Astonishing X-Men #4 Review

It’s been almost a full month since my last post on Peace, Love, and Comics. If you still expect, and anticipate posts from me, well I must say thank you. It’s nice when someone comments on my work and even nicer when someone says they look forward to hearing what I have to say about certain topics. In the almost month since I posted, there’s been a lot happening in the comic book/nerd world. Actually, New York Comic Con is this weekend. I unfortunately am not there (I’ve never been to a con in my life, actually) but I’ll be following along all weekend as the news unfolds. Doomsday Clock, the new Pacific Rim trailer, the Runaways trailer, a rumored Black Panther trailer and more comes into the world with comic-con. There was also an article about comic retailers complaining about Marvel’s lenticular covers for Marvel Legacy. They were also voicing frustrations about Marvel’s recent diversity attempts, saying they are hurting comic book sales. I don’t have anything to add to that conversation. I’ll just post a link to my “Why I Love Diversity and Representation” piece below. Adapt, or get left behind my fellow nerds. That’s the best advice I can give you.


Still, with all of the excitement going on in the nerd world, sometimes it’s nice to pull it back a bit and read some comics. No, not news on upcoming comics. No, not creators of comics talking about their comics. And no, not a Twitter conversation with a group of people about a particular comic. I’m talking about real, actual comics. Be it hard copies or digital copies, I love them. I’ve talked before about the escapism I experience when reading a comic book. I am completely aware that comics reflect the reality I live in, and I won’t wage war on Marvel for reminding me of that. But, it’s nice to read a comic, or any type of story, where you can’t fathom for one second almost any aspect of it. And I’m not just talking about superheroes. I love picking up Captain Atom comics and seeing him travel through the upper levels of the quantum field. When I’m reading Ultimates, I get put in a philosophical mood as I contemplate the idea of Eternity and Celestial beings. Today, you’re going to journey with me to the Astral Plane once again. The X-Men are having a rough time with the Shadow King, and while the idea of mutants is farfetched, the astral plane is something my human mind can only dream about. And I love that about comics.


I’ll link the reviews for the first three issues of Astonishing X-Men below. This story is being written by Charles Soule (one of my favorites in the industry right now) and is being handled by a myriad of artists. This issue had Carlos Pacheco on pencils, Rafael Martinez on inks, and the color artist was Rain Beredo. Quick recap of the story. This arc is called, “Life of X” and for good reason. The Shadow King is a villain who dwells in the astrsl plane. He attempted to escape by possessing the mind of one Marvel’s most powerful psychics, Psylocke. In her distress, as a bug manifestation from her brain destroyed London, she called out to her fellow mutants. This random team is now in the astral plane fighting the Shaodw King, but not in the traditional way. It’s also been revealed that the long-dead Charles Xavier is in the astral plane and he’s attempting to help his former students. Bishop, Angel, and Psylocke remained in the physical world while the others left. But, in the last issue, Logan’s mind was lost to the Shadow King and now he possesses Logan’s body. The last page saw Logan stabbing a government soldier through the chest, his eyes black, showing the signs of corruption from the Shadow King. This is where the fourth issue picks up.

While I enjoyed the last issue of this series, I definitely wanted to keep the focus on the group. Soule gets backs to that way of storytelling in this issue. The Shadow King, as Logan, is rampaging through the streets. Bishop attempts to stop him but is knocked off the top of a building. Psylocke, who is attempting to maintain the link so her team can stay in the astral plane, begins to hear the voice of Professor X. He’s made his presence known and assures Psylocke he’s here to help. I’m not so sure of that, but he’s playing the part well now. Psylocke is able to fight and she knocks Logan off of the building as well. The best part of this issue was the romance and fun that was had between Fantomex and Mystique. Mystique disguised herself as Beast to gain access but has since revealed herself. Fantomex is with Mystique, and Gambit is with Rogue. We see Fantomex and Mystique in a luxurious apartment. Mystique tells Fantomex this placed used to be hers. Fantomex isn’t amused. He knows the Shadow King’s game is still going on and intends to win. Mystique on the other hand doesn’t care. She reminds Fantomex that the astral plane is whatever you want it to be, and she intends to take advantage of that while she’s here. Back in the physical world, a really cool scene happens next as Bishop catches himself before he falls to his death. He takes the kinetic energy being built up from his fall, harnesses it, and lands on the ground like a feather. Logan though, hits the ground with full force. The government agency that’s in London rolls around with a chopper, that then starts unloading bullets on the possessed Logan.

The Rogue and Gambit dance has been going on in comics for a long time. My first exposure to it was the X-Men animated series. I fell in love with Rogue on that show, and I thought Gambit was the coolest guy alive. Rogue thought so too, and they’ve always had a weird relationship. In this story, they’re in the astral plane together and Gambit wants to rekindle that relationship. Rogue has to remind Gambit of the Shadow King’s ploy, but like Mystique, Gambit intends to live it up. He doesn’t care about any of that. All he wants is Rogue. Angel finally makes himself useful in the physical world as he flies Logan into a building. But, they land around a group of people who try to help the Logan. One touch later, and they are both possessed by the Shadow King. Rogue and Gambit continue their verbal tango. As they talk, images of Fantomex and Mystique enjoying their day go by. This scene was hilarious to me and I don’t know why. Probably because no matter the situation, whether he was in a speedo or a suit, Fantomex had his mask on. The two then share a passionate kiss. Rogue and Gambit are about to kiss too when Professor X pulls them out. He assures them that he is real and that he isn’t a part of the Shadow King’s game. Rogue notices that Gambit isn’t with them, he asks the professor where he is. The professor says that he tried his best, but Gambit was lost to the Shaodw King. The last page of this issue shows us a possessed Gambit in the physical world. Another Shadow King victim.


With this issue, Astonishing X-Men has surpassed X-Men Gold for my current favorite title. A lot was riding on this issue for me, in terms of how I viewed this overall story. I wanted progression of the actual plot, which is Professor X’s attempt at escaping the astral plane. We still don’t know his motives, but the story is narrated from his point of view, so I intend Soule plans to give us all the answers soon. The art in this issue was solid as well. My favorite page was when Bishop gathered his energy to stop from falling on the ground. Marvel advertised that the rotating group of artists in the comic would be stellar, and so far, they have been. With the comedy, and the steady pacing of the plot, this was another solid issue in this series. I’m excited to see how everything unfolds. The X-Men are always getting themselves into crazy situations, be it with their main team or random teams, and this is no different.

I hope you enjoyed this review. And expect more reviews from me soon. The next review is going to be one of my favorite comics currently, Mister Miracle. If you liked this review, please follow this blog and follow me on Twitter @peacelovecomics for my random thoughts on updates on future reviews. Until next time, everyone! Peace, Love, and Comics!!


All pictures the property of Marvel Comics

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