Title: Astonishing X-Men
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Jim Cheung
Astonishing is one of the most seminal X-Men titles in the franchise’s history. With iconic runs by Joss Whedon, Warren Ellis and Marjorie Liu, this title has a rich and expansive legacy associated with its name. Given how revered it is among fans, the new series by superstar writer Charles Soule certainly has much to live up to.
Fortunately though, this debut issue by Soule and artist Jim Cheung offers a lot of potential for the new era of Astonishing. Opening with a psychedelic action sequence in which Psylocke’s mind is being controlled by an unknown supernatural force, a band of mutants must stop her before she unleashes cataclysmic damage. Soon though, the team learns that the villain behind these psychic attacks is none other than Shadow King, and must venture into the astral plane in order to defeat him.
Whether you’re a hardcore X-Men fan, or you just really enjoyed the recent FX series Legion, this is the comic for you. With an all-star team lineup that includes Psylocke, Old Man Logan, Bishop, Beast, Rogue, Archangel and Fantomex, this might be my personal favorite title from the revamped X-Men lineup. It has action, a team of gritty mutants, one of the best X-Men villains of all time and a twist ending which will cause fans everywhere to rejoice.
Though there’s a lot going on in this first issue, Soule does a nice job juxtaposing its bombastic action sequences with some great banter among the team members. And while the artists will rotate for this book, Jim Cheung nails it here. Delivering a style and execution that coincides with the psychedelic aesthetic of the astral plane, he makes this comic feel like a trippy action movie with a dose of supernatural horror. In other words, he astonishes here.
Like the other recent X-Men titles, Astonishing is both highly accessible for new readers and longtime fans. If you’re craving more Shadow King and Old Man Logan after Legion and the Logan movie, this has the best of both worlds. Pick it up today at any Ultimate Comics location.
-Kevin Schaefer for Ultimate Comics