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Astonishing X-Men, Volume 1: Gifted
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Graphic Novel Discussions > Optional Book Club Discussion: Astonishing X-Men, Vol. 1: Gifted by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday - September 2012 (may contain spoilers)

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message 1: by Sérgio (last edited Sep 01, 2012 03:19AM) (new)

Sérgio | 459 comments Hi everybody. This is the topic for our Optional Book Club Discussion for September 2012, Astonishing X-Men, Vol. 1: Gifted by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday.


The discussion will occur during this whole month of September.


Our discussion leader will be Mike. Thanks for volunteering Mike!

If your post will contain spoilers, then please type SPOILERS in capital letters at the top of your post (or use the html code for spoilers) so that members who are still reading or have not yet read the book can avoid critical details that can spoil their reading.


Enjoy our optional book club discussion everyone.


message 2: by Scott (new)

Scott | 359 comments I loved this arc when it first came out. X-Men without the baggage, yet respectfully referencing a classic era. I loved how Whedon wrote the characters.

And we get Hisako Ichiki!


message 3: by Mike (last edited Sep 02, 2012 07:22AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike | 289 comments Hi everyone! I'm the aforementioned Mike.

To get us started, in addition to your general thoughts on the trade:

How do you feel Whedon's take compares with other incarnations of the X-Men you've read?

If you're reading this for the first time, does this volume make you want to continue with the rest of Whedon's run?



Mike | 289 comments Scott wrote: "I loved this arc when it first came out. X-Men without the baggage, yet respectfully referencing a classic era. I loved how Whedon wrote the characters.

And we get Hisako Ichiki!"


Same here. I thought this was a great balance between making the story accessible to new readers while still heavily integrating existing continuity. The banter (particularly from Kitty and Emma) was always outstanding. I loved the line-up they went with here.

Hisako became a favorite character of mine over the course of the series. :)


message 5: by Scott (new)

Scott | 359 comments Yes, I loved Kitty and Emma together. Even though Emma is sometimes funny I don't like her and I always enjoyed seeing Kitty get one up on her.


message 6: by P (new) - rated it 3 stars

P Fosten | 24 comments I really enjoyed it when it came it. After the Morrison run which was creatively interesting but, for my money, populated by people I didn't recognize or care about this was great. Good to see Kitty back to the front.

Never cared for Hisako though and still don't!


Ronyell (Rabbitearsblog) | 345 comments I really loved this volume!! The dialogue between the characters was just so brilliant especially between Kitty and Emma! I also loved the revival of Colossus and how that was done! Kitty's shocked expression on her face when she saw Colossus come out was just so awesome!


message 8: by Scott (new)

Scott | 359 comments "That dragon thing's behind me again, isn't it?"


Ronyell (Rabbitearsblog) | 345 comments Scott wrote: ""That dragon thing's behind me again, isn't it?""

LOL!!! I loved that moment!


Cyndi (BookChick64) This is my first trip into X-Men territory. I have never watched the movies. I have a basic understanding of this world at best. That being said I truly enjoyed this and want to read more in this series.

I also plan on starting at the beginning...any suggestions on how to start?


Ronyell (Rabbitearsblog) | 345 comments Cyndi wrote: "This is my first trip into X-Men territory. I have never watched the movies. I have a basic understanding of this world at best. That being said I truly enjoyed this and want to read more in thi..."

The rest of this series is just fantastic! I hope you enjoy them as much as I had! As for where to start in the X-Men universe, I would start with Chris Claremont's run with Uncanny X-Men which started with the second generation X-Men. There's actually a first generation X-Men that started during the 60s, but I haven't read them yet, so the 70s X-Men would be the best place to start! Here are the graphic novels of the 70s X-Men.

Marvel Masterworks: Uncanny X-Men, Vol. 1
Marvel Masterworks: Uncanny X-Men, Vol. 2
Marvel Masterworks: The Uncanny X-Men, Volume 3
Marvel Masterworks: Uncanny X-Men, Vol. 4


Cyndi (BookChick64) Ronyell wrote: "Cyndi wrote: "This is my first trip into X-Men territory. I have never watched the movies. I have a basic understanding of this world at best. That being said I truly enjoyed this and want to re..."

