Thursday, July 29, 2004

Astonishing X-Men #3/Planetary #20

writer: Joss Whedon
artist: John Cassaday
published by Marvel Comics

Planetary #20
writer: Warren Ellis
artist: John Cassaday
published by Wildstorm/DC Comics

John Cassaday is a terrific artist. Problem is, the man has never been able to meet a deadline. Which is why the book that put him on the map, Planetary, has only seen 20 issues in about 33 years. Sure, it hasn't been quite that long, but it's beginning to feel like it has.
Not that each issue isn't worth the wait. Warren Ellis has a unique take on the superhero genre, full of secrets and lies and cabals. The world of Planetary is a skewed version of the genre, where many of the heroes of the Marvel or DC universes turned out...different. It's long been known that The Four, the villains of the piece, are an ersatz Fantastic Four. This ish we finally get to see their version of The Thing, Jacob Greene. The Four have sent their engine of destruction to an alien space station, but Elijah Snow has a plan in place to dispose of the monster once and for all.
Strangely, in three months, we've had 3 issues of Astonishing X-Men. Cassady's art is the perfect cinematic counterpart to the writing by TV's Joss Whedon. Whedon's finally hitting his stride, as the story threads he set up in issue 1 begin to knit together. The snappy dialogue he's been known for in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly finally gels correctly too. I'd been considering dropping this book but now and convinced I'm in it for the entire 12 month run Whedon's on for. If they keep Cassady on time, we comic readers are in for a treat.
This time out, Beast has acquired a sample of the mutant cure that Benetech is advertising. Since his secondary mutation has made him more felinoid, Beast's been wanting to return to a more human state. Old story, been done before. Except now, his fellow X-Men see the cure as a threat. Rightfully so, as the possibility that the cure could be forced on them, given the current political climate in the Marvel universe. Woverine and Beast throw down over the vial, and the alien from the first issue reveals himself to be the source of Benetech's technology. Then, Beast finds out whose genes they've used to make this cure...and I'm getting the feeling all hell's gonna break loose soon.
This book went from an "I think I might drop it" to "I'm in this for the long haul" in 22 pages.

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