Astonishing X-Men #21 Review

The Revolution was been disappointed in the past several issues of Astonishing X-Men. They just haven’t been the same quality writing that Whedon has been giving us during his run on this title. The last couple of issues have been slow and make it seem like Whedon has lost some of his focus. Hopefully, Astonishing X-Men #21 will stem the tide and return this title back to its proper form. Let’s go ahead and do this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Joss Whedon
Artist: John Cassaday

Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Wolverine, Armor, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Beast and Agent Brand at the Palace of the Corpse looking at the carving of Colossus destroying the Breakworld. Agent Brand and Beast go to look at the weapon that the Breakworld has pointing at the Earth. Wolverine and Armor go to look for Colossus and Kitty. Since Cyclops has no powers and Emma Frost is unstable, they go to rendezvous with Agent Brand’s men who are in the field dealing with Kruun’s soldiers.

We cut to Colossus and Kitty brawling with Breakworld soldiers. Colossus and Kitty make their escape. They are then approached by a lone man with a gun who tells Kitty and Colossus that they will come with him. That he is asking for their trust.

We cut to Kruun talking to Danger. Danger says that their interests coincide. That the X-Men can be stopped. Kruun then tells his assistant that the X-Men and their confederates must know about the Retaliator and that the weapon must be protected. Kruun orders for a snowstrike between the Palace of the Corpse and the sub-moon base. Kruun then asks Danger what she will need.

We cut to Cyclops and Emma flying to the rendezvous point. Emma is disappointed that Scott rolled over so easily to Agent Brand. Scott comments how this is their first talk since the mansion and her opening approach is to be snarky. That is weak. Scott then notes that they have enemy planes on their tail.

Emma asks if Scott expects her to beg forgiveness. Emma and Scott then blast out of the sky the enemy ships. All while arguing about their personal life and what has happened recently between the two of them. Scott comments how he is in love with Emma now. Emma looks shocked.

We shift to Kitty and Colossus meeting with the leader of the opposition force to Kruun’s regime. The leader says that she believes Colossus may be the instrument for their salvation. She says that perhaps the prophecy has been improperly interpreted. That a world in chaos will not be destroyed but reformed and reborn.

The leader says that she has no agenda for Colossus. No plan and no coup. She says she bought Colossus here so that he may hear the Great Silence and understand that there is a third choice. An alternative to kill or be killed. The leader tells Colossus and Kitty to rest tonight and tomorrow he will do what he will.

We cut to Agent Brand and Beast making their way through a massive snowstorm. Beast and Agent Brand dig a huge hole in the side of a cliff. They enter inside to try to keep warm. The Beast tells Brand to stop looking at him like he is a Taun-Taun. Brand tells Beast to stop is wining. That she doesn’t need his guts to keep her warm. She takes off her gloves and sticks her hands somewhere down south on the Beast. The Beast responds “Oh. My.”

We shift to Kruun’s torture chamber. We see one of Agent Brand soldiers being tortured for information. The soldier tells the guard torturing him that he will only talk to the commanding officer. The commanding officer tells the soldier to leave him alone with the soldier.

The commanding officer tells the soldier that the recorders will be rebooting in a minute. The soldier says that they must know about the weapon. The commanding officer tells the soldier that if the weapon is primed and Kruun only need to push the button. The soldier says that the committing officer has to stall Kruun anyway he can. That if the commanding officer keeps his end of the deal that he will have his throne. And that they will give the commanding officer the means to keep the throne. That they will give the commanding officer Colossus.

We shift to Colossus and Kitty getting ready for bed. Colossus comments how they brought him back from the dead. That they want him dead. That he will destroy them. That he will save them. Colossus says he is so confused and so tired. We then see a buck naked Kitty walk over to Colossus. Colossus comments that he is even more confused now, but somehow not as tired. Kitty smiles.

We cut back to Scott and Emma in their aircraft. They arrive at the rendezvous point. Scott tells Emma that she can start speaking again before they die of old age. Emma tells Scott that she is sorry. Scott is stunned and Emma would ever apologize.

Suddenly, Danger attacks Scott and Emma’s aircraft. The aircraft crashes into the ground. We see Emma in her diamond form holding Scott’s unconscious body. Emma is crying. Emma comments how Scott said he loved her.

Emma says that Scott is an extraordinary, ordinary man, who is in love with her. Danger says the that is all over now. Emma says it is all over now and then asks Danger to kill her and to try and make it quick. End of issue.

The Good: Astonishing X-Men #21 was an excellent rebound issue. The Revolution has been rather disappointed in the past couple of issues. They were not up to the same high standard of storytelling that Whedon had been giving us on this title. Well, Whedon gets this story back on track with Astonishing X-Men #21.

Astonishing X-Men #21 was a well paced and plotted issue. The story moved at a nice measured pace and Whedon didn’t give us all that much action. And it wasn’t necessary to have lots of action. The purpose of this issue was to generate the proper amount of tension and excitement in the reader by laying a proper foundation and getting all the players into place for what should be a wild finale to this story arc.

