Thursday, October 11, 2012

ASTONISHING X-MEN #3 - November 1999

In the Shadow of Death!
Credits: Howard Mackie (writer), Brandon Peterson (breakdowns), Tim Townsend & Dan Panosian (finishes), Liquid! (colors), Jon Babcock (letters)

Summary: Death forces the Blackbird to crash, but Phoenix manages to save the crew. The team regroups to fight Death, who kills Wolverine in the battle. Darco emerges from his cocoon with massive telepathic powers. Death retreats, teleporting away. The Mannites also teleport away to face their upcoming mutations.

Continuity Notes: Death is unable to kill Phoenix, which is a big hint that he’s Wolverine in disguise.

Review: Not surprisingly, Astonishing X-Men’s ending is just as disappointing as its beginning and middle. For the first time in the miniseries, Mackie acknowledges most of the cast’s connection to Apocalypse (Cable raised in a future ruled by him, X-Man raised in an alternate reality ruled by him, Cyclops and Phoenix lost their son to him, Archangel was horribly mutated and tortured by him, and Wolverine…well, there's nothing for Mackie to acknowledge here, but Wolverine did receive his adamantium from Apocalypse, if you believe Barry Windsor-Smith), and then does absolutely nothing with the concept. It’s treated as just more text to fill up a few more pages. With all the goodwill in the world, it’s hard to argue this miniseries ever had a point, but at least the hook of using X-characters with connections to Apocalypse could’ve been exploited. Oh, and maybe the alleged death of Wolverine might have just an ounce of honest emotion in it. Instead, this is just a dumb fight scene, followed by a lazy resolution that centers on the increasingly annoying Mannites as the saviors of the day. It’s not hard to remember why people hated this so much. (Paul O’Brien’s old review of this issue has been mentioned in the comments here in the past. It’s worth reading.)


Anonymous said...

As I said when you started, I enjoyed this, but my standards are kind of low for this era lol

I agree though with the assessment that the "death" was probably the least convincing I've ever read in comics (and I've seen a lot of them lol). For something that was supposed to be THE event for which this mini was written, Mackie half-assed this part the most.

I almost feel like he forgot he was even supposed to kill Skrullverine until he was scripting the last few pages of this issue, and decided he wasn't getting paid enough to start the script over.

Anonymous said...

I just can't believe that fans were expected to swallow it. This is Wolverine. Getting run through with a sword isn't going to kill him. Seriously.

The Skrull clues were so well done, it's a shame they weren't used to build a better story (Secret Invasion could have benefited from foresight and planning like this instead of Bendis just telling everyone he had planned it all along).

Matt said...

I'm with Dan; I don't know that Wolverin's "death" here was meant at all to be taken seriouosly. The fact that he was revealed as a Skrull the very next month would seem to support that.

However, I do understand the criticism that it could've been handled better/more convincingly. Just because you don't intend something to be taken at face value, doesn't mean you can't at least try to make it seem real.

Teebore said...

Wow, I honestly thought this series ended not only w/"Wolverine's" death but also the reveal that Death was Wolverine (which, in hindsight, would probably be pretty silly).

So now this whole is even more pointless than I remembered. Three issues to lead up to a death no one took seriously, or were even expected to.

and Wolverine…well, there's nothing for Mackie to acknowledge here

Could it be a hint that Apocalypse was/will be revealed to be the one who restored Wolverine's adamantium? Like, as far as the readers knew, Wolverine was the odd one out at this point, vis a vis Apocalypse, but won't be for long?

Or is that giving Mackie far too much credit?

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