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Astonishing X-Men (2017) #1 [Review]

astonishing_x-men_(2017)_0001Life of X – Part One

Writer: Charles Soule
Penciler: Jim Cheung
Inkers: Mark Morales, Guillermo Ortego, Walden Wong
Colors: Richard Isanove, Rain Beredo
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover: Jim Cheung & Richard Isanove
Graphic Designers: Jay Bowen, Anthony Gambino
Assistant Editor: Christina Harrington
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: September 2017
Cover Price: $4.99

I was a sucker. I’d seen a poster-image of this issue’s cover, and I vaguely recall the image grabbing me initially when it was first debuted with solicitation or shortly after. Archangel has always been a striking figure for me, and despite the last ten or so years, Bishop (especially looking as he does here) rings quite nostalgic for me. Then there’s Rogue, and while I don’t much care for the “Old Man” version, seeing ‘a Wolverine figure’ here drove it home. But in addition to that, there’s something about the blending of the coloring–the rich orangey-yellow background and the yellow and blue of the logo…and that the logo may not be the “classic” X-MEN logo, but it has a certain blend of the old and new while being its own thing…and NOT coming off as “pretentious” (as if text CAN be pretentious) to me.

I was ALSO a sucker because a local comic shop had sent out an email informing us that any Marvel purchase would get a free “cosmic cube,” and while I am actively disinterested in the current comics Event, I’m a sucker for plastic comic artifacts (such as Lantern Corps Rings), and the Cosmic Cube goes way back. And with Astonishing X-Men #1 being out this week and already having the against-my-better-judgment interest, I figured hey…fine. I tried X-Men: Gold #1 and X-Men: Blue #1, so I could give Astonishing X-Men #1 a go. Especially at $3.99.

After I’d bought the issue (amidst my other purchases), and gotten it home AND read it…THEN I realized that no…this was NOT a $3.99 issue. It was $4.99…so for that, I’m not a happy camper. But where even comic shops are lucky to return comics, it’s not like I can “return” the issue, so I’m sorta stuck with it, whatever “principle” I want to take with it.

I’m not happy that my inattention to detail had me ignorantly buying yet another $5 #1 issue from Marvel (in an industry when other publishers proved $10 vol. 1 collected editions with 5-6 issues).

Buuuuuut…

I enjoyed this issue.

I actually did!

We open on a quick scene, learning that mutant psychics all over the world are dying. Then we come to Betsy Braddock–Psylocke–who is one of the STRONGEST mutant psychics, and the force that’s killing the others isn’t able to subdue her until after she’s sent out a psychic cry for help. We’re also (re) introduced to Bishop; to Angel/Archangel, Gambit and Fantomex, Old Man Logan and Rogue; four of whom are on the receiving end of Psylocke’s cry for help; which draws them all in to her location. The force that’s been attacking the psychics is concentrated, and no longer constrained to just the local psychics. As the group converges, they must face the psychic energy-outlash while saving civilians and surviving themselves. Working together, the immediate, outward threat is resolved…but Betsy reveals that she now knows who is behind it–and that things are worse than even this was. Some of the group must go to the Astral Plane to stop the Shadow King. No time to seek shelter or plan–she sends them immediately, with Angel and Bishop remaining behind to protect them all. Meanwhile, we confirm that yes indeed, this is definitely Shadow King. And he’s got quite a secret…which provides a major “hook” for me regarding subsequent issues of this series!

While I was incredibly skeptical of X-Men Prime, X-Men Blue, and X-Men Gold, I bought the one-shot and #1s to “try,” to go against my anti-Marvel negativity and give the things “a shot,” an ISSUE, at least. And that way I could at least judge for myself how things seemed, and feel like I had more room to criticize–at least I’d have bought the big, over-priced first-issues, and have SOME hands-on “experience,” not just second-hand stuff.

