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Astonishing X-Men By Joss Whedon & John Cassaday Ultimate Collection - Book 1 Paperback – February 29, 2012
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Every panel of art is beautiful and makes you think, whatever John Cassady was paid, it wasn't enough. At times I felt like I wasn't paying enough attention to the panels so I was sacrireligizing the work. Some of them look like they should be wallpapers. However it does suffer from a common sickness of "too much content" in an image to tell what's going on and too many spreads.
The writing is not all it's cracked up to be. I always wonder how much the studio dictates and how much the writer does. I always imagine the studio's saying "you gotta refer to this, this, and this that happened fifty issues ago" and "you gotta bring your characters to this point by issue 25 because that's when we have our big crossover tie-in" and "Wolverine's getting a six-issue run with some new title we're trying to promote so don't write anything with the most popular and interesting character for six months." There are plot threads that cease developing, like a mutant cure, and the Breakworld aliens.
Nonetheless, this run is beautiful. It's all beautiful.
Only caveat I would have is that unless you want to keep the book, you might consider Marvel Unlimited subscription....
Re: the story, if you haven't read the Joss Whedon ones and you're a classic 80s xmen fan (Days of Future Past, Mutant Massacre) then this is a must read. There are two TPB (this being the second) that have the entire story, end to end. Very worth it.