Astonishing X-Men 55 review

I’m a little conflicted about this issue. On my first reading, this was a fairly confusing comic. A lot happens in this, and most of it is given very little space for explanation. On the other hand, there’s a lot of meat in this issue – more so than any other comic I’ve read this week. It was much easier to follow on my second reading (and by extension, more enjoyable), but that doesn’t make this one easy to recommend.

Before this review begins, let’s look at Marjorie Liu’s Astonishing X-Men run so far. The first two issues (48 and 49) brought a number of various X-Men characters together to fight the recently returned Marauders. The Marauders were being controlled by Karma’s half-sister, Susan Hatchi using technology that is now being used on the Astonishing X-Men. She’s vengeful for a number of reasons, mostly to do with her absent father, her mother being executed in front of her as a kid and the loss of her telepathic mutant abilities on M-Day.

Issues 50 and 51 were related to Northstar’s gay wedding, and didn’t affect the current storyline that much. 52-54 was about Susan taking control of the X-Men using nanotechnology that can disable their mutant powers and even kill them. She then ordered them to take over Madripoor simply to prove that her technology can control anyone. If they fail, not only will they die but a good number of people in New York will as well. At the end of the last issue, Northstar accidentally pushed Iceman into a pool of liquid metal and seemingly killed him.

Issue 55 begins immediately after Iceman was seemingly killed. The X-Men are obviously under stress as conflicts between different members spark out of control. It takes a reminder from Susan for them to focus on their mission. However her plan isn’t simply to cripple Madripoor, but to make the X-Men look bad. She even hires several fake X-Men to destroy the Airport to accomplish this. There’s so much going on in this comic that you have to read it slowly, otherwise you’ll miss several very important details. There are so many plot twists packed into 20 pages that it’s hard to feel any emotional connection to any of them. It certainly doesn’t hurt to re-read several previous issues either. This story arc is written more like a compressed novel than a comic in that sense.

There’s plenty of action, and for the most part it’s easy to follow. There’s a quick fight between Gambit and Tyger Tiger that doubles as a morse code conversation, the previously mentioned fight between the X-Men and the fake X-Men, and the second explosive cliff-hanger in this story arc.

The art is alright, but nothing special. In the darker scenes it’s sometimes difficult to tell some of the characters apart. There’s one panel where Gambit almost looks like Northstar, and it’s often hard to tell the difference between Karma and Tyger Tiger (ignoring their outfits). It’s much easier to tell characters apart in brighter light. Also like I said, the action scenes are easy to follow.

I’m not entirely sure how to feel about this comic – I kind of like it, but it’s not without problems. Perhaps this storyline will read better as a whole rather than each issue individually. Perhaps it should have either been simplified or spread out into two separate arcs. It’s possible that Marjorie Liu is better suited with a solo title – she did a great job with X-23.

If you only read each issue once as they release, this storyline is incredibly confusing and the recap pages will not help in the slightest. If you’ve enjoyed this series so far, you’ll probably like this. If you haven’t enjoyed this series, this issue won’t help. This series has been too polarizing and confusing so far to recommend it to new readers – at least until this story arc ends.

About healed1337

I am a relatively new comic book fan writing this blog for other new comic book fans and/or people who are interested in comics but don't know where to start. I've always been interested in writing, to the point where I have a college Creative Writing Certificate and I'm currently a year 2 Journalism student. I also have another blog where I mostly make fun of bad movies - www.healed1337.blogspot.com As for how I got into comics, I've always had a passing interest in superheroes: most notably Batman, Spider-man and the X-Men. Until February of 2011 (I think,) my only experience with any of these franchises came from the movies and video games. Shortly after I bought Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 however, I decided to check out X-23, Wolverine's female clone. I ended up reading her Innocence Lost origin story and enjoyed it. From there, I started reading various X-Men comics and it quickly exploded into my newest hobby. My other interests/hobbies include video games, movies, music, playing sports, my dogs and weird news.
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6 Responses to Astonishing X-Men 55 review

  1. xmenxpert says:

    This is a bad comic. It’s a mess. And as a result, it’s hard to care about anything that happens. Karma’s father shows up, and all you can think is, “OK then.” Rather than it being a shocking and touching moment, it’s just yet another twist.

