Astonishing X-Men #14 Review

by Charles Martin on August 01, 2018

Astonishing X-Men #14 Review
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Penciller: Greg Land
Inker: Jay Leisten
Colourist: Frank D'Armata
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

With commendable speed, Matthew Rosenberg completes the assembly of Alex Summers' Misfit Squad of Not-X-Men. This issue attaches a drunk Colossus and an overbearing Dazzler to the team; now it's time for them to figure out why Reavers are hunting brainy mutants and what role Miss Sinister plays in the story. And they miiight have started off by becoming wanted criminals, oops.

The previous issue was a little ambiguous in its tone, but #14 solidifies it. It's aiming at an absurdist A-Team setup with heavy lashings of dysfunctional family and more than a little comedy. It's working a lot better here, and the greatest strength of the issue might be Mr. Rosenberg's fine manipulation of the plot to build a working team out of people who hate Alex Summers and themselves. 

This could develop into something delightful; the obstacle standing in front of it (both on and off-stage) is the dreadfully dull opposition the team faces so far. Cyborgs and SWAT mooks and vague super-science conspiracies; it's like Greg Land swiped half the villain tropes out of his stint on Weapon X last year.

Matthew Rosenberg proves that he has a rare talent for snarky mismatched teams struggling against steep odds and relentless danger; this reads like a more mature take on the same team dynamics he showed off in his Secret Warriors. It's not a great setup for introspective character studies, but it does pay great dividends in entertaining interactions between characters.

Devil's advocate plot critique: Between Beast and Dazzler, this issue goes two for two on this mechanic: "No, Alex, I don't wanna join your team." *fight scene* "Okay, Alex, what do we do next?"

Greg Land's art is classic Greg Land - scrupulous polish (thanks to the assistance of long-time inking collaborator Jay Leisten) but also a relentlessly disappointing lack of novelty. Dazzler's ultimate role in this story might be to battle Miss Sinister for sole proprietorship of the Generic Land Female Face - and she'd also have to strike down Kitty Pryde (and any other women the story comes across) to earn it. 

The GLFF is the lowest-hanging fruit, but there are plenty of other visual nits to pick. There's the usual over-reliance on cyborgs and generic SWAT mooks in the fight scenes. For a more story-specific complaint, I bring up the fact that Dazzler's current touring show is supposed to include an animatronic Mojo robot on stage. Mr. Rosenberg's script makes much of this; Mr. Land resolutely refuses to draw it.

What the latest arc of Astonishing X-Men gives us is a wonderfully snarky, dysfunctional team of outcast mutants. They might not save the world, but they're gonna crack some good jokes as they trip over each other. While issue #14 completes the roster and strengthens the comedic tone, the visuals and the opposition remain a little too generic to make this a must-read. It doesn't belong on the top of your pull list, but it'll be a fun treat if you circle back later and pick it up cheap.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
If you've sworn a fearsome oath not to pay money for Greg Land art, Astonishing X-Men isn't good enough to tempt you into breaking it. Yet.