Havok Struggles for Purpose in ASTONISHING X-MEN #13

ASTONISHING X-MEN #13 is a completely new tale from its previous twelve issues. Matthew Rosenberg takes a down-on-his-luck Havok and places him on a path of redemption. The story is rather solid, with only a few missteps that might age well as the series progresses.
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ASTONISHING X-MEN #13 is a completely different story from Charles Soule’s #1-12 run. There are no psychic webs, no astral planes, and no questionable Charles Xavier: it’s completely fresh. It’s essentially a first issue, and I’m surprised (though glad) Marvel didn’t rebrand it as such. Matthew Rosenberg is writing this tale, with Greg Land and Frank D’Armata assisting with artwork. Our main focus is on Havok, the less favorable Summers brother.

How does this washed up hero/sort-of-villain hold up in a story focused on him? Continue reading to find out!

No Respect for Havok

ASTONISHING X-MEN #13 immediately dishes out action. Havok goes to work on one of Mole Man’s monsters, destroying a building in the process. The Avengers soon show up, and Iron Man immediately ridicules Havok for the collateral damage. Iron Man is on a bit of a high horse here, and it feels like Rosenberg is really trying to demonstrate the distrust of mutants is still alive amongst the average hero. If another hero said it, it would feel a bit forced, but I can also see Stark being very brash in the heat of the moment.

Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

After this, Havok goes from the X-Mansion to Beast’s new home at Harvard. He’s attempting to recruit a new X-Men team, but he’s finding no such luck. The younger students critique him (“You were a super villain, like, 30 minutes ago and now you want us to join your team?”) and Kitty Pryde kicks him out of the mansion. You can feel the frustration protruding from Havok, it’s great. He’s a very likable and hateable character (just like his older brother), and this writing makes him very real and honest.

Getting the Band Back Together

Now, saying that, my main criticism with ASTONISHING X-MEN #13 is Havok. Perhaps it’s because I’m very neutral with his character, but his personality just screams dull in this issue. It’s like Cyclops of old: all he knows is how to be in the X-Men. Both Summers brothers are at their best when they’re going rogue, but watching Havok try to assemble a team is a bit boring. It’s like that guy who always wants to be in a band, but the band has no purpose whatsoever. It’s possible this is Matthew Rosenberg’s intention, and I’m willing to see what path Havok winds up following. I can just feel how real Havok is. I want him to have more of a purpose than being on a team.

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This purpose may sprout from an encounter with the Reavers. The cyborg terrorists crash Beast’s lab while Havok is visiting. It’s a rather dull battle, but Beast calls upon a former ally that will no doubt have fans screeching with joy. It will also bring up Beast’s ethics (and that’s always entertaining), and I’ll be curious to see how Havok reacts to this encounter.

The Artwork of ASTONISHING X-MEN #13

Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Greg Land does a solid job sketching out the many characters and scenes in ASTONISHING X-MEN #13. While at times I find his drawings to be a bit too cartoonish (then again, it must be rather difficult to make the Reavers seem realistic), his expressions are always on point. Havok’s anger carries many scenes, as does Beast’s curiosity and seriousness when they meet in his lab. His panel layouts are also easy to follow, and that’s a huge plus in a comic that changes scenes so very often.

Frank D’Armata’s colors assist these drawings extremely well in the quieter moments of the comic. I like how D’Armata makes backgrounds very neutral looking (but still distinctive) while allowing the hues of the main action to pop with vibrancy. While the story of ASTONISHING X-MEN #13 is different from Soule’s, the artwork is a smooth transition in similarity.

What to Expect Next

ASTONISHING X-MEN #13 is a rather abrupt transition. However, it seems like a story that will no doubt be entertaining due to its independent plot. Like the first twelve issues, this story isn’t taking place in the immediate main X-Men continuity. Utilizing Havok makes sense, and I hope he and Beast can really find themselves on an adventure after this encounter with the Reavers. If this winds up being a story where Havok truly finds himself, I think that will be something worthwhile.

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