Monday, July 16, 2007

Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men 4

[This post is part of an issue by issue look at Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men run; for more of the same, click the Astonishing X-Men label at the bottom of this post.]

In this issue we find out more about Ord's background, his origin on a warrior world. The team goes to Benetech to find out about the mutant that Rao has been experimenting on, and Ord shows up at the school, fighting two children and de-powering one.

Cassaday is dead on in this issue: the opening shot of Ord on his home world, Ord confronting the two children in their pajamas (the girl drops her toothbrush which is pictured in mid air, a nice touch), and the tall vertical panels for the ascent of Kitty and later the descent of Wing and simple and effective. He reuses a shot of the children, which is ok, and he does a triple take of Kitty for great effect -- as she realizes Colossus has returned.

Whedon's authorial voice here is noticeable and likable: "As deaths go, its not the funniest" Kitty says. The conversation between the kids is great -- Whedon has Wing do a funny mid-sentence shift that is wonderfully not signaled with any punctuation. Classic Whedon is the awkward conversation between Ord and the kids at the X-Mansion. Ord is looking for a fight and he ends up putting a hand to his forehead in frustration and saying "And you're sure they're not here ... And you don't know where they went ... This is very frustrating." Also quintessentially Whedon is how this foolishness suddenly becomes something very serious, as Wing is de-powered just to sent the X-Men a message.

Having brought Kitty back to the X-Men, he brings Colossus back. Fans had a big thing over this -- Colossus died in a very heart rending issue (so they say -- I have this issue on my CD-ROM of all the Uncanny issues, and it is bad). Lots of people thought he should stay dead. But like Morrison's New X-Men Whedon's run is relatively self contained (with the exception of drawing on Morrison's run), to the point where I simply do not care. This is why fans love and hate these auteur comic book writers: they bring a new level of quality at the expense of continuity and sacred cows, and also at the expense of that editorial voice that can last decades no matter who writes -- Whedon always sounds like Whedon; Morrison always sounds like Morrison. Many fans angrily dismiss this as ego. I think it depends on the quality of the ego -- Morrison and Whedon are great writers.

12 comments:

maskedcomicdork said...

I think one of the most integral facts about this issue was the "cover up" Marvel performed to trick readers. In the age of information--Marvel pulled a fast one...

Whedon and Co. issued that faux-Phoenix image pre-release that created a very real buzz for the issue. So sales were already pending--then they released the standard cover which was somewhat bland (Beast related theme) and they issued the variant featuring Colossus.

I already had a hunch that Colossus was bound to come back--his martyrdom was part of Scott Lobdell's garbage filled run. As a fan, I was tickled by his return--because even though I kind of thought he was coming--when he arrived my inner-fanboy let out one of those kinds of "Yes!" cheers you only see guys like Napolean Dynamite doing anymore.

I think Whedon's intention was to return Kitty Pryde to status quo with Colossus as the final catalyst. Kitty's got that "girl next door" appeal to the male readers--and contrary to popular belief--men like to see people get what they want romantically just as much as women do.

Ultimately, since his ressurection, Colossus has been nothing more than an appendage of Whedon's Pryde. He has had minimal character development; minimal dialog; and a very very very muted presence in any excursion involving an X. As a fan of the "pre-martyrdom" Colossus--I'm a little disappointed--even with the newer stories because Colossus is still in Kitty's shadow in all of their scenes--and the story is about HIM. I hope that his presence steps up in the bloated roster of X after Whedon and Cassaday end their run.

All that being said--AX #4 was probably the best issue out of the entire first year. It was like a slice of returning to normalcy after 15 years of badly de-humanized stories.

neilshyminsky said...

maskedcomicdork - I think that you're reading your own expectations on to Whedon, here. AXM has always been about Kitty in the same way that BTVS was always about Buffy, even when she wasn't the focal character of an episode. (Okay, so it's not exactly the same, but it's still really damn similar.) And like Angel before him, Colossus will only be a means of exploring another aspect of Kitty for so long as he stars alongside her.

maskedcomicdork said...

I think you're missing my point--Colossus is a "device" in Kitty's story.

I would think that a book with an ensemble cast would have a much more evenly written feeling--the book isn't called "Kitty Pryde and the Astonishing X-Men".

She's a great character--but she's not THAT great.

Elijah Fly said...

Colossus vs. a world. That's good enough for me.

James said...

Indeed, even in an ensemble book, it's rare to find six characters with an equal amount of screen time. And Colossus is no less represented than, say, Wolverine. Yes, Colossus exists mostly in terms of his relationship with Kitty, but he is still a rounded, 3-dimensional character.

Brian G said...

I really really love the page of Colossus running through a stunned Kitty, it was just so well executed and looked absolutely gorgeous. On the subject of Colossus not getting enough page time, I heard an interview with Whedon in which he said that he found Colossus the most difficult character to write out of the six. Whedon attributed the difficulty to the fact that Colossus is a very introverted character that doesn't simply say whats on his mind like so many of Whedon's other characters. I love the fact that the Astonishing X-Men team only has six set members. I wish there were more team books that had smaller rosters so that writers can have more space to really explore characters and their relationships, which is exactly what Whedon is doing with Astonishing.

Brian G said...

I really really love the page of Colossus running through a stunned Kitty, it was just so well executed and looked absolutely gorgeous. On the subject of Colossus not getting enough page time, I heard an interview with Whedon in which he said that he found Colossus the most difficult character to write out of the six. Whedon attributed the difficulty to the fact that Colossus is a very introverted character that doesn't simply say whats on his mind like so many of Whedon's other characters. I love the fact that the Astonishing X-Men team only has six set members. I wish there were more team books that had smaller rosters so that writers can have more space to really explore characters and their relationships, which is exactly what Whedon is doing with Astonishing.

neilshyminsky said...

maskedcomicdork - No, I got your point (and in very much the same language, really). My point, again, is that it isn't Whedon's fault that you don't like how Colossus is merely a part of Kitty's supporting cast - his track record seems to indicate that we should expect this to be the case. Given Kitty's relation (inter/subtextually) to Buffy, I don't think we should be surprised that it's 'Kitty and the X-Men' and that Colossus has a relatively minor role in it.

So maybe the complaint, I think, should be that Whedon is kinda repeating himself with the way Kitty/Colossus works.

Streebo said...

Nothing much to add on my end. I loved the return of Colossus. His death occurred during the period when I had sworn off ever reading an X-Men book again so I wasn't complaining. His return was a nice story moment. I dig it!

FYI - My favorite Colossus story was always the post-Secret Wars issue when Wolverine and Nightcrawler take Colossus out drinking to get over the one night stand he had on Beyonder World. He gets his ass handed to him by the Juggernaught and Wolverine lectures him about breaking Kitty's heart. That was one of the few X-Men stories where they had an entire story out of costume so it seemed really novel to me at the time.

Voice Of The Eagle said...

Now I read it just the other way-Kitty is the catalyst for PETE's story at the climax of the run, the salvation/destruction of the Breakworld.

Is this the issue where the mutant cure is christened "Hope?" That seems to me the most Whedonesque moment. To Satre, hope is the enemy; to the Satre-intoxicated Whedon, likewise.

Geoff Klock said...

VoE: your point about Hope is a great one.

Sanjay said...

He is very handsome boy I want to say his and this is my first comments.