12.16.09 Review (As In The Singular, With No "S")

Astonishing X-Men #33 (Marvel): I like the style of Phil Jimenez’s pencils here in general. There are intermittent stylistic similarities to Frank Quitely, John Cassaday, and even George Perez in spots. For me, they never get as good and consistent as any of those artists, but they are able to service the gravitas, the action, and the beauty in their own way. He even throws in some nice visual callbacks to decades old issues of Uncanny X-Men featuring The Brood, but there’s also a funny gaffe where Agent Brand is suddenly drawn with her glasses on, when the previous panels of her conversation with Scott, Beast, and Emma don’t have them. That’s just silly and careless. I also don’t like the cover since it’s little more than a swipe from a Sarah Connor Chronicles ad and has little to do with the interior, even being a bit misleading in the process. There’s a new threat afoot, with humongous tech and genetic splicing ability, intent on exterminating the remaining mutants. The threat is conceptually an imposing one, but visually I don’t find it that compelling. It basically comes down to the X-Men fighting big creepy Brood Sentinel Mutant Monsters. I haven’t quite figured out if it’s noble and sweet or deceptive and duplicitous of Abigail to never bring her lover into the fold regarding her investigation since it essentially implicates him. Generally I enjoy Warren Ellis’ manic sci-fi ideas and pop culture references, but they feel a little forced here, as if they’re sticking out at the reader shouting “look at me, look at me, I’m clever!” We’ve got a throwaway comment, leading to a throwaway back and forth, about the Young British Artists, “faffing around,” which I doubt Scott would ever say, all on top of questionable science that rivals the techno-babble of Geordi LaForge. There’s stuff hidden in the ionosphere because of “rain fade.” Uhh, ok. “Technokine.” Uhh, ok, I’m guessing that’s like a hybrid of technology and telekinesis… or something? As for characterization, the bits I liked the best involved Scott’s leadership ability. He’s really portrayed as an impatient, bold, powerful leader here, with no time for the quips of Logan or Emma, and that’s fine entertainment. He seems to be subscribing to the Leo McGarry school of leadership: “If we run into walls, I want us hitting them at 200mph.” Armor’s limited dialogue shines as well, with great interplay between her and Wolverine. At the end of it all, if Agent Brand and Scott Summers decide they’re coming after you, heaven help you. The bottom line is that this is better than the previous arc with Simone Bianchi, but nowhere near as good as Joss Whedon and John Cassaday. So long as a book bears the title “Astonishing X-Men,” that will be the high watermark for comparison. Grade B.

Yeah, that's all I bought this week. Sea Donkey decided to open at 11:07, because that's *almost* the same as 11:00. He had about 80% of the books up on the shelf. Some weren't even on the new release stands, but littered about in piles all over the store. All the Blackest Night stuff made me throw up in my mouth a little, I thumbed through the Batman 80 Page Giant, concluding "ehh," he got in exactly one copy of Godland #30, and Dodgem Logic was MIA because, I guess, it's hard to sell something from this unknown Alan Moore guy.


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