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85 of 88 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
- Ben Grimm: "Didn't they come up with a cure for your kind?"
- Wolverine: "You got a problem with mutants?"
- Ben Grimm: "I meant Canadians."

Joss Whedon's staggeringly awesome X-Men run has ended, but that doesn't stop me from going back and re-reading his stuff a bunch of times. And with the ASTONISHING X-MEN OMNIBUS finally out and published, I can finally just keep all those individual issues bagged safe and sound in my plastic nuclear holocaust-proof Mylars.

I confess that I've stopped trying to keep up with Marvel's eighty-seven thousand different X-titles sometime back in the '90s, having gotten fed up with the sheer volume and super-convoluted continuity of the thing. I also had this sense, back in the '90s, that the prevailing storytelling for all those X-titles leaned more towards a "quantity over quality" attitude. But I bow down to Joss Whedon, and so had to pick up ASTONISHING X-MEN, fully anticipating greatness. Which is exactly what Joss proceeded to give us. A hell of a ride.

Whedon brings to ASTONISHING X-MEN all the tools that made BUFFY and FIREFLY and, hell, even DR. HORRIBLE'S SING-ALONG BLOG such a memorable experience: There's his ear for sharp, spot-on dialogue and his witty forays into pop culture references. There's his ability to write emotionally hard-hitting scenes and his deft juggling of character dynamics and seamless interweaving of plot elements. Joss Whedon is the nerd god of nerds, and his minions are legion or at least can fill up the San Diego Comic Con.

Who out there currently has a better handle on the X-Men? I'd never been that partial to Scott Summers before Whedon got his mitts on him, and now... well, I'm partial. Nowadays I actually look at Cyclops and don't instantly associate him with Jean Grey. And it's fairly obvious to me that Kitty Pryde means a lot to Whedon. Rumor has it that Kitty was actually an inspiration for Buffy. Under Joss's auspices Kitty Pryde grows up, and it's beautiful to see her like this... strong, decisive, funny, and even sexual. On the other hand, there isn't much of a character arc for Logan. He remains on the edge of being primal. But Joss's take on him is frequently laugh out loud funny. And then there's the enigmatic Emma Frost, who ambiguously straddles the line between reformed villainy and potential betrayal, and all the while flaunting that delirious British snark.

ASTONISHING X-MEN OMNIBUS collects issues #1-24 and GIANT-SIZE ASTONISHING X-MEN #1, all this the sum of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday's sublime run, after which the series makes way for Warren Ellis and artist Simone Bianchi. But how do you follow up on perfect? Well, okay, other than the multiple scheduling delays, how do you follow up on perfect?

The X-Men state of things as Joss Whedon begins: Jean Grey is dead. Prof. X is on sabbatical. Emma Frost is currently the co-headmistress of Xavier Academy and the de facto team co-leader. I didn't even know Colossus had sacrificed himself during the Legacy Virus story. Joss's run is broken up into four arcs. "Gifted" (issues #1-6) opens with Kitty Pryde returning to the X-Men proper, after having hung out with the Excalibur team for a few years. Kitty finds herself part of the senior staff at the rebuilt Xavier Institute and learns that the team's new mission statement is to make the X-Men more accessible and acceptable in the public's distrustful eyes. So, new attitude, new costumes. But same old dysfunctions. Kitty, chosen for her likability and for her non-threatening mutant power, harbors suspicions about the telepath Emma Frost (who I just learned can also assume the likeness of diamond), and never mind that the former White Witch has gotten real friendly with Cyclops. But the first step to gaining public trust is facing the media, although as Wolverine would later mutter: "Being hated and feared by a world that doesn't understand us beats this circus any day."

This arc revolves around the possibility of a mutant cure and the fallout to that. This especially affects the Beast, whose appearance has become even more bestial, and so he's definitely interested in this cure. But then there's that saying about something being too good to be true. In this arc Joss also introduces the Breakworld and S.W.O.R.D. and new characters Hisako Ichiki a.k.a. Armor and S.W.O.R.D. director Abigail Brand. Armor happens to be one of my new favorite characters, a cool Japanese girl able to manifest a protective armor shape around her person. Joss gives her plenty of spotlight.

A few SPOILERS now, here and there.

"Dangerous" (issues #7-12) begins with the Fantastic Four helping the X-Men play whack-a-mole on a giant monster. Then we get to the main plot as the Danger Room gains sentience and, overriding its programming, attacks the X-Men. And, to underscore just how lethal this new adversary is, Emma Frost ominously declares: "This being has power we can't fathom... and the only thing it has ever known is violence."

