Astonishing X-Men: Torn (a J!-ENT DVD Review)
July 30, 2012 by Dennis Amith
Whether you are a new or older X-Men fan, these motion comic-book series are quite exciting and fun to watch. Cool artwork, wonderful voice acting and the “Astonishing X-Men: Torn” continues to highlight the amazing Joss Whedon/John Cassady collaboration! Definitely worth recommending to X-Men fans!
© 2012 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.
DVD TITLE: Astonishing X-Men: Torn
DURATION: Episodes 13-18 (each episode is about 12 minutes long/Total Duration: 81 Minutes)
DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1, Dolby Digital 2.0
COMPANY: Shout! Factory
RATED: NOT RATED (Includes Fantasy, Violence and Some Adult Themes that May Not Be Suitable for Children).
RELEASE DATE: August 14, 2012
Written by Joss Whedon
Art by John Cassaday
Colorist: Laura Martin
Directed by Jesse Cote
Supervising Producer: Todd Casey
Executive Producers: Alan Fine, Dan Buckley, Joe Quesada, Jeph Loeb
Co-Executive Producers: Stan Lee, Eric Radomski
Editor: Dan Kelly
Featuring the voices of:
Mark Hildreth Scott Summers/Cyclops
Laura Harris as Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat
Brian Drummond as Logan/Wolverine
Ron Halder as Dr. Hank McCoy/Beast
Lara Gilchrist as Emma Frost/Perfection
Rebecca Shoichet as Agent Brand
Trevor Devall as Piotr Rasputin/Colossus
If you thought Gifted and Dangerous were full of shocks and surprises, hold onto your eyeballs… because you haven’t seen anything yet! Emma Frost’s erratic behavior has the X-Men spinning in a non-stop downward spiral. Will an unlikely union be the final straw? After secretly lying in wait for months, the new Hellfire Club makes its move!
The new Hellfire Club led by Cassandra Nova along with the White Queen infiltrate the X-Men mansion.
With the X-Men caught offguard and being manipulated by one of their own, how will the X-Men defeat the powerful Cassandra Nova and the Hellfire Club?
What is “Astonishing X-Men”?
Joss Whedon is well-known for creating TV series such as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Angel”, “Firefly” and “Dollhouse” and the screenwriter, executive producer is also known for his writing work on comic book series. A big comic book fan, Whedon was a cowriter for “X-Men”, “Thor”, “Captain America: The First Avenger” and wrote and directed the 2012 summer blockbuster “The Avengers”.
But back in 2006, Whedon caught the attention of fans with his series “Astonishing X-Men” which he stayed onboard for 24 issues. The comic book series became a major best-seller for Mavel comics and was nominated for several Eisner Awards and winning “Best Continuing Series” in 2006.
The first six issues of “Astonishing X-Men” was then released on DVD in Sept. 2010 courtesy of Shout! Factory as part of Marvel Knights Animation. These animated stories (also known as motion comic books) are more like comic books with slight movements but with voice acting and special effects. With the second Whedon arc “Dangerous” (featuring issues 7-12) will released back in April 2012, we saw how the X-Men are training young recruits on how to take control of their powers. But with the danger room becoming sentient and becomes the terrifying robot known as “Danger” (which was revealed that Professor X imprisoned danger), the X-Men were very fortunate to survive but also angered the members to find out their former leader had done such a thing. Meanwhile, it was revealed that the White Queen, Emma Frost has been working with the newly formed Hellfire Club.
What is “Astonishing X-Men: Torn” about?
In “Astonishing X-Men: Torn”, the DVD consists of six episodes which are around 12 minutes each and based on issues 13-18 of the comic book series.
The story begins with Cassandra Nova expecting Emma Frost to use her power to get into Scott Summers head and hurt him. Meanwhile, Cassandra Nova goes to work on each X-Men member and defeat them by mind-control. Making Wolverine think he is a a coward, making the Beast think he is a feral animal, making Colossus think that Kitty is going psychotic, meanwhile Kitty and the children are aware that something bad is going on and must find out what is happening within the mansion.
Meanwhile, Agent Abigail Brand (of Earth-616) and head of S.W.O.R.D. (a subdivision of S.H.I.E.L.D., that defends the Earth from extra-terrestrial threats) had come into contact with an alien named Ord and is convinced that a mutant from Earth (who happens to be an X-Men) was going to destroy the planet. So, now Brand tries to find a solution to this crisis.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Astonishing X-Men: Torn” is not an animated cartoon. It’s a motion comic book, so the characters are provided in their comic book version but you will see hair movement, lights blinking or leaves flying around the pages and also some slight animated movements of the character themselves. While a character talks, you will see their mouths move.
