X Takes Charge with Aggressive Strategies Against Proteus in ASTONISHING X-MEN #8

ASTONISHING X-MEN #8 continues Charles Soule's epic X-Men run. While this story doesn't exactly fit in with the rest of the Marvel Universe, it has aspects that will have fans praying it bleeds over when it's all said and done. The artwork of Paulo Siqueira and Edgar Delgado makes for a pleasant read as well.
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Aggressive Mutants

After over a month of waiting, we finally learn Proteus’ first move upon escaping the clutches of the Shadow King in ASTONISHING X-MEN #8. What does this green monstrosity have in store? Well, it’s not entirely clear, but one thing is certain: X is still a very questionable character. Can we trust this new incarnation of the late Charles Xavier? Charles Soule provides hints towards this question and more in this issue. Plus, we receive impressive artwork from Paulo Siqueira and Edgar Delgado.

Who do we Trust?

With an entity claiming to be Charles Xavier inhabiting Fantomex’s body, Charles Soule continues to create one of the most bizarre contemporary X-Men tales in ASTONISHING X-MEN #8. His inclusion of Proteus continues that bizarre streak, for there isn’t an immediate battle like one would expect from this X-Men enemy. Instead, Bishop takes action and tries to distract Proteus with bullets, feeding the monster in the hopes that it will keep him from harming humans. X reprimands Bishop here, showing Charles Xavier’s much harsher side that has become prevalent for his character since the early 2000s.

Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

X thinks fast and pressures Psylocke into combining powers so they can enter Proteus’ mind. Psylocke is hesitant at first, as she’s still unsure if she can trust X. However, she acquiesces, and they’re soon inside Proteus’ mind. What occurs next is of intrigue: Kevin MacTaggert, Proteus’ real persona, greets them in his mind’s projection. He points out how he was only a child the last time they met, and as a child he had been locked in a cage his whole life. How else did they expect him to act? He’s a changed man now, he claims, having been shackled by the Shadow King for so long. Shouldn’t the X-Men be the first to accept change?

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X doesn’t buy it and instead tries to attack Kevin. This backfires tremendously, and Psylocke even points out the flaw in X’s plan. However, it’s much too late, and Proteus attacks the two, resulting in one of the most perturbing endings to an X-Men book in years.

ASTONISHING X-MEN #8 is Exciting Yet Confusing

After an epic first arc, ASTONISHING X-MEN gets a bit strange with its inclusion of X. Is this Charles Xavier? Or, if it’s just a shadow of his former self, how much can we actually trust him? His decision to attack Proteus seemed rather bold and aggressive, making me believe this isn’t exactly Charles. And, if it is, it’s extremely out of character, despite his portrayal in the 2000s making him more of a jerk.

And then there’s the question of continuity: when does this story actually take place? With “No Surrender” occurring in AVENGERS right now, Rogue’s inclusion here is mind-boggling. When this series first started it was all fine and dandy, but now? I’m not sure what to think; this series seems as though it’s not even in mainstream continuity.

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Charles Soule Knows His X-Men

But with all that said, Charles Soule is doing amazing work in ASTONISHING X-MEN #8 that I hope gets carried over into other X-titles. The fact Warren is now in control of the Archangel is very exciting. Warren is a character who constantly goes from boring to exciting, depending on his writer and given power set. Having the lovable Warren with the power of Archangel may allow for this character to make a stronger mark in X-Men culture.

The usage of Gambit that has been fantastic as well. His love for Rogue has had fans shouting with glee, but will it last? Soule’s choice to have these two together (as well as the other members of this team) is definitely purposeful. The way the ASTONISHING X-MEN roster has been collaborating is clear indication that proper thought was put into this lineup, similar to the X-Force squad from Remender’s UNCANNY X-FORCE run. And is Mystique going to come back to the “good” side once again? It’s shaping up to seem so. Finally, is Proteus really trying to make amends? We can hardly trust X, how can we trust Proteus?

While this series doesn’t fit in with the rest of the Marvel Universe, it’s proving to be one of the strongest X-Men books on the shelf.

The Artwork of ASTONISHING X-MEN #8

Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

The pencils from Paulo Siqueira are clear and crisp in ASTONISHING X-MEN #8. I love how Siqueira depicts Proteus, and the imaginary castle X and Psylocke find themselves at is stunning. But, of course, there’s the grotesque final page. This took some vivid imagination on Siqueira’s part, and it really paid off. These drawings are assisted heavily by the color work of Edgar Delgado. His shades of green for Proteus are beautiful, and his color choices for each X-Men make them pop, particularly when they’re all standing together.

What to Expect Next?

All in all, ASTONISHING X-MEN #8 is a classic X-Men book. It has a notable X-Men villain who has twisted morals, it has a questionable Charles Xavier, and it contains epic science fiction qualities. While I’m unsure where Charles Soule’s story fits in with the rest of the Marvel Universe, I’m positive that some of these consequences will bleed over into other books when it’s all said and done. Here’s to finding out Proteus’ next move in ASTONISHING X-MEN #9!

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