As a series, this volume of Astonishing X-Men has a fascinating history. It started back in 2004 with Joss Whedon as the writer. It had what was probably the greatest resurrection in X-Men history with Colossus’s return. It introduced Danger as a character rather than just a danger room. It had the epic Breakworld storyline. It was also the most delayed X-Men run in history, having a full year between issues at times. Then came a bunch of temporary writers working on two or three storylines each until it finally landed in Marjorie Liu’s hands. Issue 50 had the first gay marriage in the comic industry, and Liu handled the subject very well. And now the series has come to its end.
My thoughts on Liu’s run are a bit mixed. Some stories worked very well while others kind of didn’t. The story involving Karma’s long lost sister was interesting in concept and had some great moments, but the pacing was a little uneven. The storyline exploring Warbird’s love of art and her inner conflict was very good. The story involving Iceman had its ups, but you won’t enjoy it if you’re not a fan of Iceman. The crossover with the Age of Apocalypse universe was epic in scale, but felt kind of pointless in the long haul.
This issue is a bit of a quiet issue, mostly focusing on the characters in the team and tying up loose ends. It primarily focuses on Warbird and the artist she’s become. Warbird’s character development is perhaps the best part of Liu’s run and it works very well here. The dining room scene is perhaps the highlight of this issue, although the ending montage works well too. This comic is at its best when it’s focusing on the ex-Shi’ar warrior.
AXM 68 also concludes the story of Northstar’s legal battle to stay in the United States, with a nice cameo from She Hulk. These scenes are a bit amusing, but they feel a bit rushed. Iceman’s development feels a bit rushed as well, but they kind of work. As for the art, well … I’m not a fan of the style.
I’ve found that Liu’s writing is a bit of an acquired taste. At least with comics she seems to be better at character development than plotting, although her plotting seems to have improved over the course of the run. She’s also good at building character relationships, even if they don’t seem to work at first. It only makes sense that her final issue is entirely character driven. I wouldn’t call this issue a masterpiece, but it’s at the same quality level of the rest of her Astonishing run. If you’ve enjoyed the rest of it, you’ll like this issue.