Astonishing X-Men #9 review
Astonishing X-Men #9, by Charles Soule, Matteo Buffagni,and Giada Marchisio,is part three of The Man Called X. Proteus’s plan is revealed, but with execution this mediocre, is it possible to care?
With Psylocke and X, the resurrected Charles Xavier in Fantomex’s body, trapped in a reality storm, Logan comes up with a way to free them. The team then leaves London, looking for Proteus, who has relocated to a Scottish town where he offers the townspeople their heart’s desires. X figures out Proteus’s plan and Psylocke is able to locate him, so the X-Men race to stop him. Meanwhile, Proteus has walled off the town, surrounded it with defenders, and begun to give people what they want. Giving people what they want, though, isn’t always safe for everyone….
So, the problem with this issue in particular and this book in general is that Charles Soule just hasn’t given the readers any reason to care about anything going on in the book. He hasn’t used any of the characters to their full potential, except Logan, who again gets the best line in the book. He hasn’t really sold the threat of Proteus or provided any motivation. Sure, he established last issue that Proteus was angry about being killed so young and trapped in the Astral Plane, but his goals don’t really mesh with that characterization. He’s also trying to build up a future arc here, but it’s so clumsily done that he’s basically telegraphed what’s going to happen and wasted Bishop, whose only role on the team so far has been to notice the omens for said apocalypse.
All these little problems take the reader completely out of the whole thing; it’s hard to care very much about anything when everything about the story is so blah. In the first six issues, there was at least a cool idea behind it all. The execution of the whole thing was still pretty shoddy, and the book suffered for it, but it was intriguing enough to keep the reader with it. That isn’t the case in this second story arc at all. There’s nothing intriguing here or anything cool lurking under the surface. The only thing good thing about the book is Logan, but other than that, there’s nothing here beyond cliches, bad storytelling, and shoddy characterization.
The art doesn’t help either. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t really fit the book. It would be cool if it was in another book, but it doesn’t really fit here. Matteo Buffagni’s figure work is muddled and it doesn’t really work with a big superhero action scene like the one that opens the book. The first page is kind of cool; it looks like something out of a horror comic, which would fit Buffagni’s style much better. He has a style reminiscent of Jock and it doesn’t mesh with the rest of the opening action sequence. It’s partly the way he draws, but it’s also the way the pages are colored. Colorist Giada Marchisio uses color overlays as an effect for Proteus’s reality storm and it doesn’t do Buffagni’s art any favors. The art works better later in the book in the sequence in the Scottish town, but Buffagni’s Proteus is pretty shoddy and the coloring just makes it look worse. The crowd scenes sort of blend together as well. For a book that was sold as a showcase for the best artists Marvel has to offer, these last two issues have been a huge disappointment.
The only thing astonishing about Astonishing X-Men is how awful it is. It feels like Soule theoretically knows how an X-Men story is supposed to work, but he just can’t execute one correctly. This book’s cast is some of the most interesting X-Men characters, ones who could make the stories pop that much more, but the only thing Soule gives them to do is comment on the tepid plot. The art in this issue would work better in a horror comic than a superhero one but, even in a horror comic, the coloring wouldn’t do it any favors. It boggles the mind how anyone at Marvel could look at this comic and think that it’s a good idea to continue making it. Astonishing X-Men is a waste of everyone’s time.