And so, too, I figured for this. $4.99 is too much for a single issue, for a first issue. MAYBE for an Annual, or an oversized special/one-shot. But a $5+ issue should be rare and special…not plentiful as water. Marvel has abused the price point to where I virtually NEVER even bother to look at their comics, because I just KNOW they’re basically the most ridiculously-priced premium-priced things in the market. Real or perception, but that’s where I am.

But I’ve got the issue, I read it, and I actually enjoyed it. We have some prologue. We have character introductions. We have an immediate threat, and we see a group of disparate mutant figures come together, face the threat, and emerge victorious. We then have the setup for an even bigger threat–the one that carries beyond “just” this issue…and it looks to involve other nostalgic elements that work organically with the Shadow King character, as well as perhaps grabbing onto continuity and yanking on a loose thread, in preparation of some re-stitching and mending.

The story is engaging and keeps stuff moving; I can and will allow any “inconsistencies of character” to be credited to the last decade or more of mutant comics and lack of continuity and the apparent attempt here to play with the existing status quo. Visually, I dug this issue. Everyone’s recognizable and I like the visuals; there’s a sense of modernity with the aforementioned nostalgia; new and old, simply making this a good-looking comic. The multiple inkers do not take away from that–I only even know there were multiple inkers due to seeing the credits.

I don’t want to like any Marvel series right now. The X-Men are old favorites, and I’ve felt largely let-down by everything that’s been done with, to, and involving them for years, such that many of them are hardly recognizable to me anymore. I do not TRUST Marvel to not “yank the rug out” from under me, or some sorta bait-and-switch with this. I’ve already seen one or two of the other X-titles tie in to a major crossover event…and I want nothing to do with that, either. So…I might come back for the next issue of this arc, or at least check it out if I notice it on the rack. I am honestly very interested in what this particular story arc holds, and if I’m gonna pay Marvel‘s too-high inflated/”premium” price point, I can justify it a bit easier in smaller doses as single issues than collected volumes.

I actually don’t feel I can really speak to whether old fans or new fans or both would care or not care about this issue…I’m a weird creature when i comes to Marvel, and the X-Men. Suffice it to say that even at that $5 price point and $3.99 otherwise with possible bi-weekly shipping, I’m hooked here where even the likes of Blue and Gold didn’t grab me at this level. That makes this a definite “light in the darkness” of X-Books, and if you can stomach the $4.99 price point, this is about as good an issue for that as any that Marvel‘s put out of late!

astonishing_x-men_(2017)_0001_blogtrailer

Guess I’m Getting Into HotWheels

Last year, I rummaged through a bin of Captain America: Civil War cars from HotWheels.

Earlier this year, I did the same for a run of Guardians of the Galaxy.

spiderman_hotwheels

And now, once more, for Spider-Man: Homecoming.

As with the others…it’s price point, and the entire "wave" being present to buy in one go, not having to visit multiple stores and put much effort into tracking them all down.

I’m a sucker for this sorta thing.

And of course, a lot of it’s the packaging. I don’t know the cars. They look cool enough, but I’m just not a car guy.

But the impulse-buyer/collector in me loves this sorta thing.

And someday, these’ll make for some cool display, icebreaker, or junk to add to someone else’s collection. Who knows?

I can say that this wave’s a little disappointing, having only the two cars for the movie look, and the other three being villains and this Spider-Man logo…rather than, say, the couple movie cars and then six more for the Sinister Six or such. And no display of the numerous Spider-Man logos from the 50+ years of the character…

The Weekly Haul – Week of July 12, 2017

This was a pretty good week’s haul…fairly straight-forward, a couple special orders and a book from last week, and some surprise quarter-bin finds!

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The usual Superman issue for the week in Action Comics. The appropriately-shiny cover for Dark Days: The Casting. A #0 issue for Mage: The Hero Denied (which has me really interested in acquiring the earlier Mage stuff!) Special-ordered Calexit #1 cuz hey…I’ve got my views. Beginning to (against initial plans and judgment) accept The Sovereigns…might be the third iteration in about as many years from Dynamite of the Gold Key characters…but at least they haven’t screwed me on the "complete story-run" if I just buy one of each issue (yet)! (Unlike Valiant).

