It’s been a few months since a proper issue of "Astonishing X-Men" came out. Ordinarily, this would provoke some consternation from comics readers, but due to the trend set by the previous creative team, “Astonishing X-Men” occupies an odd space where people actually expect months to pass without an issue, nor any explanation of where it’s gone.
And luckily, the comic is mostly good enough to get away with that sort of behavior. The story Ellis is telling feels appropriately large in scope, and Bianchi’s art looks like it takes time to make. It might not reel in any newbies, but both Ellis fans and X-Men fans should be satisfied by it. That said, after a 3 month wait, we’re treated to a fairly straightforward and extended fight scene.
Ellis ends the issue with a plot twist that is nicely set up throughout the issue without being openly telegraphed to the reader. That kind of subtle foreshadowing is unfortunately rare in comics, and shows why Ellis is one of those writers largely considered an expert in his craft -– the mechanics are as fun to read as the revelation at the end of them.
Simone Bianchi’s art looks absolutely wonderful on the page, but in terms of conveying the action and story it leaves a little to be desired, as the muddy coloring causes figures and backgrounds to blur together, leaving what should be a clear, fast-paced, and well-defined action scene looking more like a static, homogenous mess.
It’s all quite good, although it’s hard not to feel, when reading “Astonishing X-Men”, that “Uncanny X-Men” has truly been repositioned as the flagship title for the series. The story here is entertaining, but it doesn’t feel important. “Astonishing X-Men” reminds me of DC’s All-Star line, functioning as a creator showcase as much as a character one -– but given that we’ve got plenty of other X-Books to choose from, well, that’s okay with me.