The first episode of the Astonishing X-Men: Gifted motion comic is currently available on iTunes, or watch it for free on Hulu. I love this story arc, particularly Whedon’s writing, so I’ve been hesitant to watch the motion comic. While I was impressed, the role of motion comics in the future–perhaps as a “cure” for the comic book industry in the computer age–still leaves me disconcerted.
If you haven’t read the arc before, please do, especially before you watch the motion comic. In a nutshell, the new year begins at Xavier’s School for the Gifted, and Cyclops, Emma Frost, Wolverine, Beast and Shadowcat round out the administrative staff, and new team. Cyclops wants to prove that the X-Men can be a cohesive superhero team; as they embark on their first mission, Dr. Kavita Rao announces that a mutant cure has been found.
The art fits nicely with the motion comic format. The characters’ mouths move with the dialogue, and they have added mannerisms that look realistic; granted, sometimes it looks wooden, particularly Cyke, Beast and Kitty’s faces at the end of orientation. Probably one of the best scenes was in the Danger Room, when the scenery grows in proportion to the characters; you have to imagine it in printed format, and Cassaday did a nice job showing it.
The crew did an average voice casting job overall. Wolverine and Beast were appropriately rough, Cyke was appropriately bland; Emma had that snooty British accent, but she overworked her lines and it did not work for me; Kitty’s voice was generic, not a good sign for (arguably) the most important character in the story. Colossus’ Russian accent was noticeably fake, but at least he has a Russian accent. The same went for Kavita Rao. While the voices were not top-notch, you also have to admit that nothing can truly replace what you hear in your head.
There were a couple of rushed moments, particularly at the end; the “We have to astonish them” scene goes by quickly, as compared to an entire spread in the comic–I could barely enjoy it. And the characters looked like they were hopping up and down instead of walking. The sudden division between Ord, Rao and the X-Men felt choppy, and you probably won’t enjoy it if you haven’t read the comic.
While I enjoyed the motion comic, troubling questions continue to linger. Is a motion comic a supplement to the printed version or a replacement? In a world when popular literature is constantly adapted into film and other video formats; when adolescents and adults are more likely to pick up their iPhones, TV remotes and laptops than a book…will motion comics become the comic book industry’s “cure?” What does that mean for the industry? And, of course, what does that mean for us?
Philosophic debate aside, the first episode of Gifted exceeded my expectations, and as a fan of this particular arc, I’ll watch the next episode.
[major spoiler alert in this paragraph] I have another thought nagging in my brain. Captain America met his end briefly, only to be resurrected amid a huge media storm. Could this motion comic be the precursor for a similar rebirth of Kitty Pryde? While I would love to see Kitty again (fangirl meaning: I would love to see Kitty and Piotr finally together), this could easily slip into a Jean Grey and Endsong replica.
See my review of episode 2 here.
What do you think about the first episode of Astonishing X-Men: Gifted?
PS: I made these screencaps, so please ask me before you use them yourself! :)