Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Giant Sized Astonishing X-Men and the completion of Whedon's X-Men

I suppose that Whedon's goal was to write a moving, tragic close to his run. Kitty appears to be gone for good, Colossus is sad and also gets a great angry moment, and it was e/affective in that way. There's a lyrical quality to the art, especially in these final pages. And, at least on the first read-through, it works.

And then you reach the end and realize that it barely holds together. Virtually everything else ranges from mildly to massively disappointing. We don't know how it is that the bullet Kitty's in is magic and disrupts her power (it just is; it just does); we still aren't totally clear on how the prophecy that Colossus would destroy Breakworld was planted; we don't know what happened to the Cure that Beast had, we don't know whether Cassandra Nova actually managed to implant herself in Armor in the previous arc; we don't know what's going to happen to Danger. (I could also list flaws in the storytelling as it pertains to this issue alone. I'll let Omar Karindu do that instead.)

These aren't inconsequential details. Each arc left us with questions, and what passes for closure in this final issue is incredibly wanting. Unless I missed something, we don't even know what the status of the Breakworld is after Colossus kills the rebel leader and Wolverine slices the arm off of the big angry dude. (I'd go back and check his name, but honestly... I just don't care.) Geoff Klock notes in his audio-review that it isn't enough to say that he's given subsequent writers options to play with. This has been a self-contained vanity project from the start (that Cyclops' blasts return inexplicably at the end of this issue would seem to indicate that Whedon knows that he has to put some things back in the sandbox) and it's very nearly unforgivable that he can't follow-through on what he started.

I imagine that I'll keep a certain fondness for this run. The pacing was a mess - like Battlestar Galactica, it's better consumed all at once so that you aren't conscious of how little content there is to each individual episode - and Whedon either forgets or inadequately explains a dozen or so plot-points from throughout the series, (Thanks to skullfire for this list!) but Whedon has made his name on his character work, not his plots. I suppose I could resent him for doing such a great job with Kitty only to kill her off (well, not really, but you know...), but he also gave me a reason to like Cyclops, made Emma sympathetic, and tried to make Colossus likable too.

So is the whole project a failure, in the end? I think I'd have to qualify my answer: a "yes" with a "but".


Jason said...

I have to admit to taking sadistic delight in reading all these negative reviews of Giant-Size Astonishing.

I KNEW Whedon wasn't going anywhere with this stuff -- knew it after reading just one issue! :)

Omar Karindu said...

I think the major problem of Whedon's run is thematic: after the first storyline involving the Cure, there's very little about it that works with the various allegories and that the X-Men specifically suggest.

It's not just that it doesn't hold together in the end, it's that it doesn't really matter as a take on the X-Men franchise beyond the plot point of Kitty's pseudo-death. And that death itself is a standard-issue heroic sacrifice; one could plug in any of a variety of plucky sidekicks without missing a beat.

It's fairly generic superhero fiction, albeit an example of the genre reflecting the concerns Whedon foregrounds in all of his work across the various adventure subgenres.