Astonishing X-Men is one of Marvel’s big selling titles, began by writer Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly/Serenity) and artist John Cassady (Planetary) for its first four story arcs. Not only did it return the X-Men to more traditional-style costumes (albeit with a slightly realistic flair) following the “black leather” days, it also introduced the “Gifted” storyline about a potential cure for mutants that would serve as the basis for the third X-Men movie. Then in 2009, the comic was turned into a motion comic, with the rest of the Whedon/Cassady run done in 2012. Now all four “seasons” are available in a blu-ray box set for viewing in high definition.
The four story arcs were ones that shook up the X-Men and changed their lives forever. In “Gifted” Cyclops assembles a new team of X-Men that includes Beast, Wolverine, Kitty Pryde and Emma Frost to try and present mutants in a more positive light, but the team not only has to deal with the possibility of a mutant “cure”, but also a new alien threat and the return of a familiar face. “Dangerous” has the team not only dealing with the fallout of the events of “Gifted”, but trying to discovery who is trying to destroy them from within, and who knows all their secrets! In “Torn”, the team is falling apart due to the actions of Emma Frost, and in “Unstoppable”, the group try to save Earth from Ord and Breakworld, but victory could come at a price!
I have to say, this was interesting to watch. As the term “motion comic” implies, it takes the original comic book, art and all, and animates it. And the comics really are animated, with the characters moving about the screen (even their limbs, and not just hopping across the screen). Even their mouths move when they speak! Some motion comics have the word balloons pop up on the screen with the text running across as the character speaks. Meaning you’d have to read while also trying to watch. The Astonishing X-Men motion comic, however, is done in a way that makes you feel like you’re watching an actual cartoon rather than just a comic book on a screen. Granted the animation seems kind of stiff, but they are working with art that was originally static to begin with, so that can be overlooked. Plus, there’s a pretty decent voice cast to go with it, with each actor fitting their character. The guy who does Wolverine even sounds a lot like Steve Blum.
Probably the only downside to motion comics is that the episodes directly adapt the original comics, word for word and the original art. Meaning that, unlike if you’re watching an adaptation of some type where you can compare with the source material, you’re not seeing anything new. Hence the argument as to why one would want to watch this when they could just read the original comics. Still, there is the fun in watching the comics move and hearing the characters speak without having to try and figure out how they would sound in your head. Yeah, it’s a toss-up.
A motion comic on blu-ray should be nothing short of excellence as far as blu-ray video quality is concerned, and this release is just that. The colors are eye popping eye candy that’ll leave you wanting to watch more blu-ray material when its over. Perhaps not as hard to make such wonderful rich colors as this is a motion comic and not an animated film tho regardless this blu-ray exceeds all expectations as far as blu-ray quality is concerned. No complaints here.
Nothing too special here but the audio track does the job for a motion comic. Great voice clarity but the action scenes seemingly could have utilized the sub much more. Rears dont get a whole lot of action either and the track is mostly front heavy.
Not a whole lot in the supplemental department tho not a whole lot more could hav been included except perhaps a Whedon interview. Tho he’s too much of a hot draw right now to have the time for that right? :p
Interviews With Joe Quesada And Neal Adams
A Behind-The-Scenes Look At Marvel Knights™ Animation
Original Music Video
So is the box set worth getting? If you’re a fan of the X-Men and the works of Whedon and Cassady (and Neal Adams, who directs along with Whedon), then definitely. If anything, it’s worth checking out to see what it’s like. Chances are, you won’t be disappointed if already interested in this genre. The Video Quality is nothing short of amazing to which you would expect from a cartoon blu-ray. The disc set has plenty of content worthy of its price.