Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous

Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous
Alternative editions:
Astonishing X-Men Dangerous review
Alternative editions:
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Marvel - 0-7851-1677-X
  • Volume No.: 2
  • Release date: 2007
  • UPC: 9780785116776
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: yes
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: Superhero

Having inaugurated his version of the X-Men in Gifted, Josh Whedon pits them against a novel foe, one that is aware of their every tactic, strength and weakness, and created to counteract them. In many ways it’s an extremely logical set-up and conclusion, but it’s also a tale stretched far longer than it needs to be, with little novelty beyond the initial idea. That is until we reach the conclusion. It appears an unnecessary twist of the knife to no real effect, and drives a wedge where no wedge should be.

An opening sequence toys with the illogical attitude that inherent super powers are to be feared while the Fantastic Four, whose powers were randomly imbued, are universally admired. This is as the X-Men and the FF unite to force a monster back beneath the surface of New York. Not that the monster has any great relevance to the story overall, but neither is there any attempt to explain it other than a narrative convenience. This was a minor problem in Gifted, and recurs here. An early indication of the book’s menace is all telepaths being shut down. Why? Given what the adversary was intending, it made little difference one way or the other.

Visually this is again extremely impressive work from John Cassaday, with individual images that imprint, such as a version of hell in the danger room. Professor X, back for this story, at the wheel of an articulated container truck is memorable, and he certainly delivers good action sequences. This is just as well given there’s not a lot else from the halfway point.

Agent Brand of S.W.O.R.D. was introduced in Gifted, seemingly as a character required for a specific role within that tale as an over-zealous harbinger of mutant danger. Here it becomes apparent that Whedon constructed her for the longer term. The logic of her protective organisation within a culture dealing with frequent alien incursion is ineffable, and hers is sub-plot revealed in the pages of Unstoppable. The final page here is the cliffhanger response to another question that will be hanging in readers’ minds.

Overall, though, Dangerous is rather a rapid drop from grace where too much is patched over and padded, although the individual issues won an Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series in 2006. The next, and better, volume is Torn.

Whedon and Cassaday’s X-Men work is also available in two hardbacks with unwieldy titles. The oversize hardback Astonishing X-Men by Josh Whedon & John Cassaday gathers their entire run, and this is collected along with the previous Gifted in Astonishing X-Men By Joss Whedon & John Cassaday Ultimate Collection Book 1.