Thanks so much! I am excited to get started!


Ronyell (Rabbitearsblog) | 345 comments Cyndi wrote: "Ronyell wrote: "Cyndi wrote: "This is my first trip into X-Men territory. I have never watched the movies. I have a basic understanding of this world at best. That being said I truly enjoyed thi..."

Glad to help! :D


message 14: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike | 289 comments Cyndi wrote: "This is my first trip into X-Men territory. I have never watched the movies. I have a basic understanding of this world at best. That being said I truly enjoyed this and want to read more in thi..."

Glad you enjoyed Gifted. :)

Strongly second Ronyell's recommendation - Claremont's stuff is really the measuring stick when it comes to the X-men and a great place to start.

That said, the X-men go through a ton of changes in line-up and character development over the years as creative teams come and go. Whedon's run builds well off of the team's history but stands well on it's own and is pretty accessible. If you followed this trade ok you should be fine finishing the story (there are three more trades) without waiting until you read the older stuff if you want. Either way you're in for some great stuff to come.


Cyndi (BookChick64) Mike wrote: "Cyndi wrote: "This is my first trip into X-Men territory. I have never watched the movies. I have a basic understanding of this world at best. That being said I truly enjoyed this and want to re..."

Really glad I mentioned my newbie status...great responses!


message 16: by Robert (new)

Robert Wright (RHWright) | 294 comments Sometimes in character, certainly in tone, this reminded me of "my era" of X-men: the early to mid 80s.

After Morrison's bizarre twists (an unknown evil twin, really?) this was a welcome relief. Sadly, the last time I regularly followed an X-title.

On a tangent, is it just me or does Morrison really struggle with standard, mainstream fair? I love his Vertigo-ish things, but X-Men, Superman, Batman, etc, not so much.


message 17: by Scott (new)

Scott | 359 comments Morrison's works with "in-universe" characters are usually my favorites of his. Loved his X-Men.


message 18: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike | 289 comments I find Morrison hit or miss in general. Most of what I've read of his I felt was better in idea than execution (note: I haven't read his X-men stuff).


message 19: by Jamie (last edited Sep 08, 2012 09:41AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jamie Lovett | 17 comments Cyndi wrote: "This is my first trip into X-Men territory. I have never watched the movies. I have a basic understanding of this world at best. That being said I truly enjoyed this and want to read more in thi..."

The Claremont era is the definitive X-Men run, but its a product of the '70s, so the writing may be off-putting if you're not used to reading older bronze age comics.

Morrison's New X-Men run is fantastic, in my opinion, and rescued the franchise from itself. It also directly precedes Astonishing, so its a pretty good place to start.

I also recommend X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills. Its a great standalone graphic novel that boils the X-Men down to their core themes.


Jamie Lovett | 17 comments I love this series. Its what got me going to my comic shop because I simply couldn't wait for a new trade paperback to come out. Whedon brilliantly fuses the new ideas that Morrison brought to the table in his run with classic Claremont drama and superheroics, and its all done with a distinctly visual style (Whedon coming from television, after all).

Cassaday is one of my favorite artists as well. I love how he draws superhero costumes, not spandexy and pointless, but not the weird hard armor of, say, Jim Lee's new 52 designs. Thick enough to provide protection, but flexible enough for acrobatics.

I re-read this entire series at least once a year. It never gets old. And a certain character's return gets my adrenaline going every time a read it without fail.


Ronyell (Rabbitearsblog) | 345 comments Jamie wrote: "I love this series. Its what got me going to my comic shop because I simply couldn't wait for a new trade paperback to come out. Whedon brilliantly fuses the new ideas that Morrison brought to the ..."

