Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous
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Pop Culture Icon Joss Whedon And Award-Winning Artist John Cassaday Bring You The Continuing Saga Of The Astonishing X-Men!
The tragic death of a student at the Xavier Institute reveals that a powerful enemy is working from inside the mansion to destroy the X-Men, an enemy who knows all their weaknesses and can predict their every move. This new foe doesnt want wealth, power or world domination: it only wants them dead. As the X-Men fight for their lives, they learn theyve been deceived by one of their own . . . even if they survive, the team will never be the same.
A second set of Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men comic book series comes into view with this slickly tooled story, which fits a couple of metropolis-bashing battles (and various intra-X dramas) into about 70 minutes or so. Dangerous finds a batch of the Xers fending off large threats, notably a Danger Room that traps a bunch of students in its deadly walls and a major smackdown involving Professor Xavier himself. You've also got the Fantastic Four swooping in to collaborate on cleaning up a mess in Manhattan, an alliance that leads to a little territory-marking between the two groups. The "motion comics" approach means that John Cassaday's comic book art is given (pretty darned vivid) life not by full animation but a clever digital style. It's effective enough to make you forget about the limitations of the technique after a while, and the big set pieces--and there are some big set pieces--don't suffer in the slightest. Whedon's tongue-in-cheek one-liners are securely in place, and (like his work on The Avengers) manage to create a humorous undercurrent without subverting the spirit of the mutant heroes. The motion comics enterprise will always be a hybrid, but if you're going to do it at all, this is the way to do it. --Robert Horton
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For people who enjoy motion comics, Gifted was and still is in a class by itself and is the template that most other professional motion comic houses attempt to emulate.
The problem with producing a motion comic that is as strong as Gifted, is that if you follow it up with anything less than what was previously produced, you may have to deal with a bit of backlash.
As a motion comic, for me, Gifted is worth every bit of 5 stars. Just as the Astonishing Xmen editions that have followed it are worth, as motion comics, every bit of 3.5 stars.
The animation suffers in these latter editions. I can't imagine it's because of budgetary constraints, but I will concede that time and talent may be of some issue here. On the time front, I think they decided to pump these guys out quickly after Whedon grew to stratospheric notoriety post-Avengers. The absence of any special features whatsoever as well as the far less dynamic animation makes he think, "Similar production budget, less time."
The other factor that hasn't been specifically expressed (to my knowledge) is the -potential- absence of John Cassaday. E.g. talent. I remember reading several articles during the time they were producing Gifted and Cassaday lamenting time and again how overwhelming the demands were on him when helping to create that motion comic. My gut tells me that he had very little to do with the production of these later editions.
In all, it's tough to come down on a product simply because it did not live up to its predecessor, but in the actual special features interviews (of which these DVDs have none -- no special features whatsoever)Marvel's then Editor in Chief Joe Quesada said that his goal was to look back on Gifted in a few years and see it as antiquated, because they would have come so far since its production.
Well, unfortunately, that didn't happen. Maybe it's because Quesada has a different job now, maybe it's for the reasons mentioned above or for some other reason entirely. Regardless, while it's worth watching (though maybe hope for something more from the collected Bluray edition?), it doesn't stand on the shoulders or do anything whatsoever to improve, visually, on its predecessor. And, honestly, the bulk of the importance about a motion comic is the visuals, otherwise I'd just read words on a page.
Five stars for Whedon. 2.5 for the animation. I think it's really not worth above a 3.5, but because it's X-men and it's Whedon, it gets a very, very weak 4.
In 2006, Whedon caught the attention of fans with his series "Astonishing X-Men" which he stayed onboard for 24 issues. It has become a major best-seller for Mavel comics and was nominated for several Eisner Awards and winning "Best Continuing Series" in 2006.
The first six issues of "Astonishing X-Men" was then released on DVD in Sept. 2010 courtesy of Shout! Factory as part of Marvel Knights Animation. These animated stories (also known as motion comic books) are more like comic books with slight movements but with voice acting and special effects.
And now the second Whedon arc "Dangerous" (featuring issues 7-12) will be released on DVD in April 2012 as "Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous" by Shout! Factory.
The DVD consists of six episodes which are around 12 minutes each.
"Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous" features X-Men members Cyclops, Emma Frost, Wolverine, Beast, Colossus and Kitty Pryde. As the group are trying to protect civilians from a huge monster with help from the Fantastic Four, a mutant teenager named Wing attending the School for Gifted Mutants is depressed because he was "cured" of his special abilities. Wing is standing on a cliff, wondering if it would return his power.
