Adam's Reviews > Astonishing X-Men, Vol. 5: Ghost Box

Astonishing X-Men, Vol. 5 by Warren Ellis
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's review
Feb 04, 10

bookshelves: comics
Read in February, 2010

I really enjoy Warren Ellis's writing, but this wasn't my favorite story of his. It's decent, but all the pseudoscientific twaddle and talk of parallel universes eventually overwhelmed me. Simone Bianchi's art in this volume is beautiful. Each panel looks like the cover of a sci fi or fantasy novel. Unfortunately, there's very little sense of movement or flow from panel to panel, so the action is sometimes confusing.

The "ghost box" of the title refers to cubes used to open tunnels between different worlds in the multiverse. The more they are used, however, the more they degrade space and time. In this story arc, the X-Men face the possibility of a massive mutant invasion from a parallel universe, and their quest to stop it takes them from San Francisco to China, and eventually to crazed mutant engineer Forge's stronghold in Wundagore Mountain.

The story isn't as confusing as it could have been, and there's lots of enjoyably ridiulous dialogue, such as when Dr. Henry McCoy (The Beast) says, "I'm imagining a world already shredded by intense ghost box usage."

In addition to the main story arc from Astonishing X-Men #25-#30, this volume reprints the two-issue limited series "Ghost Boxes," which explores several parallel universes inhabited by the X-Men. The first issue, in which the X-Men's world has not developed digital technology, and everything is a bizarre variation on the Victorian era, with dirgibles and black & white two-way video monitors set in gigantic, old-fashioned radio cabinets, is steampunk lunacy at its finest, and was probably my favorite part of the book. The second issue of "Ghost Boxes," however, is a barrage of tragedy. The first story is about Scott Summers (Cyclops) committing suicide, and the second story is about Hisako (Armor) pushing Logan (Wolverine) around in a wheelchair as they wander a post-apocalyptic landscape with a doddering, senile Hank McCoy. Eventually they all die. I know that in any parallel worlds story, there's always going to be one iteration that totally sucks, but Ghost Boxes #2 still felt like too much.

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