For an issue that had a shitstorm of preliminary attention, Astonishing X-Men #51 ended up being quite a snore. It was a lovely wedding ceremony, sure, but that's all it was. Certainly a wedding, even one that goes relatively smoothly, could make for a solid single issue. In this case, though, the romance behind it is so thinly-established that I can't help but think the whole thing would've be many time stronger if they'd waited a few more months before even attempting a wedding issue.
I'm not arguing that Northstar and Kyle's love, itself, is weak. I believe wholeheartedly that these two men care deeply for one another, and always will, and I have no doubt that getting married was the right decision for them as a couple. Marjorie Liu has done an excellent job since she started on this title of making the affection between them genuine and strong, but it hasn't really had the time or space for the readers to fully understand or embrace it. I believe in their love, but don't especially care about it, because I only just met these guys, and other than being crazy about each other, I don't know that much about them, individually or as a couple. If they'd had a few arcs together, if I'd seen them go through more then what still feels like just the first half of some confusing mind control adventure, I might be more excited by their ceremony. As it is, though, their wedding is like any distant acquaintance's wedding: I admire the beauty of it and I wish them all the best, but I don't see any reason to actually be in attendance myself.
It doesn't help that Mike Perkins art is still fairly shoddy. There's plenty of serviceable stuff but nothing really catchy, and a lot of the time when Perkins is trying to show a character expressing a strong emotion, he takes it a bit too far. In the opening scene, Northstar doesn't just seem anxiously happy, he look intensely manic. And later, when his sister suggests he might want to bail on his wedding, what is meant to be an angry scowl looks more like the face of a guy getting punched in the gut. It's not that Perkins can't ever handle his characters expressions, but sometimes the impact of a scene is diluted by this over-the-top acting.
The wedding itself looked really nice, though, and Perkins did a great job every time he had to draw the massive crowd of superheroes there. Also, the final page, which might also have been the strongest story beat, was visually delightful and disgusting all at once. So Perkins does shine in places, and even when he misses the emotional mark, his work is never terrible. Mostly, though, the art suffers from carrying a story where so little takes place.
I'm sure people who picked this up without having read the preceding issues but wanted to join in the celebration of the first gay superhero wedding will be pleased. But as another chapter in a long-form narrative, this wedding comes too soon to be as effective or moving as it wants to be. There's a lot of talk within the issue about how fast everything has been moving, and I agree with that sentiment 100%. If Liu hadn't rushed her characters into this ceremony but, instead, taken her time establishing for the readers the rich, deep romance she obviously sees in Northstar and Kyle, I think their marriage would have been a much more exciting event. Here, it falls flat, despite the lovely setting, honest vows, and loving characters involved.