Astonishingly little time!

*I’m so out of time for today; weekends are crazy stuff.

Astonishing X-Men #11

Well hully gee, I guess we can call this issue an improvement over the last two, if only because the action follows something resembling a logical course as per the confines of its individual world (could someone explain to me again why, in the last issue, there were cutting laser beams set up as defense in a room packed with wires that presumably do something to power the mansion?). Sure, this issue is apparently loaded with environmental contradictions with Chris Claremont’s Excalibur, for those who monitor such continuity-centered matters (and as much as I‘m itching to joke about how nobody really cares what happens in Excalibur, honesty demands otherwise; it’s a top 30 Direct Market book, at least top 50 even before the recent House of M tie-ins, so obviously some people care enough to keep plunking down cash). But taken on its own terms, the issue sort of works, at least once you accept the whole ‘psychic communication with alien technology’ thing.

Why, writer Joss Whedon even deposits a little line with Wolverine indicating that there might be a reason behind those vast killscapes of two issues prior managing to inflict exactly zero fatalities despite the Danger Room being freed from the bounds of non-fatal control and capable of mutating reality to its every whim. Professor X directly addresses the amusing decision to have artist John Cassaday depict the Danger Room’s sentient form as a female robot with dreadlocks. Heck, I even rather enjoyed the means of dancing around the grievous injuries sustained by several X-Persons last issue; sketchy as it was, it at least made sense given the situation, with so many mutants gathered in one place. And yeah, I saw those telltale ropes the good Prof. had rigged up to help him drive the truck; nice use of suggestion, Mr. Cassaday! If this team doesn’t have explanations planned, at least they recognize their own plot gaps and are willing to try and fill them up after the fact.

But, even granting all that, dubbing this issue a triumph over its immediate predecessors is kind of backhanded; it’s still just a really long fight scene, which I like a fair amount, though we sort of did that already last issue. Not to mention that the tale is following the standard-issue ‘cocky new villain studies the heroes and beats them down, only to be fought to a standstill by underestimating a seemingly weaker member’ arc, now entering its latter portion (next up: the team regroups to reach victory - together!). And, of course, the general idea behind the story isn’t terribly original (nor is the snigger-worthy villainous moniker of ‘Danger’), but it’s not like the first six issues of this book were much different on that front; it’s just that the first storyline moved at a brisker pace, and seemed to have real purpose. This one isn’t overcoming the feeling that these six issues are largely padding on the road to better-planned things, and six issues is too much padding by any measure.

The bit with the axe was fun, though, and I liked the big scary robot, so I’ll call this a slight pull upward in quality.