This site will work and look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"I am NOT a sidekick!"
11970 members | you are not logged in | 28 January 2021


November 18 2006

The Torn arc - an Astonishing X-Men essay. The author argues that Joss' comic book is "is the emotional continuation of Firefly. Not of Serenity; of Firefly". It's a well written, thoughtful piece. Fans might also want to check out "Her Story", an examination of how Joss handled the character of Emma Frost in the first 18 issues of Astonishing X-Men.

There are some incredibly good essays on Astonishing X-Men out there, the two linked above are just a small sample.

Feel free to link more essays. I really enjoyed reading these. I am still learning how to read and fully enjoy comics and these essays not only filled in backstory for me but pointed out things I hadn't seen before in the stories.
Just a comment in passing. I haven't read the Astonishing X-Men. I'm not one for comics but I read the essay that was linked in the title and I thought it was very well written.

Redemption is only ever possible if you acknowledge what you have done, apologised, made amends, and you keep on damn living. Redemption is not the same as forgiveness. Forgiveness is something between you and another person. Redemption is what you get when your life has made something as good as the thing you wrecked. The greater the ruin in your wake, the more difficult your redemption shall be.

I especially liked that paragraph because that can apply to most of the Jossverse, not just Firefly.

Thanks for the link. I enjoyed reading that, even if I don't read the X-men.
It's probably a terrible mistake to read essays about one's work while one is still trying to finish it (look for the UNSTOPPABLE arc to fizzle out and contradict everything I've done! On sale soon!) but these studies of Astonishing were, well, astonishing. Very articulate, very intelligent -- I'm sure there are great scholarly works on the net about how I F@#%ed the X-Men completely, but I just haven't seen anything as thoughtful and insightful as these. As an artist, you want to be understood. Means you made good story. But when people find connections and throughlines that you weren't even aware of (not the crazy That's-how-I-know-this-arc-is -an-indictment-of-Catholic-Hippopotami kind, but true moments hidden from the creators themselves), that's even better. Means Art. Thanks for the linkage to all this. Not the worst thing to wake up to.

Oh, and point of coincidence: Not while I was writing, but just in the last few days my wife and I have been listening, for the first time in years, to Tunnel of Love. Someone please tell LikeaDeuce that I, of course, am the fat man on the little stool. And proud to be.

Bye-ee! -j.

[ edited by joss on 2006-11-18 19:16 ]
Tunnel of Love is of course a Bruce Springsteen album, that I used to have, but I'm not googling a connection with LikeaDeuce. What?
Hey, if anyone thinks you F@#%ed the X-Men completely but can't take the time and effort to express their view in an insightful and well-written scholarly work, does their opinion really matter?
I just got my issue of #18 in the mail last night, and read it first thing (even though it was after 1 am). Extraordinary. Beautiful. And those essays really nailed the reasons. Humbling, really. Thanks, Joss.
dreamlogic, the "likeadeuce" he refers to is another LiveJournal member and the post/essay in question that initially brings up Bruce Springsteen's Tunnel of Love is right here.

Also, click it here for lyrics to the song. I haven't read the essay in it's entirety (although I too own a copy of Tunnel of Love, the album...on vinyl), but I hope the linkage helps!

Yeah, tunnel of love is a bruce springsteen song/album. Fat man on the little stool is the first line of the song. And likeadeuce is a guy who posted under the first essay that simon posted. Listen to the song, read the posts, and then you will be that much closer to understanding what joss is saying.
k8cre8, you should have a chat with your mailperson about those 1am mail deliveries! :)
Thanks so much for the link gorramit. I agree, Lioness, that these essays help a lot making up for a sketchy knowledge of the history and mythology. I liked #18 already, but these writers, especially LikeaDuece, open up a lot more of the richness.
Note that "like a deuce" is itself a Springstein reference--it appears in, a quick Google search tells me, "Blinded by the Light."
stuart, *grin* I should. Although, I'd be happy if I could just get my mail person to stop bending and otherwise mangling my comics. After that, anytime is a good time for a new Whedon comic...
Great essays, especially the one about AXM being the emotional continuation of the thematic arc of Firefly, which would never have occured to me because I'm a couple of issues behind, and (sadly) having never been steeped in XM comic-history, I just don't have the knowhow to read AXM this clearly. I still get a little down when I think of how awesome Firefly would've been had it been allowed to live (youth cut down in its prime!), but it makes me feel a little bit better to know that Joss' vision didn't entirely die with the show: like all artists, he expressed what he had somehow.
I'm just thrilled to see that AXM is getting the same thoughtful essay treatment as Buffy, Angel and Firefly has. In fact originally, the subject line was going to be something along the lines of "Shouldn't you be taking Astonishing X-Men seriously?" but that's just lame and somewhat in your face confrontional mind thinking.
I haven't read these comics either but (damn, more to read and so little time...) it looks like I'm gonna hafta.