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  2. healed1337 says:

    It really is a mess. Marjorie Liu can be a good writer and she specializes with character work. This story arc is just way too complicated for any of the characters to show through. I can see what she’s going for, but having so many twists in one issue reduces any impact that they all could have had if given more panel time.

    Like

    • xmenxpert says:

      I can’t say I’m a fan of Liu, in general. I’ve found her to be an inconsistent writer, no matter what book she was writing. Some issues would be good, others would be bad. I never found her X-23 solo as great as other people did, and I disliked her run on Daken. I know she’s a bit of a fan favourite, has a dedicated following, but she’s failed to truly impress me so far. Though it seems to me I did enjoy her NYX: No Way Home.

      I will also say that Liu herself is really pretty. Like, just ridiculously good-looking. A comic book writer has no right being that attractive.

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  3. wwayne says:

    My favorite story arcs:
    Amazing Spider Man # 226 – 227 (March – April 1982)
    Daredevil # 227 – 233 (February – August 1986)
    Venom: Sinner Takes All # 1 – 5 (August – December 1995)
    Batman: The Long Halloween # 1 – 13 (December 1996 – December 1997)
    X – Men: Children of the Atom # 1 – 6 (November 1999 – September 2000)
    Punisher Vol. 3 # 1 – 12 (April 2000 – March 2001)
    Daredevil: Yellow # 1 – 6 (August 2001 – January 2002)
    Fury Vol. 2 # 1 – 6 (November 2001 – April 2002)
    Kingpin: Thug # 1 – 7 (August 2003 – February 2004)
    Titans Vol 3: Fractured (August 2009 – April 2010)

    My favorite single issues:
    Redemption (Daredevil # 200) November 1983
    The Deadliest Night of My Life (Daredevil # 208) July 1984
    Badlands (Daredevil # 219) June 1985
    Fog (Daredevil # 220) July 1985
    Batman: Seduction of the Gun February 1993
    Bad Company (Steel # 3) April 1994
    The Meaning of Life (Shadow of the Bat # 72) March 1998
    A Night to Remember (Generation X # 57) November 1999
    Murdock’s Law (Daredevil Vol. 2 # 9) December 2009
    Ladies’ Night (The Brave and the Bold Vol. 3 # 33) June 2010

    Of course I didn’t consider expected titles like The Dark Knight Returns or Batman Year One, because they are more graphic novels than story arcs. What do you think about it?

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    • healed1337 says:

      Honestly, I haven’t read any of the storylines you mentioned there. With DC, the only non-New 52 books I’ve read are Batman: The Killing Joke, Trinity and All Star Superman. While I like the character, I haven’t read much pre-Dan Slott Spider-Man apart from “Death of Gwen Stacey” and Season One. I’m working on collecting Generation X at the moment though.

      I’m still new to comics, so I’ll take your favourite storylines as books to look in to (After I catch up on everything I bought from all three of my local shops’ anniversary sales). After all, I enjoyed Animal Man after you recommended it to me.

      I don’t think in terms of favourite storylines as much as I think about which book I want to re-read at the moment. I’m like that with movies too. I guess the ones I re-read the most include, in no particular order:

      Dan Slott’s She Hulk run
      X-Force volume 3 (Uually ignoring Messiah War unless I’m reading through the full run)
      Messiah Complex
      Dark Phoenix Saga
      Uncanny X-Force up to the Dark Angel Saga (haven’t liked it quite as much since)
      Batman: The Killing Joke
      All Star Superman
      X-23: Innocence Lost and Target X
      Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four run
      Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men

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      • wwayne says:

        Murdock’s Law (Daredevil Vol. 2 # 9) was published in December 1999, not 2009.
        “I don’t think in terms of favourite storylines as much as I think about which book I want to re-read at the moment”: I used exactly the same standard of judgement. A story has quality when it remains engraved in your memory even years after you read it for the first time, and when you feel like re-reading it a thousand times.
        Thank you for your reply and recommendations, I’ll look in to them as well! : )

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