I just loved the return of that character also! He's actually one of my most favorite X-Men characters ever!


message 22: by Lynn (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lynn Walker (LynnDavid) | 3 comments Regarding the Morrison run, and his work in general, I've found it very divisive among fans. Some love everything he writes, others hate it all, and there's a third group that thinks there's a good Grant and a bad Grant. I think he makes a conscious decision about how mainstream he wants his writing on a particular title to be. His first JLA arc is very mainstream and I think enjoyed by the largest number of readers. If one reads his pitch to Marvel for X-Men (included in the reprint collections of his first issues), he makes it clear he wants to redefine the X-Men and make them hip again. Even within the run, I think he both hits and misses, but I know some Claremont fans who felt the whole thing was too far apart, both in characterization and plotting, from the way the X-Men have otherwise been defined. Marvel must have agreed, because they didn't stick with many of his innovations.


message 23: by Scott (new)

Scott | 359 comments I like Cassaday's art in general but he could not get Beast right. Not many people can.


Ronyell (Rabbitearsblog) | 345 comments Scott wrote: "I like Cassaday's art in general but he could not get Beast right. Not many people can."

I will admit that Beast is not as funny as he was portrayed in the earlier comics, but he was alright in this run.


message 25: by Adam (new)

Adam | 130 comments Coming late to this thread. I really enjoyed this story, and particularly Whedon's characterisation - he clearly gets these characters, their history and conflicts. Disappointingly, nothing here made me think 'Cyclops: what an arsehole'; a first for me with any X-book.

My history with the X-Men is really just some stories I read in childhood during Claremont's run, and then the Morrison era, which I wasn't convinced by. Always liked Wolverine and Kitty Pride; still do now.

I was a Morrison acolyte at one point - loved The Invisibles, Animal Man, WE3 etc - but he lost me during his runs on JLA and X-Men. He did some really good stuff in both (like Whedon, he gets the characters & sets up interesting dynamics) but threw in too many screwball plot twists. I don't think I read his entire run on either title. I think he's at his best on creator-owned work, or playing around the fringes of mainstream comics, like on Animal Man, Doom Patrol and Marvel Boy. Not sure he's got the attention span to maintain the quality on an ongoing series - even The Invisibles got ridiculously hard to follow towards the end.


message 26: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam Quixote (SamQuixote) Just curious, which artist has drawn the definitive Beast?


Ronyell (Rabbitearsblog) | 345 comments Sam wrote: "Just curious, which artist has drawn the definitive Beast?"

I can't remember exactly which artist had drawn Beast very well, but I did like Beast's old appearance in Chris Claremont's run of X-Men.


message 28: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike | 289 comments Adam wrote: "Coming late to this thread. I really enjoyed this story, and particularly Whedon's characterisation - he clearly gets these characters, their history and conflicts. Disappointingly, nothing here ma..."

That was one of the highlights for me as well - Whedon's portrayal of the characters. Even characters I that aren't among my favorites were entertaining.

It's interesting reading about character predispositions. Mine are somewhat opposite yours - have always liked Cyclops but not so much Wolverine (although he adds an important dynamic to the team). I've often felt both Kitty and Emma had much more potential than was ever achieved (until now). Beast varies so much by writer I never know how much he's going to add.

What about everyone else: What characters did you like or dislike before this? Did Whedon change your mind about any?

Agree regarding Morrison. Liked the beginning of his JLA but it went off the rails fast. His ideas are often larger than what he seems to be able to manage in mainstream stories. His fringe stuff tends to be better.


message 29: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam Quixote (SamQuixote) I like Wolverine a lot but felt that Whedon doesn't think much of the character. In the "Astonishing" series, Whedon basically portrays Wolverine as a lunkhead whose only purpose is to bring a berserker rage to the X-Men. In one scene, all the characters are given a page and an internal monologue - for Wolverine, there's silent panels showing Wolverine ripping up the enemy before the final panel where his only thought is "I really like beer". So I thought Logan was given short shrift in this series.


Ronyell (Rabbitearsblog) | 345 comments Mike wrote: "What about everyone else: What characters did you like or dislike before this? Did Whedon change your mind about any?"