And the second-to-last issue of Letter 44…which means I’m one issue shy of having a complete run of something like this…and at 35 issues…I think that’s some kinda record for me!

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I’m giving these Atari comics from Dynamite a shot…a bit for the nostalgia, a bit for the weirdness, a bit cuz hey…at least they’re new to me and not pulling the crap that Marvel does!

…and yet, I’m still getting the $1 True Believers issues. I like most of these reprints, even if some of the $1 reprints are of 25-cent books. Or of stuff I previously wouldn’t touch, period (Brand New Day).

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Then there’s the weekly Comic Shop News, which I don’t usually showcase in these posts, but why not? It’s part of the weekly haul! Special-ordered Riverdale Comics Digest, which I believe reprints four or five of the #2 issues of "New Archie". I saw in the indicia that this is published four times/year…so quarterly. I really hope this lasts quite awhile…cuz I’m very willing to pay $6 for 4-5 issues’ content (and only one freaking cover!!!) rather than $3.99 per issue with umpteen ridiculously-plentiful variants!

And though I have yet to acquire any of the starter-packs…another Star Wars Destiny booster pack, because hey…I can justify one pack at a time here and there, while I’m not gonna load up on a bunch of them all at once! And once I do get starter packs, I’ve got a few extra dice and cards to customize the game.

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And finally…found on top of the quarter-bins (and asked someone who was already going through the bins if he’d pulled them–he said no, they were not his), some more digests. I’m not terribly concerned about the condition at this point…just figuring as I come across these sorts (especially cheaply) I’ll grab ’em…maybe eventually I’ll make a concerted effort to hunt them all down. For now…I’ll just add to the collection!


And thus, another week of comics. A mix of publishers and genres…ongoing and one-shot and such; even a mix of formats.

Not a huge week, but not a tiny week; far less sticker shock than recently!

The Weekly Haul – Week of June 21, 2017

Well, this turned into a far larger week price-wise than I’d had any intention of…of course, a lot of that goes to some deals, and a couple more of DC‘s $4.99 DC/ILooney Tunes books! And a back-issue.

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Of course, the weekly Superman book–in this case, this week it’s the actual Superman title itself…pretty much concluding the Black Dawn story in an "oversized" "anniversary" #25 issue. Then we have Lobo/Road Runner and Wonder Woman/Tasmanian Devil which, so help me, intrigue me. Super Sons has another issue–I need to make sure I’m caught up to the previous issue. I think I am, but I’m not 100%.

Then just for the novelty of it AND so I won’t have to HUNT for the first issue later, SwordQuest as I’m just curious how the story really will go after the #0 issue…though I don’t like the $3.99 price point. I’ve been getting God Country, and probably should have just waited for the collected volume, as I don’t think I’ve actually read #3 to present.

And finally, because of that darned cover, and figuring if nothing else it’ll go with the last #1 Darth Vader I bought, I figured I’d give the thing a try, now out of the "first week sales figures" range and all that, and it was there, and still cover price. I did NOT, however, buy #2 that came out this week.

weeklyhaul_06212017b

As expensive as three $5 issues and several $4 issues were…I’d had no expectation of finding any great deals on more collected volumes. But for less than the price of 2 Marvel issues, got the oversized hardcover of Wolverine: Sabretooth, collecting two stories. While I’m not the biggest fan of the stuff, it’s still Wolverine, the actual, genuine, regular, true, original character.

Then for roughly the same as seven Marvel single-issues, got the three volumes of Excalibur Visionairies: Warren Ellis. I don’t know if I knew these existed, but all three available together and for this pricing…I couldn’t pass ’em up. And hey…they’re all ’90s or early-2000s X-stuff…especially the Excalibur volumes.

These even put Half-Price Books to shame…and really put convention pricing to shame.

