Motion comics have been received with mixed results. I've heard from those that dig them and others that question the purpose of them. Motion comics aren't meant to be fully animated movies. The idea is to enhance the existing art along with adding voice actors, music and some slight animation. The most important factor should be what material is being used and adapted.
Marvel previously released motion comic episodes for the first arc, 'Gifted,' from ASTONISHING X-MEN. The comic was written by Joss Whedon with art by John Cassaday. The second arc, 'Dangerous' also was given the motion comic treatment. Those that read the issues know how good their run on the series was.
Today, Shout! Factory is releasing a DVD for the 'Torn' arc. This covers ASTONISHING X-MEN #s 13 to 18. This was where the Xavier Institute was infiltrated by the Hellfire Club. You may recall some of the events including Emma's role in the encounter as well as Wolverine being reduced to a frightened child-like state. There was also some interesting scenes involving conversation between Cyclops and Emma over Jean Grey.
If you haven't seen the previous ASTONISHING X-MEN motion comic, you can check out the earlier episodes on Netflix Instant streaming to get an idea (only the first six episodes, 'Gifted,' is available for streaming). Or if you prefer, you can still purchase a copy of that DVD and the second for 'Dangerous.'
There's no questioning the source material. While the X-Men have come a long way over the years, it even feels like this story took place a while ago. It was a different time that didn't quite have the cluttered feel we sometimes have with all the different series and crossovers. ASTONISHING X-MEN was a nice self-contained series that was allowed to tell the story that Whedon and Cassaday wanted to tell.
In that regard, you know this DVD will feature a good story with great art. The big question is, is it worth picking up? Part of it depends on how much did you enjoy the story, assuming you have already read it? Seeing it in this format does offer some enhancement to the story. The voice acting is done well and there are some nice effects adding in. It's a great way to experience the story in a different format.
What about the animation? I'll admit, it's not perfect. There are some parts that feel a little stiff or clunky. It's a matter of how forgiving you are. What I enjoyed about this was seeing the comic brought a little bit to life. Yes a fully animated adaptation would have been nice but there is something about this format in that it does retain more of the original comic feel than animated series do. Even if the animators try their best to copy the original art, there usually is some difference.
I was actually a little surprised at the release of this. I know more preferred Marvel's attempt with Iron Man: Extremis. Either this batch of episodes went live on iTunes and other media quietly or the decision was made to just release them straight to DVD. The fact that separate individual episodes are here including full credits after each episode, I would assume they were made available before. Actually, I wasn't even aware that the second arc, "Dangerous,' was released as well.
If you enjoyed the issues or the previous motion comics, of course you'll want to pick this up. It has a running time of 81 minutes. It's simply a matter of how much you enjoyed them and whether or not these motion comics are to your liking.
Tony Guerrero is the Editor-in-Chief of Comic Vine. You can follow him on Twitter @GManFromHeck. He sometimes wonders what life would be like as a motion comic.