Marjorie Liu continues her opening story arc in this issue of Astonishing X-Men. As we saw last month Karma is actually being controlled by Susan Hatchi who runs some huge nanotech company. Wolverine was blown up last issue, but his healing factor has been ramped up in recent years such that even being blown up didn’t kill him. The issue spends some time demonstrating that the technology her company is developing is so advanced that even Hank is impressed. After that we find out that Ms Hatchi is a pretty evil CEO.
Comics are a product of their times. When Lex Luthor first appeared in the 1940s in America’s scientific age, he was a mad scientist. When he was recreated in the modern age he was a businessman. Recent villains in the Marvel universe have been similar to terrorists. So it’s interesting to note that as Wall Street’s excesses ravage the US economy and ripply across the Atlantic to affect Europe, Liu’s first villain is a businesswoman. Also worth nothing is the fact that she is a woman in a position of power while in decades past it would certainly have been a man. This brings me to the one artistic decision that really took me out of the narrative - Ms Hatchi’s wardrobe:
Now, I know that for many decades mainstream superhero comics have been drawn by men for consumption by boys/men. So I’ve never complained too much about the fact that pretty much every main character (especially heroes) has enormous breasts. (Shoot, there’s even a trope about it - Most Common Super Power) I don’t even comment on ridiculous costumes because, again, that’s just part of how superheroes have evolved in the west. However, I refuse to believe that a business woman would dress like that. Her clothes are fine for the MTV music awards, not addressing investors as she’s doing in that scene.
That moment aside, Liu continues to do a good job exploring Northstar and Kyle’s relationship. The back and forth they have before he goes off on a mission seems like a pretty realistic conversation for a superhero and his non-super spouse to have. I could even see a version of that conversation happening between cops and their spouses or soldiers and their spouses.
I think my favorite thing about this book is that Liu has these X-Men off on their own. They aren’t dealing with mutant threats. It isn’t taking part in Avengers vs X-Men (in fact, I think it officially takes place afterwards). It’s a more private look at these characters and some of what they have to deal with when they aren’t teaching or leading official teams. I think the story continues to be compelling and I’m unable to predict where Marjorie will take the story - I like that.