All in all, a big week and plenty of reading to do, and I’m still a hugely long way off from ever catching up. Such is the life of a comic person, I guess…

The ’90s Revisited: X-Men Series 1, Cards 10-18

Here we get into several of the characters I know a lot better, and definitely associate with the ’90s…though also one that I remember by name, but at a glance don’t even remember any details!

xmen_series1_full_010-018

We also see where this set seems to pre-date the "consciousness" of cards like this likely being stored in 9-pocket pages and the "use" of that structure. Given one page late in this series, they weren’t entirely without that, but having just one "landscape" card amidst eight "portrait" cards doesn’t exactly work well for the aesthetics of the "page"…

010a

Lockheed’s had a number of looks, and seems a bit malleable…at least to my conscious mind. This image makes him look a bit larger–so it’s the "conscious" knowledge of his being smaller that I can know that.

010b

I’d swear I’ve seen images of Lockheed on Kitty Pryde’s shoulder like a parrot…but 55 lbs? That definitely stretches stuff a bit. I don’t remember much detail of the character over the years, but this card’s info doesn’t seem to be contradictory to anything…just a bit outta date. And I knew how he got his name, but forgot til re-reading the card. I probably knew that originally from this card. Or Wikipedia.

011a

Given Xavier’s place in the X-Men story, I’m surprised he wasn’t the first card…but then, they’re not going alphabetically nor in order of first appearance and not even by team, so…yeah. This is a fairly typical image of the character, and though I have fond memories of the look (with the golden hover-chair) it seems so dated now, afer getting used to the character in actual wheelchairs or with his legs restored.

011b

Xavier’s description here is pretty generic…and certainly precedes Onslaught, the Illuminati stuff, and obviously the likes of AvX. Though I suppose as I think about it…those added a certain depth the character hadn’t had…even if retcons get old and stale fast.

012a

I’m sure I’ve seen this image–or at least the pose–a number of places other than this card. It’s typical Jim Lee, typical of this character (at least in this ’90s incarnation), etc.

012b

…but no mention on the card of her past, or that this (apparently) isn’t her original body and whatnot. I’m fuzzy on the details, not having read the "Siege Perilous" stuff first-hand as yet, even after all these years.

013a

While I’m sure I was aware of the character before then, I feel like most of my conscious memory of Domino came after the Age of Apocalypse stuff, in the Cable title. This image of her seems a bit harsher and more generic than what I picture in my mind when I think of the character.

013b

This card pretty much sums up what I’d be able to say about the character, despite remembering her from those issues of Cable. And I would not have been able to cite her first appearance or tell you offhand that she’d first appeared in New Mutants #98. This description seems "typical ’90s," as is fitting.

014a

My conscious introduction to Storm was the ’92 X-Men animated series…that look, and that voice are the definitive Storm for me. This card’s image is fairly typical for what I’d think of with the character, except I wouldn’t have recalled her cape having the purple tint or the gold trim.

014b

Nothing stands out much for this card (though I’m noticing the weights of characters seems rather questionable). Her "X-tra Fact" is something I don’t think I’d consciously realized until a recent-ish Nightcrawler series. I have the feeling by the time I’m done offering commentary on this series of cards, I’m gonna be thoroughly kicking myself for not (yet) having gotten to the bulk of the Claremont run.

015a

Meggan…ok. Blond Siryn? For all that my memory has on the character at a name and image.

015b

Huh. Ok, interesting–and here’s a character I’ve learned about by going through these cards. I also like the X-Tra Fact…that’s the sorta detail I definitely took to heart as a kid, and would hold as relatively "absolute" in terms of continuity.

016a

Feral! This is the character I previously couldn’t think of, that I always mix up with Wolfsbane! Two female were-wolf-like characters, X-characters at that, with association with X-Force…no wonder I’ve mixed them up!

