The final panel of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday's Astonishing X-Men 15 -- Whedon's strongest issue thus far -- ends with an image of Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde) standing in running water and proclaiming "Now it's my turn." This is, of course, an homage to Uncanny X-Men 132 (The Dark Phoenix Saga) in which Wolverine said the same thing in the same situation when he fought the Hellfire Club.
The moment -- Shadowcat is the only team member not to be taken down by the bad guys -- also invokes the standard Justice League of America plot in which the villains have subdued the entire super-powered team but underestimate Batman. In Grant Morrison's JLA: New World Order for example, Protex, having captured Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter, can't believe Batman is giving him so much trouble. "Batman! Batman! He's only a man!" he cries. The captured Superman smiles to himself, and Batman saves the day. The bad guys ignore Batman because "he is only a man" (i.e. only a human being without superpowers); the bad guys will ignore Shadowcat because she is only a little girl, and not a man (like Wolverine).
In his introduction to the collection of his comic book Fray (the only indispensable Buffy comic book spin-off) Whedon says this:
"Don't get me wrong, there were certainly other things on my mind in my young adolescence. But almost certainly topping the list were girls and comics. More specifically girls in comics. Because, frustratingly, there weren't that many. At least in the Marvel universe, where I made my nest, there were very few interesting girls young enough for a twelve year old to crush on. ... Until Kitty Pryde... Cut to me grown up -- yet somehow not remotely matured. The idea for Buffy the Vampire Slayer came from that same lack I felt as a child. Where are the girls? Girls who can fight, who can stand up for themselves, who have opinions and fears and cute outfits?"Shadowcat, Whedon comes out and pretty much says, is the origin of his obsession with cute girls who can fight -- Buffy, all the Slayers, Willow, River Tam (from Firefly) and Wonder Woman.
That final panel in Astonishing X-Men 15 is important because in it Whedon invokes the two biggest male bad-asses in comic book history -- Wolverine and Batman -- and puts the origin of his cute girl fighters in their place. He thus usurps comic book history, making his preoccupations central. None of this would matter unless he was such a strong writer, strong enough to make us see the history of comic books a little differently in the light he shines. "Shadowcat, Wolverine, Batman, Buffy," we say to ourselves, "That actually makes sense." Only Whedon could make us see those names as equal, and importantly related.