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X-Men: Land Design – The Truest Characterization in Astonishing X-Men #13 [X-ual Healing Special Greg Land Variant Edition]

Sworn to sell comics for Marvel executives who feared and hated the fact that Fox owned their movie rights, The Uncanny X-Men suffered great indignities, but with a corporate merger on the way, the X-Men can finally get back to doing what they do best: being objectively the best franchise in comics.

Each week, armed with the joy, heartbreak, and frustration of 30+ years of reading X-Men comics, we crankily read every new X-book that comes out, recap the events, provide some back-links to Marvel Unlimited, and wonder when Marvel will let Chris Claremont write something again. Seriously, how do you have the greatest writer in the history of comics on the payroll and just not use him for anything?

It's the way X-Men comics were meant to be read! It's the column that can only be known as…

X-Men: Land Design – The Truest Characterization in Astonishing X-Men #13 [X-ual Healing Special Greg Land Variant Edition]

For more about the column, check out the reboot issue here.

Astonishing X-Men #13 cover

Variant Cover by Rob Liefeld
The Reavers are back, and they have a new weapon that only Havok knows about. It's going to take a ragtag group of X-Men to save a world that hates and fears them! But after his villainous turn, can any of the X-Men really trust him? Can he blame them? Havok! Beast! Dazzler! Warpath! Colossus! It's an all-new, all-different kind of X-Men story from the minds of Matthew Rosenberg (PUNISHER) and Greg Land (INCREDIBLE HULK)!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Note: The solicit does not mention inker Jay Leisten, colorist Frank D'Armata, or letterer Clayton Cowles.

The new era of Astonishing X-Men begins with the newly reformed Havok single-handedly taking down a giant monster in the middle of New York City. Unfortunately, The Avengers show up and scold him for interfering with their own plans to take down the monster without causing any damage. Showing that the creative team really "gets" these characters, the Avengers are portrayed as total @#$holes.

X-Men: Land Design – The Truest Characterization in Astonishing X-Men #13 [X-ual Healing Special Greg Land Variant Edition]

Havok should have pointed out that it was actually Stark's fault he was stuck as a bad guy after AXIS. Captain America tells Havok to take a break and find himself. Elsewhere, Miss Sinister is performing an experiment on a captive in her lab, offering Greg Land an opportunity to draw a close-up butt shot of her before Donald Pierce and the Reavers attack and capture her.

At the Xavier Institute in Central Park, Havok speaks to a classroom of young mutants, attempting to recruit them to a new team of X-Men. Rockslide points out that Havok was just a supervillain only a few issues of X-Men Blue ago, but before Havok can explain that sort of thing happens to every X-Men at least twice, Kitty pulls him out of the room and tells him he's infringing on her X-Men trademark. Cold. Warpath, who we know will be a member of this team, is watching their conversation. Perhaps this will come into play later.

At what appears to be an abandoned airplane hangar, a military official named Callahan meets with Pierce and the Reavers to collect Miss Sinister. Some X-pository dialogue and a helpful caption explain that Callahan took possession of the Reavers after Alpha Flight captured them in the Hunt for Wolverine one-shot. Pierce thinks they're even now and wants to go free, but it doesn't work like that with the government. Callahan has installed some kind of device in the Reavers which can incapacitate them (that old gag). He orders his soldiers to kill all but three of them and load the rest into the van with Sinister.

After Havok eats a bad Coney Island hot dog and has a nightmare flashback to his bad guy days in X-Men Blue, he wrecks a motel room like a true punk rocker. Later, at a Harvard genetics lecture, Havok tries to recruit The Beast to his team. In a wonderful bit of dialog that shows this creative team really "gets" The Beast too, Havok calls him out for being a total @#$hole as well.

X-Men: Land Design – The Truest Characterization in Astonishing X-Men #13 [X-ual Healing Special Greg Land Variant Edition]

Beast isn't feeling it, until four Reavers attack (weren't all but three killed just a few pages ago?). It turns out they are after Beast. Pinned down, Beast flips a switch and unleashes a secret weapon: Banshee! @#$% yeah! The issue ends there.

The Bottom Line

Matty Rosenberg is clearly living out his 1989 fantasy, and who can blame him? He's a big Taylor Swift fan, after all. Greg Land has done his best to avoid his tendency to draw all of the female characters as if they are engaged in a sex act. Did Rosenberg have to explicitly write this in the script? "Page 9, Panel 2: Kitty lectures Havok on X-Men recruitment etiquette. She is not straddling a chair, her mouth agape and head tilted back like she's ready to climax." Either way, you have to applaud the restraint.

Excellent characterization of the Avengers as total douchebags. Beast is… almost likable, which is an accomplishment for the sanctimonious blue bastard. And it's nice to see Banshee, which follows up a storyline from the first volume of Uncanny Avengers.

Hopefully, we're not looking at five or six issues of putting the team together though. The pace of Astonishing X-Men #1-12 was glacial, and a year's worth of comics should contain more than two stories. But that's not a complaint about this book. This book is clearly the Wolverine's Weiner X-Pick of the Week.

X-Men: Land Design – The Truest Characterization in Astonishing X-Men #13 [X-ual Healing Special Greg Land Variant Edition]

Congratulations to the creative team!

Further Reading

Of course, if you haven't already, you can read Havok's recent adventures in X-Men Blue, which culminate in X-Men Blue #28, where Havok is restored to his original nature after being reverted during the AXIS super-mega-crossover event. The newer issues of X-Men Blue aren't on Marvel Unlimited yet, but the rest of that is.

Read the first volume of Uncanny Avengers to learn hour Beast ended up in possession of Banshee. That is on Marvel Unlimited.

Head back to Uncanny X-Men #229 for the first appearance of the Reavers and the beginning of the Outback X-Men era, which Matty Rosenberg is revisiting in order to relive his childhood.

Read more X-ual Healing here:

X-Men: Land Design – The Truest Characterization in Astonishing X-Men #13 [X-ual Healing Special Greg Land Variant Edition]

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Jude TerrorAbout Jude Terror

A prophecy once said that in the comic book industry's darkest days, a hero would come to lead the people through a plague of overpriced floppies, incentive variant covers, #1 issue reboots, and super-mega-crossover events. Sadly, that prophecy was wrong. Oh, Jude Terror was right. For ten years. About everything. But nobody listened. And so, Jude Terror has moved on to a more important mission: turning Bleeding Cool into a pro wrestling dirt sheet!
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