By MJ Ramirez Published July 27, 2012 at 16:01
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Identity Theft | Columnists Crossover!
Issue #12 | Spinning The Dog
It’s Friday and you know what that means…another episode of Retrovision – Hey, I’m getting the hang of this crossover thing now!
I’ve been ported once again into one of my favorite columns – the oft imitated never duplicated Â RETROVISION!
Okay back to the expository setup:
I was up late last night working on ENR stuff when I started going through my NetFlix streaming playlist. I needed something on in the background as my fingers flew across my keyboard teasing meaning out of my word weary brain. My eyes stumbled across something I hadn’t noticed before, could it be I’ve missed this X-Men series? Oh, a motion-comic? No way!
I clicked on the selection and lo and behold it was true. An X-Men motion comic, but not just any X-Men motion comic, but:
X-MEN: GIFTED Â Season 1
MOTION COMIC (6 EPISODES)
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Runtime:Â 14 minutes
Original Air-Date: October 28, 2009
Network: Marvel Knights Animation
Available: Now on Netflix Streaming
Joss Whedon could direct traffic and Iâ€™d show up to watch. Seriously. The creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, the guy is a writing wizard and his run on Astonishing proves it (one of my favorite runs in the franchise). Â This mini-series ran as a bi-monthly with the last episode airing, January 6th 2010. The motion comic follows the first six print issues of Whedonâ€™s reboot of Astonishing X-Men (currently running aside Uncanny, and several other X-Men related titles).
The story opens up with a grown-up Kitty Pryde returns to the recently rebuilt Xavier School as a new instructor, late for her school introduction assembly.
She is reunited with Beast, Cyclops and Emma Frost (who are serving as co-leaders of the school while Professor X is on sabbatical.) Wolverine shows up later at the bedside of Cyclops and Frost and promptly gets redbeamed out the window.
The two old rivals duke it out to a draw and the group is taken to a revamped Danger Room (complete with Hawaiian holiday hologram in the background.)
A truce is called, Cyclops reveals that the X-Men must get back together and repair the mutant public image and fast.
Across town there is a conference at Benentech where Dr. Kavita Rao, introduces a mutant cure. Meanwhile at a gala benefit Ord of the Breakworld is staging a little hostile partycrashing with mercs and stolen S.H.E.I.L.D. firepower. The X-Men arrive at the gala and take on Ord and his baddies, but the big alien brute doesnâ€™t go down â€“ that is until he gets a face full of Lockheed fire. Unable to track locate Ord, the Cyclops and Wolverine figure out where the weapons came from. Scott goes to Nick Fury and demands answers and comes up empty handed. Meanwhile the news of the mutant cure has divided the Xavier School including the faculty. Beast goes to Benentech to confront is old colleague Dr. Rao about the cure, to which she gives him a sample to study.Â Later Ord confronts the Dr. on her choice of giving an X-Men the sample to which Ord reminds the Dr. of her place. Wolverine confronts Beast on the sample in his lab and the two tussle across campus. Â The X-Men raid Benentech looking for answers as Kitty Pryde looks to go deeper into the complex.
Dr. Rao confronts the group as mini-mech goons storm in and start making swiss cheese.
Ord takes the opportunity to invade the unprotected Xavier school .
Kitty finds Colussus stuck in a heavily protected cell and frees him, where he revealed how he managed to survive the events that lead to his supposed death.
The two storm the fire fight and help save their comrades. The showdown heats up as Ord returns to Benentech and joins the fight.
S.H.E.I.L.D. and S.W.O.R.D. arrive to try and clean up the mess revealing that Ord is behind the mutant cure â€“ that he was trying to prevent the destruction of breakworld at the hands of a mutant â€“ most likely an X-Man.
Negotiations break down as Agent Brand and Agent Fury intervene and after one last spectacular brawl, Ord is delivered into the hands of S.W.O.R.D. for safe keeping. Benentech in ashes and the mutant cure destroyed, the only sample left lies in the hands of Beast who is holding on to it for now.
Kitty and Peter rekindle their friendship and Emma Frost watches on in suspicion as a mysterious voice speaks to her about their clandestine plans.
The quality of the animation is typical for a motion comic, but I find that it is a cut above what I consider true motion comics. There has been some derision on this subject as some critics have panned this series for not being fully animated. I must point out that if it were fully animated then it would no longer be a motion comic, but an animated short. If you want a cartoon, there are several iterations of the X-Men in cartoon form, a motion comic is just what the name implies. The series does a wonderful job of underscoring Whedonâ€™s brand of quirky wry dialogue set to huge action sequences. The story was just as riveting on screen as it was on page.
My only criticism would be with the sound. Although the music score was cinematic and lent a larger than life feel to the series, the dialogue was washed out in several key sequences.
It wasnâ€™t a huge problem, but it was annoying after the second or third volume adjustment.
The voice acting was well done, especially for a motion comic â€“ the genre is suffering from a case of audio-bookitis with cold reads that sound forced from cue cards.
The animation was nice, never too over the top, the crew at Marvel let Cassadayâ€™s amazing illustrations do the work.
All in all, Astonishing X-Men: Gifted delivered. It was a fun 84 minutes that flew by so fast, I watched it twice with an impending third viewing after I finish writing this!
Note- at SDCC 2012 it was revealed that a two-disc Astonishing X-Men Blu-Ray will be released on November 13, 2012.Â The set will include Astonishing X-Men: Gifted, Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous, Astonishing X-Men: Torn, and Astonishing X-Men: Unstoppable. Joss Whedonâ€™s masterwork will also include a brand new cover illustration by John Cassaday is cohort on the series along with mutant-powered extras.
May Your Day Be Retro
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