Written by: Ron Bricker
No, no, no, no, no, NO! The greatest X-Men book ever is over. At least, the part that counts. Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men #1 marks the end of a five star, twenty four issue run by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday on Astonishing X-Men, a unique and amazing series that perfectly captured the characters' nuances and personalities inside a book that existed somewhere in and between official continuity. Giant-Size Astonishing brings the 25 issues full circle, completing a contained story that will be read for years to come as one of the defining X-tales.
It's hard to review this book and not gush about the series as a whole, or give away the ending. Those of you that have not read the entirety of Whedon and Cassaday's saga simply will have nothing to enjoy in this finale. There is a recap page, yes, but it does little to convey the successes of this series, aside from a weak two paragraph recap of the last few issues. Whedon's writing through this series is full of spot on characterizations and relationships, but what really makes this finale in particular shine is the running themes that are brought to their emotional climax. While Whedon's issues often read quickly, the density of them weigh on the mind, which is why I think Astonishing was so completely enthralling as a book. Whedon delves leaps and bounds beyond typical superhero fare by lacing his work with these themes and motifs that float in and out of his entire run.
Most amazingly, this conclusion solidifies the train of thought that while the series has seen its fair share of a big cast, the overall story, and thus many of the themes, revolve around Kitty and Colossus. With a series that essentially began with the revival of the then dead Colossus, the ending to it seems fitting. And while this series will be officially "continuing" with a new team, there is nothing that convinces me that anything will be able to compare with Whedon and Cassaday's seminal run, let alone that this new team will be continuing anything established in this book – considering solicits are mentioning Messiah Complex and other X-garbage that shouldn't be found within the confines of this series.
That this book exists in a strange place within (without?) continuity is part of its charm, but it will certainly be interesting to see what happens in the main X-Universe as a result of this issue. While none of these events have been particularly placed somewhere in the main continuity, it was interesting to see Spider-Man mention the Civil War in this book. Regardless, this will be the last X-Series I read. Ever.
And while there is certainly nothing more to say about Cassaday's work, he was kind enough to give us a superb wrap-around cover for this final issue, as well as a select few of his favorite variant covers in the back. I think that it's safe to say that Cassady's work is as equally spot on in his look and emotions for every character as Whedon is in writing them.
Astonishing X-Men was the kind of book that non X-fans could enjoy. Hell, I have no problem believing that a non comics fan would use this book as their gateway into a world they have never previously known. But as I said, for anyone not previously engaged in this series, skip out on this Giant Sized finale, it will do nothing for you but ruin the ending to an epic saga. Instead, wait for the completed collection to be released in hardcover format and just read it all in a sitting, like a good novel.
The rest of you, prepare to cry.
5.0 out of 5.