"Torn" (issues #13-18) proves that Kitty was right to be suspicious as things go from bad to seriously kaka, and even the really unpleasant Agent Brand observes: "Not that I entirely care - but these guys just cannot catch a break." The Hellfire Club slips into the Xavier mansion and totally, totally effs with the X-Men. This storyline takes its time getting all action packy, but it does feature some of the best and funniest character moments I've ever read on an X-Men title, particularly with what happens to Wolverine. And there's something very touching and a bit sad about seeing Hank holding on to his ball of string.

The Joss Whedon era climaxes with the explosive "Unstoppable" saga (issues #19-24 & GIANT-SIZE ASTONISHING X-MEN #1). The X-Men and several S.W.O.R.D. agents are transported to the Breakworld and set themselves on a collision course with an ancient prophecy foretelling of Breakworld's destruction at the hands of an X-Man. Not to mention, the X-Men also have to contend with yet another psychic's prediction, that one of them won't be coming back.

"Unstoppable" returns the X-Men to the epic intergalactic saga. The Breakworld is inhabited by a brutal warrior race, and the X-Men find themselves mercilessly hunted down yet again. Plenty of slam bang action, desperate derring-do, and big moments. Cyclops - never more vulnerable than now, having just lost his mutant power - shines like never before and proves, once and for all, that he's got the stones to lead this team. I've never seen Scott Summers more triumphant than in that one pumped-fist-in-the-air moment when he summons his team to him: "To me, my X-Men!" Still, both prophecies end up coming true. Don't be at all surprised if your heart breaks reading the few final pages. Me, I was gutted.

Does the ASTONISHING X-MEN OMNIBUS come at a steep price? Certainly. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Unless, of course, you already have the individual collected volumes. And I haven't even mentioned John Cassaday, whose spectacular artistic contribution cannot be overlooked. With his clean lines and realistic renderings Cassaday is one of the best comic book illustrators currently going, and, appropriately, his stuff here is... astonishing. Boy, Warren Ellis and his artists have their work cut out for them.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2009
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Joss Whedon's run on "Astonishing X-Men" was nothing short of brilliance - period. Whedon took the convoluted, tired, and continuously rehashed X-Men brand and well, re-branded -if not rejuvenating it from the brink of lifelessness- it. Given my generous ladling of praise onto Whedon thus far, it comes to no surprise that the selling point of "Astonishing" is the narrative. Whedon's storytelling is superb and deeply engaging. Story lines move with spot-on pacing and the rich, witty, humorous, and at times ridiculous (in a good way) dialogue allow for a smooth flow with few hindrances to upset the journey.

Characters also enjoy the fruits of Whedon's stellar pen. Whedon sticks to a pared down cast akin to that used by Grant Morrison during his legendary run on "New X-Men." This downsized cast allows ample room for character development and Whedon reaps a bounty in the creative expanse. Relationships are explored, conflicts (internal and external) are flushed out of the cloisters, and emotional baggage is laid out. Two personal favorites stick out for me: 1) is the developed relationship between Emma Frost and Scott Summers; and 2) the expulsion of Wolverine to the outskirts of the series. An aside, Emma Frost is probably the best thing to happen to the X-Men series bar-none. I suggest that her character (when placed in the right hands) is shouldering a significant weight of the X-Men series.

I could lavish countless more praise on Whedon's amazing work but I want to keep things short. Not since Grant Morrison's "New X-Men" has a X-Men series succeeded in fully engaging and drawing readers back into the wonder, startling reality, and simple joy that was X-Men.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Collecting the entirety of Joss Whedon's inaugural run on Astonishing X-Men, the Astonishing X-Men Omnibus is, in a word, astonishing...both through the quality of its content and through the glossy production values of the volume. The story features the re-formation of the team from Grant Morrison's run on New X-Men (Cyclops, Emma Frost, Beast, and Wolverine) with the addition of classic X-favorites Kitty Pryde and Colossus; in general, Whedon's issues seem quite indebted to, and respectful of, Morrison's run on the X-books (which, like it or hate it, certainly changed a lot of things forever).

Kitty Pryde arrives at Xavier's School for the Gifted as a neophyte teacher, joining her former classmates (and former enemy, in the case of Emma Frost; the friction between the two is delightful, and delightfully written). But when a cure for the mutant gene is discovered - at the same time that a violent, aggressive alien starts terrorizing people - matters rapidly become a little less academic. A new wrinkle appears when a counterpart to S.H.I.E.L.D., the extraterrestrially-oriented military organization S.W.O.R.D., becomes involved, and Abigail Brand (head of S.W.O.R.D.) rapidly finds herself becoming more involved with the X-Men than perhaps originally planned. The introduction of a sentient computer, the possibility of a treacherous Emma Frost, and a prophecy that recently-revived X-Man Colossus will destroy an alien world complicate things further, and the story quickly moves from Earth to the distant Breakworld, where a final showdown threatens the Earth itself. Perhaps not even the X-Men can all make it out of this one alive...

