"Danger, Part Four"
Writer: Joss Whedon
Artist: John Cassaday
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: As the entity that came into existence when the Danger Room programming acquired sentience confronts the X-Men, our merry band of mutants face an opponent who is very familiar with their preferred methods of attack. While the X-Men are able to have some measure of success by employing unconventional attacks, the Danger Room entity proves to be too much for the team, and the issue ends with the X-Men's fate resting in the hands of a single man.
Comments: I'm a little concerned that the next issue will offer up a scene where we learn everything we saw in this issue was an illusion, but I trust that Joss Whedon has more respect for the reading audience that he wouldn't employ such a cheap trick. As such, I find myself looking for some other way that would explain how the X-Men would be able to walk away from this battle. Now I'm not a huge fan of Professor Xavier, so his dramatic return in this issue hasn't exactly won me over, but it should be interesting to see how this battle plays out, as this is a villain that one hopes Xavier wouldn't be able to take down with a simple telepathic blast. Now the issue does get off to a bit of a rocky start as Joss Whedon does get bogged down in his attempt to explain the comic book science of how the Danger Room came to be a sentient entity, but once the actual battle kicks into gear this issue ends up being one of the most exciting X-Men battles we've seen since the Claremont/Byrne era. This issue's big brawl also benefits from the simple fact that the Danger Room entity serves as the narrator that provides a rather engaging look at how the X-Men perform, and this gives the battle a fresh spin, as the X-Men are forced to employ new strategies. When the battle turns against the X-Men, Joss Whedon also presents a couple of moments that are sure to get fans buzzing, as things are looking pretty dire for several members of the team. There's also a nice secondary plot involving the overly aggressive branch of S.H.I.E.L.D., and it's good to see Joss Whedon ready to bring this idea back into play, as it's an intriguing development that I'm happy to see hasn't been dropped from the book. A great read that further advances the argument that this is the best X-Men title we've seen in decades.
The cover to this issue is certainty a visually striking image, and while I'm not sure it will grab the attention of the casual comic fan, I'm sure X-fans will be left quite curious once they get a look at this cover. As for the interior art, John Cassaday gets the opportunity to deliver an issue that is pretty much one extended battle. There are several jaw dropping visuals in this issue, from the Beast's savage attack to one of the most shocking panels to ever grace the pages of an X-book (no, I'm not even going to make an attempt to describe it, as I do not want to spoil the moment for any readers who have yet to read this issue). Needless to say, John Cassaday proves to be surprisingly adept when it comes to delivering the action, as the battle is extremely well laid out on the page, and his impact shots are some of the best in the industry. In fact, his interior visuals are so solid when it comes to delivering the action, that I'm a little surprised that his covers don't have a little more impact, as he has more than shown himself capable of delivering the type of visual moments that would have even the most jaded reader stopping to take a long second look at one of his covers.
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