This July, X-Men fans should prepare themselves to be astonished in all new and all different ways as the new “Astonishing X-Men” creative team of writer Warren Ellis and artist Simone Bianchi takes over the best selling Marvel Comics title. CBR News spoke with Executive Editor Axel Alonso about what fans can expect from the series.
In the wake of the line altering mega-story “Messiah CompleX,” the X-Men titles all have specific and unique purposes. “Astonishing” already played a unique role among the X-Books and will continue to play that same role when Ellis and Bianchi take over the title. “Astonishing will operate like it always has, a self-contained story that is in continuity, but doesn’t show it all the time,” Alonso told CBR News. “It’s got its core of characters and sticks to them, whereas ‘Uncanny X-Men’ is the backbone of all the X-Books. That’s where all the X-characters live and roost.”
Some of the continuity elements “Astonishing” will show are the aftershocks of “Messiah CompleX.” “‘Astonishing X-Men’ is firmly set in the aftermath of ‘Messiah Complex’ and ‘Divided We Stand,'” Alonso stated. “As for what that means for the X-Men as a team, you’ll have to wait and see.”
Alonso could reveal that Cyclops’s post-“Messiah Complex” calculating, determined and often ruthless perspective on mutant affairs would be part of Ellis and Bianchi’s run on “Astonishing X-Men.” “Cyclops is the undisputed team leader — the one who has to make the tough calls,” Alonso said. “His number one priority will always be the survival of his species. He will do anything to fulfill his responsibility.”
Cyclops is the only cast member of Ellis and Bianchi’s run on “Astonishing” whose identity Alonso could reveal. “There is a core team — all of whom are heavy hitters,” Alonso said.
Kitty Pryde AKA Shadowcat was a key player in Whedon and Cassaday’s run on “Astonishing X-Men.” The duo’s run on “Astonishing” comes to a conclusion in April’s “Giant Size Astonishing X-Men” #1, but given their last issue left Shadowcat in dire peril and the recent “Uncanny X-Men” #496 alluded that she was “lost,” some readers are assuming she won’t be part of the new line-up. “Assume nothing,” Alonso cautioned. “‘Uncanny’ #496 wasn’t a mistake.”
While their identities have to be kept under wraps, but Alonso could reveal that interactions between the cast members of Ellis and Bianchi’s “Astonishing X-Men” won’t always go smoothly. “The members assembled for this group like each other — Well, most of them,” Alonso said. “There’s a bit of friction between two of them, but noting that can’t be defused. Bottom line, they’re a team operating under the direction of one leader.”
“Ghost Box,” Ellis and Bianchi’s opening arc on “Astonishing,” will find the X-men looking for answers. “They will be driven to solve a mystery, a great mystery,” Alonso said. “And once they start peeling back layers, things get very interesting.”
Ellis’s initial “Astonishing X-Men” story will have a “Widescreen Action” feel, but will have cerebral elements as well. Alonso described Ellis’s tale as a “Thinking man’s summer blockbuster.'”
Alonso has been blown away by the way Simone Bianchi has brought to life Ellis’s “Astonishing” scripts. “He’s incredible. Simone is a once-in-a-decade talent, or more,” Alonso remarked. “It’s his best work yet.”
Ellis and Bianchi’s run begins with July’s “Astonishing X-Men” #25 and the duo have almost completed the first two issues of their 24 issue run on the book. “We’re rolling and we’re going to offer a little peek-behind-the-scenes in June as an appetizer,” Alonso said. “Hold onto your shorts. This series won’t stop astonishing you when Joss and John leave.”
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