The Revolution wasn’t all that impressed with the last issue of Astonishing X-Men. And that is very unusual since I have absolutely loved Whedon’s run on this title. I’m sure that the last issue was an aberration and that Whedon will return to form and deliver an exciting read in Astonishing X-Men #20. Let’s hit this review.
Writer: Joss Whedon
Artist: John Cassaday
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Agent Brand ordering the launch of the escape vessel called “Splinter.” Splinter has an unbreachable hull and enough power to outrun anyone in a short range. Unfortunately, Agent Brand and the X-Men are still on the damaged main ship and watch the Splinter race through space. Brand says the Splinter is a distraction to divert the armada’s attention to it instead of our heroes.
Brand then huddles the X-Men together and tells them that the plan is to land on the Breakworld, find out how Colossus is supposed to be a threat, visibly nullify that threat and take out the missile they have pointed at the Earth.
Brand then orders the X-Men to split into two teams and get into the two escape pods named Flotsam and Jetsam. Their rendezvous point in The Palace of the Corpse which is a tomb on the Breakworld that recently got dug up.
We see the main ship explode and the two escape pods come rocketing out and head toward the Breakworld. Colossus, Kitty, Wolverine and Hisako are in one pod. They are having a miserable time dealing with the horrible turbulence. Hisako passes out. In the other escape pod are the Beast, Cyclops, White Queen and Agent Brand. However, thanks to Emma’s powers, they are all imagining that they are enjoying a leisurely tea in a nice parlor room.
We see the escape pod that Wolverine, Kitty, Colossus and Hisako are in break apart upon entry into the Breakworld’s atmosphere. Kitty grabs Colossus and phases through the escape pod. Wolverine cuts Hisako loose from her chair and wakes her up and yells for her to armor up. Kitty passes out so Colossus holds her close and absorbs the impact of landing on the planet.
We cut to the other escape pod making a nice safe landing. Emma, Cyclops, Beast and Agent Brand step out of the pod and notice that they landed right next to the Palace of the Corpse.
We cut to Powerlord Kruun being alerted that the X-Men have arrived on the Breakworld. That according to the prophecy, when Colossus made impact with the Breakworld surface he sank into the ground. Ord tells Kruun that Kitty used her powers to move Colossus through the ground.
Kruun is then informed that his soldiers have captured the survivors from the S.W.O.R.D. ship. That they are all human except for one synthetic life form. (Danger.) Kruun orders his soldiers to interrogate the humans. Kruun says that he will interrogate the synthetic life form himself.
We shift to a group of S.W.O.R.D. soldiers along with Lockheed who managed to escape being captured by Kruun’s soldiers. The S.W.O.R.D. psychic tells the ranking S.W.O.R.D. soldier that Lockheed is bonded to Kitty and will do what it wakes to protect her. The soldier responds that it looks like Lockheed is working awful hard to avoid Kitty.
We cut to Hisako walking over to a crispy Wolverine whose healing factor is working overtime to heal him from the impact with the ground. Hisako starts to crack under all the pressure. Wolverine snaps that if she wasn’t to be a whiny teenager who is going to cost him time then take off the X-Men outfit and go die. However, if she is the X-Man that he has seen fight and that he wants on his team then they have a world to save. Hisako looks at Wolverine and says “Armor” will be her codename.
We hop over to Colossus and Kitty brawling with a bunch of Kruun’s soldiers. Kitty tells Colossus that they have to make their way to the Palace of the Corpse. Colossus is doubting himself. Kitty tells Colossus that the future is not set. That just because the Breakworlders’ psychics say that he is a danger to this world doesn’t mean it’s written in stone.
We then cut to Beat, Emma, Cyclops and Agent Brand inside the Palace of the Corpse. They are looking at a huge stone sculpting of Colossus destroying the Breakworld. End of issue.
The Good: X-Men #20 was just a slightly better than average read. Whedon strength remains his excellent dialogue and good feel for each character. Whedon gives each X-Man the proper external voice. Plus, Whedon continues to develop each X-Man and make sure that they have their own unique personalities. Because Whedon has such a good handle on all of these characters, he is able to generate nice chemistry between the various characters.
As always, Whedon delivers plenty of lively and entertaining dialogue. My personal favorite among all the witty banter was when Beast threatens to eat Agent Brand should she double cross the X-Men. Evidently, Beast, much to his consternation, recently discovered how much he enjoys the taste of human flesh.
I thought this was a neat move by Whedon to build off what happened to Beast when Cassandra Nova de-evolved him into a primal state. Often the readers forget Beast’s true nature because of his brilliant mind and civilized manners. However, the fact remains that Beast is still very much a primal creature. And it only makes sense that he would have the same urges and desires like any other wild animal.
I’m interested in what Whedon is hinting at with Lockheed. There is definitely something strange going on between him and Kitty. I’m curious to see what the little dragon has been up to and why he has been avoiding Kitty.
Whedon delivered a nice dramatic ending that woke the reader up from a rather dull issue and got them interested in the next issue.
To be expected, Cassaday cranks out more incredible artwork. I totally dig Cassaday’s style and think that he creates a gorgeous looking comic book.
The Bad: Honestly, I just don’t have a lot to say about Astonishing X-Men #20. That is mainly because I found this issue to be rather boring. I finished reading this issue and my response to it was “Meh.” That’s it.
I know that Whedon is giving engaging in some set-up work for the rest of this story arc. And I understand that sometimes you have to have some set-up in order to pull off a well constructed and orchestrated story arc. However, I thought last issue involved a lot of set-up and I wasn’t sure that we needed a second issue of nothing but set-up.
It feels like Whedon has lost his focus and this story has gotten bogged down and is stuck in neutral. It seems that Whedon is just re-hashing the same discussions over and over again concerning Colossus and the prophecy that he is going to destroy the Breakworld. Enough already. It isn’t that complex of a storyline. I get it.
Colossus is prophesized to destroy the Breakworld. Colossus is bummed about being prophesized to kill an entire planet. That the Breakworld views the Earth as a threat and must be stopped. Ok, that has been exceedingly well established. It is time to move on.
With this issue and the last one being so slow and boring, my interest in this story arc is beginning to fade. It is a real shame. Whedon has done such an incredible job during his run on this title. I would hate for him to end his run on Astonishing X-Men with an anti-climactic story arc.
Overall: Astonishing X-Men #20 was a slightly better than average read. Hopefully, Whedon can get this story arc back on track and spark some excitement inside the reader. I have been impressed enough with Whedon’s overall work on this title and would be surprised if he didn’t end this story arc with a thrilling ending.