Review of “Astonisher” from Lion Forge Comic’s Catalyst Prime line.

This is the the Experience some. . .call Jason. Today I’m continuing my series of reviews on Lion Forge’s Catalyst Prime universe. Today we’ll be talking about the first three issues of Astonisher, the Fifth title in the line. It launched in October and as of this writing is on issue Four.

Astonisher is written by Alex de Campi and with art by Pop Mhan

The series opens a year ago we see Magnus Attarian on TV being asked about trouble at his Space-Flight company. We see a picture of his girlfriend talking about having a birth present for him to unwrap and we see him  a party talking to an investor before a woman comes out, gets everyone’s attention and then announces that there’s an asteroid headed for earth.  Next we arrive at the present as Magnus is leaving rehab accompanied by his girlfriend Sasha and Adila a woman that works for him or his mother. I’m not sure which. You see his face is scared as reporters are asking him if Astonisher is going bankrupt. We’re shown a scene from the cockpit of a ship with a huge explosion coming from the direction it’s going and a news report on Magnus’ ship crashing. Followed by more reporter questions. One asks him if it’s true that he has a piece of the asteroid still in his head.

Driving away they have a near miss as something moves by them at high speed. The blur looks like the same one left by Accell when he’s using his powers.

 

In the car they discuss a gala his mother is showing that he was going to be the guest of honor at but now he doesn’t have to show up as Lorena Payan has agreed to do it. Arriving back at his apartment Sasha she shows him a bowl full of Meteor fragments that they recovered from his ship as well as what they pulled out of his body. She didn’t want someone selling them on Ebay. He tells her he’s broke, he’ll probably be the one selling them on ebay. Sasha hugs him from behind as he picks a fragment out of the bowl. Suddenly one moment he’s standing in a field of rose petals and swords wearing armor and the next he’s back in his apartment with Sasha unconscious on the floor.

Cutting to the next scene we meet Magnus’ mother Olivia and little brother Drew at the gala. Olivia is asking Drew if Isabella couldn’t come make it. He tells her she wasn’t feeling up to it. When Magnus and Sasha arrive his mother makes the comment that Magnus can” bring his floozy but Isabella is to good for us”. Drew tells her they’ve changed Isabella’s medication and it’s wiped her out. They walk in while Magnus tells his mother he has a trick to show her but she brushes him off.

 

Once inside he tries to get her attention again and she asks him if he’s invented something again another little app? He seems a little taken aback and asks if she loves him. She says of course “I think you’re the smartest idiot I know.” See turns to walk off and Magnus see’s a man glowing. Yelling for his mother not to go that way he races over as the glowing man collapses. We’re then treated to a full page picture of the man erupting in to something that could have come right out of John Carpenter’s “the Thing”.

As it threatens Olivia Magnus’ hand starts to glow and the security personal start to think they have another one to deal with until Magnus tackles the creature. The next shot is an armored Magnus hung up in some kind to tentacles or webbing with the man we saw earlier tangled up below him.

On the outside Olivia is asking where Magnus went and the creature is unconscious on the floor. Security is debating on killing it. When one of them steps forward to do it Sasha jumps in front of him and declares no killing, not while her boyfriend’s in its mind. In the things mind Magnus is cutting himself and the other guy free only to have the man morph out and attack him. Magnus end’s the fight taking the man’s head. Seeing a light in the distance he heads for that fighting his way through the light takes him to a city full of people on fire this only lasts for a second and then there’s the sound of breaking class and a large red cronenberg-esque creature appears. He fights it for couple of pages before pulling something out of it (it’s Heart?). On his hands and knees he comments about it being disgusting and then he’s back at the gala with guns pointed at him.

Sasha helps him up as people in the crowd realize who it is and start talking about him having powers. The creature is gone. Back to being a normal man. He thanks Magnus for whatever it was he did in there and talks about being a firefighter and breathing a lot of dust from those meteors while doing rescue work.

 

The book ends with him explaining to his mother and brother what happened and how he intends to make a business out of it. Drew is disappointed in him and they argue. Drew points out that he cured that man of whatever changed him and that he could help people. People like Isabella. Magnus ain’t having it he just goes on about having bits of meteor in his head that could kill him at any moment so f- your disappointment and f- all of you. Mom and Bro don’t look happy as he leaves.

 

Issue two starts up with an intervention by his family and doctor. They’re not happy with his superheroing. His mother is worried about how it will impact the company his doctor is worried that any head trauma or rise in blood pressure could cause a stroke. His brother Drew is still talking about him helping Isabella. Magnus goes off about it not being about mental illness. That he can only affect those affected by the meteors. He also lets them know that that includes one of them. He then suits up an leaves tellng them he’s changing his locks.

We jump back two weeks to him building his suit and telling the girls that he’s made a new app that keeps up with superhuman activity. Sasha names it “copper”.

 

Magnus having left his apartment rides his bike to a school bus crash where the bus driver is surrounded by kids and police. The Police are keeping their distance. Magnus approces and is attacked by the obviously controlled children. He’s being buried under them as the driver approces. The driver is mocking him but gets to close and Mangus is able to touch him.

