Astonishing X-Men 3 – Does Morph think anyone else has seen Singing in the Rain?

Credits: Plot by Scott Lobdell, script by Jeph Loeb, pencils by Joe Madureira, inked by Tim Townsend with Al Milgrom and edited by Bob Harras.

Cast: Earth 295 versions of Wildchild, Morph, Toshiba ‘Sunfire’ Yashida, Rogue, Clarice ‘Blink’ Ferguson, Victor ‘Sabretooth’ Creed, Holo-you know what I’m calling him Lava Lamp, Weapon-X (in flashback), Erik ‘Magneto’ Lensherr, Charles Lensherr, Nanny and the Earth 295 version of Bishop.

Wildchild is running from Infinites, the soulless and manufactured foot-soldiers of Apocalypse. He is shot and falls at the feet of his pursuers’ leader the Horseman I am calling Lava Lamp. It isn’t the Lava Lamp, it’s Morph whose impression soon devolves into comedic camp as he generates a top hat and talks about putting on a show. This is just a diversion as the Infinites are soon burnt to a crisp by an arriving Sunfire. Clearly irritated by Morph’s antics, Sunfire asks after Wildchild as does an arriving Rogue who appears with Blink through one of Blink’s portals. Wildchild licks Rogue’s face, allowing her to share his memories. Now she knows where Lava Lamp is and the X-Men are off to avenge Sabretooth.

Thing is, Sabretooth isn’t dead, though he is suffering his defeat at the hands of the monologuing Lava Lamp, who is gloating over his narrow victory. Victor spars verbally with hi enemy, pointing out that the current mutant ascendancy is being maintained by created mutants, made from the bodies of dead humans.

Enroute to Lava Lamp’s location, Blink recalls her first memory of Victor, being rescued by him and Weapon-X, explaining the bond the two of them share. The team are being carried on Morph by Sunfire, who has had more than enough of Morph’s goofing and general tom-foolery. Morph points out that if he is going to die, then he is at least going to do so with a smile on his face. He then proceeds to try to get the rest involved in a rendition of ‘Singing in the Rain.’

Halfway across Apocalypse’s America, in Westchester New York, Magneto tells Bishop that if they do manage to get him back in time to the point of Xavier’s death, then he will have to kill Legion. Problem is, after years on the X-Men under the guidance of Charles Xavier and twenty years in the hell that is the Age of Apocalypse, Bishop is not the killer that he was in the XSE. This frustrates Magneto, who is risking everything for the hope that Bishop’s timeline offers. Nanny is bringing Charles to his father, when she suddenly wraps him up in a secure cocoon and escapes into the cellar. The perimeter has been breached, Apocalypse is coming.

At the Infinites plant,a huge white whale arrives. The whales talks to the Infinites, explaining he swam all the way from Poughkeepsie and his fins are tired. It then opens his mouth, revealing the X-Men who pop out and fight their way through this initial guard alongside the whale, or Morph who is now an octopus. As they move through the factory, Blink finds the strung up body of Victor Creed.

Notes:  The most consistent X-Men series continues as Rogue’s team tries to prevent more culling by destroying the Infinites, but it also devolves into the Victor Creed show as the comic only has two plots, Creed vs Lava Lamp and the  X-Men heading to find/rescue Creed. So there’s not much going on here beyond those two things. The problem is that the Lava-Lamp vs Creed stuff isn’t really very interesting. The rest of the X-Men do a lot of the heavy lifting with Blink showing why she has imprinted upon Victor as she has. The interesting thing for me is Morph’s jovial attitude being so affected and a clear reaction to the hopelessness around him. He mentions that if he is to face death, it will be with a smile. In a dystopia, someone like Morph is more needed as it contrasts against the grim and nihilistic Sunfire.

This cheerful characterisation is set alongside against Bishop’s being less cold-blooded than before. Once he was the grim late 80s, early 90’s characters who shoot first and not ask questions. Time with the X-Men and 20 years in this hellish world have changed this killer into a man who couldn’t kill in cold blood anymore.

Verdict:

Writing: 3 out of 5 – Not much happens, so we’re left with small character moments, which are really well done, but it’s trying to stretch 8 pages of stuff across 20 and it shows.

Art: 5 out of 5 – This is still Joe Madureira doing X-Men and it looks really good. His faces are stylised, but very expressive and he seems to be having fun with Morph. The scene where he generates fingers and a hat makes me smile everytime I see it.

Overall: 8 out of 10 – Despite not much happening, this is another solid chapter in this series and it all seems to be heading somewhere interesting.

Next time: Spider-Man on trial, Scarlet Spider on Maternity duty and another Peter remember he is Peter, yes it’s Clone Saga time.

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