Reviewed by Shawn De Ocampo
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Simone Bianchi
The Beast and Hisako discuss Wolverineâ€™s making fun of the Code Name (Armor). Meanwhile, Cyclops and the White Queen wake up and decide to meet the Beast and Hisako at their new headquarters.
Storm surprises them all with her unannounced presence. Sheâ€™s come under the pretext to observe her former teammates, but in reality she has become bored of performing her dull duties of Queen of Wakanda. During her visit, she informs her teammates that the Black Panther has invested money in Mutants Sans Frontiers (M.S.F.), who recently found the X-Men.
The SFPD, as often consults the X-Men. This time they call Cyclops to investigate a murder. The detective asks the crew to look into the murder of a storeowner, who evidently was set on fire and left floating in the air. They agree. During the investigation, the Beast asks Wolverine to extract tissue, while the White Queen goes through the victimâ€™s belongings, specifically his notebook which details the victim following three men, one in particular known as â€œSubject Xâ€. They construe that the killer is trying to get to Chaparanga Beach, upon this realization they head the same way hoping to catch up with â€œSubject Xâ€.
While heading back, the Beast discovers that the victim has 3 sets of chromosomes as opposed to normal, 2. The third chromosome is artificial. It is the location of the x-gene. This allows for the victim to be invisible to Cerebra, the x-menâ€™s mutant detecting machine. The Beast also figures out that the people involved must be of the 198 mutants that previously lost their powers. They seem unaware about the new mutant baby born. He classes them as triploids and volunteers to stay behind in order to conduct further investigation.
As they head out to find the killer, Wolverine and Cyclops explain to Hisako that Chaparanga Beach is where ships â€œgo to dieâ€. The abundant rate of alien ships that are discarded on earth are troublesome as not all governments want and/or have the means to break them apart, as their toxic levels can be quite outrageous. Hence, private companies strip them of useful parts and send the remains to Chaparanga Beach, here the locals salvage the metals and sell them back to their government and any other company that will make the purchase.
I must say that it is quite satisfactory to experience the new role that the X-seem to fulfill in San Francisco. As a matter of fact, having them work with special investigation unit authorities puts a different spin than the usual heroic activities. In this set-up issue, Ellis provides a nice understanding of the scenery as he ends off explaining, through Hisako, where Chaparanga Beach is and what it is used for.
In contrast though, his characterizations were really off for some of the X-Men. How so? Wellâ€¦ Wolverine does not typically get drunk, especially with his healing factor. Cyclops just seemed plain off. And, Storm has a strong personality and being passive with the White Queen simply bugged me, as it is not her typical self. In all fairness though, this is only the first issue so we have to wait and see how it all plays out.
Artistically it was good. The last time I saw Simone Bianchiâ€™s artwork was on Wolverine, most of which was paneling of scenes. It was definitely a let down then. In Astonishing, Simone Bianchi improved. His characters, with the exception of Storm whom he evidently struggled with, are more refined. The flow of his paneling has also gotten better, although it still overlaps more then it should. I canâ€™t wait to see his handling of the action scenes. They make or break him.
All in all, a great, entertaining and interesting issue. Letâ€™s just home we donâ€™t get the typical delays Ellis is prone to. The new direction in which the X-Men franchise is heading presently would definitely benefit from a monthly Astonishing title.
Posted originally: 2008-07-07 13:13:59