016b

So, I probably mix up the names, but most often would think of Wolfsbane, when it comes to the two characters. More details here that I’d hold as certain and be disappointed to not see reflected in a generic, casual appearance of the character involving any kind of action or such.

017a

Now, Cyclops. Possibly my favorite X-character, and this is by far my favorite costume…though I’d swear I never consciously took in all the pouches in the early ’90s. I like the blue, and the gold; I’ll grant that the shorts are rather dated, but the contrast of yellow and blue–evoking prior costumes while becoming iconic for the ’90s–just works for me!

017b

This is another fairly generic description…and it’s quite interesting to see how MUCH the character has grown and changed since the early-1990s…though I really have NOT cared for what’s been done with him since AvX.

018a

I have a mixed bit of thought on Gambit…but he remains one of my definite favorites of the X-Men, for his role in the ’92 cartoon and the Fabian Nicieza series from ’99ish. This is a classic sort of look for the character, and the one I prefer…regardless of how dated or "’90s" it is.

018b

Interesting. Remy Lebeau. I just think of the name with the character…so to consider his name unrevealed (in any form) is a bit odd…but then, he was introduced at most two years before this card was printed, and I’ve been myself aware of the character for most of the last 25-ish years!

I’m more aware OF the "early" stuff with the character, not having actually read his first appearance as yet and "met" the character via the animated series, and he’d already undergone some development well before I realized how "new" a character he was at the time!


Here’s my last post, comments covering the first 9 cards of this series.

The Weekend Haul – Weekend of June 16-18

Over the weekend, I headed down to Kenmore to pick up stuff that’s been pulled the last couple weeks.

Having learned of a sale at another shop–Hazel’s Heroes–and being much closer to it already being down that far south, I ventured a bit off my usual trail to check out the shop, AND the sale. I was loosely aware of the general region of the shop…I’d just never (since becoming aware of the shop’s existence) had the time while down that way to check it out.

I wasn’t sure going in what the sale itself would be, but the Facebook post indicated it was a "big" sale, and with my present (and likely about to fizzle out) hunt for Trial of the Flash-era issues of the silver/bronze age The Flash series, I was all the more interested, as a sale would bring even too-highly priced issues into a reasonable range, or so I figured.

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While I doubt I’ll ever get the whole series, being aware of the Blue Ribbon Digest series, I’ve found I’m interested in those when I find them for a good price. As this sale was, I believe I got both of these for about $1/each.

Pretty sure the same on the TMNT novels. (Beaten to heck, but for the price, well worthwhile for the moment!) The Six-Guns and Shurikens book and Red Herrings I remember reading as a kid. The Donatello: The Radical Robot is one I don’t remember (and apparently there are others for each of the turtles along with Donatello!).

Gotta say…for me, the better value by far is these five books for $5, over, say, Darth Vader #1 (had a #1 in 2015, and now already again in 2017..!).

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The way the sale was structured, the $12 Power of Warlock cost me $5 (again, which is the better value: that or a book that just came out this week?) while the other Power of Warlock issue matched the price of a DC Rebirth issue.

The Tales of the TMNT #5 (original run), Batman and the Outsiders #1, and Robin (original mini-series) #1 cost me a whopping $1/each!

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The Booster Gold issues also all only cost me $1. I mentally kicked myself when I realized for the pricing I missed grabbing #s 0 and One Million; fortunately, I shouldn’t have much issue finding my #0 from my Zero Hour stuff last year, and already found my One Million from last October. The #1 was a "convenience" copy (and for $1, even, beautiful piece!).

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Then, I noticed some boxes of magazines before I could check out. My curiosity got me, and on investigating, found that there was quite a run of old Wizard magazines! Fortunately, despite thinking it wouldn’t even matter, I’d taken a couple photos of my Wizard shelf in lieu of writing down missing numbers. So, I was able to pull something like 25-26 issues to fill in gaps in my existing run of the magazine…plus several issues that I just want a poster out of and for the price, no sense passing them up–these all had an older $3 sticker on them, with a newer $1 sticker.

