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Joss Whedon - "Astonishing X-Men" Comic Book - Issue 09 - Comixfan.com Review

Brian Wilkinson

Saturday 2 April 2005, by Webmaster

The Danger Room is angry... but how do fans feel?

Written by: Joss Whedon
Penciled/Inked by: John Cassaday
Colors by: Laura Martin
Letters by: Chris Eliopoulos
Assistant Editor: Cory Sedlmeier & Stephanie Moore
Editor: Mike Marts
Editor In Chief: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley

While there are a few of you out there who have yet to appreciate Joss Whedon and John Cassady’s work, I feel that you’re tragically missing out on an incredibly unique offering of great writing and great art.

Some of you may disagree, but other than Mark Millar’s Ultimates 2 and Brian Michael Bendis on Ultimate Spider-Man there really isn’t much to sink your teeth into.

One of the few great shining beacons in the realm of the X-Universe is Chris Claremont’s great turn on X-Men: The End and I hear DeFillipis and Weir are doing amazing things on New X-Men.

Maybe it’s just me, but my love of comics was steadily growing colder until word of Joss Whedon on this title began to surface. My embracing of Whedon has been sort of an odd journey for me as I only vaguely knew who he was at the beginning of last summer. I knew he was going to be writing this book, but I was kind of put off by the whole concept of Buffy and Angel. If not for a local video store which rents full seasons of television for a cheap price, I probably would have avoided this book like the plague.

I’d be one of the doubtful readers out there.

Thank god I’m not. While I admit this arc seems a bit tired and played given the recent weekly-destruction-of-the-mansion theme running through the books, it’s the way Whedon and Cassaday have been handling it that has kept it from drifting into obscurity.

Just so there’s no confusion I’ll state it upfront: I don’t like a sentient Danger Room as a concept. It’s been done with cerebro. Granted, this is a different monster, but it feels much too close to the monster-of-the-week format that Buffy adopted in its early days.

The things that help pull it away from a yawner of a concept are Cassaday’s stunning and sometimes disturbing art, the moment when Wolverine appreciates what Colossus’ return means, and the ongoing dialogue between the Room and Kitty.

There’s an edge to this book that may have gotten trimmed away to big action scenes, needless splash pages, and too much dialogue that doesn’t add anything to what’s happening.

This isn’t the best work I’ve seen from Whedon and Cassaday but it’s still far and away some of the best being put out on a regular basis by Marvel. While I’m underwhelmed by this plot, I appreciate the thought and characterization that helps balance out the action. I’m a bit disappointed that we’ve gotten two action-heavy issues in a row as it makes it hard to get into the meatier aspects of the characters, but at least it’s well put together.

I’d be much more disappointed if this were nearly the end of Whedon and Cassaday’s run. As it is, it’s not even halfway which makes this kind of arc more excusable. If Whedon were still planning to leave, I’d want something more epic and emotional than what feels like a filler arc at this point.

After all, the first arc had the return of Colossus, a potentially world-wide impact thanks to "the cure" as well as action and great characterization. So far there hasn’t been much to distinguish this arc other than Emma’s mysterious ramblings to an off-page ally and a few touched upon moments between Kitty and Peter.

Then again, the real payoff for the last arc came in the last three issues. Since we’re only halfway through this arc, maybe I should back down a little and see what else Whedon can produce. The Danger Room is a clear and present threat at the moment, but I hardly see a big fight coming into play for three issues.

Besides, next month sees the return of Professor X, a character that shouldn’t be away from the mansion for more than a few issues at a time at the most. I appreciate what Claremont is doing in Excalibur with the character, but Charles belongs in his own house.

At any rate, this is one book that you should be reading and buying both the individual issues and the trade. It’s just that good. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and watch the new episode of Lost.