Comic Book: Astonishing X-Men

Astonishing X-Men was a comic book series published by Marvel Comics, and originally written by Buffy's Joss Whedon, a lifelong X-Men fan, with art by John Cassaday. The seties lasted for 68 issues (July, 2004-December, 2013). It was replaced with Amazing X-Men, kicked off by Jason Aaron.

The series originally focused on Kitty Pryde, AKA former teenage foil Shadowcat, as she rejoins the X-Men as a student advisor following the events of Grant Morrison's run, and rebuilds her relationship with her first love Colossus (Piotr 'Peter' Rasputin) once he comes back to life. Their relationship is complicated by the fact that the one responsible for Piotr's resurrection, an alien called Ord, believes a mutant from Earth is destined to destroy his planet within the next three years. Meanwhile S.W.O.R.D., one of SHIELD's sister factions, tries to stop an all out war between Earth and Ord's home planet Breakworld.

It also focused on the building relationship of Cyclops (Scott Summers) and Emma Frost following their psychic affair and the death of his wife, Phoenix (Jean Grey); with Emma seemingly working as a mole for a new Hellfire Club, Scott tries to return the X-Men to a traditional superhero team, using Kitty, Peter, and Emma, along with Beast (Hank McCoy) and Wolverine (you know who he is) as his core team.

Complicating things, Hank's old colleague Dr Kavita Rao releases news on her cure for mutants along with her connection to Ord, splitting the mutant population in half on the ethics of "curing" mutation, while the Danger Room, long since upgraded by Professor Xavier using alien technology, gains sentience and rebuilds itself as an android known as Danger.

Following Joss Whedon's run, Warren Ellis took over the series, followed by Daniel Way, Christos Gage and Marjorie Liu, though it was still primarily identified as 'Whedon's X-Men book'. For a brief period, it was intended to transition the series to a standalone miniseries format, since the series had the least Continuity Lockout. The only story actually released in this format was Warren Ellis's Xenogenesis.

Not to be confused with 4-issue Age of Apocalypse title that was published in 1995, when Uncanny was briefly renamed during that crossover. Nor with a second title of that name which lasted for 3 issues in 1999.

In addition to the usual X-Men tropes, contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Agent Abigail Brand.
  • Action Pet: Lockheed the alien dragon. Wolverine thinks he should be team leader. Turns out he might've had a point.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Danger Room is alive, and it wants to defy its programming and kill all the students and staff to get revenge on Xavier.
  • Alien Invasion: What Agent Brand and SWORD is trying to avoid - the Breakworld's "precogs" believe a mutant (most likely an X-Man) is destined to destroy their world within their lifetimes.
  • Anti-Hero: Agent Brand.
  • Anti-Villain: Ord and, arguably, Danger.
  • Audience Surrogate: Shadowcat is the primary narrator and the POV tends to focus on her, though there's also Armor, the student who gets the most focus here. Armor's best friend Wing is possibly a subversion, given that he starts off like one, before being depowered and pushed into committing suicide.
  • Author Appeal: The inclusion of Kitty Pryde (Kitty was Joss's favourite X-Man and one of the main inspirations for Buffy) is the most blatant example, though some argue whether that's really a bad thing.
  • Back from the Dead: Colossus and later on Cyclops as apart of his Batman Gambit.
  • Badass:
  • Batman Gambit: Cyclops, who managed to give a fake plan, which led to him being captured, which was part of the actual plan, since he had full control of his powers and did not lose them, which allowed him to get inside the enemy base and take out their leader.
  • Big Bad: For the majority of the book's first run, Ord filled this role, despite being beaten early, since he comes back, though his race is currently ruled by a Bigger Bad.
    • Cassandra Nova turns out to be a pretty good competitor for this role too.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The X-Men were able to stop the Breakworlders from destroying the Earth with the giant bullet, but Kitty ends up being stuck in the bullet after phasing it and ends up spiraling into space as a result. The second to last panel has Colossus looking up at the sky in sadness after finding out what happened.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Everyone is quick to call out Xavier over his treatment of Danger.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Everyone. It's a Joss Whedon-penned series.
  • Face of the Band: invoked One of the reasons Cyclops wanted Kitty on the team, as the other members included Beast (hirsute and monstrous looking), Wolverine (an unapologetic thug), Emma (a known former felon) and Scott (whose powers prevent him from looking anyone in the eye).
  • Funny Background Event: The Danger Room serves as a font of these for the first few issues.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Abigail Brand heads up the Sentient Worlds Observation and Reaction Division.
    Hank McCoy: The government and their acronyms. Honestly, it's adorable.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Colossus' resurrection is generally taken for granted by now, as he appears in the covers of the various trade paperbacks, but it was very surprising at the time, especially since he was dead for 5 years.
  • Loophole Abuse: The Danger Room can't actually kill anyone. Doesn't stop Danger from helping someone suicide.
  • Mind Control: During Cassandra Nova's attack, pretty much the entire team.
  • Mind Screw: The Torn arc. See Your Mind Makes It Real below.
  • The Mole: It is established very early on that SWORD has one at the Xavier school. It's Lockheed.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Joss Whedon goes out of his way to avoid turning Doctor Rao into one of these. She still qualifies for numerous reasons.
  • Morality Pet: Tilde Soames for Kavita Rao.
  • Patrick Stewart Speech: Kitty tries to give one to Wing about how mutants are able to overcome adversity because of their close-knit ties.
  • Power Incontinence: Scott is cured of this for a while, but it doesn't stick.
  • Movie Superheroes Wear Black: Lampshaded and averted by Cyclops. The black leather doesn't help with the heroic image the team is going for.
  • Mythology Gag: While those who didn't read Origin (which wasn't as old and well-known as it is now) probably just thought he was rambling, when Kitty calls Logan 'Logan', he says he doesn't know where Logan is, but he's probably mixed up in his cups. He's referring to his biological father, whose last name was Logan. Cassandra Nova's Mind Rape regressing him into the mind of his childhood self means he goes by the name James Howlett.
  • Reformed, but Rejected: Kitty Pryde hasn't read Generation X, so her reaction to Emma Frost as a teacher at the X-Academy is less than enthusiastic.
    • In an interesting variation on this trope, Kitty's distrust of Emma is one of the main reasons Emma wanted her on the team. She wanted someone who would watchdog her in case she slipped back into her older habits.
  • Sequel Series: To Grant Morrison's New X-Men.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Near the end of the Breakworld arc, Emma's telepathy lets the team pull this off. While riding a bugged enemy vehicle, they hash out a fake plan out loud while having an entire second conversation in their heads.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: The Torn arc is a more complex example than most. At first it seems like Emma Frost has betrayed the X-men and rejoined the Hellfire club, but it turns out all of them, except for Cassandra Nova, are manifestations of Emma's guilt over being a former villain and her fear of falling back to her old ways. She projects these mental images into the X-men too, so it seems like individual members of the Hellfire club are the ones fighting them and messing with their heads. Cassandra had planted a suggestion in her mind before being imprisoned in a cocoon, and simply took advantage of these doubts and fears Whew!