There was a time when I wasn’t really all that into comics. In fact, while I was familiar with franchises and characters, I wasn’t reading them at all. Nerds on Earth writer Jason found this out and placed the first trade of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men in my hands.
He knew what he was doing.
All these years later, I decide to revisit the run once again and pop on over to Nerds on Earth to see what we’ve written on it already. I didn’t want to spend time working up an article we’ve already done, after all.
Nothing. Nada. Zero. We mention it in passing here and there and we recommend it on a listicle, but all in all I’d say we had about 100 words committed to it over the course of our four years of existence.
Not cool, man.
Last week, I did a spotlight on Danger who was created during this run. Today I want to highlight my seven favorite moments from these 25 wonderful issues. This proved way harder than I thought it would, and I knew it wouldn’t be easy! But here they are, in no particular order.
The Top 7 Moments from Astonishing X-Men
1 The Return of Colossus (And the Fastball Special)
This moment couldn’t not be on this list. Years earlier in real time (read: our time, not comic book time), Colossus sacrificed himself to serve as a catalyst for the cure to the Legacy virus. He seemed pretty definitively dead; Kitty spread his ashes and everything.
But then she finds herself running around in a science lab in Astonishing X-Men #4 where she unlocks a door and there he stands in all of his metallic glory; hulking over her as bullets pass through her body and *ping* off of him.
She is so shocked that all she can do is stand there as he runs right through her and takes care of business. Awesome moment!
A short time later and we get to see the first OG Fastball Special in years when Ord tries to take off with the serum capable of curing mutants. All the feels.
2 Cyclops, Unleashed
One of the things this run does exceedingly well is give every member of the team their time to shine. Cyclops gets one of his fairly early on when, in defense of the X-Mansion and the students, he blasts a Sentinel with everything he’s got. Sometimes we forget how devastatingly powerful Cyclops’s blasts are; how much he’s holding back. Even Wolverine needs reminding from time to time.
3 Wolverine and Armor
Wolverine has a long history of serving as the mentor figure to young female X-Men; most notably Kitty Pryde and Jubilee. In the pages of Astonishing X-Men, he starts to have a similar kind of relationship bud with a brand new mutant introduced within its pages: Hisako Ichiki, or Armor.
The two of them have some great moments together during the run; most notable among them being when Wolverine gives Hisako some tough love on the surface of Breakworld. She’s not convinced she’s cut out to be an X-Man, and a few speech balloons later, she gives herself her codename. She also gives Wolverine a hard time, which is a defining characteristic of those whom he takes under his wing.
Bonus: This panel is still my favorite Wolverine panel of all time. It is hilarious in isolation from its context, but it is also the beginning of a moving scene. Hisako checks in on Wolverine in the wake of Kitty’s sacrifice (more on that below) and when she finds him in his bottles, she attacks him. She knows that he needs the distraction and she needs the training if this X-Men thing is going to stick.
4 The Mindless X-Men
When the Hellfire Club attacks the X-Mansion, they meddle with the minds of the X-Men; effectively neutralizing them in specific ways. Beast’s mind is stripped away, leaving just an animal, and Wolverine is turned into a frightened little kid. This pits the two in a pretty funny cat-and-mouse chase throughout the grounds, but each is also given a particularly hilarious moment.
For Wolverine, it was that he is caught making little paper chains.
And Beast’s comes when he runs into Hisako while hunting down Wolverine. He stands up on his hind legs like a bear and roars at Hisako…who does the same thing right back. And it scares him off! In his little animal brain, she was bigger than he is and therefore he was outmatched. Funny touch, for sure!
5 Thoughtful Emma Frost
Emma Frost’s presence on the team proves…polarizing. Her and Cyclops are a thing during this time in the comics, so he’s down pretty much as long as they’re sharing a bed. The rest vacillate on her. She’s primarily an antagonist, you know?
But in another humorous moment, as the ship the X-Men are on is breaking up and violently entering the atmosphere of Breakworld, we get a scene where Wolverine, Kitty, and Colossus are getting visibly shaken to death and worry how the other crew is doing.
Cut to the other crew…and they’re having tea thanks to Emma’s telepathy. It made me laugh.
6 That’s No Moon
Listen, you may not agree with any of the other items on this list. You might well suggest a host of other awesome moments (I could, too!). But no listicle of the best moments from this run would be complete or valid without including this moment:
It’s great in part because Beast is totally a nerd! He’d been waiting his whole life to drop this quote from Star Wars, ha!
7 Kitty is a Bada@#
From issue #1, Kitty isn’t sure why she’s on the team. Her powers are primarily defensive, after all, and she’s told she’s mostly there for PR.
From that moment on, Kitty completely owns this run. And this should come as no surprise to those familiar with Whedon’s work. He is excellent at writing strong female leads. She is the one who wins the day throughout the series, like when she phases everybody safely through the attack of the Wild Sentinel before then getting inside of it and using her computer whiz-ness to neutralize it as a threat.
And in another classic Whedon move…she is basically killed off at the end. She heroically sacrifices herself by phasing a giant bullet through the entire Earth, and rides off into the universe.
I mean, don’t worry. She’ll be back, of course. But that doesn’t diminish this sacrifice or its awesomeness at all.
Picking 7 moments from this run was really, really difficult, and I’m sure you noticed how often I cheated and added in some extras here and there. The reason being that this run is amazing and an absolute must read. Get it here. You can read the run in its entirety on the Marvel Unlimited app, too!