[This post is part of an issue by issue look at Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men run; for more of the same, click the Astonishing X-Men label at the bottom of this post.]
In this issue we find out more about Ord's background, his origin on a warrior world. The team goes to Benetech to find out about the mutant that Rao has been experimenting on, and Ord shows up at the school, fighting two children and de-powering one.
Cassaday is dead on in this issue: the opening shot of Ord on his home world, Ord confronting the two children in their pajamas (the girl drops her toothbrush which is pictured in mid air, a nice touch), and the tall vertical panels for the ascent of Kitty and later the descent of Wing and simple and effective. He reuses a shot of the children, which is ok, and he does a triple take of Kitty for great effect -- as she realizes Colossus has returned.
Whedon's authorial voice here is noticeable and likable: "As deaths go, its not the funniest" Kitty says. The conversation between the kids is great -- Whedon has Wing do a funny mid-sentence shift that is wonderfully not signaled with any punctuation. Classic Whedon is the awkward conversation between Ord and the kids at the X-Mansion. Ord is looking for a fight and he ends up putting a hand to his forehead in frustration and saying "And you're sure they're not here ... And you don't know where they went ... This is very frustrating." Also quintessentially Whedon is how this foolishness suddenly becomes something very serious, as Wing is de-powered just to sent the X-Men a message.
Having brought Kitty back to the X-Men, he brings Colossus back. Fans had a big thing over this -- Colossus died in a very heart rending issue (so they say -- I have this issue on my CD-ROM of all the Uncanny issues, and it is bad). Lots of people thought he should stay dead. But like Morrison's New X-Men Whedon's run is relatively self contained (with the exception of drawing on Morrison's run), to the point where I simply do not care. This is why fans love and hate these auteur comic book writers: they bring a new level of quality at the expense of continuity and sacred cows, and also at the expense of that editorial voice that can last decades no matter who writes -- Whedon always sounds like Whedon; Morrison always sounds like Morrison. Many fans angrily dismiss this as ego. I think it depends on the quality of the ego -- Morrison and Whedon are great writers.