Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Simone Bianchi
See that big #25 on the cover of this issue? That's meaningless. The entire issue pretty much ignores everything Whedon did with the exception of the introduction of Armor. There is no follow up to what just happened in Giant-Size Astonishing, there is no explanation as to why they are in San Francisco all of a sudden (assuming you haven't been reading anything except Astonishing), the characters sound completely different and the shift in focus of the book is drastic and comes out of nowhere when taken simply as "the next issue" of Astonishing X-Men. They really should have just restarted it with a new number one and / or title to differentiate Warren Ellis' run.
It's kind of annoying to see the series shift so drastically and without any build up from the Whedon / Cassaday run.
Yes, I know they are moving to San Francisco and why they are moving there (or at least the general jist of it), but it doesn't mean we should start midstride with the team fully set up in a new base on the other side of the country with no explanation other than some offhand remark. The least they could have done was wait until Uncanny X-Men #500 came out so they could at least have had the new base and setting established properly.
So, ignoring all of that, how is the Ellis / Bianchi debut? Let's just say it's overly wordy, lacks the typical Ellis charm and doesn't know if it is trying to be an episode of Sienfeld or Star Trek.
On one hand, the team just talks about nothing, literally, for pages on end, whether it's Wolverine's sleeping habits or Armor's terrible name or just shooting the shit about whatever. On the other, Ellis jumps into some kind of murder mystery with a new breed of mutant involving a third chromosome (humans and mutants have two normally) and a trip around the world to some alien ship graveyard in Singapore to track the supposed killer.
It wasn't a bad issue, but it wasn't a good Astonishing X-Men issue or even a worthy follow up to Whedon and Cassaday's run. It was about as slow a burn as you can get and there wasn't a single memorable moment in the entire issue.
In regards to Bianchi's art, it was the same scratchy, over inked and muddied art that he had during his Wolverine arc with Jeph Loeb. If you're a fan of his style, it will be right up your alley, but I found it to be far too dark and expressionless compared to Cassaday's and it doesn't seem to fit the style or tone that Ellis is going for.
Verdict - Check It. I'm tempted to say Avoid It as nothing happens here. You could pick it up next issue and probably follow along with ease. I may be judging this too harshly. However, given the pedigree of this title and the quality of the new creative team, I expected far more than what was offered in this debut issue.