Astonishing X-Men: Exogenetic

I’m a great lover of comic books and graphic novels – my particular favourites are Spider-Man and the X-Men – though these days I never seem to find time to read all the comics that are out there. But I’ve just read a comic book compilation – Exogenetic, an X-Men story by Warren Ellis, that’s totally blown me away.

Warren is the subversive and so-evil-we-love-him creator of Spider Jerusalem, hero of the Transmetropolitan books; and the recent movie RED is based on another of his creations.  And his X-Men story is set after M-Day,  in a world where only a few hundred mutants survive.  Now I haven’t been following that story strand in any detail so I’m playing catch-up here; but the book works whether you know the backstory or not.

Exogenetic tells the tale of an evil villain, with a dastardly plan. And it features the X-Men including Miss Frost and Armor in frequent battles against, among others, the Brood, working  in alliance with the Beast’s girlfriend Abigal Brand of S.W.O.R.D.  I can’t – or rather won’t – say any more than that, because the joy of the book is in the density of its always startling unfolding storyline.  The pace is fast, the monsters are appalling, and the frequent aerial combat scenes are breath-taking.  I was gripped, shocked, appalled, and sobered by the brilliant denouement.

The dialogue is edgy and funny, the characters are vivid, Scott Summers has a stick up his arse, Wolverine grumbles…it’s all great stuff.  And the visuals are extraordinary and utterly cinematic.  Pencils are by Phil Jiminez. inks are by Andy Lanning; and the effects are remarkable.  I’ve not seen this before – but maybe that’s  because I’m out of touch a little – but they achieve an amazing blurred focus effect which perfectly mimics the shallow focus effect you get in movies – where the edges of the frame and the background are blurred, while the centre is perfectly focused.  And the colours are extraordinary – with vivid yellows in the battle scenes that remind me of some of the climactic scenes in the last series of Battlestar Galactica.  There are a number of full page spreads, which are among the best examples comic book art I’ve ever seen.

This is my best comic book of the year.  Here are a couple of frames to give you a taster:

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