Fellow student Hisako Ichiki (Armor) talks to her friend Wing to not jump off the cliff because he could end up dead. Now that he is cured, he has no reason to stay at the school and can go back home. But then Hisako starts to dare him to jump and sure enough, Wing jumps to his death.
As the X-Men return back home, Hisako starts to panic as Wing has gone missing and other students are also other young mutant psychics can no longer feel him around. Suddenly, trouble arises and Kitty Pryde has all the students go into the danger room to protect themselves.
Meanwhile, not far away is a badly damaged Sentinel that has been kept by a farmer and reawakened. Still deadly, the Sentinel begins to crawl and is now wanting to destroy the X-Men. But who is controlling it?
As the children are huddled inside the danger room, Kitty is shocked to see all the students scared of their discovery. Wing is laying in the ground dead but automatically, Wing is reanimated and brought back to life. The Danger Room has now achieved intelligence and is now threatening to kill all the children inside the Danger Room.
The X-Men must now try to find a way to break into the Danger Room and destroy it before it kills anyone. But the sentient Danger Room has a plant of its own and that is to kill all X-Men.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous" is not an animated cartoon. It's a motion comic book, so the characters are provided in their comic book version but you will see hair movement, lights blinking or leaves flying around the pages and also some slight animated movements of the character themselves. While a character talks, you will see their mouths move.
Presented in 1:78:1, the motion comics of today differs greatly from the motion comics of the '90s. There is more use of CG animation for special effects and blurring as opposed to the comic book pages with standard lighting effects.
The best part of these motion comics today is the voice acting. The voice acting is fantastic!
There are no special features.
As a long time collector of the X-Men comic books and having read so many of the comics even to this day, I have to admit that Joss Whedon has managed to make X-Men a serious and entertaining comic book series. There was a lull of storyline content unfortunately created by Marvel due to its plethora of X-related comic books and every character having their own series or mini-series and truthfully, it was one of the biggest reasons I quit reading the series. Too many titles, increase in price for comic books and the quality of the series was dwindling.
Whedon's storyline manage to continue its action-packed battles but he emphasized story, especially character development and his presence with "Astonishing X-Men" was felt and while he was involved, it was an amazing run!
And now his contribution to "Astonishing X-Men" is being carried out via motion comic books on DVD.
Having been one of the earlier adopters of motion comic books on CD, suffice to say, they have come along way especially with these Marvel Knights DVD releases. Back then it was just a page with voice acting (which was not all that great) and lighting effects. It worked during the mid-90's but in 2012, you expect a bit more and sure enough, you do get animated movements, special effects, mouth movement. And of course, much better voice acting. And as mentioned, they were CD's and can only be played on computers.
The DVD itself comes with six mini-episodes that were available on Hulu, iTunes and the PlayStation Store and other video services. But for those who are X-Men fans and want them on physical media, then these motion comic DVD's are worth it. If there was one thing that I wish it contained, that there were some sort of special features included.
As for the storyline, the storyline was fantastic as it took a storyline of what would happen if the danger room could be sentient and learn over time. And the answer is "chaos" as the X-Men are suddenly faced with a rival that was designed to know and counter their fighting style. And to make things worse, the Danger Room has become sentient to the point that it wants nothing but to kill the X-Men.
For fans of the older Uncanny X-Men series, the storyline of the X-Men is much different and the storyline itself didn't mesh with Marvel's current run of X-related storylines or Marvel crossovers. If you were familiar with the characters, that was all that was needed to understand the series. The X-Men are still funded and led by Professor X, the team is led by Cyclops and there is no Ice Man, nor is there a Jean Grey, who has since been replaced by Emma Frost (which is a big part of the storyline from 2000) who is romantically linked to Scott Summers (Cyclops). But similar to the original series, Beast and Wolverine are still part of the team and the romantic angst between Kitty Pryde and Piotr Rasputin (Colossus) is still ongoing.
But there is also a deeper and darker element to this series and showcases a different Scott Summers, especially during its ending minutes as we learn more about the creation of the Danger Room. But the storyline is entertaining and loved how Whedon concentrates a lot on the characters. Prior to Whedon and with past X-Men related issues, too much was focused on convoluted storylines, including regurgitated non-interesting banal storylines that went nowhere and eventually some other writer would have to clean up the mess. Whedon stayed with keeping things simple, but yet focusing on character development, team dynamic and intriguing adversaries.
Overall, if you are an old X-Men fan who quite awhile back or a fan of "Astonishing X-Men", "Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous" is an entertaining motion comic book on DVD worth checking out!
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