Whedon gave the reader plenty of intriguing drama and plot turns. And that has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of Whedon’s run on this title. Whedon keeps firing the twists and turns at the reader. The reader can never get too complacent because you never know what is going to happen in the next issue.

In Astonishing X-Men #21, Whedon throws several plot twists at the reader including Emma double crossing Scott once again and a plot between Agent Brand and one of Kruun’s officers to give the officer the throne as well as Colossus in return for helping them overthrow Kruun.

Whedon delivers his usual excellent dialogue in this issue. It truly is remarkable what an incredible feel for the various characters that Whedon has. Every X-Man has his own unique and perfectly done external voice. Each character is nicely developed and three-dimensional. Whedon’s impressive dialogue and character development leads to fantastic chemistry between the various characters.

I really enjoyed the scene between Colossus and Kitty near the end of this issue. These two characters have been through so much during Whedon’s run on this title. Poor Kitty has gone through the shock of her boyfriend returning from then dead and then having her mind torn up and manipulated by Emma. Colossus has been brought back from the dead, then was marked for death and then has been told that he just may be either the doom or the salvation of the Breakworld.

It was nice to see Kitty and Peter finally have a tender moment between the two of them. And Peter’s line about being even more confused but suddenly not so tired was classic. I really like these two characters and I’m glad to see them dealing with everything that is going on around them and clinging to each other for the necessary love and support.

The scenes between Emma and Scott were very well done. It is impressive what Whedon has done with these two characters. I have never been much of a fan of either Cyclops or Emma. However, Whedon has made me change my mind and gotten me to be quite the fan of both characters. I totally dig how Whedon is developing the personalities of both characters and their relationship with each other.

Whedon’s Cyclops is certainly the most appealing version of Scott I have read. Whedon makes Scott more than just a vanilla boy scout who is a control freak and slightly anal retentive. Scott has more of an edge to his personality but still has his same grounded personality. Whedon gives is a ballsy version of Cyclops who shows more emotions but Whedon doesn’t go overboard and make Cyclops act like Wolverine.

And Whedon’s Emma is rather intriguing. Emma is one cold bitch. But, Whedon is showing the reader that there is a heart somewhere inside Emma’s diamond hard body. The conflict and guilt inside of Emma is something that I didn’t expect to see from her character.

And while I have never bought into Cyclops and Emma’s relationship, I am beginning to do so now. Whedon has created such interesting chemistry between Scott and Emma that I am finally starting to enjoy the two of them as an item.

The scene with Agent Brand and Beast out in the snowstorm was a nice piece of comic relief. Whedon knows that Astonishing X-Men has been a rather heavy and dark read at times. Comic relief is an absolutely necessary ingredient in order to keep the reader from feeling too overwhelmed by the story. And I would like to know just exactly where did Brand shove her hands and will she call Beast in the morning?

And what is up with the deal that Agent Brand has evidently worked out with one of Kruun’s officers? The officer gets Kruun’s throne in return for helping them take down Kruun. Plus, Brand will deliver Colossus to the officer as a means to retain his throne? Damn, I didn’t see that coming. This was a juicy little plot twist and it should be exciting when the X-Men realize the duplicitous Agent Brand has planned for their teammate.

Whedon delivers a fantastic hook ending. Emma showing true remorse and feelings for Scott as she just finished betraying him in order to help Danger. Then Emma asks Danger to kill her. That is one hell of an ending and is sure to get the reader excited about the next issue. I cannot wait to see where Whedon goes with this plotline.

John Cassaday’s artwork was excellent as always. I love Cassaday’s style and his art is always a joy. Cassaday is a wonderful compliment to Whedon’s talents and makes Astonishing X-Men one of the best looking books on the market.

The Bad: No complaints with this issue.

Overall: Astonishing X-Men #21 was a much needed rebound issue. I was beginning to worry that Whedon had totally lost his focus and direction and was going to end his wonderful run on this title with a disappointing and anti-climactic ending. Well, my fears were clearly unfounded. It appears that Whedon has a rather entertaining ending to this story arc in store for us.

1 thought on “Astonishing X-Men #21 Review

  1. With Whedon’s X-Men run, by far the weakest aspect of his writing is normally the plotting and the villains, which tend to be, respectively, by-the-numbers and cardboard (the exception villain-wise were his depictions of fake-Shaw and fake-Nova); his strengths in dialogue and characterization make up for this (in Whedon’s books, the heroes are always the stars of the show; if you read his Runaways, it’s the same situation). However, this issue has a fairly good plot to go with the typically strong characterization (the villains are still rather generic, although calling the head guy “Power Lord Kruun” suggests that may be intentional). Whatever they’re doing, it’s fun to spend time with Whedon’s X-Men.

    My only real problem with this series is the schedule, which, while not quite at “travesty” (The Ultimates 2) or “utter travesty” (All-Star Batman and Robin; the most hilarious book on the market; what’s that, you say, it’s not a comedy book?), is “not good.”

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