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Category talk:X-Men

Ironically enough, "Torn" has been the most fitting storyline in Astonishing X-Men. It's fitting because it describes perfectly how I feel about the title.

This takes away nothing from Joss Whedon's stellar writing-- Mr. Whedon uses an alchemist's magic in transforming a leaden X-Men mythos into gold. Joss not only mainlines nostalgia in the veins of us longtime readers, but also takes their characters in mature and exciting directions. Every syllable of every word of each character is honey, velvet and electricity-- it hangs and resonates above and beyond the page. Joss Whedon's writing alone makes this title a fan favorite...

...but when combined with John Cassaday's splendid artwork, "Astonishing" lives up to hyperbolic name! In issue 5, where Kitty and Colossus phase through the floor behind Ord, I felt a thrill come through me that I haven't felt since Neil Gaiman's Sandman or Alan Moore's Swamp Thing (any future X-Artists should define their "fastball special" using John's two-page spread in issue 6).

I don't sound very "torn", do I?

I'm torn because of Marvel's publishing schedule on Astonishing. What has been stated as a monthly title has instead been published on what would be closer to a bi-monthly schedule. And rather than just state such on the indicia, Marvel still perpetuates this bait-and-switch routine by placing sale dates on the letters page at the back of the book, or as an after-thought on the Marvel webpage.

This "notification" is far from a public service, people. The fact that there is no apology (or even acknowledgement) of this book's continuously missed deadlines falls short of even amateur standards. It's been a long time since comics were 25 cents or even a dollar-- and since comics cost more, this reader's expectations have also risen. They're no longer the whimsical, impulsive guilty pleasure they represented thirty years ago; comics have finally grown up. Comics are tapped into blockbuster movies and a billion-dollar franchise of merchandise and collectibles. From the Houses of E.C. Comics, Zap! and StarReach to those of First, Epic and Vertigo, comics have surfaced from the underground to the mainstream, emerging from its status as campy throwaway kid-fodder to serious entertainment.

This maturity needs to work both ways. If you have a comic that can realistically be delivered only on a bi-monthly schedule, then call it a bi-monthly book. Let the reader decide if s/he picks the book for purchase. But to call "Astonishing" a monthly, hoping that readers will be so enthralled by Joss' writing and John's art that they will forgive the fact that it comes out only once every two months, has to be the closest that any comic publisher will ever come to what would be called hubris.

I can't support any comic, no matter how good it is, with this level of manipulation. I have no choice but to drop it.

Given that solicitations for "Astonishing" imply that the book will end after issue #24, one reader's decision may not be such a big deal for Marvel.

I'm sorry. It's a big deal to me.

in10city

Someday soon, marvel.com will have message boards again. For now, though, the blogs and talk pages are serving that function by default. in10city, you might be interested to know that Executive Editor Tom Brevoort addressed the issue of missed deadlines in one of his blog entries. [1] You may not care for his response, but it is on point. Cheers, Lonesome Pinky 03:24, 31 July 2006 (EDT)

Dear Pinky,

Thanks for the response. I disagree that it is on point, however.

My main issue on this is again the fact that Astonishing is supposedly published as a monthly. The implied belief is that you can expect a new issue is going to come out every month. In Issue 13 on the letters page (which, of course is long after one makes the commitment to the issue, as well as the storyline once again with the expectation that a six-part storyline will take about six months to complete), there's the announcement that the issue will come out in two months, not one month. One can only reasonably conclude that the plan was for Astonishing to be published every two months, instead of a monthly, as noted on the front page. This isn't a missed deadline issue so much as it is a bait and switch tactic.

As a counterpoint, look at DC's Wonder Woman-- which switched to a bi-monthly schedule, presumably to maintain the quality of the art and story. Also, take a gander at CSN's blurb about All-Star Batman and Robin, due out in May, which dripped of skepticism and sarcasm. I believe what a fan looks for is quality as well as consistency. If the Astonishing crew can only produce one issue every two months, then let them commit to that and let the reader decide.

Here's what I'm saying: Be upfront with me. Tell me up front that your book will come out as a bi-monthly, or nine times a year, or monthly. Allow me to decide if the relative quality of the book justifies waiting up to a year or more for a storyline to conclude. In the end it's my time, and my money they want, isn't it? Isn't that worth a little honesty?