I’ll whip up a little post-Christmas something soon, but here’s something I did last week which hasn’t been posted anywhere.

I wrote this review for the Comics and More website, but I don’t know if Rob’s going to use it or not. So as not to let it go to waste, here it is…a review for Astonishing X-Men #7 by Joss Whedon and John Cassiday.

In this issue…The X-Men go in to fight a giant monster (something John Cassiday is amazing at rendering), and end up meeting with the one group who’s forte is giant monsters. Meanwhile, back at the mansion, events are unfolding which pave the way for the rest of the six issue story arc which is called “Dangerous”.

What I thought: My favourite issues of team books are always the ones where the dynamic of the team, and the way they interact when the proverbial **** isn’t hitting the fan. That’s why even though there’s a huge action piece in this issue, it’s the stuff of them getting to, and leaving the battle which is the strongest. The internal monologues during the battles say more about the characters than any of the long winded nonsense which either Claremont or Austen have written into the X-Men mythos in the last several years. Kitty for example does a great deal of soul searching, while constantly interrupting it with “I should really be paying attention”. Wolverine meanwhile says a mere four things on his page, but they’re perfect for his character.

Joss Whedon has managed to capture the subtle traits of each character in the way they speak. It’s rare in comics today to read characters with actual “voices” that you can imagine sounding different from each other, and Whedon manages this.

Artist John Cassiday is spectacular, little nuances like the look of the Beast, or the quiet rage of Colossus are handled spectacularly by him, and his consistency of being the only artist on this book so far is definitely one of the major drawing cards.

Writer Joss Whedon, of Buffy fame, has never made it a secret that he loved the X-Men. In interviews he’s said that he based the Buffy gang on X-Men archetypes. Buffy was the strong, competent, sort of stiff leader ala Cyclops. Xander was the goofball who could always be counted on to come through in a clutch, much like Iceman. Willow was envisioned as a Kitty Pryde archetype, but she would eventually transform into a Jean Grey/Phoenix archetype in the later years. Of course most obvious would be Angel as the Wolverine archetype.

So when people are surprised at how good Whedon’s X-Men are, I wonder why. He’s been writing the characters for the last 8 years on TV, it’s really no surprise that he gets their voices.

About the comic: Astonishing X-Men #7 is indeed astonishing comics. Whedon’s run is already approaching the levels of Morrison’s three year arc, but the consistency of Cassiday’s art is what makes this different than New X-Men. This issue serves as a stand-alone jump on point, and is totally accessible to both new and old fans. The first six issues are collected together in the “Gifted” trade, which will be available in February, and will really catch you up with what’s going on.