Joss Whedon is a legend among fans in the entertainment world. He's given us Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly and Dollhouse, not to mention his work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Everyone loves him for different reasons. For me, his most memorable work was writing the Marvel Comics series Astonishing X-Men, drawn by John Cassaday.
Firefly is a classic, and we have all seen the Avengers movie. But if I had to pick one of his masterpieces, I'm immediately grabbing for his X-Men run. He took comics' favorite mutants and broke them down, piece by piece, only to built them back up again. He made each character weak, only to make them stronger. And he did it without making Wolverine. Here are 10 of my favorite moments from the Astonishing X-Men series.
Honorable Mention: Are You Beer?
Wolverine doesn't mourn often, but when he does, he mourns hard — and with tons of alcohol. Armor met Logan while he was drunk in a room, and before he could go into his feelings about Kitty's death, she punched him. She said he needed time to grieve and she needed training. The next time you see them, Logan and Armor are fighting in the now bare Danger Room, Logan still shoeless with socks on.
1. Wolverine is Pretty, Oh So Pretty
Wolverine thought he had the drop on Cassandra Nova. Why wouldn't he? He's Wolverine. And he's the best there is at what he does. Too bad Cassandra Nova (or Emma being controlled by Cassandra Nova) is quicker. Logan went from being the big, bad Wolverine to the young, scared, wimpy James Howlett.
2. Please, Colossus, No More Jokes
Some people have comedic timing from years of practice. Colossus has neither the timing nor the practice. During a mission briefing with his team and Abigail Brand, head of S.W.O.R.D. (Sentient World Observation and Response Department — think S.H.I.E.L.D. but for outer space), Brand asked Colossus if he'd plan on destroying Breakworld. Colossus says that he'd been planning on doing so since he was a child. He was joking, and no one knew. His look of embarrassment after was hilarious.
3. Fastball Special
Ord of Breakworld — an alien trying to "cure" mutants by taking away their powers — was in his spaceship making his escape into orbit. There were no fliers or teleporters or flying machines of any kind to catch Ord's escaping ship. But Colossus refused to let Ord escape.
Wolverine asked Colossus if he was rested. Colossus responds that he is strong. Logan then said he had two words for him (no, not "suck it"). After years and years, Colossus launched Wolverine at Ord's ship, and the Fastball Special was back. Wolverine caught up with Ord and punched him right through his mouth, saying: "You bite, I'll heal. I pop, you won't. Land." Ord landed and was immediately arrested.
4. Colossus And Kitty Pryde Finally Get It On
Kitty thought she was crowding Colossus since he returned. Colossus didn't think Kitty was crowding him enough. Later, after another rant by Kitty Pryde, Colossus grabs Kitty and passionately kisses her.
Two parts of this were absolutely great: Colossus doing something during sex to make her phase through the floor, and the next morning Logan looking at them both and saying, "About time." Even Logan knew it took forever for them to get it on.
5. Abigail And Beast
From the moment these two met, Beast hated her. She was ruthless, heartless and completely uncaring. She was willing to sacrifice anyone and everyone, and Beast obviously had a problem with that. Heck, he even threatened to eat her. But Beast knew something was up with her.
Apparently, and I quote, she wants to "break him like a pony." It was like watching two high school kids who claimed they hated each other, only to meet in secret in the janitor's closet between classes to make out.
6. You Took Your Best Shot And Now...
The Hellfire Club had taken out all of the X-Men. Wolverine was reverted back to a frightened child, Colossus was taken out by Sebastian Shaw — kind of — Beast is now, well, a mindless beast, and Cyclops is comatose in the infirmary.
And then there's Kitty Pryde. The idea was to have her phase through the Earth for all eternity. But Kitty regained control of her powers and made her way back up to the school grounds. She warned Emma that she knew she'd mess up. Now, it was her turn to strike. The issue ended with the image above. A classic scene redone by Whedon and Cassaday.
7. Enter Danger
It's rare that a new villain comes around and absolutely beats the snot out of a veteran team like the X-Men. But when you're fighting someone you've been fighting for years, it makes sense that they'd know all of your attacks, strengths and weaknesses. And that is what Danger is: The Danger Room in a physical form. And she beat the X-Men down bad.
8. Danger Vs Xavier
Danger's next step was to take out the guy who enslaved her to begin with. Professor Charles Xavier was her target. So Danger made her trip to Genosha, and what she discovered is that she had no idea who she was up against. Xavier took her out with ease. While she expected to come up against a withered old man who would play mind games, she didn't know how truly ruthless and cunning Xavier could be.
9. Cyclops: The Ultimate Planner
Kruun, the Lord of Breakworld, had resurrected and captured Cyclops in hopes of finding out what the X-Men's plans were. He'd been listening in as the X-Men and Abigail Brand talked about Leviathan and how it would save them. After everyone was in place, Cyclops let Kruun know he was aware that Kruun was listening and that the real plan was being formed in their minds (gotta love having telepaths on your team). Kruun then demanded to know what else Cyclops was hiding. Cyclops smiled and optic blasted Kruun right in the face. Kruun didn't know Cyclops had his powers back.
This was awesome. Cyclops works best under pressure. No time to let doubt set in, he just does it. It's times like this that make people remember why he leads the X-Men. Well, that and blowing a Sentinel off your lawn simply by opening your eyes.
10. Kitty Pryde Saves the World
Kitty Pryde was trapped in a giant bullet heading for Earth. All of the world's greatest heroes were in a trance inside a spaceship with no hope of getting to the bullet in time. It was up Kitty to stop it. But how? She succeeds because Kitty Pryde is a certified badass. Digging deep, she phased the bullet right through the Earth.
Sure, there have been plenty of heroes that have saved the world in the past, but none of them did it like this. Kitty Pryde not only phased the bullet through Earth, but she phased it all throughout space to ensure no other planet would be destroyed, trapping herself within it. The ultimate sacrifice.
11. Colossus Returns
Kitty Pryde went into the belly of the beast, looking for a dead former teammate. After phasing what seemed like forever through a weird metal, she reaches the bottom and finds a giant locked door. But there's no lock Kitty can't open. She opens the door, the guards find her and start shooting.
The bullets phase through Kitty and then "Ping!" They bounce off a metal body. Kitty turns around to see the man she loved standing in front of her. A man everyone believed to be dead. Colossus tries to kill his captors. Kitty stops him and he drops to his knees, grabbing Kitty and asking if he is finally dead.
This one gets me every time. It's one of the most emotional moments in comics. Joss Whedon took the scene from Buffy the Vampire when Angel returns from hell and brought it to Astonishing X-Men, while John Cassaday did a perfect job capturing the scene.
What was your favorite moment from the series? Let me know in the comments below.