Presented in 1:78:1, the motion comics of today differs greatly from the motion comics of the ’90s. There is more use of CG animation for special effects and blurring as opposed to the comic book pages with standard lighting effects.
The best part of these motion comics today is the voice acting. The voice acting is fantastic!
There are no special features.
There is no doubt that Joss Whedon has made comics cool again, and moreso the characters thanks to his direction for the film “The Avengers” but most notably his work on the “Astonishing X-Men”.
While I began reading the X-Men as a child during the ’70s and as a teenager in the ’80s, the ’90s was enjoyable but at the same time, there were too many stories that focus on the X-Men, the X-Men related teams, characters and I don’t blame Marvel wanting to cash in from its popular series but there were too many comic books to follow and while artwork and character design were cool, the stories were going downhill. Due to the plethora of X-related comic books and every character having their own series or mini-series, it was one of the biggest reasons I quit reading the series. Too many titles, increase in price for comic books and the quality of the series was dwindling.
Whedon’s storyline manage to continue its action-packed battles but he emphasized story, especially character development and his presence with “Astonishing X-Men” was felt and while he was involved, it was an amazing run!
And now his contribution to “Astonishing X-Men” is being carried out via motion comic books on DVD.
Having been one of the earlier adopters of motion comic books on CD, suffice to say, they have come along way especially with these Marvel Knights DVD releases. Back in the day, motion comic books were just a page featuring a panel with voice acting (which was not all that great) and lighting effects. It worked quite well during the mid-90′s but in 2012, you expect a bit more and sure enough, you do get animated movements, special effects, mouth movement. And of course, much better voice acting. And as mentioned, back then, content were on CD-Roms.
For “Astonishing X-Men: Torn”, the DVD itself comes with six mini-episodes that were available on Hulu, iTunes and the PlayStation Store and other video services. But for those who are X-Men fans and want them on physical media, then these motion comic DVD’s are worth it. If there was one thing that I wish it contained, that there were some sort of special features included.
As for the storyline, “Torn” features the new Hellfire Club as the antagonists. The Hellfire Club led by Sebastian Shaw have always been a thorn in the X-Men’s side but this time around, the primary antagonist is Cassandra Nova. And what is interesting about Nova is that she was born the same time as Charles Xavier. She was conceived without a body but copied Professor Xavier’s body and became his twin sister. Despite being stillborn, the creature survived and has managed to mimic human traits and now is hellbent of destroy Charles Xavier and the X-Men.
So, it was interesting to see this character back again to twist Emma Frost and the Hellfire Club to attack the X-Men. Or is it Cassandra Nova? Suffice to say, the conclusion of this arc has an intriguing twist.
The addition of the Agent Brand storyline is to help build up to the next arc known as “Unstoppable”, which would be the final arc for Joss Whedon and John Cassaday.
For fans who grew up with the older Uncanny X-Men series, the storyline of the Astonishing X-Men is much different than the original series but if you were familiar with the characters, that was all that was needed to understand the series. The X-Men are still funded and led by Professor X, the team is led by Cyclops and there is no Ice Man, nor is there a Jean Grey, who has since been replaced by Emma Frost (which is a big part of the X-Men storyline since 2000) who is romantically linked to Scott Summers (Cyclops). But similar to the original series, Beast and Wolverine are still part of the team and the romantic angst between Kitty Pryde and Piotr Rasputin (Colossus) is still ongoing.
Prior to Whedon and with past X-Men related issues, too much was focused on convoluted storylines, including regurgitated non-interesting banal storylines that went nowhere and eventually some other writer would have to clean up the mess. Whedon stayed with keeping things simple, but yet focusing on character development, team dynamic and intriguing adversaries.
There are fascinating characters that have yet to be explored, primarily the younger students, which remind me of “The New Mutants” comic-book series. And we get to see a few of them in action in “Torn”.
But overall, whether you are a new or older X-Men fan, these motion comic-book series are quite exciting and fun to watch. Cool artwork, wonderful voice acting and the “Astonishing X-Men: Torn” continues to highlight the amazing Joss Whedon/John Cassady collaboration! Definitely worth recommending to X-Men fans!
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