It has been subtle, but over the course of Matthew Rosenberg’s short run on Astonishing X-Men, the makeshift team has gone through a noticeable change. Rosenberg’s debut as the new writer on Astonishing began with issue #13, and was mainly about Havok trying to convince others with very mixed (okay, mostly negative) results that he could be trusted. Issue #14 saw Alex Summers continue to attempt to put together his new band of faux X-Men. There was still plenty of resistance, but there were also those who were willing to join up with the new team. Would Rosenberg’s third issue be the one when Havok finally wins everyone over?
Rosenberg’s writing in issue #15 will sneak up on readers. The third part of the ‘Until Our Hearts Stop’ story arc has done a great job of building on the first two parts. Slowly but surely, Havok is starting to win some trust back. Unfortunately, he cannot stop committing incredibly bad mistakes that further erode what little confidence in him others have. The dichotomy is illustrated perfectly in the issue as some people have a change of heart while others are even more sure they were correct to begin with.
At first, the issue seems corny and a little too cliche. As the reader gets further into the issue and watches how people react to what is going on, what first seemed like tropes are actually well written bits of character development that have been built for the past three issues. Each page provides another revelation that draws the reader deeper into the characters they are reading about. The best part is, there are no sudden twists to explain what is happening. Instead, the a-ha moments are a natural product of the writing. It’s great to see the planning start to come to fruition and it will be interesting to see where everything leads.
The humor that has been prevalent over the course of Rosenberg’s Astonishing run can still be found here as well. There are little quips about how well Dazzler’s tour was actually doing, the running joke about the X-Men name continues, and what form of transportation Havok’s new team used are just some of the more humorous moments in the book. The humor is never forced and the new X-Men team is forming a strong chemistry already.
Greg Land and Neil Edwards share the penciling duties and their work with Dazzler in particular has to be commended. Alisonn Blaire has been around for decades and always seems to be an integral part of a team for a while before quietly fading from people’s memories. She has already become a highlight in Astonishing and has never looked more powerful. She is also been incredibly funny, inspiring, and depressing in the two issues she has been a part of. There have been many times in the past when Dazzler seemed like she was on the verge of breaking through to the upper echelon of X-Men and hopefully this latest incarnation will finally be the one that gets her over the hump.
Astonishing X-Men # 15 is another strong issue in the Matthew Rosenberg era. The intricacies of the writing are on full display and the art elevates the strong story. The X-Books have always been about strong characters and Astonishing is looking to carve its own legacy.
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