Unless you've been hiding with your head under your pillow, you probably know one thing that's supposed to happen in this issue.
We have so many different kinds of X-MEN comics these days. That's a good and a bad thing. It's bad because it means more money for us to spend each month. What's good is some of them have very distinct feels to them. ASTONISHING X-MEN almost feels like a more mature X-MEN comic. UNCANNY tends to have more action, WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN has its share of action mixed in with humor and characterization. ASTONISHING is similar to WOLVERINE/X-MEN but still feels a little different. That main difference is Marjorie Liu.
I've said it many times in the past when reviewing Liu's titles, she gets how to write relationships. Where else would you expect to see Northstar, Gambit and Iceman talk about relationship problems. It's just not something many writers could make work. But Liu does make it work. And of course that relationship-writing is what brought this issue to the spotlight this week, in particular Northstar's relationship with his boyfriend Kyle.
It's easy for some to accuse the media coverage as just a way to build hype for the book. But that's not the way the issue is written. Northstar first revealed his sexual orientation back in 1992. Why wouldn't he someday find love and want to propose? It just make sense. The X-Men titles have always dealt with discrimination, acceptance, tolerance and evolution. Northstar's in love. He wants to marry the person he loves. The fact that they're both guys makes no difference.
It'd also be easy to assume it's going to be a nice cookie-cutter proposal but things are rarely easy when you're in the X-Men. Liu handles it all perfectly. And the nice thing is, this isn't the focal point of the issue. There is actual other X-Men business going on.
Mike Perkins art is growing on me with each issue. I do really like it but there's the occasional bit that sometimes stands out and causes a distraction.
I don't really want to bring up the art in this section but as I mentioned above, sometimes the characters look a little off. I am starting to appreciate Wolverine's look here but he just looks so different compared to the numerous other monthly appearances he makes. Black Widow puts in an appearance and I didn't quite recognize her at first until I saw her name mentioned.
Speaking of Black Widow, Wolverine asked her "What's life like these days for an Avenger?" This struck me as a little odd since Wolverine is an Avenger as well as an X-Man (and member of X-Force, etc).
This is of no fault to the comic but
EDIT: I went back and saw part of her in behind a door.
This is the issue everyone is talking about. It makes sense that it would get a lot of attention but the content isn't forced just to generate hype. Marjorie Liu knows how to write relationships. When it comes to a character like Northstar and actually exploring his orientation, it's surprising how long it's taken for him to come this far. And Liu is the perfect person to handle it. But this issue isn't just about Northstar and his love life. The story does continue form the last couple and we're seeing more interaction and bonding between the other characters. Liu is even giving Warbird a great personality which we don't really get to see in WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN. Mike Perkins art is growing on me. I still think Wolverine and others sometimes look a little off. It just gets hard to get used to when we see such a range of artists working on the same characters several times a month. The absence of another character caused a little bit of confusion as well. ASTONISHING X-MEN is definitely one of the top X-titles put out. It offers a different vibe that isn't present in some of the other books.