If you’re like me, the x-titles you pay most attention to these days come from Brian Michael Bendis. The multi-Eisner award winning author is currently penning All New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men, as well as a slew of other Marvel titles, and his intertwining storylines are entrancing. However, they aren’t the only x-titles out there worth reading, and Marjorie Liu’s Astonishing X-Men, which has issue #63 coming out today, should be on your radar.
Marjorie Liu’s Astonishing X-Men was brought to my attention by way of the X-Termination event (which I’ll be writing about later). Its current story arc, starting in issue #62, picks up in the aftermath of that event. While X-Termination was pretty lackluster, Liu’s new Astonishing X-Men doesn’t appear to be. Bobby Drake (Iceman) has unknowingly had the shard of a powerful, evil force from the Age of Apocalypse (called the Death Seed) implanted in him. How it got there, who did it, and why he did it is a bit convoluted, but the repercussions are fascinating.
Now, I know everyone loves to hate post-Joss Whedon Astonishing X-Men, but Marjorie Liu is doing some solid work with the title. One of the things that Liu accomplishes well in issue #62 is create space in way that is akin to the Chris Claremont “baseball issue.” Claremont’s iconic baseball issues, wherein the story would revolve around the Xavier School playing a game of baseball with each other, are an example of how creating space makes a world feel full. Comic book heroes often come across as though all they do is run from one fight to another without ever taking a break for normal life activities (like when do these guys go to the bathroom?), but a good writer knows when space is needed to give a character or story depth. For Liu, Astonishing X-Men #62 shows Bobby Drake trying to sort through the “major” events of X-Termination, and this pause before starting another epic battle is well paced.
As the events of Astonishing X-Men #62 play out, Bobby goes from meeting with a counselor to meeting up with his current girlfriend, Kitty Pryde. However, Bobby soon finds himself face to face with a slew of his ex-girlfriends (an element also found in Fraction’s Hawkeye #9) each claiming that he contacted them about meeting him there. Poor Bobby has no recollection of doing so, but Liu has already firmly established something isn’t right with Bobby Drake. The big reveal at the end of #62 is Iceman pulling open his chest, followed by a mushroom cloud, and each of the aforementioned girlfriends featured in a panel with a sinister looking shadow.
It should be noted that Liu’s development of Bobby and Kitty’s relationship in this issue is in keeping with character development we’ve been seeing elsewhere in the x-universe (like Wolverine & the X-Men #24, wherein Kitty and Bobby try to have a normal date), and it is these touches of normalcy amidst all the epic, cosmic battles that endear us to Liu’s characters (as well as Astonishing X-Men itself). It’s our recommendation (or at least my own) that you pick up Marjorie Liu’s Astonishing X-Men #62 and #63 today.