Astonishing X-Men #30 by Ellis, Bianchi, et al.

I picked this up because the art looked cool. And, you know, the art is cool. The inks are interesting, with washes as well as lines and a very grimy palette of off green and brown and blue. The anatomy is well-done overall. The facial expressions, while not perfect, are realistic. There are some clear artistic patterns like large pouty lips. There are attempts to make the layout interesting by using weapons as layout lines. See?

Pretty, isn’t it?

But it was not enough.

For one thing, the art is very realistic. It’s not picture perfect (blue lion mutants with glasses don’t actually exist), but it’s styled to be real. The artist likes to include things like red lines in the eyes, to show the craziness of the villain or spittle flying to show that people are shouting.

Unfortunately, the craziness comes off more like caaaaaaaarrrraaaaaziness and the spittle just seems sort of gross. The story is just–irritating, and the art could be so awesome, and yet it doesn’t all mesh the way a visually told story should.

Instead of making me look forward to more or compensating, the art just reinforced those parts of the story that pissed me off. The basic plot is that the X-Men have found the source of some fake mutants. Their ex-fellow, Forge, has gone bastshit (as one does) and started to make fake mutants to combat evil warriors from an alternate dimension. They’ve denned Forge in his lair in order to stop him.

And Forge proceeds to act like a cartoon villain, right down to the rolling red eyes and the spit and the dramatic gestures and weird poses. It’s sad. I actually felt bad for the guy.

Especially when they cut off his leg and then laugh about it. I mean, jeez, people. Aren’t you the heroes? Wasn’t this guy your old pal?

(And maybe Forge really is a terrible person worthy of laughter, but really, people. Cutting off someone’s leg and then laughing is just bad form. Tacky! Yes, he had some mutant-dampener in it, but I don’t care. Show a little respect!)

The X-Men battle the fake-o mutants with no trouble. Forge wanted to lure the X-men into dealing with the cause of the interdimensional warriors by mounting an attack via a large cube (as one does). The X-Men tell Forge off, then whack off his leg in response. Which is gratitude for you, I guess.

You’d think, after the random amputation and cracks about how dumb/crazy Forge is to believe that the interdimensional warriors are a Threat To Humanity As We Know It, that they’d all just leave. But no. The blue lion guy has his girlfriend nuke the place from orbit, just to be sure. Which blows up the special cube and therefore through it to the interdimensional warrior scout dudes’ homeworld, which, blue lion now explains, is probably toast.

Well, that’s nice, isn’t it? I mean, clearly Forge was blood-thirsty and crazy for trying to send a couple of mutant warriors through to make sure no one messed with our Earth. So much better to just toss in a great big old world destroying bomb without bothering to make contact.

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