Astonishing X-Men Annual #1 Advance Review: Should the X-Men be Dark?

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Jean Grey, Beast, Angel, and Iceman, the surviving members of the original X-Men, meet up for dinner to catch up. Their time is interrupted by the resurrected Professor Charles Xavier, back as "X" and inhabiting the body of Fantomex. He brings them to a new mansion he has outside the town of Lago. He claims to want to reconnect with them, but X-Men have their suspicions about this version of Professor X. Something is going down in the town of Lago.

Astonishing X-Men Annual #1 cover by Rod Reis
Astonishing X-Men Annual #1 cover by Rod Reis

There were times, while reading Astonishing X-Men Annual #1, when I wanted to dislike this comic. It's another Matthew Rosenberg X-Men book where all the team members are either cold or outright snide towards one another. Aside from distrusting X, Jean, Hank, Bobby, and Warren aren't entirely kind that kind to each other.

Then…well, I don't want to spoil it, but that's part of the point. While much of the comic is reflecting upon everything these characters have gone through, it's also about how much a change of perspective could help these characters and the X-Men as a whole.

X does many questionable things, and some of his actions seem contradictory to his end goal (especially how he deals with the main villain), but even that gels with how off this version of the alleged Charles Xavier is. It's a comic with a complex plot attempting to convey complex emotions, and I think it's largely successful in this endeavor.

Travel Foreman does an excellent job of capturing the subtler moments of this comic with his detailed and uniquely stylized aesthetic. It captures a darker atmosphere, and it serves the aim of the narrative well. It's also outright gorgeous, and Foreman's art does a lot of good for this comic.

Astonishing X-Men Annual #1 is a unique read. It tries to tackle some complex ideas regarding tone, presentation, and handling the difficulties of one's life. It reflects on itself and the current state of X-Men comics, and it does so in an intriguing manner. It's not perfect and comes close to contradicting itself in parts, but it's a compelling read, helped a lot by the artwork of Travel Foreman. This one earns a recommendation. Check it out tomorrow.

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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.
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