Astonishing X-Men #12


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Astonishing X-Men #12


  • Words: Joss Whedon
  • Art: John Cassaday
  • Inks: John Cassaday
  • Colors: Laura Martin
  • Story Title: Dangerous, Part 6
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Aug 31, 2005

By the time the dust settles on Season One, The X-Men will learn that friends can be more dangerous than enemies.

After defeating the X-Men and flying off to Genosha, Danger, the sentient embodiment of their Danger Room, has activated the mega-Sentinel that killed 16 million mutants. Squaring off with the Sentinel, Kitty Pryde phases everyone when it detonates a several megaton blast. Regrouping, the X-Men face a second wave of swarming metallic insects. Cyclops, Colossus, Kitty, and Wolverine take on the swarm, while Beast goes one-on-one with Danger, now sprouting wings made out of the wreckage. But Emma Frost ducks out on the brawl. Beast lives up to his name destroying Danger, and when Kitty phases through to the interior of the mega-Sentinel, she’s able to shut it down. The aftermath, however, brings more turmoil than the battle itself.

The big showdown that takes up most of Astonishing X-Men #12 didn’t engage me at all. After a near-omnipotent intelligence opened up a whole six-pack of whoop-ass on them, I expected a much harder going for the X-Men. However, the mega-Sentinel developing a conscience and coming to grips with the carnage it had wrought on Genosha was a nice touch poignantly dramatized by Joss Whedon. And the extended fight scene merely sets the stage for the heart of the issue—conflicts within the group that set the stage for what should be a very interesting and much-anticipated Season Two.

Joss Whedon has turned in a strong performance over his initial 12-issue run with the team. Still, Astonishing X-Men has been a bit overrated, though, if only in the sense that its success in the post-Morrison era is more about the moribund state of the other X-titles. But that said, though he isn’t putting a stamp on the team that’s in the class of Morrison’s work, Whedon’s remarkable strength has been utilizing character to set up genuine conflicts superior to the melodrama that’s all too often associated with the X-Men. He’s carefully sown the seeds of internal differences; and because his characterization comes more from emotions and drives than plot points, the drama has played out naturally. Of the two internal conflicts in Astonishing X-Men, one of them, potentially involving a traitor the team has yet to discover, works on the same dynamic found in Avengers Disassembled and Identity Crisis. While I had a suspicion months ago that something like it would happen to the particular character involved—who just happens to be my favorite X-Man—I like the way it’s developing. The other conflict—involving the lengths to which Xavier will go to fulfill his vision—hits the reader as more of a surprise, but has developed just as naturally as the first. In retrospect, Charles has been heading for this crossroads for a while. Scott’s reaction to Charles is particularly intriguing. After making a crucial thematic connection between both of Whedon’s conflicts, he’s no longer drinking anyone’s Kool-Aid, and the reader comes away with the feeling that in the months to come he’ll be instrumental in either the team’s survival, or its destruction.

Because the fight scene isn’t particularly well-choreographed in the script, John Cassady’s depiction of it is a little off. But Cassaday on a bad day would be inspiration from The Muses for countless other artists. And whatever miscues there are in the fight scene are nowhere to be found in the aftermath. Sure, it’s talking heads, but Cassaday captures the tension and confrontation perfectly, starting off with the most striking cover of the series. Within the issue, Beast is captured with a ferocity that rivals Logan’s. Charles going from shaken and sheepish relief that he’s still alive to true-believer defensiveness is marvelously portrayed. Kitty’s expression and tears makes you wonder if she’s regretting coming back to the fold. Even behind the mask and suddenly a crusader ill at ease with the cause, Scott has a relentlessness in his pursuit of right despite all else that’s the mark of a true leader. And Emma—in shadow she’s quite disturbing, but in daylight she’s even more so.

While not the best issue thus far, Astonishing X-Men #12 hits all the notes that a season finale should. How long until February?

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