Astonishing X-Men 1: Who refers to themselves as ‘cheesecake’?

Credits: Writer: Scott Lobdell, pencils: Joe Madueira, inks: Dan Green & H M Thompson and edited by Bob Harras.

Cast: Erik ‘Magneto’ Lensherr, Pietro ‘Quicksilver’ Maximoff, Robert ‘Iceman’ Drake, Victor ‘Sabretooth’ Creed, Morph, Ororo ‘Storm’ Monroe, Sean ‘Banshee’ Cassidy, Kurt ‘Nightcrawler’ Wagner, Clarice ‘Blink’ Ferguson, Shiro ‘Sunfire’ Yoshida, Remy ‘Gambit’ LeBeau, Charles Lensherr, Rex, Delgado and En Sabah ‘Apocalypse’ Nur (all Earth-295 versions) Bishop (Earth-616 version)

 

Plot: Magneto gathers his X-Men to brief them on their next mission, an evacuation of human refugees from Maine. But there is a greater undercurrent of danger based on Bishop’s information of this being an altered timeline. The X-Men are skeptical, but have no time to give the subject it’s due because a portal ‘blinks’ into existence and Blink arrives, followed shortly after by Prelate Delgado, one of Apocalypse’s man who Blink kills by shutting the portal down whilst Delgado is passing through it. Sunfire has by this point already followed Blink through, but is burning uncontrollably. His temperature is lowered by Iceman. Sunfire informs the team that Apocalypse’s son Holocaust (yeah, I know, they did change it) has been culling the human population of Chicago. Rogue decides to go to Chicago and stop this from continuing. Before she can leave, she is confronted by her ex, Gambit, who has been assigned a job by Magneto regarding the M’Kraan crystal. There’s a moment between them, interrupted by Blink bringing Rogue’s son Charles to her causing Gambit to leave.

Elsewhere, Rex reports Delgado’s death to Apocalypse, who is relaxing in the midst of the bodies of thousands of culled humans. Rex confirms that they will soon locate the X-Men’s causing a smile from his leader.

Back at the Westchester Mansion, Magneto prepares to leave and discusses Magneto’s attempts to prove Bishop’s claims.While Quicksilver sees off his step-mother, who leaves for Chicago with Blink, Sunfire, Sabretooth and an unconscious Wildchild along with Morph who appears in the form of Magneto. Quicksilver and Rogue share a laugh before she leaves. Bishop questions the sanity of this after they leave to the derision of Quicksilver, who Bishop comments acts exactly as Charles Xavier would want the X-Men to behave.

 

 

Notes: Well this was a bit busy. The first Age of Apocalypse comic released after X-Men Alpha, this issue had a lot that it needed to do, establishing the tone of this series and setting up 2 or 3 of the others, it also had to tell it’s own complete story, while introducing yet more characters. Did it? Or was it a bit of a confused mess? Well it’s a bit of a mess, but it’s a glorious one. With so much to do, there’s little in the way of characterisation for much of the cast. Most of them seem like carbon copies of their Earth-616 selves or copies of other 616 characters such as Quicksilver being played very similar to the 616 Cyclops. Even Magneto isn’t given his own identity here, the first ¬†caption is a reference to X-Men 94, the first issue released after Giant Size X-Men 1, so am assuming it’s a homage.

Some characters get more time though, Rogue is given more to do as the leader of this splinter team, mother and wife, but still a little hung up on her ex. Blink and Sunfire are also fine additions, given plenty to do, particularly in giving this series it’s primary plot. It’s hard to judge this plot, with so little of it having formed, but the idea of the wholesale slaughter of people is enough to get this team moving, however the seemingly unnecessary Bishop adds an odd emotional beat at the end, which takes some of the well earned drama away.

 

The art here is a consistent high point, Joe Madueira was a great artist at the time and really defined the look of the 90’s X-Men in my eyes and in this even, redefined these characters here as well, with some minor and some major cosmetic changes and the introduction of Blink, a character that has hung around for a long time to come, appearing recently in the Fox TV series the Gifted. It’s volume up to 11 on a lot of stuff, big guys are BIG, capes are billowy as flowing and the ladies are drawn in a very cheesecake style, all bums boobs and bee stung lips and all kinds of 90’sness, but it’s colourful, exciting and there something worth looking at on each page and I can’t wait to read more.

Art: 5 out of 5

Writing: 3 out of 5

Overall 8 out of 10.

I enjoyed the hell out of this comic and look forward to more.

Next Time: So what are the rest of the X-Men up to?

 

 

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