While fun and large-scale, this all felt inevitable. Certainly that's how Sinister saw it, and I think it ended up being a weakness, because Sinister has been assuring his minions and the readers for two whole issues that his plan would work and, then...it does. It goes off without a hitch. Obviously the story isn't over and his plan isn't complete, and the non-Phoenix X-Men arrive just in time to maybe do something about it, but still. Watching a villain, or any character, win without trouble and in exactly the way they promised they would isn't especially exciting to read.
Kieron Gillen has a lot of fun bits to throw into the mix, like Gambit clones being used as human bombs or Sinister's castle using the Jean Grey School method of being built on a Krakoa. But most of these succeed more because of Daniel Acuña's art than anything else. Acuña handles the chaos of this epic battle quite well, and all the various types of foot soldier which Sinister sends out are distinct from one another but appropriately uniform as groups. And Sinister himself, as he was last issue, is pitch perfect: smug and composed and wickedly British. This all adds life and depth to the generally straightforward script, and brings a kind of fantastic realism to the combat itself.
Also, I think I prefer Acuña's take on the Phoenix Five to anyone's I've seen. His Emma Frost, especially, looks truly powerful instead of merely hyper-sexualized. And even though I'm not sure I've seen him use this power anywhere else, Colossus growing to giant size so he could fight the Krakoa looked awesome, and I hope he employs that tactic again in the future. Although, admittedly, it might've been the mangled Krakoa clone with a castle for a hunchback that I was really so taken with.
Anyway, I hope this Mr. Sinister story isn't the end of Gillen's plans for him. I think Gillen gets the character but that, in the face of AvX, he's had to pit Sinister against the Phoenix Five instead of the usual X-Men and that has led to a story which, so far, isn't really clicking. I have no clear sense of what the conclusion might bring, though, either, so perhaps I'll eat these words in a couple weeks. But I do wish that there'd been a bit more of the unexpected in this middle beat, because it ended up being more boring than it needed to be, considering the size and scope of the fight.