[This post is part of a series of post looking issue by issue at Joss Whedon's AXM run issue by issue. For more of the same click the label at the bottom of this post.]
In this issue Emma begins her psychic attack on Cyclops.
Whedon does what he does best here -- emotional weight reinforced through some light undercutting. Whedon gets excellent milage out of Scott and Jean's history. He sees without his goggles because of her, and they are comfortable with each other -- and when she asks if she makes him sad, it is a real question and a good one. Whedon's emotional compass here is great right where it needs to be for this issue to work -- he shows us how Scott is too controlled, how he feels inferior to Jean. We know this, of course, but as on Buffy Whedon knows how to give genre fiction serious emotional weight. And so much of the issue is just talking -- but it is such intense well realized talking it is never a defect. The talking is really getting to the heart of these characters here. Many times the "let me know you your dark desires" comes off as staged -- but here you believe this could break him down. Emma's arguments are actually pretty good -- maybe Xavier DID make Scott the leader because he had nothing else. Using Morrison's Black Bug Room is a great touch -- Whedon is deft here -- he does not tell us more than Morrison did about it -- but gets more pack for his punch out of the fact that the reader's know that it is bad news and little else. After demonstrating how well he understands Scott's character Whedon adds his own bit to the mythology -- the day Scott, as a boy, decided not to control his power. Maybe this is a false memory, maybe not, but Whedon has earned our trust with his handling of Scott in this story, and so he earns the right to add something new. People say Morrison did a great job with Scott Summers. He did. But Whedon puts him to Shame with this run.
Kitty and Peter's lighthearted subplot -- also with sex as a theme -- serves just to get us out of all this intensity, and it works perfectly.
A hook for the next issue: Brand knows the mutant that will destroy the Breakworld (though we do not yet) and Beast and Nova meeting again -- and he is out with a great issue.
Whedon is in fine form, but Cassaday fails him here. This issue is especially egregious in terms of Casaday's backgrounds and repeats. Not all are terrible -- some are used for good comic effect -- but there are so many of them they seem lazy, when you see them in aggregate. And I have mentioned this before -- Casaday is a great artist in many respects but Emma and Jean need to be very sexy to make this seduction work and Cassaday, as far as I can think, does not do sexy faces well. Travis Charest is the guy I would want here.
Cassaday repeat/background watch: a zoom on Scott, a zoom on Scott and Jean, Jean is repeated, Jean is repeated twice, we have a triple zoom in, a panel of kids on a couch is repeated, Peter and Kitty get a zoom, Scott is repeated, Emma and Scott get a zoom, Scott is repeated twice, a panel is almost exactly repeated twice. As for backgrounds, again, we have a lot of patterns and blank spaces: Sunset for Scott and Jean, a curtain and a wall, wood paneling, bookcases, blank brown backgrounds, a photograph of earth, grey, red, blue.