‘Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous'
Director and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creator Joss Whedon is handling prominent Marvel superheroes this summer when “The Avengers” comes to theaters. But Whedon's involvement with Marvel goes back further than that. In addition to an uncredited screenplay draft on 2000's “X-Men” film, Whedon returned to the X-characters from 2004-2008. Whedon wrote the comic book series “Astonishing X-Men” for 24 issues plus a special with the art of John Cassaday. Laura Martin provided colors.
The second storyline from the Whedon-Cassaday run, “Dangerous,” is turned into motion comic format by the Marvel Knights animation team. The motion comic is a hybrid format, animating the artwork from the comic books and adding voices and sound effects.
The “Astonishing” X-Men” run features Cyclops and Emma Frost re-forming the X-Men into a more traditional superhero team in order to “astonish” the world and improve the reputation of mutants. The team's roster is made up of Cyclops, Emma Frost, Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat), Colossus, Beast and Wolverine. They operate out of Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Children, the school that secretly trains young mutants and provides a home base for the team.
In “Dangerous,” the school is attacked by a robotic sentinel. The team discovers the mastermind of the threat is inside the mansion and is aware of all the team's secrets. There are some horror-movie elements along with a heavy dose of science fiction. The second arc works better with an understanding of the first arc, “Gifted” (also available as a motion comic) and a general familiarity with X-Men history.
In “Gifted,” the hero Colossus returns after being thought dead; his complex relationship with sometime girlfriend Kitty Pryde makes for some of the best scenes in “Dangerous.”
Whedon's dialogue crackles even better when performed by actors than it did on the written page. And Cassaday's art animates well, with plenty of detail and emotion. The arc as a whole is a step down from “Gifted,” but is still worth a look. The DVD contains six motion comic episodes, but no special features.
— Matthew Price