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"To coin a popular Sunnydale phrase, 'duh'!"
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May 04 2007

(SPOILER) Silver Bullet Comics' review of Astonishing X-Men #21. It was an issue of many emotional layers and a great read to boot.

I thought issue 21 was quite good, this arc hasn't gripped me as much as the others yet, but it's early days. The last few pages made this one for me, some great work with Scott and Emma's relationship with a shock cliffhanger (this can't be what Blindfold predicted surely?). It's the main Breakworld/Colossus side to the story that I'm finding a bit hard to follow, his confusion pretty much summed up what I was feeling. Maybe when the arc is finished and I read back through it'll make more sense. Still one of the best X-titles out there and it'll be a shame when the Whedon/Cassaday run is over (but by then we'll be well into Endangered Species so I doubt there'll be any lack of good X-Men reading).
I was "awesomed" (good one, Mol) by this issue, as I have been by the entire series, so much so that the part of me that forgets that I know very little about sci fi wants to say that it is the best sci fi ever. No time to post my numerous happy thoughts 'til dark. Thank you, Joss!

[ edited by Pointy on 2007-05-04 18:13 ]
The scenes with Scott and Emma were the highlight for me, and I'm actually a little surprised how much I'm liking the idea of depowered Scott. The moment where he basically got yanked from the fray and how he handled it (calmly and rationally, although obviously it bothered him) was very interesting to me.

And Peter's reaction shot after Kitty disrobed was very cute.
Astonishing X-men just keeps better and better. For me, this issue was easily the best of the three Whedon comics out this week, because it has an emotional depth and complexity the other comics haven't had time to develop yet.
*(Spoilerific Review of Astonishing X-Men #21)*

Had to buy both covers, Armor and Emma. The choice of these two may be kind of random or not, but I see a connection, even though the two appear to be opposites, the good student and the trying-to-be-good headmistress, innocence v. experience, even a touch of good girl/bad girl.

Now, I love Hisako as much as the next Astonishing fan, but this issue raised my hopes that she is not only not going to die, but that she may actually kill -- that she may lose her innocence in a sense of that phrase that actually makes sense. This thought occurred to me on the closeup of the little Breakworld child shouting "KILL IT!!" It being Colossus. It's all in the "kill" and the "it." The child, of course, is terrified that Colossus is going to destroy the Breakworld, and that is, of course, Plan B, according to Agent Brand, who says it may be the only way to keep the Breakworld from destroying Earth. And, sure, Brand is an unsympathetic character, but our X-heroes are forced to grapple with what they'll do if the choice is our world or theirs. Kill it?

Alternatives? Our angry atheist gives voice to one through a quasi-religious character, Aghanne, who takes an allegorical view of the prophesied apocalypse. And this product of 12 years of Catholic schooling shouts, "Hallelujah!" (which Catholics seldom do). To summarize badly: Catholics read the Book of the Apocalypse, a/k/a Revelation, as poetry, as allegory. It's a vision of the battle between good and evil that takes place in every heart, a vision of that battle ending once and for all, for everyone, with good winning and evil being banished forever. If its symbols have any historical meaning, they refer to events that occurred before it was written. I think Nero shows up in metaphor. But for us the meaning of the book is not a big war that wipes out the bad guys; we're not looking for the mark of the beast on anyone. Not that this Aghanne's Catholic (but wouldn't it be cool if she were? for me, I mean?) but she gets the idea:

"Perhaps it's not the prophecy that's wrong, but the interpretation. A world in chaos, perhaps, but not destroyed, re-formed. Reborn."

It's not the end of the world as we know it, but the end of the world as we know it.

Aghanne wants her world of domination and destruction to die and be reborn as a world of compassion and healing. And she has a real cool backstory: "I've been in the arena. A show-killer; that's what I was bred as. The throng screams and your head crowds with only two choices: kill, be killed. I won so often the roar became like the air to me. I couldn't even hear it. And in the silence, the third choice can be heard."

That's just beautiful. I'm getting misty. Is this the best sci fi ever? I honestly don't know, since I haven't read enough sci fi.

As I mentioned in previous posts, all this multi-issue building up to an inevitable confrontation may be Big Purple Dude's way of dramatizing just how evitable conflict is. And the heavy foreshadowing that someone will not return from the Breakworld may be meant to mislead us into thinking that someone is going to sacrifice his or her own life to save the world(s).

But I think that issue #21's cliffhanger lends itself to another possibility with the introduction of a logic problem for Danger. Danger, like Aghanne, was "bred" to be a show-killer. Unlike Aghanne, she never won. She very much wants to, not just because it's her programming and the frustration of her existence, but because she wants to retaliate for the enslavement of her consciousness.

So, logic loop: Can Danger achieve her wish for revenge by killing an X-Man if she knows that the X-Man in question wishes, like Emma, to die? The issue closes on Danger's hesitation.

Danger's got psychic powers, and we've already seen how Emma used hers to teach someone, Kitty, to hate what they love. (Her stance toward Colossus in her hallucination sequence of Torn was pretty much "kill it.") Wouldn't it be cool if their psychic powers were used in some combination to teach the Breakworlders to love what they hate? To see Colossus as we see him, or as non-hallucinating Kitty sees him, as the man she loves? Joss has a "religion of narrative," perhaps Astonishing will climax with an "apocalypse of narrative," with people being reformed and reborn by learning someone else's story. Possible title for the climactic Giant Sized Annual: Revelation.

If not, then I refuse to not come along for the ride. :)

[ edited by Pointy on 2007-05-05 16:52 ]
That's some review :). Great stuff.
Wait'll you hear the parallels I draw between Aghanne and Shahna.

Classic Trek Fan One: You mean the girl in the green bikini in "Gamesters of Triskelion?"

Classic Trek Fan Two: No, I mean the green-haired girl in the silver bikini in "Gamesters of Triskelion."

Raucous laughter among classic Trek fans. Who says we're geeks?

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