Astonishing X-Men #4 Review: Good, But Needs To Move On

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Astonishing X-Men #4 cover by Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Fonteriz, and Nolan Woodard
Astonishing X-Men #4 cover by Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Fonteriz, and Nolan Woodard

Shadow King has taken over Logan and has unleashed him in the physical world. Archangel, Bishop, and Psylocke attempt to hold the former Wolverine off. On top of that, the Xavier from the Astral Plane has made contact with Psylocke and attempts to convince her that he is one her side.

Back in the Astral Plane, the pairing of Fantomex and Mystique along with the couple of Rogue and Gambit attempt to rekindle some romantic flames long thought to have gone out.

The true intentions of the alleged Professor X and Shadow King remain a mystery.

There is something to be said about how well writer Charles Soule is at keeping the reader guessing at what is really going on with this Charles Xavier from the Astral Plane. It's still unclear whether or not this truly is an echo of the deceased Professor X or a trick of Farouk the Shadow King.

The romantic dynamics of the two aforementioned couples are pretty well put together, too. Gambit and Rogue are tempted to reestablish their romance, but they are more incompatible now than they have ever been before. Rogue is an Avenger and a dedicated hero while Gambit has fallen back on his old habits of thievery and lies. He is willing to give himself over to the fantasy; she is not.

Then you have Fantomex and Mystique, two conniving yet classy people who happen to get along and want to enjoy their time. It's not as complex, but it is a pairing which makes sense.

Seeing Bishop and Psylocke duke it out with Logan is pretty awesome, too.

Astonishing X-Men #4 art by Carlos Pacheco and Rain Beredo
Astonishing X-Men #4 art by Carlos Pacheco and Rain Beredo

That being said, this story is starting to outstay its welcome. I am not yet completely tired of it, but the plot needs to move on soon. I want to see what is going to happen with this team. Is everyone sticking around? Are Gambit, Fantomex, and/or Mystique going to bail? Would Logan or Rogue leave? Or do would they feel a need to hold this squad of X-Men together to do what Kitty and Magneto's teams won't do? There are a number of killers, thieves, and soldiers in this group, and Weapon X seems like a team that is more devoted to the one antagonist.

I'm going to harp about this detail every issue until it stops: yes, Carlos Pacheco is a good artist. Yes, this comic looks good and is an improvement over the dissonant style of last issue. No, it doesn't excuse the revolving-door artist gimmick. It needs to stop. Pick one. Cheung, Deodato, and Pacheco would all be good choices. Pick one, and move on.

Rain Beredo is a good color artist too, bringing a lot of life to the book with the color choices. It's a bright book for the most part, and its pages pop for it.

Astonishing X-Men is still the best X-Men book currently on the stands. That is not to say that Blue or Gold are bad, but for all its flaws, Astonishing has me consistently more engaged and interested in the characters. I do recommend this issue, but I do hope its problems get ironed out soon.

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About Joshua Davison

Josh is a longtime super hero comic fan and an aspiring comic book and fiction writer himself. He also trades in videogames, Star Wars, and Magic: The Gathering, and he is also a budding film buff. He's always been a huge nerd, and he hopes to contribute something of worth to the wider geek culture conversation. He is also happy to announce that he is the new Reviews Editor for Bleeding Cool. Follow on Twitter @joshdavisonbolt.