Title: The Astonishing X-Men
How do you take a passionately loved comic – bled dry to the point of self-referential joylessness in multiple ways since its inception – and regenerate it for fanboys and newbies alike?
The answer, in hindsight, is a such simple one: you put the X-men franchise in the hands of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday.
Whedon (Buffy, Firefly) kick starts the series with an arc that formed the backbone of X-Men: The Last Stand. Sure, Whedon has some excellent stories up his sleeve, but it’s his consistent mining of the drama in this work that stands out. Using pithy, almost abstract dialogs, and often referencing events just before they happen, Whedon creates a lean and suspenseful narrative.
John Cassaday does his sparse illustrations primarily in panels that stretch across the width of the page, creating what looks like a wide screen comic book. He’s superb at depicting a gamut of emotions on the faces of his characters. His pencils are rather selflessly colored by Laura Martin.
Whedon and Cassaday’s work is collected in three graphic novels: Gifted, Dangerous (where the story really pops) and Torn.