Before helping to write and direct `The Avenger's Assemble', Joss Whedon had already spent plenty of time in the world of Marvel, including a run as the writer of the `Astonishing X Men'. He brought his usual charm and wit to the series and added a slice of his patented ability to balance an assemble cast; they don't come much more cumbersome than `The X Men'. As part of Marvel Knights' Motion Comic adaptations `The Astonishing X Men' was taken from the page and put on the screen. Whedon's writing still shines as bright as ever, but is this really animation?
`Astonishing' is both familiar and strange. It is set later than the films so many people won't know all the characters, but will know the likes of Wolverine and Cyclops. This version of the `X Men' is also different as they are written in Whedon's distinct style. Therefore, there are complex relationships and snide quips abound. The dialogue is fantastic and really fleshes out the characters. Whedon is seamlessly able to develop old favourites, whilst integrating new cast members. As a writer he also specialises in peril - you are never sure who will survive. The tension in `Astonishing' is more than in any other adaptation of `The X Men' as you never know who will live or die.
Although writing is one of the major elements of graphic novels, so is the art. In the case of Motion Comics you also need to take into account animation and voice work. In terms of art and voice acting, `Astonishing' is top class. It is the animation that is stilted, not the actors playing the roles. Out of all the Motion Comics that I have seen, there is more animation than most, but still the majority is just mouths moving. Thankfully, the story is easily good enough to make you forget the lack of animation, but a true cartoon adaptation of the work would have been even better.