Last month, Astonishing X-Men #13 got off to a hot start with new creative team Matthew Rosenberg and Greg Land. Filled with great writing and excellent art, the book quickly let it be known that this would not be a typical X-Men team. The reformed Havok is now trying to find himself with the help of some old friends. But does anyone want to bother with him?
Rosenberg is one of the funniest writers in comics today and this is on full display in this issue. Previously, the focus was on Havok as he was integral to every joke. This made sense being that Alex Summers was basically the star. However, things are different as Havok begins to form a new team.
There is a funny running joke about the type of team that Alex is putting together. Even he doesn’t seem to know the team’s identity, and watching him try to explain it is a highlight of the book. The rallying cry he uses also shows that he is just throwing together things and hoping for the best. Warpath’s dry sense of humor adds to it all.
Astonishing X-Men has a deep undercurrent of depression which is seen most obviously in Dazzler and Colossus. Both are dealing with their sadness in different ways. Following his failed wedding to Kitty Pryde, the mutant strongman has taken to drinking his problems away. Colossus has long been a voice of reason in the X-Books and seeing him in such a far gone state is sad. It’s a very powerful scene that has the dual effect of showing a superhero in a moment of despair while giving readers a hint as to what type of team these new X-Men will be.
Dazzler’s introduction to the band is just as gloomy to watch. The former pop star is on a nostalgia tour that is not doing well based on the show Havok and his quasi team attend. What makes the moment especially depressing is how Dazzler lies to herself and the group before doing a quick turnabout when she discerns the reason they have come. She has obviously seen better days, but she is still trying to maintain her dignity.
Both parts are painful to read, but Rosenberg still manages to inject humor into them. Whether it’s Colossus drunkenly charging into battle or Dazzler being passed over for a familiar stage hand, the book conveys a strong tone without being too overbearing. Heartbreak is nothing new to a comic with “X-Men” in the title, but Rosenberg doesn’t allow the book to wallow in pity.
Land’s art is great once again and the there is an especially great splash page with Dazzler. The page is stunning and she looks every bit a powerful X-Men in good standing. Land also does a great job with facial expressions from Warpath’s stoic gaze that refuses to betray any emotion to whatever the heck is going on with Banshee.
Astonishing X-Men #14 is a fun read that will cause you to laugh out loud while making you pity its cast. The X-Titles have always had a particular feel about them. Rosenberg is taking that identity and doing new and great things with it.