He winds up in another dreamscape and has to fight his way through. Eventually fighting his way out. When he comes out the police have cleared the children out. They arrest the driver who unlike the man from issue one doesn’t seem happy. Just keep mumbling that you took the game away. Drew shows up as the police have called his next of kin. They argue again and Magnus lets Drew know that He a Isabella where not the ones affected. A police detective approaches them and asks Magnus what he’s calling himself. After hearing that he’s “Astonisher” he tells Magnus about another freak that’s killed twenty people in the subway and asks if he’d like to go astonish it. Magnus rides off to save the day.

When he shows up the swat team is ready to go in but they let him go ahead. He’s confronted by a woman with shark like teeth and glowing red hands. She says she can play with blood. He manages to grab her ankle after a several attempts to touch her. Being pulled inside her mind the tries to figure out how to kill the red death (what he’s taken to calling the thing he fights in the mindscape) when it seems to be the entire mind. A giant worm like creature appears and in it’s first attack bites Magnus in half. He wakes up make in the subway with the woman standing over him. Before she can finish him of the the real world the swat guys blow her away. He tells them he’s ok but then collapses.

 

The issue ends with the police taking him to Sasha’s where he collapses on her floor. He tells her he’s just going to lie her a bit. Tells her he died today and it hurt a lot.

 

Issue three opens with Magnus and Sasha in the back of an ambulance. She called for one after Magnus passed out in her apartment. He gets upset with her about it and calling Dr. Saperstein but then passes out again. Waking up in the hospital the doctor tells him that the meteor fragments in his brain are disintegrating and releasing a very toxic form of radiation. If he wants to see his thirty first birthday he needs to stop being the Astonisher. He wants to leave only to find out his brother still has power of attorney from his crash. Drew shows up an signs him out.

Back at home Sasha is trying to talk Magnus in to taking better care of himself. He’s not real responsive to it, saying being the Astonisher makes him feel right. Plus he’s concerned about the “red parasite” that’s driving these people to do horrible things. His phone goes off with showing him tweets and texts about a giant in the Bronx and off he goes.

Arriving on scene he has a slight confrontation with the police already on scene but it’s resolved when an FBI agent steps in. Approaching the giant it greets him by name and starts dropping cars at him. Magnus is having a hard time touching it as he’s having to dodge cars. When it finally reaches for him it gets driven back by police gun fire. Eventually it rears back and slaps at him.

 

Once in the giants mind he finds it completely overrun with the red and is attacked by three samurai looking creatures. One of them speaks to him and when Magnus asks what it is, says it’s a weary traveler looking for a quiet place to rest. Magnus defeats two of them while the speaker stabs him. Magnus walks down the blade telling the creature that he’s learned if he’s going to die to take it with him. The creature says they’re everywhere and will soon be in the ones he loves.

We see Magnus falling out of the giants head and landing in a garbage dumpster. Climbing out he’s confronted by some journalist trying to paint everything he’s done in a bad light. The reporter is glowing as all the affected people do in Magnus’ sight. He winds up punching the guy much to the cameraman’s joy.

Later at home he’s bandaging and injury he took to his leg as his brother and Dr. Saperstein show up. Letting him know they’ve taken a restraining order out against Sasha and planning to but him in therapy. He tries to tell them about the parasite but the Dr. claims it’s paranoia. Drew takes the suit while explaining that he doesn’t need Magnus anymore. He’s going to expose himself to the meteor so he can use the suit. He’s still wanting to fix whatever is wrong with his wife. The Doctor drugs magnus and when Drew asks him if the place he’s taking Magnus is secure the Doctor tells him it’s a place for violent psychosis. “He won’t get out.” and that’s where the issue wraps up.

 

Normally I do the first four issues of a book but I’m stopping with three today. I like a good cliffhanger! If you want to find out what happens at the hospital check the series out.

 

My overall opinion of Astonisher up to this point is pretty good. The arts fine the story’s interesting though I wonder long term how long a book will last with this premise and this hero’s power set. It’s an odd book which in some ways reminds me of the early 40’s when superheroes where getting their start and later the early 60’s when superheroes where reemerging. Back then the creators would just throw things against the wall to see what would stick. They weren’t afraid to just try anything. Astonisher strikes that cord with me. I like the current story and I’m curious where they’ll be able to go from here.

 

It also brings an interesting new wrinkle to the Catalyst world. If the parasite came with the meteor then it’s clearly alien something we haven’t seen on earth yet. I’m not counting the guy morphing out and having visions of aliens in Incidentals since even he’s not sure how litteral those dreams are.

 

They’ve got me hook for the this story line for sue and I’ll definitely be around for a couple more after that to see if they can keep it going. I recommend trying it out. Just be aware it’s not a “typical” superhero book.

 

Be here next time when we look at KINO! (yes it’s suppose to be in all caps) see you then!

 

-Jason

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