For Astonishing X-Men‘s second installment, writer Charles Soule teams up with artist Mike Deodato Jr. and colorist Frank Martin. This book is quickly proving itself as the top X-book.
***SPOILERS LIE AHEAD***
After the X-Men entered the Astral Plane in pursuit of the Shadow King, they find themselves the pieces in a psychic chess match between he and Professor Xavier. On the other side of consciousness, the rest of the team protects their psychical bodies in a troubling setting.
This is the freshest an X-Men book has felt in a long while. It’s not a ground breaking concept, but the execution is flawless. Nothing about these two issues has felt formulaic. By feeling new and strange in itself makes this also feel like a potentially classic X-Men story.
Soule’s commentary by way of the dialogue is efficient and pairs so well with the setting and visual scheme. This is the X-Men book Marvel has desperately needed.
The reveal of Mystique was a surprise to no one. It almost feels cheap given how every online community suspected it immediately yet Logan did not.
The twisted game being played, and how it’s being played, is very clever. How the participants are realizing their role as pawns, and what they plan to do with it, makes for a fun read.
The Inception-esque narrative, between those dreaming and those on the outside, is a lot of fun. Getting a look at the situation from the Ministry Of Defence’s perspective is interesting.
I’m a sucker for superhero politics and any government interaction with super humans. Whenever a comic book presents a government’s reaction to superhero antics, it makes it feel more real to readers.
The visual layouts on these pages are very stylized and beautiful. Despite being in some grim surroundings, this never loses its vibrancy.
The transition to Deodato’s art is smooth, his style is a great fit for the creepy psycho circus that following Shadow King into the Astral Plane would be. Frank Martin’s colors also do wonders with Deodato’s pencils.
Deodato has always shined brightest on books with bigger and bulkier characters. His more slender character models tend to have the occasional ill-fitting hulk hand, there’s only a small bit of that here.
Overall, Astonishing X-Men #2 is a very pleasing issue, more than worth your time. Soule & his rotating team of artists are onto something special here for the X-Men.