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Astonishing X-Men #11

Posted: Monday, August 8, 2005
By: Gary Milson



Writer: Joss Whedon
Artist: John Cassaday

Publisher: Marvel Comics


Plot: The X-Mansion’s Danger Room has come alive. After it tried to kill the younger students, the X-Men attempted to shut it down, forcing it to take humanoid form and come after them. It soundly defeated them, before heading off to Genosha…… to kill Charles Xavier himself.

Comments: The two months since the last issue have just flown by, haven’t they? Never mind. The penultimate issue in this story arc is certainly in keeping with the standard that we have come to expect from Whedon and Cassaday over the last year or so, smoothly combining the subtleties of outstanding character writing with the intensity of powerful action sequences.

The prime focus of the book is the battle between Danger (the name the Danger Room entity has given itself) and Xavier, who has taken some surprising steps in order to prepare. The sight of Xavier ramming a truck into Danger, and driving off a bridge is definitely a mark out moment, as is his deflection of Danger‘s attempt to crash the X-Jet into him. Whedon demonstrates immediately that he has as much of a handle on the Xavier character as he has on the other X-Men, emphasizing the harder, darker aspects of his personality, rather than the all-knowing, wise pacifist that many writers fall into. There is the pervading sense that even this attack on his life is all on Xavier’s own terms, and right up until the end of the book, he is one step ahead of Danger. It is brilliant writing.

My only reservation is that I’m not too keen on the Danger character. It’s a smart and interesting idea, but personally I find myself awaiting the next story arc and hoping that we might get to see how Whedon fares when handling some classic villains - maybe not just X-Men foes, but general Marvel villains…… We can always hope.

I know it’s been eleven issues now, but Whedon’s decision to limit the team has been a master stroke. The other X-titles (X-Men and Uncanny in particular) have become near incomprehensible of late, trying to concentrate on too many characters - and adding ever more as well! Keeping the numbers low has lead to leaps and bound in terms of character development; something which the other titles would do well to note. We can only be glad that Whedon is staying for another twelve issues.

Aside from the writing, Cassaday’s art is similarly excellent. While some (myself included) still aren’t sold on some of the costumes (Cyclops’ deep-sea diving gear specifically), the art is magnificent, not only in the character drawing and the illustration of their emotions and feeling, but in the background and setting - the nigh post-apocalyptic Genosha is awe-inspiring.

Final Word: Another class act from Whedon and Cassaday. The Danger arc now builds to its finale, which - if the last panel of this issue is anything to go by - will be spectacular indeed. This entire series has been and continues to be a must for any X-Men fan.



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