Now that Alex Summers has his team of not-X-Men together, they get caught in the middle of a Reavers war with the O.N.E. organization. Astonishing X-Men continues Havok’s haphazard journey to becoming a hero once again.
***SPOILERS LIE AHEAD***
Matthew Rosenberg’s voice for Alex Summers gives him a human edge. He’s a loose cannon who doesn’t think things through, he’s “more of a gut guy than a brains guy.” Havok is also someone who knows how important his brother Scott is to the group of people he so desperately wants to win over.
Cyclops being dead and Havok having recently been a villain gives Rosenberg plenty to play with. It makes for some memorable character interactions. In Astonishing X-Men #15 it comes in the form of Warpath sitting at The Bar With No Name, explaining what he learned under Scott Summers’ leadership. It’s a really great moment between two characters every X-Fan enjoys seeing more of.
The story in this issue is also a testament to this new characterization of Havok. As soon as he finally gets his team together (and just barely at that), they’re immediately split up because of a lie he told to keep them out of harm’s way on his behalf–which puts them in harm’s way on his behalf.
I could see old school Havok fans having a bit of a tough time accepting a new direction for their favorite Summers brother, but would you prefer the scar-faced villain era we just got through? Probably not.
Similar to what Rosenberg is doing with Jamie Madrox on the brilliant Multiple Man series, he’s breathing new life into a character in order to bring them back to the forefront of the mutant landscape. His vision is more comedic and lighthearted than previous incarnations of both characters, but the transitions are smooth and entertaining.
This team is full of shake-ups and new directions, and it’s all the better for it. Colossus going through a very dark breakup, Banshee being resurrected but nobody is really sure what his deal is, Dazzler’s floundering music career, and Beast finding himself in a situation that’s way beneath his level of intellect. This is a great cast that gives the one-man-ResurreXion (Rosenberg) plenty to work with.
Matthew Rosenberg’s Astonishing X-Men is a comic that’s more in line with what Marvel was promising us with their ResurreXion initiative. It’s a colorful and fun return to form for a peripheral X-Men title. We’re dealing with a war between the Reavers (in all their ridiculous glory) and the mutant-hating O.N.E. that Havok is caught up in because of Bastion–what more could you want?
Pencils by Greg Land and Neil Edwards are great for the most part. There’s some miscommunication between writer and artist with a couple of faces that don’t match the dialogue very well. Land does great work up-close. The more you zoom the comic book panel lens out the more things start to get oddly proportioned, especially on bigger characters like Colossus and Beast.
Those nitpicks aside, there’s a lot of great face work in the conversational scenes. Towards the end of the issue, there is a handful of fantastic pages of Colossus in action. The shot of him initially emerging from the wreckage to begin fighting is glorious.
Inker Jay Leisten uses a lot of thick lines to clean up a lot of the dodgier panels. Dazzler has a few panels where she’s covered in a bit of shadow overkill. Colorist Frank D’Armata keeps the energy of the book vibrant and explosive. The color really brings a lot of the city at night to life. Letterer Clayton Cowles hammers the tone of the book home, especially with the villains.
A rag tag team of fan-favorite X-Men all down on their luck banding together to stick up for a troubled but charming Alex Summers. Matthew Rosenberg is a one-man-ResurreXion, he should’ve been given the mutants from the start of Marvel Legacy.
Astonishing X-Men is a great X-Book for X-Fans.