Written by Matthew Rosenberg with art from Greg Land, Astonishing X-Men: Until Our Hearts Stop is an atypical X-Men story. There are many moments that will resonate with longtime X-fans, while there are others that put a new spin on the team. With Rosenberg devoting so much of his time to Uncanny X-Men, now is a great time to revisit his Astonishing X-Men run.
Havoc is just like the rest of us
A common goal in comic books is to attempt to make its heroes more relatable. This is done through displaying their flaws, showing everyday hardships they have to overcome, and or letting readers see what their favorite heroes do in their free time. Rosenberg goes a different direction with Havoc. The biggest flaw with the brother of Cyclops is he is more human than hero. Over the course of this tale of redemption, Havoc makes interesting decisions. “Stupid” is probably too strong of a term to describe the choices and comments that he makes; however, “bone-headed” is very accurate. Over the course of Until Our Hearts Stop, the X-Men leader makes some choices that would not be normally made by someone in the same position. And that is what makes the book so great. Havoc is doing exactly what most people would do when their primary concern is to prove themselves to others. They will make what they see as the right choices, but rarely the best ones.
It’s a quintessential X-Men story
The X-Men titles are like no other in the comic book industry. Whether you love them, hate them or are indifferent, there is no denying that an X-Men book stands out from the rest. Like any other comic, it has the big action set pieces but in between we have more human elements that are seen on a regular basis. These are the types of moments that other books would be lauded for “giving us a peek behind the curtain”. X-Men books are emotional journeys filled with melodrama, complex characters, and internal turmoil.
Until Our Hearts Stop is an incredibly funny story, but it also contains very deep, emotional moments. The initial introductions of both Dazzler and Colossus are more sad than celebratory, while the overarching tale is as depressing as it is so funny. Astonishing does lots of different things, but at its heart it’s an X-book.
The art is great
What good is a great comic book story if the art cannot keep up? This is a loaded question that pretty much everyone who has read comics even semi-regularly will be able to answer, unfortunately. Thankfully, this is not an issue with Until Our Hearts Stop. Greg Land’s art meshes perfectly with the writing of Rosenberg. Characters are detailed and maximize the emotion of each moment. The parts of the story that are are humorous without being outright funny are done perfectly (any interaction between Kitty Pryde and Alex Summers are particularly well done.) The book is also a dark and gritty fare that oozes desperation but is never depressing.
The battle scenes are also very well done. The fights are cinematic and look great. Land knows when to fill pages with emotion and pack them with with explosive action. On a side note, Dazzler has never looked more powerful.