Marvel, as part of the Marvel Knights line, has released Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous on DVD. The self-contained adventure is an interesting look at one of the often unexplored elements of the X-Men saga.
A young man, who loses his mutant powers, commits suicide on the grounds of Xavier’s School, the home and training grounds of the X-Men.
The boy leaps from a cliff at the prodding of his friends, only his friends aren’t there, and it is soon revealed that the boy lay on the floor of the Danger Room, the X-Men’s greatest training tool.
This breach in programming is only the beginning, with this death, the artificial intelligence of the holodeck-esque combat simulator is free to do as it wishes, and what it wishes is great harm to those who have enslaved it.
The story covers issues 7-12 of The Astonishing X-Men run by Joss Whedon, the director of the upcoming Avengers film, and artist John Cassaday, which gives the story the ability to explore the Comics canon.
Unlike the films, or even the animated television serials, the motion comics of Marvel Knights exist within the canon and continuity of the comics lines, and so here the characters are interacting with the politics and characters of the greater Marvel universe.
It’s fun to see the X-Men interacting with the Fantastic Four, and chatting amiably about Spider-Man. There are also enemies slinking in the shadows, and a media who wants their hide, but in this adventure they are forced to turn their attention inward.
The new and compelling enemy still fits into the theme of X-Men villains, however, as ‘she’ is a mutant of a sort, though not biological, as The Beast points out, so not technically ‘mutant’, she’s an altered, corrupted form of her former self, and that change has made her incompatible with the world.
The voice acting is not all stellar. Quite a few lines are clearly not spoken in the intonation originally intended, but it was all acceptable, and it was never actually confusing. I might not prefer this version to the actual comic book itself, but it’s very cool to see it done, and it’s a good way to draw in some audience who would ordinarily be unwilling to read the comics, though they may enjoy watching the cartoons. And, really, that’s the point of motion comics, not to entertain the fans of the comics, but to serve as a bridge from the films and television shows over to the comic books, and as that bridge, it does well.
It’s not a fully self-contained story. As with any comic, it offers some references to the previous few issues (those are also available in the Marvel Knights collection as Astonishing X-Men: Gifted, though it doesn’t really say so anywhere in the episodes), and it has a bit of a cliff-hanger into the next sequence. However, the DVD is fully understandable as is, and audiences shouldn’t worry about needing to know anything going in.
Overall, it’s a skillfully crafted and enjoyable adaptation of an already well-received comic book run, making a great addition to any fan’s collection, or an interesting introduction to the comics world for a fan of the films.
Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous is available now on DVD from Shout! Factory.