For Fans Only
3 stars
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Overall Grade
3 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
3 Stars
HD Video Quality
3.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
3 Stars
1.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
For Fans Only

The Astonishing X-Men Blu-ray Collection

Street Date:
November 13th, 2012
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
February 14th, 2013
Movie Release Year:
Shout Factory
280 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

I understand there are a lot of people out there that enjoy watching motion comics. I don't really think they do it for me. The novelty soon wears off and I find myself wishing I was watching a fully animated show instead of slightly moving still images. This isn't a referendum on motion comics or their fans. I'm just not particularly fond of the medium.

Joss Whedon is an infinitely busy man. The box proudly proclaims that the king of geekdom is the preeminent writer of this X-Men themed series. It's easy to see Whedon's influence in the writing. The jokes are punchy and the story is rather detailed. So detailed in fact, casual X-Men fans will find themselves lost in a sea of X-Men history and backstories. The foundation of the show assumes that the people watching it have more than just a passing knowledge of the super squad of mutants. Whedon's screenplay assumes that you already have complex knowledge of the people involved, their relationships with each other, and their history together.

This isn't a bad thing really. It's great to get a more in-depth storytelling of the X-Men universe instead of trying to cover all the origin bases again and again. The 'Astonishing X-Men' motion comic is simply meant for a more informed audience.

The motion comic effect takes the famed artwork of illustrator John Cassaday and adds nuanced movement to them. His artistry is detailed and immensely colorful. While I still would've loved to see a fully animated version of the stories, it doesn't take away from the fact that Cassaday's artwork is gorgeous and one of a kind.

The series is split up into four episodes: "Gifted," "Dangerous," "Torn," and "Unstoppable."

In "Gifted" it's made abundantly clear that these X-Men stories are taking place in a world filled with other superheroes. References are made about The Avengers and the Fantastic Four. We find out that while those two groups of heroes are widely accepted by the public, the mutant X-Men are still shunned. The turmoil with the general public has always been the centerpiece of any X-Men story.

The complicated storylines continue in the next three episodes. This release really is meant for the discerning comic book aficionado. People who fancy themselves 'X-Men' fans, but have only watched the live-action movies, will find themselves wondering what's going on.

Whedon weaves a dense superhero tale that involves the likes of the Fantastic Four, Colossus, Emma Frost, Cyclops, Beast, Wolverine, the Hellfire Club and Breakworld. For those diehard fans this is probably a release that you won't be able to do without. Fans of Cassaday will immensely enjoy the stunning visuals. Geeks will revel in Whedon's skilled knowledge of the series. All others need not bother.

Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

This Shout! Factory release comes in a two-disc set. Both discs are 25GB Blu-rays. They're packaged in a standard keepcase that comes with a slipcover. The case indicates a Region A coding.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

The animation is stunningly gorgeous, but the presentation does exhibit its share of flaws and compression issues. The 1080p picture is often clear and wonderfully detailed, however, there are frequent flaws that need to be addressed. Especially in the first episode.

"Gifted" seems to have the most visual hiccups of the entire group. Jaggies are a common occurrence. The detail that is seen in the later episodes isn't as crisp or well-defined in this episode. For some reason "Gifted" didn't manage to get the treatment that the rest got.

After the first episode one can settle down and enjoy a colorful, detail-rich animated presentation. The caveat being a love for motion comics is a must. No matter how beautiful the animation looks on screen it is sure to put some people off simply because of the still nature of the medium. Blacks all seem as inky as they could be. Lines are definite in the later episodes. Color fills are solid and never waver. Noise is non-existent. If you can get past the flubs of the first episode, then the next three will please you.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track is neither terrible nor great. It falls somewhere in between the two. It's one of those tracks that performs admirably given its constraints, but doesn't reach the heights that it could given a few more channels.

Dialogue is cleanly delivered through the front speakers. Sound effects are a bit too loud, as they draw attention away from the dialogue. They've been mixed with louder volume, at times it can be overly distracting. There are times where the louder sound effects drown out dialogue. There's a good amount of low end involvement in the track even though the sub is silent.

Again, this track isn't going to wow anyone. It gives you a semi-decent dialogue-heavy presentation and not much else.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • A Conversation with Joe Quesada and Neal Adams (HD, 17 min.) — The conversation takes place between Neal Adams, the animation director, and respected comic book artist Joe Quesada. They talk about getting Whedon involved with the project, what they like about the motion comic approach, and the story of the series.
  • Behind the Scenes: Marvel Knights Animation (HD, 5 min.) — Contributors include Joe Quesada, Corinne Hall, Neal Adams, Kristine Stone, among others. They discuss making a motion comic, the animation process that goes into it and how they're able to keep the original spirit of the source animation.
  • Music Video (HD, 3 min.) — The song "Rise Up" is performed by David Ari Leon and Guy Erez.
  • Trailer (HD, 2 min.) — A trailer for the series is included.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are no Blu-ray exclusives provided.

Final Thoughts

'Marvel Knights: Astonishing X-Men Collection' is meant for people well-versed in the world of X-Men comics. It isn't meant or intended to be a product for casual fan consumption. If you're a fan of the motion comic approach and you love X-Men then this release is for you. This is definitely a "for fans only" release.

Technical Specs

  • Two-Disc Set
  • 25GB Blu-ray Discs

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.78:1

Audio Formats

  • English: LPCM 2.0


  • None


  • A Conversation with Joe Quesada and Neal Adams
  • Music Video
  • Trailer

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