Welcome back to X-ual Healing, the weekly recap column where we obsessively read every X-Men and X-Men-adjacent comic that Marvel publishes, tell you what happens, provide additional context where necessary, and examine whether the comic makes good use of the long and convoluted history of the X-Men by referencing it in a way that’s accessible to new readers — because we here at X-ual Healing love the X-Men, and we want everyone else to love them too.
The X-Men are returning to their rightful place of prominence after a decade of insults and neglect by a Marvel editorial that feared and hated the fact that Fox owned their movie rights, which means it’s finally time for X-fans to enjoy some…
If you need to know more on the premise of this column, check out the longer explanation here.
ASTONISHING X-MEN #11
CHARLES SOULE (W) • Ron Garney (A)
Cover is by GREG LAND
Deadpool Variant Cover by Leinil Yu
XAVIER VERSUS PROTEUS!
In the penultimate issue of this high-stakes X-Men story, PROTEUS and CHARLES XAVIER face off in a psychic battle for the ages with nothing less than the fate of all free-thinking people at stake. With PSYLOCKE, GAMBIT, ROGUE, OLD MAN LOGAN and BISHOP by his side, will this team of heavy hitters be able to take Proteus down once and for all?
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99
Astonishing X-Men #11 opens with a demonstration of the town formerly known as Fetters Hill, Scotland, which Proteus has transformed into “The Garden of Proteus.” Proteus has used his reality-warping powers to create freaky reality again, but get this, not from the depraved depths of his own mind, but by compiling the depravity of all the people in the town. That initial experiment was a rousing success, and now he’s looking to deploy the concept to the entire planet.
In the nexus of all this, X, the reincarnated Professor Xavier (using the body of Fantomex, who is willingly trapped on the astral plane), leads the X-Men — Psylocke, Archangel, Old Man Logan, Bishop, Gambit, and Mystique — in what looks like a futile battle against Proteus. Or at least he tries to. Psylocke takes command instead, which narration boxes tell us X understands. He does seem kind of evil, after all. This will be a theme throughout the issue.
X’s narration delivers some basic but welcome X-position, explaining Archangel and his neurotoxin-tipped wing knives, as well as Proteus’s weakness to metal. Psylocke orders the X-Men to attack on the physical plane so she can mind-link with X and try to stop Proteus from transforming the entire world into a nightmare. Their plan is to “burn out” the new gardens as they appear using their combined psychic might, but there’s a moment of tension before Xavier agrees to let Psylocke control his power in the link rather than the other way around.
As Logan indiscriminately slices the environment with his metal claws (remember, Proteus is weak against metal), Mystique points out that they may be killing the innocent townspeople since their thoughts have become the reality he’s slicing or whatever metaphysical @#$% is going on here. This provides Logan with a nice opportunity to deliver a little X-position on himself, pointing out that he’s not the regular Wolverine, he’s an alternate-dimension Wolverine from a dystopian future who is also a movie tie-in. Big difference, lady. Slice away.
Proteus is definitely feeling all these metal wounds, so he zaps Archangel and takes away his wings. This sort of thing happens to Archangel every six months or so. Psylocke and X are too busy concentrating on trying to stop one Proteus garden in Tokyo to help, and there are others all over the world as well. X suggests that they tap into a network of psychics built by the Shadow King back in a previous story (not referenced by caption, sadly), which seems like a maybe sort of evil thing to suggest, X, but Psylocke goes along with it. They use that power to confront Proteus with…
Dr Moira MacTaggert. Moira is Proteus’s mom, killed during the Dream’s End X-over storyline that ran through the X-Books almost two decades ago (the opportunity to point this out in a caption is once again missed here). Proteus is skeptical that it could really be Moira, but she’s like, come on, it’s an X-Men comic — dead people come back to life every other issue. But really, she’s not back, she’s an illusion created by our telepaths, and she’s actually hurting Proteus. But he fights back, lashing out at all of the X-Men. Rogue tries to grab him and absorb his powers, which Gambit points out will be too much for her. But Bishop joins in and begins using his energy-conversion powers to help. It works. They’re able to defeat Proteus. The world starts to shift back to normal. But then…
The Shadow King busts out of X’s skull, more powerful than ever, just in time for a big finale before Matt Rosenberg and Greg Land take over the book in two issues.
Astonishing X-Men’s story has been entertaining, which is all we’re looking for. It makes us a little bit crazy to try to make sense of the timeline with the characters here appearing in other ongoing X-titles and no one anywhere else talking about what seems like a pretty major X-event happening, but that’s a systemic problem at Marvel. Looking forward to the big finale, and to the next chapter of Astonishing X-Men (at least until the looming X-reboot this Fall).
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