Since the sale was that stuff up to $5.99 was $1, I expected I was just gonna be paying $1 per Wizard…but the store owner gave me the stack for 50 cents an issue!

So all told, for roughly the price of 9 standard, modern Marvel issues, I got 30 issues of Wizard, most of which fill in gaps in my existing collection (rather than just cheap duplicates), a couple of old Power of Warlock issues, three TMNT books I haven’t seen available anywhere in over 20 years, a couple of (relatively rare) Blue Ribbon Digests, and a few other issues!

Sure beats the heck outta most conventions!


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Finally, while I was at Kenmore, on a whim, I made a non-comics purchase: a Batman bust bank of the Adam West Batman. A bit more than I might’ve wanted to pay, and DEFINITELY a shame that it took the man’s death last weekend to remind me how much I do actually appreciate his Batman and all that. But I was interested, and opted to get this since it was NOT any kind of "special order" or such, and not a case of anyone profiting off Adam West‘s death! (As, sadly, I suspect Batman ’66 stuff may soon be).

The Weekend Haul – Weekend of June 9-11

Over the weekend, I wound up getting quite a bit of stuff! Granted, some of it was ordered and arrived over the weekend, but still much more than a usual weekend might be!

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I stopped by Comic Heaven looking for Trial of the Flash issues, with no luck on those. but I did score an anniversary issue of Detective Comics that I think I may have heard of but don’t think I’ve ever read.

Then I found several books more than 50% off in bargain bins I hadn’t realized had been "restocked." (One actually may have been on a bargain shelf display, come to think of it). These, plus a booster pack of Star Wars: Destiny (a dice and cards game) where I got a rather pricey rare card (or "legendary" in game terms) cost me LESS than what the Black Vortex would have cost at cover price!

And it’s kinda hard to believe that there are 75 issues of Savage Dragon across just three of these Savage Dragon Archives paperbacks. (They’re basically like Marvel‘s Essential or DC‘s Showcase volumes–phonebook-sized black and white reprints of series). I remember (among other issues prior) getting Savage Dragon #75 as a new issue and being astounded at how long Larsen kept the result of that issue going at the time. And I’m quite interested in snagging the other Archives volumes as well.

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Then, I took a friend across town to Carol & John’s, where we were unfortunate enough to be there during Winston‘s nap-time. Being cat people, though, we totally understood not waking the kitty!

I snagged the new Marvel Comics Digest starring Spider-Man, and picked up Bane: Conquest #2 which I’d missed/not seen prior (oops!).

At a Books-A-Million, I snagged a Spidey treasury edition…for $3.97 and jumped on it (hey, 5 Marvel issues’ content for a whopping $3.97–cheaper even than a single issue–is a price point I’m willing to sample something at!)

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Also at the Books-A-Million, I found a copy of the (I believe out of print) Gambit Classic vol. 1 for a mere $6.97–seven issues’ content for barely $1 each, and did I mention that I’m pretty sure this volume is out of print? I think its contents are somewhat duplicated in other stuff, but the ’90s fan in me was ecstatic to find this for the price (though I’ll probably pay at least triple this for the second volume if I ever come across it or hunt it down).

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And rounding things out, I’d put an order in with InStockTrades for a few books, sliding I think just a few cents over the minimum threshold for free shipping. And though the box arrived with a hefty dent and outright HOLE in its side from the mail system…since InStockTrades (UNLIKE Amazon) ACTUALLY USES GOOD PACKING PRACTICES, my books were UNHARMED. Additionally, because of actually being packed well, they arrived in new condition, as ordered–something Amazon flat-out REFUSES to do!

Next is to try to hold back a bit, though there are a number of other books and such that I want. It’s just kinda sad when a random visit to a couple comic shops and a bookstore (and an online order) yield better deals and more plentifully so (that interest me, anyway) than a convention.

We’ll see what this week’s new releases hold, and if/when I get another chance to sit down for some major, marathon reading!

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