Artist: John Cassaday
I have recently decided to read, and re-read certain X-Men stories, having a mixture of both classic, and modern stories, with most of them being critically acclaimed. I decided to go through some of the Astonishing X-Men series, with this being my third review on this series.
Emma Frost's strange behaviour finally comes to light, as the Hellfire Club attacks the X-Men.
This was a very good story, but easily the worst of Joss Whedon's run so far. Don't get me wrong, Whedon has once again produced a unique, and interesting story, with plenty of excitement, it's just that it didn't feel to the same level of quality as his previous two stories. I did however enjoy how Whedon used the Hellfire Club in a very unique way, with all the members being perfectly depicted. I did however feel that this story was too jokey at times, and although it added humour, and fun, making for something very unique, I also felt that it was a bit much, also feeling a little forced at times, eventually becoming slightly boring as well. There was also a lot of set-up towards the next story, which would be Whedon's final story, which I wasn't sure whether I liked or not, as although I like set-up, it also took away from the main story. There was however still some brilliant action, and mystery, and overall Whedon did a great job.
John Cassaday once again produced some amazing artwork, with the art in this story being simply phenomenal. The detail in Cassaday's art was simply outstanding, with everything looking spectacular, with little to no imperfections. The way Cassaday handled the characters expressions in this story was also brilliant, and stood out more due to the style of the story, giving more depth, and emotion to the story. Cassaday also handled the action sequences perfectly, as although there wasn't quite as much action as there was in Dangerous, what there was looked amazing. Cassaday's layouts also added more depth, and drama to the story, also making it a bit more dynamic. The colouring from Laura Martin was also once again brilliant, adding vibrancy, and tone to Cassaday's artwork, helping create this amazing finished work of art.
Throughout Whedon's run Emma has been acting very strange, and it's been very questionable whether her loyalties lie with the X-Men, or not. The end of the last story would give an an answer as it would appear that Emma has re-aligned herself with the Hellfire Club. She would however still continue acting strange in this story, which added some interest to the start, as although it's obvious where it's ending due to it being comics there's still a hint of speculation. I did however find the development leading up to the Hellfire Club's attack to be very suspenseful, as from Emma's expressions it looked as if she was battling with what decision to make.
The revelation at the end of the last story about the Hellfire Club being in this story was amazing, and a really spectacular way to end it (probably more so for people at the time due to the gap after that). Their appearance in this story however was much more interesting, as although it was bound to be, the uniqueness, along with the suspense, and mystery made it that much more exciting than I originally thought. I also loved seeing Sebastian Shaw again, as it's hard to think of the Hellfire Club or Shaw without thinking of the other. I did however feel that they were mainly atmosphere, and they didn't seem quite as evil as they have in the past, as at first there didn't appear to be any obvious agenda to their actions.
As I said earlier in my review, there would be some humour in this story, with the main part coming from Wolverine, and Beast, as Beast was turned into the animal that he physically is, and Wolverine was turned into a bit of a sissy, being timid, and afraid. Now at first I found this to be slightly hilarious, even though it was at the same time slightly disrespectful of their characters. I could however get over that fact due to it making sense for the story, but I would then come back to slightly dislike it as I felt it was dragged on for longer than necessary, feeling a bit stale, and redundant by the time it finished. It was however still a very unique, and genius thought, and there's probably a fair few people who found it hilarious from start to end, I personally however felt that it was a little bit over the top.
This story would also see some characters from the previous story feature in the background, with Danger, Ord, and the government organisation known as S.W.O.R.D. all featuring in sequences based on the Peak. Now all these characters were very interesting in their own stories, and although last story would also briefly show a connection between the whole of Whedon's run, this would put clarrify that, setting up the final part of his run, which looks to feature elements from the previous stories, showing that everythings been leading up to this one point. Now I personally like a good set-up, which this was, but at the same time I felt that it took away from the story, also giving a awkward ending to this one. I am however looking forward to the next story more now, which is another plus side to this.
This was a great story, but easily the weakest of the first three stories in Whedon's run. It was however still amazing, as although it wasn't quite phenomenal, it had a very interesting story, with brilliant development. It also had amazing action, as well as great suspense, and drama, with a hint of mystery. Due to all this I'd highly recommend this story, as although I'd recommend the previous two over it, it's still well worth reading.