THE ASTONISHING X-MEN – The Blu Review
Heads up merry Marvel mutant maniacs! The fine folks at the Shout Factory in conjunction with Marvel Knights Animation have just released The Astonishing X-Men Collection Motion Comic on Blu-Ray. This two disc set includes the Eisner award-winning four story arcs from writer Joss Whedon (MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS) and artist John Cassaday (who has drawn up some great new cover box art for this set). All just in time for Black Friday shopping, or to include on your very own list to Santa.
So, what’s a motion comic (you may ask)? Well, this is unlike the many straight to home video, comics-inspired animated features that have been produced. It’s not something loosely based on the comics story with teams of artists and animators reworking the characters and action. A motion comic takes the original artwork and makes the images move using state of the art computer technology. And everything on screen comes from the art of the talented Mr.Cassaday. Speaking of talent, a group of expert veteran animation voice artists perform the dialogue exactly as written by Mr. Whedon in the original comics series. An original music score along with expect sound effects make for an incredible audio experience. Perhaps this taste of the pulse-pounding action will better illustrate…
So, that’s motion comics! The primary X team consists of Beast, Emma Frost, Shadowcat, Wolverine led by Cyclops. Here’s a run down on the four stories. Each runs roughly an hour ( Unstoppable’s close to 90 minutes) and divided into six to seven chapters…
Seems that a scientist has come up with a serum that will make mutants into normal citizens. These news has divided everyone at the gifted school. But behind this wonder drug is an alien warrior named Ord from Breakworld. SHIELD director Nick Fury guests stars as does SWORD agent Abigal Brand. Joining them is an X teammate thought to be deceased. This story is co-directed by legendary Batman artist Neal Adams (“Green Lantern/Green Arrow”,”Deadman”, and a reamarkable 1960′s run on “The Uncanny X-Men”).
The mutant students along with the X-Men are attacked by a synthetic being inside the school. In order to stop it, the team will have to travel to the decimated island country of Genosha and find Professor Xavier! This story opens with a guest appearance from the Fantastic Four nearly recreating their iconic first issue cover along with the X team!
Emma Frost is tempted to return to her evil ways when the school is invaded by her old pals, Sebastian Shaw and the Hellfire Club (as seen in last year’s hit feature film X-MEN: FIRST CLASS)!
Here’s the extra length conclusion to Whedon and Cassaday’s epic run! The X-Men and the agents of SWORD battle on far-off Breakworld. Its inhabitants believe that one of the mutants will cause the destruction of the planet. One X-man must make the ultimate sacrifice to stop a weapon directed at Earth. Back in NYC a quartet of four classic X-Men members team up with several Marvel heroes (including a friendly neighborhood wall-crawler) to defend our home world.
And, of course, there are…
There’s a trailer for The Astonishing X-Men: Gifted along with the music video “Rise Up”. We get a behind the scenes “making of” featurette that includes interviews with Marvel Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada and comics legend Neal Adams. Another featurette gives a more indepth look (along with a tour) at Marvel Kights animation as they produce motion comics based on the X-Men and Spider-Woman. There’s also trailers and sneak peeks of future motion comics featuring the Black Panther, Thor, Iron Man, and, as mentioned, Spider-Woman.
The stories are presented in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Sound and picture quality are top-notch (the colors really pop!). Speaking of colors, the blood is vivid red (Logan’s healing powers are frequently put to the test), so heads up parents. These stories were produced and published under the Marvel Knights, which used a more adult approach than the Comics Code-approved all-ages tales. It’s definately PG-13 material. There’s no nudity, but a couple of X-teammates do hook up (and Emma’s outfits are low, looow cut). Oh, and all the extreme profantiy is bleeped (in a comic, the word balloon would say,”#%**#!”).
All in all, this is an excellant set that should thrill comics and film fans of these misunderstood mutant heroes. To paraphrase creator Stan”the Man”Lee, “Who says this this isn’t the Marvel age of magnificent Motion Comics?”
4 Out of 5 Stars