Astonishing X-Men: Unstoppable DVD Review: Astonishing Cassaday

I forgot how much I love John Cassaday’s artwork. While writer Joss Whedon was the unquestionable star of the Astonishing X-Men comic book run used for this motion comic, this final DVD installment reminded me just how crucial Cassaday’s contribution was to its overall success. The concluding outer space story arc featured here never really soars from a narrative perspective, but its artwork is consistently out of this world. The motion comic folks have also stepped up their game, adding enough kinetic energy to the tale that it approaches actual animation.

The X-Men are off to the intergalactic wilds of the Breakworld, determined to stop its evil inhabitants from destroying Earth. The aliens have a very simple plan for success: a giant planet-destroying bullet. Those aliens are terrified of X-Man Colossus, who was prophesized as their destroyer way back in the first story arc of the series. With Colossus on Breakworld with the rest of the X-Men away team, and the giant bullet about to leave Breakworld, it’s a race to the finish to see who wins. Hint: the series isn’t called Astonishing Breakworld. The conventional action story really isn’t up to the lofty standards set by the rest of the series, although Whedon’s character dynamics and interplay continue to shine. Also, his set-up of the bullet story resolution featuring Kitty Pryde is particularly heart-rending and a top memorable moment in the history of the merry mutants.

The motion comic plays out over 70 minutes, which is 10 minutes longer than prior installments due to the double-sized issue that closed the comic book series. The action moves at a great pace, and the voice acting continues to be competent and well-matched to the manipulated character art. That art further shows Cassaday’s attention to fine detail as it holds up incredibly well to the scrutiny of frequent zoom-ins to simulate movement. I expected to see much more pixelization and image degradation on a big screen tv many factors larger than the original comic book art, so was pleasantly surprised to find Cassaday’s line work more than holding its own under the microscope. That’s partly because his style was so perfectly suited to widescreen treatment already, since his original page layout throughout the comic book series consisted almost entirely of stacked page-wide panels, but mostly just because he put so much care into crafting a timeless final product. He’s the real star of this arc, and the prime reason you should seek out this DVD collection.

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Steve Geise

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