My first real exposure to Joss Whedon came from a little T.V. show called “Firefly”. I saw a copy of the series on DVD for cheap, and for whatever reason (probably because I had read it being described as a spaghetti western in space… I was really into Leone films at the time) I chose to pick it up. Two episodes in, I was glad I did. It remains, to this day, one of my favourite T.V series ever, and it only ever had like 13 episodes. But after watching “Serenity” the filmic sequel to “Firefly” (which was also awesome) I more or less left Whedon alone. There was no real reason behind my actions, I just had other things I wanted to watch and the only other show I knew of his was “Buffy”. At the time I thought I was too masculine to watch that show. Flash forward… shit I suppose nearly seven years, and I’ve finally gotten around to watching “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and surprise, surprise, it’s amazing. (Not always consistently so, but when it’s on, there isn’t much else like it anywhere.) So I’ve decided to tackle a few other Whedon scribed masterpieces, and first up is “The Astonishing X-Men”.
It’s funny that the first thing Whedon always hits you with is his powerful female protagonist. Whether it’s Buffy, River, or in the X-Men’s case, Kitty Pryde. You can tell from the first issue in, that this is gonna be Kitty Pryde and the X-Men, not Wolverine and the X-Men (as it so often is). Understand, I’m not suggesting that this is a fault or a weakness in Whedon’s writing, it’s just interesting that he always seems to need a female character to ground him and lead the way in his storytelling abilities. It eventually becomes clear however, that Whedon is not content with only exploring one character in this series and by the end of his run, Emma Frost, Beast, Colossus, and especially Cyclops have grown in ways that they never have under any other writer save for Grant Morrison on his seminal “New X-Men” run at the beginning of the century.
In fact, comparisons between Whedon and Morrison are nearly impossible not to make. While Whedon’s story serves to be a much more cinematic experience as opposed to Morrison’s more experimental approach, both men serve the most important aspect of any story remarkably well, namely, the characters. Suffice to say, by the end of Whedon’s run on this book, you will feel connected to many of these mutants and when they don’t all make it back home, it’s an emotional experience. For comics, this sense of loss and sincerity is often a very difficult thing to extract from your reader, and it’s a tribute to Whedon’s immense talent as a writer that he does so, so effortlessly. Here’s hoping that he one day comes back to these characters and continues his story.