Astonishing X-Men #30 Review: Thinking Like an Engineer

Hey, everyone… Here is my sixth review, I am almost done thankfully. Next up is the final issue in the Ghost Boxes story for Astonishing. Hope you enjoy it.

Astonishing X-Men #30 cover Astonishing X-Men #30
(preview | thread)
Writer: Warren Ellis
Penciler: Simone Bianchi
Inkers: Simone Bianchi and Andrea Silvestri


RECAP: The issue opens with the X-Men confronting Forge about the Ghost Boxes and fake mutants. Forge insists that he has solved the M-Day problem and that his creations are real mutants but none of the others agree.

He shows the team his mutants and they are just a group of experimental freaks. Forge releases the pseudo-mutant that the X-Men were holding as Wolverine and Cyclops realize that Forge has an inhibitor that is slowly shutting down their powers.

Forge takes them to the Ghost Box he has which is rigged to be opened. He explains he is fighting a war with the invaders and that he is ready to strike back through the portal.

Just then Armor’s phone rings. It is Agent Brand who has a super powerful laser trained on the base from orbit. Forge is not deterred and wants to proceed but Wolverine cuts off his robotic leg and shuts down the inhibitor field.

Forge activates the Ghost Box and tells his mutants to throw in the X-Men. Beast tosses Armor’s phone into the box and tells Brand to shoot for that spot. The X-Men then fight through the fake mutants to their ship. Ororo tries to get Forge to come but he refuses, hinting that her marriage and treatment of him is why he lost his mind.

The X-Men leave just as something starts to come through the Ghost Box. Brand fires her laser and destroys the base and anything that might have been trying to invade from the other side of the portal.

Both Beast and Storm lament the choices they were forced to make but there really were no other options. In order to save the world they had to stop Forge and destroy the invaders. In the end they head home in silence.

MY TAKE: Although this was an alright issue it was still plagued by most of the problems that have affected the arc to this point; namely pacing and characterizations. The conclusion is reasonable but it would have been better if they had picked someone else to be the villain. It seems to be too much of a stretch to think that Forge would suddenly decide to make his own mutants and wage a war against another world.

The characters still seem off especially Forge. Most of the others do not have enough time to really be highlighted although Armor and Emma still feel like stereotypes. Beast feels more natural here and Scott and Logan are playing off of each other pretty well. But even after reading this comic twice, I am not sure I really understand what is going on with Forge.

Madness can explain some of it, naturally, but I have a very hard time accepting that Storm getting married was enough to drive him that far over the edge. They have broken up before and even moved on and he did not react this way. Perhaps it is meant to merely be the final straw after M-Day and his attack by Bishop but if so then it should have been established that way. As it is, his problems seem to be far beyond what her marriage should cause.

The pace is still an issue as well. This comic seems to be more interested in doing splash scenes and most pages only have four or five panels in them. It slows down the plot and the action and makes the whole issue feel rushed because so much dialogue has to be squeezed into a couple of panels. While the art is nice, I would prefer that the story drives the art and this seems to be the reverse. The comic still reads fine and the plot works, within the confines of the story that has been established, but I am glad we are getting a new artist for the next arc.

The conclusion is more or less satisfying but I am getting tired of people using Agent Brand as a Deus Ex Machina. While I understand that there is some high tech equipment in the Marvel Universe, having her have access to a weapon that is ten thousand times more energy then all the power the Earth gets from the sun seems ridiculous. Add to that it can be narrowed to sixty eight centimeters and fired with pin point precision from orbit and it becomes laughable to the point of distraction.

In the end, things get wrapped up very well and returned to the status quo. I lament the loss of Forge as a character but I understand that he had to be killed after the massive personality change. The issue works fine for as a story conclusion but I hope the next arc is more focused on plot and characterization and less on art and technology.

Thanks for reading my review for Wolverine Files. I will be keeping to this format for the most part but please keep the comments coming and I will see everyone again next time.

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