it felt very contrived, but nonetheless it was enjoyable. And oh my god, the ending had me reeling with feels. Whedon always has something tragic happen to a character, and I knew which character it was going to be just by reading it but it still hurt me deeply.
I have not read past volume four, but it wraps up the story so nicely that you don’t need to read anymore, plus Joss left the book so the rest didn’t really interest me. Astonshing X-Men is the epitome of great comic book story telling. It is by no means Watchmen or The Dark Knight Returns, but it was heart felt, fun, funny and makes me wonder “Why the hell didn’t they let Joss Whedon do a freaking X-Men film?” (with full creative control of course.)
Next time on Joss Whedon Month I will be bringing you more epic Whedon comics such as The Runaways and the Buffy-verse comics.