Joss Whedon's run on Astonishing X-Men was actually the first time I've read an X-Men comic, but the way he portrayed the characters in this made me really like Colossus and Kitty Pryde. I was always a Wolverine fan before I picked up the X-Men comics since I used to watch the cartoon series when I was little and I never gave much thought to Cyclops, even now, so not much has changed after I read this book, even though this book made me love the X-Men even more!


message 31: by Scott (new)

Scott | 359 comments Sam wrote: "Just curious, which artist has drawn the definitive Beast?"

When I mentioned drawing Beast, I was thinking of his feline form. Frank Quitely's is the best of course. Cassaday makes him look like Cain Marko punched him in the mouth. His face is all smooshed in like one of those horrible "fancy" bred cats with the flat faces.


message 32: by Scott (new)

Scott | 359 comments Astonishing didn't change my mind about any of the characters. I still hate Emma and like everybody else.


message 33: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam Quixote (SamQuixote) Scott wrote: "Sam wrote: "Just curious, which artist has drawn the definitive Beast?"

When I mentioned drawing Beast, I was thinking of his feline form. Frank Quitely's is the best of course. Cassaday makes h..."


What about George Perez?


message 34: by Scott (new)

Scott | 359 comments Eh, not sure. I guess I'll have to dig out JLA/Avengers and take a look, if it's in there.


Terri (dosymedia) | 2 comments This was my first X-Men comic and overall, I liked it, though I can't say if I'd follow the series. I need a few more issues under my belt before I can really decide on that. I've seen the films and I had a general knowledge of the characters prior to that, so I came to the books with some opinions of various characters already. My opinion of most characters improved -- all except Kitty Pryde. I just really can't stand her. I don't know what it is about her, specifically, that makes me hate her so much!


message 36: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam Quixote (SamQuixote) Terri wrote: "This was my first X-Men comic and overall, I liked it, though I can't say if I'd follow the series. I need a few more issues under my belt before I can really decide on that. I've seen the films an..."

I've read the whole series and Kitty develops into a much more rounded character in later books. I won't give away the finale but if nothing else this series will leave you thinking much more of Kitty Pryde than anyone else. And the series is great anyway.


message 37: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike | 289 comments Terri wrote: "This was my first X-Men comic and overall, I liked it, though I can't say if I'd follow the series. I need a few more issues under my belt before I can really decide on that. I've seen the films an..."

One of the best things about Whedon's run is the story builds consistently to an end point. It goes for three more trades and then is done, and you can really tell it was intended that way. So since you liked this overall it's most likely worth continuing with.

Kitty has a very strong arc. Not guaranteed to make you like her more per se, but I agree with Sam's comment that she becomes much more well rounded later on.


message 38: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike | 289 comments Whedon's banter/dialog is something a lot of people love about this series. What's your favorite quote from this volume?

There are a ton of good ones, but overall mine is: "Break. And bow. Now get into the Danger Room before I make you bloody tango."

Honorable mentions:
"I'm sorry. I was busy remembering to put on all my clothes."
"Oh my God. You teach ethics?"


message 39: by Scott (new)

Scott | 359 comments I think Kitty's remarks to Emma were my favorite thing about this series.


Ronyell (Rabbitearsblog) | 345 comments I loved Colossus' comment about being back from the dead and commenting on how things changed.

"I leave the world in terrible turmoil. I come back, same turmoil. Nothing at all different. Well, outfits are a little different."


message 41: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam Quixote (SamQuixote) Be great if Joss Whedon did an X-Men movie.


Ronyell (Rabbitearsblog) | 345 comments Sam wrote: "Be great if Joss Whedon did an X-Men movie."

Yeah! He was really successful with the Avengers movie, so doing an X-Men movie might really help boost up the X-Men's popularity even further!


Cyndi (BookChick64) Mike wrote: "Whedon's banter/dialog is something a lot of people love about this series. What's your favorite quote from this volume?

There are a ton of good ones, but overall mine is: "Break. And bow. N..."


I am fond of the honorable mention quote. Chicks rule :)


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