Astonishing X-Men

 
(i)

 

"Motion comic" has violence, deep dramatic themes.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Characters must make difficult decisions that could put others in danger, which makes the right/wrong scale a little fuzzy. But teamwork, responsibility, and accepting differences are also themes.

Positive role models

The two usual authority figures, Cyclops and Professor Xavier, are both troubled in these stories, and neither is shown at his best. Young fans usually love Wolverine, but he very often indulges in antisocial or destructive behavior with few repercussions. Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat) -- a responsible teenager -- could be considered a positive female role model, though she does spend some time in a lover's spat with Colossus. The characters can be seen as proxies for the emotional turbulence of adolescence, and in that way, allow teens to safely live out some of their feelings through fantasy.

Violence

Medium-level fantasy violence, mostly superheroes and monsters fighting one another with super powers and imaginary weapons. But the fighting feels intense and serious, as if something heavy were at stake. (Teeth are shown being punched out, etc.) In one story, a character commits suicide, and pools of blood are shown; later he's resurrected as a scary zombie/puppet, moving about while twisted and broken. There's some other somewhat scary imagery as well.

Sex

Kitty and Colossus have a lover's spat, and female heroes are shown wearing skimpy costumes. There's also some brief sexual innuendo, such as references to a "Hilton girl" "dancing topless" or a reference to "tongue kissing."

Language

Language includes "damn" and "hell," as well as words like "bugger," "geek," and "stupid."

Consumerism

The X-Men is a major brand with merchandise, comics, theatrical movies, and more. One off-hand reference to LEGO.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Not an issue, except that Wolverine -- in a voiceover -- says how much he likes beer.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Astonishing X-Men is a motion comic, which is something halfway between reading a comic book and watching an animated cartoon; there's lots of detail, but little movement. The short episodes contain superhero battles, with some realistic and fantasy weapons; the tone is a bit more serious and dramatic than you might expect, with a bit more at stake. Expect some mild language, like "damn" and "hell"; some characters are in romantic relationships, complete with lovers' spats. Female characters wear skimpy, sexy outfits, and there's some brief innuendo. Written by Joss Whedon (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer), the show could appeal to a wide range of genre fans.

Parents say

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What's the story?

Told in little "chapters" of about 10-12 minutes each, the stories of ASTONISHING X-MEN -- written by Joss Whedon -- focus on dramatic changes in the lives of the X-Men and raise complex themes. On DVD, groups of episodes are separated into different story arcs with titles like Gifted, Dangerous, and Torn. In one episode, the team members must decide whether to take a "mutant cure" derived from illegal, immoral experiments. In another story, the mutants' practice space ("The Danger Room") becomes sentient and attacks them, using all the knowledge of their skills and powers. Additionally, Colossus returns to the team after a long absence and must deal with his traumatic experience.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

In this "motion comic," the focus isn't on slick or fluid movements; rather, it aims to stay true to the original comic book art. It's as if the original pages were scanned and figures were moved just a little bit to suggest action, instead of showing it. It takes a little while to get used to it, and it can look like "bad" animation, but the artwork is quite powerful, and it makes the drama a bit more mature than in a simpler animated cartoon.

Whedon has a gift for handling ensemble casts and giving each character a satisfying dramatic arc. A great deal happens in the brief running time, from big battles to dramatic turns of character. Problems like romance, adjusting to a new situation, and regret are concepts that any viewer can identify with. On the other hand, action scenes and battles with monsters and robots aren't as kinetic and exciting as they might otherwise be, so viewers will have to use their imagination a bit.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Astonishing X-Men's violence. Does it seem more intense and less playful than what you've seen in other superhero stories? Does the motion comic aspect make the action less intense?

  • Who's the most admirable member of the X-Men? Are any of them good role models?

  • Most of members of the X-Men are given problems to deal with, which makes them seem more human. How do they go about solving or dealing with their problems? What tools do they use? Can you relate to any of their problems?

TV details

Cast:Brian Drummond, Mark Hildreth, Ron Halder
Network:Hulu
Genre:Action
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Superheroes
TV rating:NR
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of Astonishing X-Men was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

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  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 11 years old August 10, 2012
 

X-tonishing!

I have only seen the 1st episode but I can tell that this show is another great work by Joss Whedon as usual. Great for any fan of X-Men!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism

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