DVD REVIEW: Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous
SHOUT! Factory's latest motion comic hits home video...
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Before Joss Whedon brought to life The Avengers on the big screen (hitting theaters on May 4!), he and artist John Cassaday brought to life the X-Men in what many consider to be one of the finest runs in modern comic history: Astonishing X-Men #1 - 24. The comic began in 2004 and, though plagued by long delays, was a fan-favorite due in no small part to Whedon's brilliant writing, Cassaday's gorgeous and detailed artwork, and an all-star cast of fan-favorite X-Men, including Cyclops, Emma Frost, Beast, Colossus, Shadowcat, and Wolverine.
In late 2010, Shout! Factory released the Astonishing X-Men: Gifted Motion Comic DVD, bringing the first, amazing 6-issue storyline to life. Now, Shout! Factory has released another addition to their collection of motion comics with Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous. Continuing Whedon and Cassaday's run, this 6-issue storyline follows the team as they face a Sentinel attack, the tragic death of a student, and dangerous new dramatic developments within the team.
I've always said there's a comic or anime out there for each person, it's simply finding a way to introduce it. For some, the motion comic format may be the doorway into a new hobby. Motion comics provide an easy way to listen to and watch a comic storyline develop without having to literally read and look at a comic book. However, the motion comic format isn't for everyone. Those looking for fluid animation are looking in the wrong place. The motion comic takes pre-existing comic art panels and forces them to "move." Much of the action and drama in a comic is unique to the format, so forcing these comic panels to move can either be an awesome way to bring the style to life, or hinder the original intention of the comic creators.
While die-hard fans of Whedon and Cassaday's run will appreciate Dangerous for what it is, most non-fans will find Dangerous disconnected and discombobulated. The story is brilliant when read or watched in context, however much of Cassaday's artwork here is meant to evoke emotions through the static images seen on the comic page and thus adding limited motion to them may seem forced to those who've read the original comics before or - far worse - seem gimmicky to non-fans who've never picked up the original books.
The 2.0 Stereo soundtrack does little to excite as the sound effects and instrumental seems hollow. Likewise, the voice acting here is unemotional and somewhat flat. The video transfer in standard definition is well done, though there are a few issues with colors from time to time. Overall, the audio and video are decent enough, but fail to impress.
As for special features, the disc includes none, which is extremely sad considering the first Astonishing X-Men: Gifted Motion Comic DVD included a good variety of bonus material, including behind-the-scene featurettes and interviews with the comic creators.
Overall, fans will either find the Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous Motion Comic impressive or stale, depending on how much of a fan one is of the original comic release. Personally, as I'm a fan, I found it engaging at times, though it failed to bring any additional engagement to the comic format, making me wonder what the motion comic's intention really is. I think Marvel Knights, the producers and makers of this film, need to examine their goal with the motion comic format. Some motion comic titles - like Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers and Iron Man: Extremis - are fun and engaging, adding new and exciting ways to experience the source material. Unfortunately, Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous simply doesn't do that.
Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous Motion Comic DVD is available on DVD now directly from Shout! Factory or wherever fine home video is sold.
- Jess C. Horsley
"Until next time...have FUN with your figures!!"
Jess C. Horsley