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Astonishing X-Men #51 – Review

So, here it is - the big wedding event that everyone’s been talking about.  Kyle and Northstar get married.  I’ve read a few wedding issues from Marvel in the past and this one is on par with those.  A mix of the couple, the guests, and some advancement of the plots that were in motion before the wedding.  Although I enjoyed Marjorie Liu’s writing on X-23, I’ve found the back and forth between the flashbacks and flashforwards in her first arc to be a little jarring.  Which is a shame, because I really enjoy her character interactions.  I think she’s probably the best writer on Astonishing X-Men in a while and is probably the best one to get the book back onto a great character focus the way Joss Whedon did when he launched the series.  Although I’m still going to have to drop this series because I don’t have enough money to collect all the X-Men titles Marvel is putting out, having Liu on the book has kept me on for a lot longer than it would have otherwise.  And I intend to collect the trades later on.

If I could find flaw with this issue it’d be that the flashbacks and flashforwards essentially removed all the tension from the events in the sewers.  If those events had taken place after the wedding I think it would have been more dramatic because you wouldn’t have known if Kyle was going to kill himself or someone else.  The only other flaw is that I think the issue would have worked better as a double-sized issue.  It felt a little too compressed for me with all the nice little moments between the characters - like Kid Omega wondering if the wedding would adhere to the super hero trope of being interrupted by someone’s nemesis.  Marketing had promised that there would be a reason why certain characters weren’t there and it would have consequences or something like that.  The scenes came so quickly and the backgrounds were filled with lots of people that I couldn’t make out without their costumes on (due to the way different artists depict the characters) so I couldn’t really tell that the issue delivered on that, but you can’t hold marketing against an issue.

I really enjoyed the art.  It’s very stylized and painterly, but I especially like how Beast was rendered.  Again, some characters - Bobby for example - look so different with different artists that I didn’t recognize him at first.

A couple random things I noticed: Rogue’s dialogue didn’t have the “ah” instead of “I” southern inflections it usually does.  X-23 is pretty much Liu’s baby as much as Christopher Yost’s so I consider her to be the authority.  You can see in her cameo in this book that she’s dressed in her usual dark jacket and pants in contrast to Avengers Academy where for the past 2-3 issues she’s been in just a sports bra which seems somewhat out of character for her.  It’s also neat to see X-23 have a little reunion with Jubilee - who became her BFF during Liu’s run on X-23.  Against it would have been nice to have another panel or two with them - which could have happened with a double-size issue.

Although I won’t be continuing with this book on a regular basis, I do fully intend to support Marjorie by getting the trades.  And so I’m very hopeful to see where she goes from here.  In the few issues she’s written we’ve gotten more character development for some of the main characters than in the past few years.  She is great at writing relationships and I’m looking forward to her next story arc since I didn’t really like this one too much but I really loved her work on X-23.

This issue is a buy, but good luck finding it.  My comic shop was sold out on Wednesday since everyone’s been talking about the issue all over the news because of the gay marriage issue.

Eric “djotaku” Mesa has even more to say about comics.  Or you can read his thoughts on programming, photography, and politics.  If you prefer him in shorter bursts, you can follow him on twitter @djotakuAstonishing X-Men #51 - Review


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