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Astonishing X-Men - Volume 5: Ghost Box [Paperback]

Warren Ellis , Simone Bianchi , Adi Granov , Alan Davis , Kaare Andrews , Clayton Crain
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 9 2009 Astonishing X-Men (Book 5)
It's the book you've been waiting for! The superstar team of Warren Ellis and Simone Bianchi are ready to take the X-Men to the "Second Stage"! Messiah CompleX pulled the X-Men team together, Divided We Stand tore them apart. Now the X-Men are back to business - with a new look, a new base of operations, and a mystery to solve that will take them into previously uncharted territory and test them to their core! Collects Astonishing X-Men #25-30, Ghost Boxes #1-2.

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Astonishing X-Men - Volume 5: Ghost Box + Astonishing X-Men - Volume 6: Exogenetic + Astonishing X-Men - Volume 7: Monstrous
Price For All Three: CDN$ 43.52

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  • Astonishing X-Men - Volume 6: Exogenetic CDN$ 12.26

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3.0 out of 5 stars It's okay. Nov. 22 2013
By Robert
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The plot is pretty good, no where near as good as the previous 4 volumes though. The artwork however is just terrible.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but the end is a disappointment. Oct. 29 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
After a very entertaining and amazing run with Joss Whedon along with the art style of John Cassaday the reins of Astonishing X-Men have now been handed to Warren Ellis with above average results. After the events of the previous Unstoppable arc, the X-men are forced to continue operations away from the X-mansion. They are sent to inspect a mysterious murder and the story builds up from there. Although Ellis manages to keep everyone in character and builds up a great plot early on, the end begins to lose steam and is a bit of an anti-climactic disappointment. The story is also easily forgettable and does not add much to the characters nor to X-Men canon.

One of the few things I found interesting about Astonishing X-Men Ghost Box would be the 4 mini-stories put at the end of this TPB. They are most definitely worth a read if you have finished reading through the Ghost Box arc.

Before I mention anything about the art, art style is a personal style so take this with a grain of salt. The art style also takes some getting used to. Simone Bianchi's style is quite unique and a fresh way of colouring comics but the character models are unrealistic in a disturbing way. Every single character has their ribs literally popping out of their bodies with absolutely no muscle or fat which makes them all look a bit sickly.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.2 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite astonishing, but solid all the same Dec 19 2009
By Frank Z - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Writer Warren Ellis (Planetary, Transmetropolitan) and artist Simone Bianchi (Wolverine) tackle the somewhat unenviable task of taking over from award-winning fan-favourites Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly) and John Cassaday (Planetary) on Astonishing X-men, something of a flagship X-title for Marvel. And for the most part they succeed, although not without a few missteps, taking the series distinctly in their own direction, and setting a new, darker tone.

Those familiar with Ellis' writing will instantly recognise the wild sci-fi elements and snarky dialogue that are his trademarks, but he manages to find the characters' voices pretty well from the get-go -- seeming to have the most fun with the acid-tongued Emma and the hyper-intelligent Beast. The snappy banter, weird science and alternate reality mumbo-jumbo come thick and fast as the X-men investigate a bizarre murder and follow the ensuing trail of destruction around the world, finally discovering a familiar face at the heart of the mystery.

Bianchi's painted artwork is often beautiful to look at, and his darker palette matches the tone of the story well. However, his figures are occasionally caught in quite awkward poses, or suffer from an almost Hellenistic tendency to over-gesture or over-emote. Fight scenes, too, can be hard to follow, thanks in part to the aforementioned dark colour scheme, but mostly due to Bianchi's framing, which stays close in on the action and leaves little in the way of breathing room. In quieter moments, Bianchi's unconventional framing is eye-catching and inventive, but once the action hots up, things can get a little claustrophobic and confusing.

At the original time of printing there were complaints of the storyline moving too slowly, but the main issue, I think, is in the story's climax, which seems a little rushed and lacking in weight. To illustrate: the main story is supplemented by four short "what if" style tales that focus on alternate realities and what might have happened if things had played out differently, and it is only here that we see the full scale of what the X-men were facing. It's a shame that the same threat wasn't conveyed more strongly in the main story, as there is a bit of a lack of "wow factor" there, despite the explosive finish.

Still, all told, there is plenty of good stuff going on here, and fans of Ellis or the previous Astonishing X-men books should give this one a read.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good intentions, not the best results Jan. 22 2010
By Ava - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read the Astonishing X-Men run with much interest. Until now it had good ideas, darn impressive artwork and excellent writing, so if you're a fan of Whedon & Cassaday, you'll be slightly disappointed by this volume.

Ghost Box has an interesting concept behind it (spoiler: parallel universes) and throws in some interesting details about how the X-Men work, like telepathically learning the native language of the foreign country they happen to be in. There are maybe two moments of brilliant dialogue. Plus, it has original panel/page layouts at every step, mostly enjoyable since you don't see them very often - but here the positive aspects end.

