Aug 31, 2012 03:26 PM EST
Astonishing X-Men: Torn DVD Offers Very Little For Die-Hard Comic Book Fans
Understanding the world of comics is a bit like trying to understand quantum mechanics. Unless you have a background in physics it just won't make sense. Similarly, comics can only make sense to those who have grown up with it. Over the years comics have gone through many changes, superficially as well as literary. The X-Men, a long standing and now thanks to the films, highly celebrated comic, are no stranger to change themselves. From Days of Future Past, Phoenix sagas, Legacy Viruses, Evolutions, and Ages of Apocalypse the X-Men have seen it all. Likewise, they have seen many title changes and spin off's of the original. More recently, one title to gather much notice was Astonishing X-Men, a title from the 90's, resurrected by Joss Whedon and drawn by John Cassady. The duo took the new title in their own direction, weaving an intricate and beautiful tale of love, loss, grief and war. The series only ran for 24 issues under their guidance but that was enough to attract millions of fans.
Again, all things are subject to change and the recent years have seen a new medium come to comics, that of the motion comic. Essentially a hand-drawn comic that is digitally altered so that it appears to be animated. Lend some voice talent to it and you've got yourself a movie. It didn't take long for the new X-Men title to receive the motion treatment. Each individual storyline, "Gifted", "Dangerous", "Torn", and "Unstoppable" all got their chance to appear on the small screen. Covered in this review is Torn, the second to last chapter in the series.
To try and explain the storyline up to this point would take away from the focus of this article, so let's keep it simple. The current lineup of X-Men (Cyclops, Emma Frost, Wolverine, Beast, Colossus, and Shadowcat) all face off against a newly reformed Hellfire Club. Much to the teams surprise Emma has rejoined her old cohorts in their villainous ways. Unbeknownst to Emma, the entire situation (fights, teammates, betrayals, etc) are all taking place inside her head thanks to the manipulations of Cassandra Nova (a telepath who rivals Xavier himself). Shadowcat is the only member to remain unscathed throughout these events and it is thanks to her that the team is able to reassemble to face off against Nova.
After a long struggle the X-Men beat Cassandra to a standstill only to be teleported away by S.W.O.R.D. (Don't ask) into their cargo hold and it is there that we are left hanging.
Whedon and Cassady's tale was an excellent run, both artists seemed to be well suited to one another and had this series actually been animated, in the literal sense of the word, it probably would have done even better. The problem, however, is motion comics themselves. It is essentially a cheap way to market comics to a broader audience. Regardless of whose voices get cast as what characters, the experience still leaves you feeling unfulfilled. There have been many arguments on the pros and cons of bringing comics to the digital world and frankly this critic is against it.
We can see the logical and commercial aspects of bringing these art forms to a new audience, but that audience should instead come to the art form. It shouldn't have to bend over backwards so a new reader can deem it worthy of their time. They should learn to appreciate the art as it is.
Regardless of where you stand, this latest addition to the motion comic medium does nothing for it. If you're a fan of the X-Men or a fan of comics, do yourself a favor and look to the comics themselves for entertainment, this is just not worth your time.
Astonishing X-Men: Torn is available at your local retail store and online at Amazon.com.
About Chris Rebholz
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