Joss Whedon. Literally, I could end this review by just typing that name. I was highly tempted to do so, but it would rob me of the pleasure of gushing about how amazing his work really is.
For those of you who have never watched a motion comic, it does take some getting used to. However, once that initial, “What the hell am I watching?” phase dissipates and you get used to the unnatural movement of the characters, you get hit with a rush of comic goodness. Marvel Knights has released some entertaining motion comics since its inception, including two of the best in the releases of Astonishing X-Men: Gifted and Torn. Each motion comic is broken up into bite-sized episodes, usually running around 10 minutes each. Torn is made up of 6 episodes each with a running time of 11 minutes, which makes for perfect viewing.
Astonishing X-Men: Torn (from issues #13-18 of Astonishing X-Men ) is a very well written story from beginning to end. Whedon not only keeps the reader (or in this case the viewer) off balance, but also adds depth and emotions to characters we have seen for years. My favorite part of Whedon’s writing, (his humor) is prominently displayed in this story. For example, we all know Wolverine is the best at what he does, but when delivering his famous line under Emma Frost’s psychic influence it comes out a bit differently. Without going into too much spoilerific detail it involves pink paper cut into many paper dolls. As for Beast, he too falls under psychic suggestion and has his higher brain functions blocked. During Hank McCoy’s berserker rage his one true weakness is exposed…a bright pink ball of string. Not only is Whedon’s humor on display, but his ability to play with the reader’s (viewer’s) emotions is also showcased. Each episode ends with a cliffhanger, the fights keep you on the edge of your seat, and you really begin to feel anger towards (mini-spoiler alert) Emma Frost. Without giving away too many details, the story revolves around Cassandra Nova (Charles Xavier’s twin sister) and her control of Emma Frost and the Hellfire Club (or maybe a little less Hellfire Club and a lot more Emma Frost).
The second part of this superstar team is John Cassaday, who’s artwork is the perfect complement to Whedon’s writing. I have long said that my biggest pet peeve in X-Men comics is the length of Wolverine’s claws, and if someone can draw the correct ratio of claw to arm I will be happy. Cassaday accomplishes this feat, and that means I can move on and enjoy the rest of his artwork. All joking aside (or semi-joking in this case), Cassaday’s character designs are perfect, the details are crisp, and the scenery is detailed, but not distracting. His work makes this not only a treat story-wise but also a delicious piece of eye candy.
Torn is a roller coaster ride from start to finish, it is full of awesome moments (Kitty Pryde has her share of “Oh, my God” moments) that are sure to please any X-Men fan. I can safely say that this is a DVD that any X-fan or Joss Whedonite should own. Look for it on DVD August 14th.