The art is, well, let's call it "unrealistic" and leave it at that; by the time you're halfway through the volume, you will have grown tired of seeing everyone's mouths open as if shouting. The concept is tackled only superficially, pretty much like the Dangerous volume, while the "What If" stories present much more interest than the main one. The are contradictions with previous volumes (so at the end of the day, how good is Beast with computers?) as well as previous personality traits (is Armor shy-"I don't know what to do" or extremely cheeky to her teammates? Is Emma really saying "I shall simply..." on every page?!).

So: if you're into the series, by all means do add this to the collection. Just don't expect it to blow your mind, because overall it looks like a good idea gone bad somewhere along the line. I'm giving it the fourth star only for Abigail Brand's appearances, which were well-written, and the "What If" stories.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprising quality after Whedon's departure July 24 2010
By A Forest Fan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book has a surprising bit of quality after the departure of Astonishing X-writer Joss Whedon. The concept of Ghost Boxes (it's a secret) is an intriguing idea. More importantly, writer Warren Ellis manages to expertly work in S.W.O.R.D. (Abigail Brand) and Ororo (Storm). Also, we get some great scenes for Hidako (Armor), the new X-Man. What more can you ask for?

The Ghost Boxes story ends quickly, halfway through the book. This turns out to be a plus, as the latter half of the book is devoted to what could have happened had the X-men not dealt with the problem. It's a cool concept, and I find myself re-reading this book over and over. And that's the best endorsement. Great job, X-team!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Repetitive Ideas and Strange Characterizations are not Astonishing... July 31 2010
By Eric Teall - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As a couple others on here have noted, Warren Ellis has written some material that is a lot of fun to read, but this isn't it. The Ghost Box ends up turning this into every other Authority story you've ever read. The Authority stuff (multiple universes and the like) works for the Authority, but it doesn't work here. Combine that with strange characterizations (Forge is a complete and utter psycho) and an over-emphasis on strange sexual proclivities and the book simply fails. Again, as other comments have noted, the banter isn't funny, it's forced.

In fact, that seems to be the problem with almost the whole book. This kind of threat, the kind of humor, the kind of emphasis on sex, etc. seems like rehashes of old Ellis ideas forced on the X-Men. These kinds of ideas can work in other contexts; Ellis has proven that. But this whole book feels phoned in, and it is certainly not a worthy successor to Whedon/Cassaday.

That said, I did like the idea of Cyclops being the "best super-hero on the planet." It is, after all, what he's trained for since his teens, and he should be a professional. His self-confidence here was a nice change from the angsty, self-doubting Cyke I've suffered through in the past.

Still, this one will be donated to my public library very soon.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Box Men Feb. 10 2013
By Sam Quixote - Published on Amazon.com
Set after the events of "House of M" where all but a couple hundred mutants were wiped out by Scarlet Witch's curse "No More Mutants", and after the events of "Second Coming" when the first mutant, Hope, was born after the curse, "Ghost Box" is about parallel worlds affected by Scarlet Witch and their desperate attempt to enter our world to survive. Ghost boxes are gateways to other universes and the X-Men set out to find, and destroy, the few remaining ones before the deranged rebel mutant Forge can set in motion plans for a secret war and an apocalyptic solution.

You won't find a bigger Warren Ellis fan than me but this book sucked. The story is so slow, boring and confusing. The X-Men talk about parallel universes (always a headache inducer) then talk pseudo-tech stuff (always forgettable and meaningless) then talk mutant genetics (zzzzzzz) before fighting some villain you've never seen before, defeating him, and then going back to talking about those three same subjects. Again and again and again. Before they encounter Forge and then more talk about parallel universes... you get the idea. Despite a full 8 issue book, I'm still not 100% what ghost boxes are but I do know that I don't care about them and never want to read about them ever again.

I will say this about Ellis, he does what Bendis, Aaron, Hickman and Fraction collectively failed to do in the last Marvel Event, "AVX" - he gives Cyclops a personality. Cyclops in this book not only talks like a real person with actual characteristics but also seems relatable and - god almighty! - likable. Maybe that's why this is called "Astonishing" X-Men - that's a hell of an accomplishment right there.

I really didn't like Simone Bianchi's art. It's muddy, dark, and hard to look at. All of the pages have this washed out quality to it, everything kind of bleeds together on the page, one dark tone into another, so it's hard to make out what's going on in certain scenes. It might've helped if the colours were turned up a bit but I still thought Bianchi's pencils were too thick for this to be effective.

While Ellis has written these similar kinds of stories in his "Planetary" series, it just didn't work in the X-Men universe. Bad art, even worse story, but with some interesting characterisation and sparkling moments of dialogue from Ellis, overall "Ghost Box" is a poor follow-up to Whedon/Cassady's masterful run on this series and is definitely one of Ellis' lesser efforts.
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