So, there's been much to-do about Astonishing X-Men #50 being a landmark, and it's certainly about time for gay marriage to come to the fore. That's all well and good, but is it actually a good issue – specially considering how many new eyes are going to be perusing it due to the hype with absolutely no prior knowledge of what's going on in the series? I am a perfect example of just such a person, so I'll tell you what I think.
Not too shabby. Even though it contains Gambit, my least favorite X-Man ever.
Marjorie Liu wisely opens the issue with our main protagonist Northstar asking for relationship advice from his fellow X-folk, which not only establishes the status quo of the relationship that new readers will be curious about from the get-go, but also making room for Iceman to ruthlessly mock Gambit for his ridiculous constant relationship angst. It can almost make me forgive him for putting the moves on Kitty Pryde. At least I think he's doing that over in Wolverine and The X-Men, which is another X-title I'm not reading. Huh. I should get on that.
(Pause to read Wolverine and the X-Men #10 – hey, this issue's actually pretty good. How 'bout that? No further info on the Iceman/Shadowcat thing, though.)
Cut to Wolverine meeting Black Widow in some tea-sipping joint, with Natasha sporting fishnets and a little more 'darling' talk than I tend to expect out of her, but she's a chameleon type – maybe that's just the attitude she adopts when dealing with Logan. Apparently, he's also tooling around with some Shi'ar warrior woman using Carol Danvers' old discarded name Warbird – a woman who looks to be an entirely different ethnicity than she did on the cover, but I didn't know who she was at all, so I can't blame the colorists for not knowing, too.
Then we get back to Northstar, aka Jean-Paul Beaubier, catching up with his boyfriend and brand manager (Northstar is a brand? Worth ten million dollars? Well, all right, then) Kyle Jinadu, who's feeling all vulnerable because he doesn't feel like a priority in Jean-Paul's life… and the pointy-eared Canadian is actually clueless enough to try and band-aid that emotional weirdness by proposing marriage. And he's completely confounded when Kyle refuses him. Gotta say I wasn't expecting that, which makes things all the more suspect that they'll patch this all up in time for a wedding in next month's issue.
Hop over to Wolvie and Warby meeting up with Icey and Gamby, stumbling upon some kind of Marauder Massacre, except they all killed each other (don't worry, they're constantly cloned) via some funky mind-control. Then back to Northstar having a mid-air realization that he's been kind of an idiot (which is hard, because the guy's got an arrogant streak), and suddenly he gets a phone call (he's worth ten million dollars and still has a flip phone?) suggesting Kyle's been kidnapped, and he has to fight his way through his mind-controlled pals to find him – dun dun DUNNNN.
So that's how they'll make it to the altar in one issue. Northstar's realized how wrong he's been, and then he gets to be the big shining hero to rescue Kyle, and then they tux it up and get their vows on in ASX #51. Sure. Liu's story is just fine, and the emotional dynamics of the central relationship feel pretty real. The art from Mike Perkins is decent, too, although I don't know why Iceman has a lumpy head. It looks like a perm, or curlers, or a bad attempt at dreads. But he's doing that over in WatX, too, so it sure isn't Perkins' fault. Who can I blame for Gambit STILL wearing that stupid 90s headwrap thing? There is no way we will buy that guy as cool as long as he's sporting that dork look. But I digress.
Astonishing X-Men #50 is a pleasant enough set-up for the big deal next month, even if it's nothing crazy exciting. Get on board, perhaps you'll enjoy the ride.