Astonishing X-Men #29 Review: The Secret of the Ghost Box

Hey, everyone…Welcome to my second review. The first one went over pretty well so I hope everyone enjoys this one too.

Astonishing X-Men #29 cover Astonishing X-Men #29
(preview | thread)
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Simone Bianchi


OVERALL GHOST BOX RECAP: Emma, Scott, Logan, Ororo, Hank and Hisako (Armor) get called in on a murder by the SFPD. The victim happens to be an obvious powered individual and after a brief investigation, Hank discovers he is an artificial mutant. The team tracks his killer to a space ship graveyard on Chaparanga Beach. The X-Men, minus Hank, manage to find the killer and and stop him before he activates a device and escapes. He kills himself rather then be caught. Hanks analyzes his blood and discovers he is a different type of artificial mutant. They call in agent Brand of S.W.O.R.D and she identifies the item as a Ghost Box capable of traveling to alternate universes. The trail leads the team to a hidden area in China called Tian. Arrviving there, they discover a hidden mutant stronghold wiped out by M-Day. The team splits up and finds three living mutants who are defeated. They all identify one enemy: Forge.

RECAP: The three mutants are further questioned seperately and reveal that Forge was creating one of the artificial mutant types to defend against an invasion from an alternate world. In this world the mutant population recovered after the first mutant birth happened. Two of the mutants die in the questioning and the third is taken to Forge’s base which is on Wundagore Mountain. The X-Men are allowed to dock and go in to meet with Forge directly.

MOMENT OF NOTE: Wolverine informs Cyclops that his prisoner died during interrogation. Scott’s response “…Right but he talked?” This is definitely not your momma’s Scott Summers.

MY TAKE:  This issue suffers from the same problems I have had with the series since Ellis took over. The ideas are creative and original but the execution has been a little off. The characters all feel like stereotypes or two dimensional versions of themselves. Emma is a rich snob. Scott is a good man doing a bad job. Hank is a scientist. Storm is regal and proud. Wolverine is a savage killer. Hisako is a kid. But those are just parts of who they are and I do not feel that Ellis has a firm grasp of the nuances yet. That said much of his dialogue is good if a bit too realistic for the comic hero world. We do not need to know the details of Hank and Brand’s personal life for example.

The plot is interesting but so far has been very slow. It feels like we are getting only half an issue each time. There are not many panels and a lot of splash pages in the book. What’s worse is there is a fair amount of minutia that doesn’t really further the story. Some items are covered multiple times from different angles and others should simply be skipped.

Now this might sound negative but that is not the case. I do like the story and I am enjoying the journey Ellis is crafting. His characters interact in a realistic way and I feel he is slowly getting a better handle on them. The idea of artificial mutants is one that have been done before but never quite like this and invasion stories are almost always fun. I just wish the pace of the story would speed up since we are only getting issues every two months. It becomes harder to stay invested in the overall arc. Perhaps this is something that will work better in the trade.

Bringing in Forge promises some interesting new dynamics especially with the now married Storm in the group and Wundagore is almost a character in and of itself. With the quality of the  ideas and story that is being told I expect this series will only get better with time.

This is my second review for Wolverine Files, so,  please feel free to give me any feedback. I expect I will be keeping this same format for the reviews since it works well. Once again thanks for reading and hopefully I will talk to everyone again next week.

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