Whedon's writing is fun and energetic; he is clearly a fan of both classic and more modern X-Men stories, and his enthusiasm for getting to write these characters and this story is infectious. He brings the wit and skill displayed in his television shows - Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and Dr. Horrible - to the X-Men, which overall is an inspired move. This is not to say Whedon's writing is perfect: there is the occasional Whedonism that, while it would be fitting for one of the Buffy characters, perhaps shouldn't be coming out of Kitty Pryde's mouth. Nevertheless, the added dimension of humor and humanity given to characters like the dull-as-dishwater Cyclops make the character intriguing in a way he'd never been before. Whedon's plotting is impressive in its forethought and his writing almost universally in-character (the aforementioned odd line aside) and expressive. John Cassaday's beautiful art brings the characters to life, and I was delighted quite early on to see Cassaday's take on a few classic X-Men moments.

In short, a quality edition of a very high-quality run of issues; though compared to some of the other Marvel Omnibuses, this is a comparative lightweight, it's definitely still worth the price.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I've never watched Buffy. Ive never seen Angel the only reason I've skimmed through Doll House is because Eliza Dushku and never even heard of FireFly till this year. I hate capes, no let me rephrase that despise capes. That being said I picked this up only because my comic book shop begged me to buy it. Boy am i sure glad i did this series single-handedly restored my faith in the comics. Buy this now
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
As someone who enjoys comic book stories but was a little scared to take the plunge into the act buying a comic book (oh the horror of the stigma), I was very satisfied by this product. I chose this omnibus because I enjoyed Joss Whedons other projects so why not this? I am so glad I did, Joss is obviously passionate about all of his projects and I appreciate an artist that goes for quality and not quantity.

I also appreciate that this book has a "story so far" section at the beginning for the "unindoctrinated" like myself, even if I didn't immediately understand the plot the pieces were all there for me to put together. Joss writes these stories to be interesting not only in plot but in dialogue Whedon knows no 1-dimensional characters.

So if you are like myself and are looking for a way to ease yourself into the comic book world Joss Whedons Astonishing X-Men is a is a great place to start.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Joss Whedon dispenses with the overtly convoluted X storylines of, say, the original Astonishing issues seen in Age of Apocalypse, and weaves an immensely entertaining story that is humorous, philosophically intriguing, and emotionally satisfying. By trimming the fat, the characters are allowed to truly flourish and thus this series is made accessible to virtually anyone--whether a longtime purveyor or first time comic reader. I cannot recall feeling more emotionally invested in this misfit cadre.

Like I've said, the characters are amazingly well fleshed-out and you begin to really care for each member of the team; well, that is, except for one. Unfortunately, Wolverine, in this incarnation, is NOT the best at what he does. Wolvie, everyone's favorite anti-hero, is regulated to snarky background character. He falls quickly in battle and is unable to formidably "deal" with the likes of Cyclops, Beast, Ord, or even one of his teenaged pupils. This seems odd when you consider that he easily adorns more covers than any other X character. It is not until the end of the series, on the Breakworld, that we finally see him unleash a day of reckoning on wave after wave of enemies. Thankfully, this series is so good that this mistreatment of Wolvie is not a deal breaker.

I'm sure that enough has been said already concerning the storyline and I will simply add that it is indeed well-plotted with clear metaphors and symbols. Better yet, this series is fun!

I found myself awed by John Cassaday's artwork which deftly relies on the colorist to fill in the blanks. For example, why draw the bridge of a nose when the colorist may intone it better? This works to a magnificent degree. As a work of pictorial semiotics, Cassaday's illustrations are both absorbing and engaging. Each panel is textual in-and-of-itself, thus demanding the reader tune into each expression, glance, and position.

