In recent years, the problem facing the X-Men is that new mutants have stopped being born and that a great many number of mutants reverted to being baseline humans, turning the mutant race from a species that expected to replace humanity in five generations to a small group of about 300. And because most of those 300 are superheroes or super villains that number has dwindled to about half that number. So when the X-Men hear news of several dozen mutant births in a small African village they go to investigate. And indeed, when they arrive they find babies exhibiting traits not found in normal humans (glowing, floating, tentacles, etc.). However, long-time comics fans may remember that, save for a few exceptions, most mutants mutate at puberty, not birth. The X-Men quickly realize this and try to figure out what is actually changing the babies, all while having to deal with a government that is hostile to outsiders, no matter how well-meant their intentions.
The art in this book…well, it’s not bad. Not by a mile. But it’s very, very different from most other comic books. I’d almost categorize it as how you’d draw a comic if you were marketing it exclusively towards people who are slavishly devoted to fashion. Every member of the X-Men manages to be recognizable, but only one of them really manages to look like himself or herself. They also seem to spend an unfortunate amount of time posing. It all comes off looking somewhat plastic and unnatural. However, the battle scenes are well done and the villains do manage to look imposing.
This is a pretty graphic series. Emma Frost is in it and her outfits almost always walk the line of what’s appropriate for public consumption. Add to that the bloody, gory violence, heavily disfigured characters, a non-graphic birth scene, cold blooded murder, and graphic depictions of surgery and genocide, which all conspire to give us a book that is in no way appropriate for anyone under the age of sixteen.
That said, it’s not a bad book. The story is compelling and the dialogue is witty and fast paced. The art style may not fit well with the medium of comic books, but it’s not necessarily bad art. It’s not a must-have book, but if you like the X-Men or Warren Ellis it’s worth a look.
Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis
by Warren Ellis
Art by Kaare Andrews
Marvel Comics, 2011
Publisher Age Rating: T/Teen