The Shadow King's infection continues to spread throughout London as the X-Men try their best to contain it. Professor Xavier's Astral Plane battle with Farouk reaches its final stages, and the fate of the X-Men and possible everyone in the world hangs in the balance. All the while, the London Ministry of Defence prepares to wipe the slate clean in an atomic fashion.
At long last, "Life of X" draws to a close, albeit an issue or two later than it should have. This arc has grown quite tiresome, and what could have been an interesting finale feels more like relief. It should have intrigued me for what's to come, but it feels more like just having a splinter pulled out.
It may not be completely over, but the next issue seems like it will likely be the clean-up portion along with finally acknowledging how this team will exactly function with the likes of Mystique, Gambit, and Fantomex alongside the more straight-laced Logan, Rogue, and Psylocke, the transient Bishop, and the ticking time bomb that is Archangel.
That may sound harsh, and I don't want to imply that this was an outright bad issue. It wasn't. There is some satisfaction in Xavier's faith in the X-Men being rewarded. You can see this strategy he had under wraps come to fruition. Even if it is to the chagrin of his teammates, it's great seeing Archangel cut loose once again.
The "let's just nuke the problem" clock is still a silly angle that really didn't need to be included, and that's the portion that seems to be forcing this to carry over into another issue.
There is a massive plot twist at the end that the book seems to think it explained in the prior pages, but it really didn't. I'm not sure what happened, and I hope that the next issue more adequately explains what the hell happened. My guess is that either someone escaped from the Astral Plane, or the name "Fantomex" is way more literal than anyone could have possible guessed.
Then there's Charles Xavier, whose state of death and undeath has become the most tiresome part of the X-Men mythos outside of the Phoenix herself. I at first guessed that this was simply a ghost, and we were going to have some tearful goodbyes when this was all over. However, Astonishing X-Men seems to be intent on making it more than that. If Xavier comes back to any meaningful degree — well, I won't drop the book necessarily, but I will be thoroughly exasperated. His mortal thread has been yo-yoed up and down for years now, and, if AvX did anything right, it seemed to completely shut the book on that angle. With this book and his prominence on X-Men: Blue and Gold covers in coming months, that seems to no longer be the case. For goodness sake, let Chuck rest in piece and move the book forward from that.
Now we must move onto the artist, and I'm not looking forward to that. In fairness, Mike del Mundo's artwork is more effective here than it was in the Avengers during his tenure on that title. In fact, it doesn't look bad in the Astral Plane sections. It makes sense for that to look weird and ethereal. The scenes are still confused and obfuscated, but it actually works there. In the sections in London, it just feels completely obscured and frustrating to interpret. I will admit that there are some cool scenes with Archangel, but the overall aesthetic just doesn't hold together in those parts. He has a unique style that could work in the right context, but Marvel just keeps misusing him.
As for the color art, it jives with del Mundo's visual style, but again, not the book and setting themselves. The paler and lightly contrasting shades del Mundo and D'Alfonso put out functions within the dreamlike visual style of del Mundo. It just doesn't really make sense for the story.
Overall, Astonishing X-Men #6 comes out being one of the weakest issues of the series so far. It's not bad, but it's not great either. If you're devoted to the X-Men and this book, then you may as well purchase it to continue the story. However, if you were just wanting to try this series, I would give this issue a pass.
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