Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous

| April 12, 2012

This installment of Marvel Knights’ motion comic adaptations of writer Joss Whedon and artist John Cassaday’s incredible run on Astonishing X-Men from 2004 to 2007 collects the second story arc of said run. While I ultimately maintain that this is a must-own release along with the first installment, Gifted, Marvel Knights’ Dangerous is far from perfect. In the this arc, with the mutant community still shaken by the events depicted in Gifted, the X-Men and their students at the Professor Xavier School for the Gifted come under attack in their own home. The climactic revelation of their assailant’s origins marks one of the most dramatic moments of Whedon’s run.

Whereas Gifted had pretty much single-handedly sold me on motion comics as a medium, I find Marvel Knights’ attempt to bring this particular arc to life less than impressive, as though the bar had been lowered at some point between installments. Admittedly, motion comics rely on generally peculiar animation, but the peculiarities here stand out as oftentimes lazy. Take the movement of characters’ hair in the wind, for example. As the hair moves, it reveals beneath it the motionless hair of the original comic that by all rights should have been removed by animators, given that it’s the exact same hair. Additionally, the mouth articulation is far less accurate than it had been in Gifted. And the series’ aspect ratio here fluctuates between a 16:9 ratio and something like a 2.35:1 ratio. While this might be seen as a stylistic decision on the part of the animators, it recalled for me the interview with Neal Adams on the release of Gifted. In the interview, Adams relates how animators at Marvel Knights added periphery objects, backgrounds, etc. to Cassaday’s visuals when the original comic panel didn’t lend itself to the 16:9, widescreen aspect ratio. That said, I felt that the voice work and overall sound design here had improved since Gifted, even if the animation had not.

Unfortunately, while Gifted boasted a number of special features, including the aforementioned interview with Adams and Joe Quesada, Dangerous comes to you bare. Shout! Factory benefits, however, from the fact that, as far as motion comics go, Gifted proved itself indispensable (for me at least), if for no other reason than it brought another Joss Whedon story to the screen. As such, I highly recommend Gifted. And once you’ve purchased Gifted, Dangerous too becomes indispensable from both the position of a Joss Whedon fan and a completionist standpoint.

About the Author:

Jef is a writer and educator in Chicago, Illinois. He holds a degree in Media & Cinema Studies from DePaul University, but sometimes he drops it and picks it back up again. He's also the Editor-in-Chief of and is fueled entirely by coffee (as if you couldn't tell).
Filed in: Film, Video and DVD

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