Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Attacking the World's Psychics

Astonishing X-Men #2-7 (Marvel, October 2017 to March 2018, $3.99)
One of several X-Men team books coming out of Inhumans vs. X-Men, this comic—the fourth series with this title—is written by Charles Soule. It features a team led by Psylocke including Logan, Beast, Rogue, Gambit, Fantomex, Bishop, and Angel. That grouping's not too dissimilar from the 1994-1995 pre-Age of Apocalypse Uncanny X-Men team.

This run of issues, which includes the bulk of the Life of X storyline and kicks off the storyline A Man Called X, is not just a fun read, but an important event in the history of the X-Men. Amahl Farouk, the Shadow King, has been attacking the world's psychics to find one strong enough to help him bring his darkness completely to the world.

Professor X, believed dead since Cyclops killed him in Avengers Vs. X-Men, is in fact still active on the astral plane (!!!), and challenges Farouk to distract him. Meanwhile, Psylocke, protected by Angel and Bishop, sends the X-Men to find Farouk, as well.

Soule's writing is solid—he's one of my favorite superhero writers—and there's a different artist every issue. #2 is drawn by Mike Deodato, Jr., perhaps the best of the bunch. The other issues are drawn by Ed McGuinness, Carlos Pacheco, Ramon Rosanas (perhaps the next best in this run of issues), Mike del Mundo, and Phil Noto.

Without offering a play-by-play description of the issues, here are some highlights:

#2: The splash panel with Farouk and Professor X, seeing various team members cycle through the same dramatic roles in an imagined play, and Wolverine sniffing Beast
#3: Wolverine's goals ("Logan has built himself a reality. A very simple one, with only two elements. The lair of his enemy, and a path leading to it."), and Angel's forgiveness
#4: Carlos Pacheco's cover, Bishop's fall, and the temptations of the imagined realities
#5: The possessed Gambit and pp. 12-13
#6: The issue's dreamlike quality and the return of X
#7: Phantomex's choice, the return of Proteus, and a Marvel Value Stamp

This is an X series worth reading. Soule's up to some fun stuff, and even with the shift in story lines, there are still enough open threads that it's not entirely clear where things will go.

Availability: #1-6 will be collected in Astonishing X-Men by Charles Soule Vol. 1: Life of X in March this year. You can also buy these issues online.

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