"Gifted, Part Five of Six"
Writer: Joss Whedon
Artist: John Cassaday
After a quick look in on the X-Mansion where we see a young mutant healer has managed to save the life of the student who was attacked/cured by Ord, the book joins the X-Men as the team expresses their desire to shut down the lab facility that is manufacturing the cure. While Ord arrives to make an active bid at stopping the team's efforts, we see Colossus makes a rather dramatic return to the team, as he pounds the villain into submission.
The main problem I have with this issue is that it doesn't advance the story in a direction that I found to be all that interesting. I mean the idea that has driven my interest in this story was that Joss Whedon had come up with a take on the staple "mutant cure" plot that appeared to be taking a look at both sides of the argument, but this issue makes it clear that he's decided to travel down the path that many writers have already laid out. I have to say I was truly disappointed when the doctor responsible for the cure attempted to justify her experimenting on the remains of mutants, as the story was so much more engaging when the cure couldn't be dismissed as yet another sinister plan. This issue also establishes a clear link between the villain Ord and the doctor responsible for the cure, which further undermined any credibility the story had managed to develop, as did the revelation that they were busy torturing Colossus in the lower levels. Still, there are some solid character moments in this issue, from Wolverine's decidedly brutal interpretation of Emma's orders, to the arrival of Colossus. In fact the latter scene acts as a powerful reminder that the X-Men have been lacking the impact value of a character who can take down a villain using sheer brute force. There's also a great little moment where Kitty lists off all the possible options that could explain Colossus' return from the dead. I also have to say I loved this issue's cliff-hanger, and I'll be counting the days until the next issue.
First off I have to give full marks for this issue's cover image as not only does it have some fun messing with the cover design elements, but it's an undeniably powerful visual that is sure to grab the attention of most X-Men readers. As for the interior art I have to say I remain impressed that it would appear that John Cassaday seems to look keeping up with the monthly pace, and his work doesn't show any sign that he's cutting corners artistically to get the art delivered before the deadlines. The art also deserves credit for managing to capture the raw emotions of the material, as the shot where the young mutant discovers he's been cured is a great visual moment, as is the scene where the X-Men react to the arrival of Colossus. The last page cliffhanger also makes for a great image to carry us into the next issue. The art also manages to capture the visual comedy of the scene where Ord makes an incorrect guess about what is standing behind him.
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