X Marks the Spot

on September 14, 2010 by Steve Simels

xmen.jpgInteresting and alarming news for fanboys and comic book geeks of all ages: Shout! Factory is about to unleash the latest video installment of everybody's favorite mutant saga. And fittingly, it's an example of a sort-of mutant art form -- not quite animated feature film, but more than just a comic book.

I refer, of course, to Astonishing X-Men: Gifted, an adaptation of the highly acclaimed series by artist John Cannaday and writer Joss Whedon, aka the auteur of the whole Buffy the Vampire Slayer phenomenon. Directed by the former and the incredibly great Neal Adams, a guy without whom the history of the comic book medium over the last forty years would be very, very different.

The plot (via the DVD box):

When Dr. Kavita Rao develops a controversial "mutant cure," Professor Charles Xavier's X-Men -- the aggressive (hah!) Wolverine, conflicted Beast and newly returned Kitty Pryde, led by Cyclops and Emma Frost -- once again find themselves battling against science, prejudice and a mysterious new foe named Ord. Can the X-Men protect the world's mutants against this powerful new alien menace and the concoction that threatens to rid them of their unique abilities? Hey -- as the guy in the Geico commercials might say...Is Wolverine Canadian?

Actually, this whole motion comic thing -- essentially, the images from an actual comic book given movement (via computers) and the original comic book script voiced by actors, with appropriate sound effects and music added on -- isn't new; DC adapted Alan Moore's groundbreaking graphic novel Watchmen in the form as a tie-in to the 2008 feature film. This new one, from a technological standpoint is even more sophisticated, although for me at least, the whole thing still looks -- charmingly -- like a steroidal version of the old Marvel TV cartoons from the 60s, which were essentially just still frames ripped from the original comics and sort of randomly moved around in front of the camera. Gifted, of course, has the advantage of really superb writing by Whedon; as a result, I think the thing will hold your interest even if you've had it up to here with superhero flicks (and if you haven't yet, I'll lay you even money that the forthcoming 3D Green Hornet flick with Seth Rogen will severely try your patience).

Anyway, here's the trailer to give you an idea of the look and feel of the thing.

Pretty cool, I think, even if you have to endure that ridiculous yellow jumpsuit on Wolverine (ditched, thankfully, in the live-action X-Men films). Bonuses with the disc include a more interesting than I expected interview with Adams; you can pre-order Gifted from Amazon here.

Tags: Neal Adams, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon

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