Monday, November 12, 2007

Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men 18

[This post is part of a series of posts looking issue by issue at Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men run. For more posts in this series, see the toolbar on the right.]

In the final part of “Torn” Ord, Danger, Nova and the X-Men collide moments before being “beamed up” by SWORD and taken into space.

Where on earth can you really go from the apotheosis of Cyclops at the end of the last issue? Whedon goes with the glorious freedom of shooting (illusory) people with a gun while making off the cuff quips. It is brilliant because Whedon is brilliant, but it is really brilliant because we finally get to see Cyclops just cut lose. Cut loose from the mode he has been in forever, but also cut lose from Morrison – one of the first things Whedon has him do is blithely shoot Morrison’s most enduring X-Men legacy, Nova, like it was nothing. He is finally free and it is exhilarating. He is happy. He is smiling. Morrison changed him, but he was still pretty angst-y, petulant, and over-serious a lot of the time.

In a battle with Ord and Danger, Wolverine is aided by the character who will be known as Armor. She is Whedon’s answer to Jubilee I suppose, a character I feel like a little bit of an idiot missing. She was terrible, right? I am sure I am remembering her through rose colored glasses. Importantly, we are re-introduced to Armor's powers in the fight, something that will become more important in the remaining issues of “Unbreakable,” I think.

One of the best bits of Whedon dialog: Wolverine: “Quit whining kid. I got eaten today.” Beast: “Yes, about that…” Wolverine: “Forget it.” Beast: “I can’t begin to apologize.” Wolverine: “Pfft! That’s what friends are for.” Beast: “I’m fairly certain it’s not.”

Kitty’s “Cry me a river, bitch” is also pretty inspired.

Whedon’s persuasively re-imagines Morrison’s defeat of Nova – since Emma put Nova away, Nova placed a psychic suggestion into Emma, and it fed off of Emma’s survivor guilt – guilt from Morrison’s Genosha attack. This is a much smarter – though to be fair much smaller – ret-con than something like Deadly Genesis. And Whedon delivers it without losing the tension of the scene because the explanation is going on as Nova is jumping into Armor -- you see why were were reminded who she was. All the talking actually builds tension, because they do not know they are missing something deadly, but we do.

Everyone collides, they are all hijacked into space, and Whedon ends with a little foreshadowing from a psychic character on the ground – one will not be coming back. This is Whedon at his best – simple, effective, fun, and smart.

"Gifted" was pretty good, "Danger" had some weak stuff, "Torn" is great and, as far as I can tell, "Unbreakable" will be amazing (it is as of issue 23).


Matthew J. Brady said...

I know, this issue was really good. Cyclops just glibly shooting all the bad guys was shocking, even with the reveal that they were illusions.

One question I had (which Whedon or somebody will probably address at some point) is what happened to Nova? Everybody else was beamed up by SWORD, and she was left in her alien body. So I guess she is free now, and who knows what she has been up to back on Earth while the team is adventuring in space. Hopefully this won't be a loose plot thread for some hack writer to pick up and have her team up with Juggernaut or something.

Geoff Klock said...

Matt: Nova is IN ARMOR. Look again at issue 18. While everyone was talking, Emma transfered Nova's consciousness to Armor and then Armor, along with everyone else, was beamed into space. We are still waiting for the other shoe to drop on this plot, but I expect it will happen at the climax of "Unbreakable."

See how awesome Whedon is?

Matthew J. Brady said...

Holy crap, I completely missed that detail! That's really cool.

James said...

re: Astonishing X-Men #17's cover (I re-read 17 and 18 last night to catch up)

Obviously it's good because the design is striking, and the drawing of Wolverine is funny, but the reason for the white space is an even better gag that I hadn't noticed before: The cover is supposed to be a solo glory-shot of Wolverine - like the variant covers for Unstoppable - but he's screwing it up by cowering in the corner. Nova has so thoroughly emasculated Wolverine she's affected the goddamn comic's packaging.

re: Astonishing X-Men #18

Yeah, I managed to miss the Armor thing too. Hot damn.

Jason Powell said...

Okay, I swear to god I am not making this up --

Last night I had a dream I read the conclusion to Whedon's "Astonishing Run" (and note I have not read the issue you are discussing here ...). During one climactic moment, "Armor" (who I actually am completely unfamiliar with) *sneezes* Nova out of himself during a climactic fight.

And I literally thought this in the dream: "Wow, this is stupid. I can't wait to post to Geoff's blog about how dumb this is."

I've said before about how effective I find your writing when I haven't even read the comics you're discussing. I think this is yet more proof. I dreamed the ending to the story based only on what I read here.

I don't know what to make of it, frankly. But c'mon ... a *sneeze*? Whedon, you hack.

Matthew J. Brady said...

Armor is a girl. But that dream is hilarious. If it happens, I'll laugh and laugh.

Geoff Klock said...

Matt, James -- glad I could help out!

Jason: that is weird.