This by Resolute, was just smashing:

"Superhero comics can be, when they are working right and the writer is good and the artist sings and the air is clear and pure and clean, comics can be the future. The map. The road of possibility toward what you hope to be. You can be greater than yourself. You can be more than what you have done, more than what you meant and failed, more than what you tried and succeeded, more than what you avoided and fled and quailed before. You can be your future. Because no matter your past, redemption is possible. You can strive within the limitations of your past, the self-imposed limitations of your fear. Or you can look your fear in the eye and walk through it. You can walk past it to tomorrow."

joss: "As an artist, you want to be understood."

Yup, and like most human-type persons, too. So gratifying when that happens.

theyarescientists: " ... And likeadeuce is a guy who posted under the first essay that simon posted."

Just for the record, Selena ("Her Story") and likeadeuce ("i broke all the rules, strafed my old high school") and Resolute ("On Astonishing X-Men, "Torn") are females. *grin*

(And BTW Simon, it was very cool of you to post the whedonesque link on Resolute's lj page so she could read what Joss wrote. Here is what she replied:

"Um. Gosh.
I wasn't expecting that.
I am not a whedonesque member and can't reply there -- but, thank you for linking to me, and thank you for the kind remarks.
And a profound thank you to Joss Whedon for writing the story in the first place."

"As an artist, you want to be understood. Means you made good story."

Quick question: does being understood as an artist necessarily imply good story? Im not sure it does actually...

Stop talking? Yeah ok!
I'm not reading anymore essays until I finish the literature one I am writing currently.
I need to immerse, then write, immerse then write.

when people find connections and throughlines that you weren't even aware of

that is shit hot!!!! The J man is such an inspiration!
I will say, its only been since Joss got involved in X Men that I became interested, and realised the wealth of kool previously hidden to me.
jerryst3161, I think it does mean a good story. If a story is not understood by anyone but the writer, I would say that it is not a very good story because it isn't fullfilling the purpose of story - that is, to reach out, to communicate with others.
Yes, I can see that a writer can create a very simple plot, girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl meets new boy and lives happily ever after and it will be easily understood but may not be great literature but I think it will nevertheless be a good story.
Astonishing X-Men is a good story. And yes, it may well be art as well.
Isnt it possible that I can completely understand and 'get' a bad story?
Hey, I adore John Water's Crybaby! In honesty, its not the 'best' story ever, or at all. Though it makes me smile, a lot.
"Quick question: does being understood as an artist necessarily implimply good story? Im not sure it does actually..."


When you're writing popular fiction rather than trying to be an "artiste", then I would say that being understood is the baseline for writing a good story. It is not sufficient in and of itself, but if it isn't understood then it can't be a good story.

"Isnt it possible that I can completely understand and 'get' a bad story?"


[ edited by rkayn on 2006-11-19 07:59 ]
Everytime I go to my local comic store to pick up the Angel goodies, they say "Have you read AXM?". They know how much I love Joss's work and still can't believe I haven't bought it yet.

*waves white flag*

This essay has convinced me that I must do and catch up as soon as possible. But where to start? I know little of X-men backstory.
Brilliant essays both though personally I always saw Mal as being afraid to engage not because he knew what he had done but because he knew what could be done to him i.e. everything could be taken away in the arbitrary blink of someone else's eye (probably also why God was no longer welcome on his boat). The disengagement led to him doing (or not doing) deeds that require the redemption thang.

nixy said: that is shit hot!!!! The J man is such an inspiration!

From LikeaDeuce on Nov 14th:

The first volume, Gifted was literally the first comic book I had ever read, and . . .well, that was two years and a major obsession ago.

