[This post is part of a series of posts looking issue by issue 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.]
The team deals with a reactivated Sentinel and discovers the Danger Room is the new enemy just after the children are locked inside with Kitty.
Three separate beats, three different scenes, on the first page, perfectly handled. A shot of the danger room on the second page foreshadows the conclusion. Whedon is good at foreshadowing. Within this issue we hear more of the dark voice that speaks to Emma without learning anything. This is important because this will not bear fruit until the next arc like 8 issues down the line. Set this stuff up early and do not lose track of it, and your story will stand better when the time comes. Brand gets a page here as well -- there is a mole in the mansion. She might get a page every issue in this arc. Ord takes out Wing, Wing releases Danger, Ord Danger and Emma's voice come to get revenge at the same moment and they all end up on the Breakworld. 24 issues tied tightly together.
Whedon does some cool stuff combining a classic sentinel with religious talk -- he crawls toward the mansion with "I come... I hear you, Lord...Praise be to you...my Lord is watching you... she tells me the children will pay for the father's sins and I must not fear death." The classic Sentinel "Destroy" is revised by Whedon into the intriguing "Destroy the oppressors." "I want this thing off my lawn" says Scott and one amazing large red panel later it is down. If Cyclops gets a better moment in Morrison, or anywhere else, I cannot think of it. Even Wolverine says "Sometimes I remember why you are in charge." Whedon rehabilitates Scott much better than Morrison did, though Morrison layed the groundwork.
Wing is back as a twisted zombie ready to murder the children locked in the Danger Room with him. That is a great moment and I am hooked.
Unfortunately that is not where the issue ends. Two twists can be even better sometimes. But here, Whedon's second twist is a mess. Emma says "Our enemy is not in the danger room." Beat. "It is the Danger Room." The "its not IN x it IS x" is such a cliche, one devastated by the Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode about Mothman (the third episode): Mothman parks a school bus in front of the house; Shake, scared out of his mind by nothing but his own fear thinks (for little reason) that there is a vampire in the bus, before shifting into "It's not IN the bus! It IS the bus! The bus of the undead!" When Sara and I read this issue together in a coffee shop in Oxford when we went to turn to the last page, before we even saw it, we were already saying together in our best Master Shake voice "It IS the danger room." That is not good. That is not the effect that is wanted.
Cassaday repeat/background watch. The farm guys get a triple take zoom, Emma gets a triple take, Cyclops gets a triple take zoom. Backgrounds are solid throughout. No problems here.