Aug 30, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 187: The Astonishing X-Men #4, June 1995


One of the difficulties in reading a crossover like this in any kind of narrative order is that such an order very rarely follows the publication order. For example, in this issue, there's a scene between Magneto and Apocalypse that is obviously meant to have been experience after a couple of the other issues in the crossover, and as such made very little sense. There's a couple of ways around this conundrum. The first, a virtually impossible task, would be to read bits and pieces of all the comics concurrently, jumping from comic to comic mid-story, in order to get a sense of events occurring simultaneously. While I think this would be an amazing way to read this (or any) crossover, the amount of time and effort one would need to expend is, at the very least, well beyond what I'm willing to put in.

The second way of reading is to assume flashback sequences (i.e. previously published issues) will fill in the gaps. So we get the scene I'm talking about here, and trust that a subsequent issue will jump us slightly back in time to explain exactly how those characters got to that place. It puts me in mind of how Lost utilized the televisual medium in a similar way. That said, up to this point, things have unfolded in a relatively linear fashion, so to have this scene in here was a bit jarring. But, honestly, I think that the reason I gave up on the X-Men comics when I did back in the late eighties was that they became very predictable. So to have a moment occur that, while not necessarily dramatically surprising, but very much narratively surprising, knocks things just so slightly off-kilter that I am encouraged to keep reading. Not that I wasn't going to keep reading, but it's nice to come across the unexpected every now and again.

Next we'll move on to a storyline that, I have to admit, I'd completely forgotten about in the gorgeous Generation Next.

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