(my emphasis)

So he kind of 'made' Likeadeuce with his evil comics shenanigans ;). Everything she (for tis indeed a she - witness her Nov 15th post about being clumsily hit on by a teenage boy) thinks, says and does from now on will be informed by his words (and the other J-man's pictures). Now that's inspiration. No pressure though Joss ;-).

(FWIW, I hadn't bought a monthly comic in 14 years before reading the 'Gifted' trade, now i'm way past my original addiction level and getting 15-20 a month including minis but PLUS trades. Yeesh. On a completely unrelated topic, BTW, where would a person send an invoice to a particular comics writer/director/composer/lyricist/dancer of joy ? ;)

jerry said: does being understood as an artist necessarily imply good story?

As rkayn says it's necessary but not sufficient. And you're a contrary bugger jerryst3161, keep it up ;).
On a completely unrelated topic, BTW, where would a person send an invoice to a particular comics writer/director/composer/lyricist/dancer of joy ? ;)

I second that! I am reading X-Men and Spike Asylum. I have read all the other Spike comics - loved Spike vs. Dracula (except for the inconsistent artwork), Serenity, and other various Angel and Buffy comics.

I have my own folder at the comic store- where they pull copies of anything that has Jossie goodness. For me it started last year when I read Fray. So many addictions so little time :)
Joss wrote - "I'm sure there are great scholarly works on the net about how I F@#%ed the X-Men completely..."

Well, speaking as somebody who has a small amount of X-Men knowledge at his disposal (I started reading the books a short time before the Fall of the Mutants event so something along the lines of twenty years or so ago) I'd have to say that you have managed to do the impossible and replace Chris Claremont as the writer that I believe really knows these characters inside and out. Amazing stuff, considering the relatively small amount of issues you have actually written, at least compared to Chris.

Of course, Brubaker is writing some damn good stuff so you might have some competition... ;)
I'm waiting for Marvel to get me my copy of AXM #18, but I have been finding the series astonishing. Thank you for the links Simon, I get a lot out of the insights of other readers, and of course I really enjoyed Joss' post (I hope this doesn't alter the ending you had planned! LOL).
I've been getting more and more into comics, catching up on Runaways, and really looking forward to all the fun Joss has planned in 2007 (with Buffy, Serenity and his version of Runaways)!
In response to Joss' "I'm sure there are great scholarly works on the net about how I F@#%ed the X-Men completely..."

I don't know of any. I can't speak for all of the obsessive hard-core X-Men fans, but I can say there aren't that many fans complaining how Joss "f@#%ed the X-Men completely". There's no way to appease all of the fans, but most of what Joss has done has brought the characters back to what the oldtime fans love about them, and fixed many of the problems fans had (costumes, resurrecting Colossus, bringing Kitty back to the mainstream).

Now, still has six issues to prove he is an X-fan and not do something that will turn the fans against him (for example, killing off a favorite character. A lot of X-Men fans are coming to the conclusion Kitty is doomed and it's freaking them out)

The major complaint fans have about Astonishing is how infrequently it comes out, and Joss can't do anything about that, and about how the continuity is a little shaky (which really is the editors fault). And then there's the complaining about Cat-Beast and Emma/Scott, but those are things Joss inherited and aren't his fault.

Nowadays, Joss really has a lot more competition for best X-writer considering how great Brubaker and Mike Carey are doing, also Peter David on X-Factor and I absolutely love Jeff Parker's First Class. These are good times to be reading X-books.

What I think Joss' lasting legacy in the X-books is inspiring these other great writers like Bru and Carey to bring the characters back to what we the fans love about them in during the 80s Claremont glory days. But not by just retconning them, but following a natural progression and maintaining continuity.

Hopefully once Joss' run is finished, there will be some similar articles written from an X-prospective. If you look at where the characters have gone from around 2000 to now, especially Kitty, Scott and Emma, it's rather amazing and a lot of great material for scholarly types to overanalyze.
I didn't want to post here because I haven't had the time to pick up #18 yet, but: Joss, your post (on the article) is very moving, as well as validating a lot of what we fans do. What you've created doesn't really belong to anyone anymore, except in the strictest copyright sense (it's out there, it's been created), but I think you, the creator, still have the greatest investment in it. It's only appropriate that you be moved, as we are, by seeing its returns.

Cannot wait to read #18 and UNSTOPPABLE.

This thread has been closed for new comments.

You need to log in to be able to post comments.
About membership.

joss speaks back home back home back home back home back home