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Review: Astonishing X-Men #5

The Shadow King and Charles Xavier continue their twisted game in the Astral Plane, competing for the very lives of Gambit, Rogue, Old Man Logan, Fantomex and Mystique. And back in the real world, this game is leaving lasting repercussions as Psylocke, Bishop and Angel attempt to defend London from Shadow King’s psychic attacks. With two of their allies fallen, can Xavier rally his X-Men for one final push against their foe?

Astonishing X-Men #5 continues the action as the Shadow King’s infection continues to spread and Charles gathers his troops for the final battle on the psychic plane. What’s interesting is that writer Charles Soule gives us a story where I’m not too sure that Xavier is the hero. His actions, words, and just something else, shows a duplicitous and dark nature since his “death.” While it’s great to see Xavier back, here we get a colder version far from the teacher he once was.

The story itself has a nice throwback vibe about it all reminding me of earlier stories where the X-Men and Shadow King do battle. There’s visuals from artist Ramon Rosanas that absolutely reflects back on what’s happened before. A prime example is the “battle armor” while on the psychic plane. The story that Soule has set up honors what’s come before while folding in a lot that’s new too, mostly the current dynamic of the characters.

The are for the issue is decent though doesn’t quite hook me. There’s some aspects that call back to what’s come before and some scenes that are interesting when it comes to the battle between Xavier and the Shadow King. The thing that’s really interesting is some dual stories as Xavier lays out his plan to some of the team while also talking to Fantomex. The way the two play out on the page is notable and enhances Soule’s script adding a sense of dread about where Xavier is leading Fantomex.

This is an interesting first arc that honors the past while setting up… something. I’m not 100% sure where Soule is going and have some guesses based on this issue. Out of the various “X” series out there, this one comes the closest to really capturing the X-Men of old and at the same time delivering something that feels new at the same time.

Story: Charles Soule Art: Ramon Rosanas Color: Nolan Woodard Letters: Clayton Cowles
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review