Overall, if you enjoy a well-written, fun-loving romp then you too will be astonished by this excellent collection.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
How do you measure up to a prolific run by Grant Morrison on Marvel's merry mutants? You get the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly/Serenity to take over. While Morrison's run on New X-Men re-instated the X-Men as a whole to a level of respectability they hadn't seen in years, Joss Whedon came in and did something else entirely: made an X-book fun again. With a core team consisting of Cyclops, Emma Frost, Wolverine, Beast, and Shadowcat; Whedon ditches the black leather from Morrison's run and opts for the superhero costumes of old, and it works to boot as they meet a horde of new and old adversaries and allies, ranging from Ord, Danger, Agent Brand and S.W.O.R.D., a re-vamped Hellfire Club, and uncover a prophecy that reveals one of the X-Men will be responsible for the destruction of the Breakworld. Plus the fact that a dead, fan-favorite X-Men member's surprise return from the dead, there were never any shortage of surprises throughout the issues collected in this handsome omnibus. Equal parts trippy and packed with Whedon's blend of sharp dialogue and drop dead humor, Whedon's run on Astonishing X-Men was nothing short of brilliant. As a fan who has read X-Men comics since I was a kid, I can honestly say that reading Whedon's run made me feel like I was a kid again: gleefully turning the pages with excitement and wonder, and the fact that I had to wait a whole month (and in many cases, months, as the title was plagued with numerous shipping delays during Whedon's final arc) to see what would happen next. Combined with the superb renderings of Planetary artist John Cassaday, this Astonishing X-Men Omnibus is an absolute must own for anyone who has ever considered themselves an X-Men fan, and for those who missed out on Whedon's original run or didn't pick up the single trades.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
So I'm not a comic reader at all. I tried to read Watchmen and I was terrible at it. I was bad at following the panels and it took me forever to figure out what was going on. This is not the fault of comics - I believe it's from my lack of skill at reading them.

But I decided to make a go at this after seeing the motion-comic version and being instantly drawn to the characters (I have happy memories of the X-men from the cartoon when I was a kid and I liked the movies). And I just really loved it. Getting the omnibus was good because they included the nice summary at the beginning (because I needed a good catch up), and even as a person who hadn't spent years reading about these characters, I was instantly drawn in. It was remarkeable how fascinating and magnetic people like Emma and Scott, Kitty and Peter, etc. were after only a few lines of dialogue.

So I'd say, even if you don't read comics regularly, and don't even have a lot of "history" with the characters, it's possible to love and enjoy this story. And getting it as the omnibus was nice too because I got to read without having to wait.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2009
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Combining the fantastic dialogue Whedon is known for and the higly detailed artwork of Cassaday, Astonishing X Men will no doubt go down in history as one of the greatest X Men runs in it's entire history - second only to Claremont's. By hitting the ground running with the aftermath of Morrisons' history shattering (in a good way) stories, Whedon immediately brings a depth and understanding to these characters that many others have failed to be able to do. It is no secret that Whedon roughly based his most famous creation, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, loosely on the character of Kitty Pryde, with who he had a crush on as a teenager. Kitty is the character that shines the brightest throughout all these stories. From her return to the team, all the way through till the final page of this collection, this story is very clearly hers. I bought these issues singularly as they came out (supposedly month to month), and as beautiful as they were, they were plagued by horredous delays (almost 4 years for what was supposed to equate to 2 years of stories). This hindered the overall experience for me, because the stories were clearly written to be read in one hit - in a collection much like this. And what a collection it is. Read all together, you can see the threads that bind it all together so intricately. Lines of dialogue mentioned in the first story suddendly have clarity many issues later. And it's just gorgeous to look at! Cassaday pays such attention to detail and has a knack for humanising even the most outlandish of characters (ie Beast). Of course, this has been all about the work as a whole, with no menition of the stories inside. To go into those too deeply would ruin the surprises within. Namely the fairly significant even within the first 6 issues (which, in my opinion hold the two most emotionally gripping pages in comic book history). Buy it. Read it. Love it. You'll never feel the same about the X Men ever again
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
When it became public knowledge that Grant Morrison would be ending his "Iconic" run on New X-Men, I was worried. For me it had been years since X-Men had any good stories to tell...then Grant came along and put new life into the X-Men and so I was concerned that no one could follow up his "astonishing" run. Then they announced that Joss Whedon would launch an all new series in the form of Astonishing X-Men. I had no idea what to expect because I was not familiar with Joss or his work...I never watched Buffy or Angel, nor did I ever see Firefly. However, the moment I read issue 1 of Astonishing, I was hooked. From the word go, Astonishing X-Men was pure gold...Joss just got it right and never quit giving us what we wanted. From characterization to action to drama that the X-Men were always about, Joss nailed it. Joss took the best of the old school elements that Chris Claremont created and mixed it with the bold new ingrediants that Grant Morrison added and made it his very own. We got to see Cyclops be the bad ass leader he was always meant to be...Joss gave us a great mystery involving Emma Frost and brought perspective to a great character...we finally got to see the romance between Colossus and Kitty shine and end with a heart renching conclusion...Armor, a fresh new face brought an innocence the X-Men has lacked for some time...and we got what we always expect from Wolverine and Beast and some funny moments we never expected from them. I don't want to ruin any of the story lines or take away from the experiance of getting to read this incredible run of stories. I will say that personally for me, I read each individual issue of Astonishing X-Men and when the Omnibus was released, I gladly spent the money for this book that holds one of the three best runs in X-Men history. Chris Claremont may be the number one writer for X-Men with his original run...however Joss Whedon is right behind him along with Grant Morrison.
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