What Is It?: Astonishing X-Men: Kitty Pryde - Shadow & Flame (NOT written by Joss, written by Akira Yoshida)
Timing: After "Astonishing X-Men: Gifted" but before "Astonishing X-Men: Torn." Probably some time between "Gifted" and "Torn."
REVIEW (and Art): I wasn't sure what to expect with this trade paperback, because I've found Marvel comics to be extremely hit and miss. However, Kitty Pryde is my favorite Marvel character, and since she so rarely gets the spotlight, I knew I had to at least give this a chance.
It wasn't bad. It wasn't great or really that good either, but it definitely isn't even close to being one of those Marvel comics I start and don't even bother to finish, and eventually wind up selling. The story was thin as tracing paper and had some fairly big plot holes, but Kitty's characterization was strong enough to make this an enjoyable read. I had to put up with a lot of cliched, Anime-influenced dialogue from the villains, but hearing Kitty's trademark sarcastic wit made it worthwhile.
The art is good. The fight scenes were good for the most part--you have to like those to remotely enjoy this series, as two of the five issues are almost COMPLETELY made up of fight scenes--but I do wish artist Paul Smith hadn't used the cheesy, Anime-style "background-turns-into-a-liney-blur-of-color-during-intense-moments-of-fighting." Other than that, I can't really complain about the art. It was far, far better than the overrated New X-Men stuff.
Overall, nothing to get excited over, but this will leave you entertained enough that you might--maybe--go back for a second read.