Astonishing X-Men #7–12 by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday
This trade paperback continues on from the first, but it is just a break in the story, really; fortunately, Whedon is an experienced man when it comes to episodic storytelling. Things start off with a fight scene, expertly executed and with sparkling dialogue – Peter and Kitty are having angsty thoughts during the combat, whereas Logan thinks, ‘I really like beer.’
An aside: I want a Whedon-written Fantastic Four comic, based solely on their appearance in the first issue. Johnny Storm: ‘But what if it backfires? What if the press brand us a menace?’ Logan: ‘Then you’ll get a much more interesting bunch of groupies, kid.’ (Pause) Johnny: ‘Reed? Can we be evil know?’ Reed Richards: ‘Maybe after dinner.’
Back to the plot. The boy at Xavier’s who was injected with the cure by Ord in the first trade kills himself – but he’s done it in the Danger Room …
Under a great cover for issue #8 – Cassaday goes on the list of artists who draw really good claws of Logan coming out of his bare hands – there is an attack by an old sentinel on the mansion. I may become boring here, by constantly banging on about how good an artist Cassaday is here: he draws really good action, with a superb sense of where to place the camera in the scene, and the dynamic feel he brings. On top of that, he draws faces really well – he gives Logan a great sneer. I’ll stop it now, shall I?
The school children have nowhere to hide, so they retreat to the Danger Room, which is where things go a little flabby in this arc. Issue #9 is basically a justification of the silliness of the concept of the Danger Room mutating and coming to life, and being angry about the way it has been treated. Thematically, it is linked to the X-concept but it still feels out of place and a bit of a shoddy villain.
I say shoddy because ‘Danger’ (not a great name) is the calculating villain, which loses effect when you can see someone is writing it in that way – the narrative is disrupted when the strings are visible. Top that with the boring talking scene between Danger and Charles, and this trade is off the rails a little bit. Looking at my notes, the only line I have is the noticing the ‘X’-symbol parachutes the X-Men use. Not a good sign. It’s not all bad, but it’s not all good. At least there is good art and dialogue to keep you entertained along the way.