Astonishing X-Men #3 Comic Review
Writer: Charles Soule
Penciler: Ed McGuinness
Colorist: Jason Keith
Inker: Mark Morales
Publisher: Marvel Comics
What You Need to Know:
The Shadow King is determined to return in a big way. If the X-Men and Charles Xavier fail to stop him on the Astral Plane, every psychic on the planet will fall victim to his will and live the rest of their days enslaved.
What You’ll Find Out:
Logan is a shell of his former self. He is a man who has betrayed those he loved most. The Wolverine spent a lifetime dealing death but found the point of no return the moment he slaughtered his friends and allies, the X-Men. Drawn back in time, he now relives a life he fully understands is preset to end in bloodshed. He is a man with no worth and no salvation. Separated from the X-Men of this timeline, Logan understands the astral plane and its master well. Farouk has played his mind games before and though the battle was long fought, Logan eventually added his death to the litany of names he has claimed. Xavier realizes that Logan is a tool of great use and manages to intercept him.
On the physical plane, London’s top law enforcement agencies converge on a severely vulnerable team reduced in size and options. If Psylocke’s link is disrupted, the others will be trapped in Farouk’s realm. Angel acts swiftly on his own in an effort to deter a conflict and in doing so nearly loses himself to the Archangel persona which he struggles to retain control.
As the team attempts diplomatic efforts to appease a negotiator representing the Ministry of Defense, Agent Blake is impaled by Logan who appears to have become the first pawn to fall to the Shadow King.
What Just Happened?
Issue #3 continues the tale of Farouk and Xavier’s chess game in which victory will determine the one who gains freedom and the one who will act as executioner. Soule uses this issue to explore the tale of “Old Man Logan,” in which more hints are dropped in relation to his unforgivable future crimes. Soule acts as the dungeon master to Xavier and Farouk’s game but isn’t tipping his own hand just yet. Appearances can be deceiving. In the end Logan appears to have fallen to the Shadow King but allusions are implied that Charles himself may well be in the driver’s seat. If Xavier is indeed in control, the manipulation of Logan killing the negotiator certainly becomes much more interesting and at the same time would unequivocally declare to fans that this Charles Xavier is far more willing to use extreme measures to assure his victory.
Though Rogue, Gambit, Mystique, and Fantomex, make only one singular appearance on a peripheral level, Angel Bishop, and Psylocke get their share of attention. In my opinion, though this issue concentrates heavily on Logan, his story, and his outlook, followed by his strained recognition and interaction with Xavier, some of the best moments occur in the side story in which they interact with London law enforcement. Recent story lines involving Warren Worthington tell the tale of a man overcome by his inner demons and until recently, was on a seemingly endless downward spiral. In this issue, we see that the notoriety of the Archangel is well established beyond the immediate mutant circle but to the larger world and its authoritative agencies as a grave threat. It was extremely enjoyable to see that the Angel and Archangel identities are still locked in a struggle to obtain dominance but that Warren has finally learned a way to maintain some semblance of control, which Soule writes in a lighthearted and humorous manner and exchange.
Artistically issue #3 is the weakest so far when comparing the work of Ed McGuinness to those who preceded him in the first two issues. That isn’t to say that he made a poor display but simply that in my opinion, his work doesn’t quite deliver the powerful imagery or detail of Mike Deodato Jr. or the flair reminiscent of the popular 90’s “pinup style” of Jim Cheung.