Review: Astonishing X-Men #51 by Marjorie Liu and Mike Perkins

Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Marjorie Liu
Pencils: Mike Perkins
Inkers: Perkins with Andrew Hennessy
Colorists: Andy Troy, Jim Charalampidis, and Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterers: VC’s Caramagna, Petit, and Cowles
Release Date: 06/20/2012


To begin at the end: What happened to him?! I mean, I saw her, but that last page! What was that? I have to know! You’re cruel, Marjorie, that’s one of the better cliffhangers I’ve seen in a while, as simple as it is.

This is it. The X-Men and Avengers and Alpha Flight have assembled for the wedding of Northstar. This is the X-Men, so you know the wedding hasn’t come into existence smoothly, nor will it end happily. At the last X-Wedding I attended, the biggest blow up was Sabretooth getting shoved into the snow with a warning, and this one gets a lot messier. When we last saw Karma, her telepathic powers played havoc with her own team, and she ran off. This gives the whole team a dose of perspective, and in particular, makes Northstar’s non-mutant, non-superheroic sweetheart Kyle realize that he does have a place in Jean-Paul’s life, and that he wants to be there for him. Yeah, I said that much less eloquently and with more words than Liu (with Mike Perkins’ wonderful panels) did, but such is the gift of the Astonishing X-Men creative team.

We jump straight into the wedding, and it covers everything I hoped it would, as a writer myself. Kyle’s parents seem a little uncomfortable around mutants. Sasquatch is uneasy with the X-Men and Avengers sharing tables at the reception. Warbird let’s Jean-Paul know in no uncertain terms how she feels about the ceremony and it’s vows. Alex Summers even voices an opinion on the matter. And Liu even squeezes in Laura Kinney and Jubilee, which I can only assume is a personal favor to me.

Do they get hitched?…this hit shelves yesterday, spoiler grace period is over: Yes, they do. You can rest easy, no terrible cliffhangers or misdirection. Liu and Marvel delivered.

Okay, that’s a lie. There is an engaging cliffhanger, but it’s not at the expense of the couple.

I’m excited about this book, if you couldn’t tell.


I have waited for this moment: Astonishing X-Men gives Dazzler some front and center cover action.

Oh. Sorry.

This is also the long awaited, and much marketed wedding issue. I think the last X-Men wedding I witnessed was the wedding of Scott & Jean. That betrays my age, and possibly betrays how in the loop I am on X-Men that is not Astonishing. I’m sure to be corrected.

It’s the long awaited marriage of Northstar. It was mentioned and marketed before Marjorie Liu’s first issue of Astonishing even had preview art. Or it feels that way. It deserves the hype. It’s not every story that gets Liu’s one of a kind characterization and depth with perfect pacing and execution from the art team. Especially relationship stories. And especially X-Men relationship stories. X-Men has always been a soap opera first, social commentary second, and superhero book last (and at it’s best, least, to be honest. That’s a compliment!).

The X-Men are different than the JLA or the Avengers. Like the Fantastic Four, they’re a family. And the X-Men are at their best when the title takes advantage of that and plays within the years of history to find subtle, little things to play with and explore, rather than recapture the big moments and repackage them.

Marjorie Liu understood this with her handling of X-23 – the female clone of Wolverine, most cliche concept ever? On paper, and then Liu just came out swinging. With claws. So slashing, I guess. And she understands it and executes it just as well with the Astonishing family.

It’s all about the little moments that shows she at least respects the characters and history, if not adores them. Northstar and Aurora’s sibling moment. Wolverine’s protective desire to see his friend have a day he deserves. Jubilee and X-23 as the teenagers soaking up the wedding party excitement. The sheer X-ness of the occasion, with Iceman providing wedding decorations, and Lockheed and Kitty ushering.

Mike Perkins, I didn’t forget about you. Your art rocks, you’re quickly becoming a definitive X-Men artist in my book. There’s an awesome Karma, a frankly gorgeous Aurora, and there’s some great layout and pacing at work here. Even the quiet scenes have the fluidity and weight of the action scenes. Perkins draws people like people (and Sasquatch like people, too). Everyone has different faces and builds. They’re real people wearing clothes or costumes, and they look like it, even when a purple dragon is flying around them or a huge kid made of rock trudges about (and makes his tuxedo work). I also enjoyed Psylocke not really changing up her style for the occasion, and X-23 attending in her leather jacket and halter top.

Readers, take your time over all the group scenes. Every panel. There are more cameos in this issue than any other banner crossover event in recent years; they’re all appropriate and fun.

The inks are great and while there’s a brigade of colorists on duty, Andy Troy, Jim Charalampidis, and Rachelle Rosenberg stand out yet play nice together, if you know their work.

Should you read it?

You should be reading Astonishing X-Men already. It’s the best X-Men book on shelves, with a wonderful writer and jaw dropping art brigade. Yes, you should read this issue. It’s about damn time the X-Men saw some happiness and camaraderie and optimism. It’s about damn time someone returned the humanity and personality and, I don’t know, characterization to these characters without radically trying to reinvent them or claim that everything to do has been done.

I’m pretty excited that Liu and Marvel had the guts to embrace these people and tell a good love story about these people that doesn’t pander, doesn’t stereotype, doesn’t pound the point home for the sake of pounding it, and doesn’t play it shy or safe. These people deserve it, after all the hard knocks they take. You know those people.


Incidentally, mutants have always been and always work best when they represent the social groups that are feared and hated by a world most of them just try to love. Yeah, it’s not-so-underplayed symbolism in the Mighty Marvel Manner, but only Miss Liu could have pulled it off with so much style and actual purpose and depth that makes the whole couple issue the least important aspect of the characters and story.

Well played, Astonishing Team. You guys rock.

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