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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 series lasted for 68 issues (July, 2004-December, 2013).

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, 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.

The series continued after Joss Whedon's run, although it was still primarily identified as "Whedon's X-Men book". At first, Warren Ellis took over the series with issue #25. For a brief period it was intended to transition Astonishing X-Men to a standalone miniseries format, since the series had the least Continuity Lockout, but the only story actually released in this format was Warren Ellis's Xenogenesis. Instead, the main series resumed with two simultaneous story arcs – Monstrous by Daniel Way and Meanwhile by Christos Gage – followed by a one-issue story by James Asmus. After that came the four-issue story arc Exalted by Greg Pak, which spun off into the new volume of X-Treme X-Men.

Marjorie Liu then took over as the new writer from issue #48, retooling the book to focus on the new team of Wolverine, Northstar, Karma, Gambit, Cecilia Reyes, Iceman and Warbird. Each of the stories in Liu's run connected in some way with the theme of people needing emotional connection. The run was notable for featuring the first same-sex wedding in Marvel Comics, with Northstar marrying his non-mutant boyfriend Kyle. Liu also ended up having the longest run as writer on the book since Whedon, remaining until the book was cancelled at issue #68. It was replaced by Amazing X-Men, kicked off by Jason Aaron.

In 2017, it was announced that a fourth volume of Astonishing X-Men —launched by Charles Soule— will be launched as part of the Resurr Xion banner of titles, set in the aftermath of Inhumans vs. X-Men. The new team features Old Man Logan, Psylocke, Mystique, Gambit, Fantomex, Bishop, and Archangel, while Rogue makes her return to the X-Men after spending a few years with the Uncanny Avengers.

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 Pet: Lockheed, who is an alien dragon, has imprinted on Kitty Pryde and comes to her rescue when Ord is threatening her. Subverted when Abigail later reveals that, despite Lockheed's genuine friendship with Kitty, his true allegiance was to S.W.O.R.D., and he was spying on the X-Men the entire time.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Whedon portrays Colossus as an aggressive man who doesn't hesitate to seriously injure his opponents, which is best demonstrated when he says how much fun he is having while beating up Sebastian Shaw. This sharply contrasts his original Nice Guy personality, though it's justified in-universe by the fact that months of being tortured and experimented on by Ord have caused Colossus to become much more violent than before.
    Colossus: I... am made... of rage!
  • Adaptational Superpower Change: In New X-Men, Negasonic Teenage Warhead is shown to have the ability to foresee the future through her psychic dreams. In "Torn", this is changed so that she is instead a Reality Warper who can make her dreams come true. Subverted when it's later revealed that both Negasonic and her new powers were actually just an illusion created by Emma Frost while the latter was under Cassandra Nova's influence.
  • 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.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Despite all the torture Ord had subjected Colossus to, the latter laments the former's death after he is burned alive in Breakworld's core during the final battle against Aghanne.
  • Alien Invasion: The Breakworld's "precogs" can see visions of the future, and believe a mutant (most likely an X-Man) is destined to destroy their world. Agent Brand's attempts to appease Breakworld and prevent an intergalactic war is what sets in motion the events of the comic.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Whether Cassandra Nova successfully pulled a Grand Theft Me or was left a Sealed Evil in a Can. Cyclops tells Emma to fight against Cassandra's influence, while the villainess orders the X-woman to focus and transfer her consciousness into Hisako. Emma's response is "Go to Hell", though whom she was talking to is not revealed.
  • Arc Villain:
    • Ord is the main antagonist in the "Gifted" arc. To fulfill his objective of driving the mutant population to extinction, he conducts a series of illegal experiments to develop a serum that inhibits the mutant gene.
    • Danger is the main threat in the "Dangerous" arc. Played with, since her desire to kill the X-Men is a result of her being mistreated by Xavier, whom the X-Men come to blame for the entire incident.
    • The main antagonist of the "Torn" arc is Cassandra Nova, who manipulates Emma Frost in an attempt to undo her previous defeat.
    • The Big Bad of the "Unstoppable" arc is Aghanne, a seemingly unimportant healer on the Breakworld. Driven to desperation by her planet's dog-eat-dog culture, she devises a plan to destroy it and all its inhabitants: She secretly engraves the prophecy about Colossus destroying the planet and fools the world's psychics into thinking it was real, thus sparking the series' primary conflict.
  • An Arm and a Leg:
    • Wolverine chops off Kruun's right arm to coerce him into saying how they can save Earth.
    • Kruun suggests that Breakworlders regularly mutilate each other, which is done as a display of loyalty, courage or both.
  • Attack Reflector:
    • Ord uses his blade to reflect Cyclops' optic blasts into all the X-Men.
    • Given that Danger was programmed to learn the X-Men's weaknesses, she expertly creates a mirror to deflect Cyclops' optic blast back at him.
  • Atrocious Alias:
    • Emma criticizes Kitty Pryde's former codenames (Shadowcat, Ariel, Sprite), calling them horribly unimpressive.
    • Upon learning that one of the members of the Hellfire Club goes by the name Negasonic Teenage Warhead, Kitty remarks "Wow, we really have run out of names".
    • When Wolverine praises Hisako's "armour", she decides that her codename will be exactly that. He dismisses her decision, calling the name too obvious, and jokingly proposes to change his own codename to "Claws".
  • Audience Surrogate: During Whedon's run, Kitty Pryde was 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.
  • Back from the Dead: Ord comments that Breakworld technology can save people that Earth's science pronounces dead, though its methods, limits and drawbacks are not elaborated upon. Two X-Men are brought back to life through such techniques.
    • Colossus, it turns out, was resurrected by Ord shortly after his death, who experimented on his body in order to develop a serum that can inhibit mutations.
    • Cyclops is killed when the space ship he is on is blown to smithereens, leaving him drifting in the cold of space. Kruun retrieves his body and restores him to life in order to interrogate him.
  • Bad Boss: Agent Brand is perfectly willing to sacrifice her soldiers if it means that the X-Men and she can arrive on Breakworld undetected.
  • Bad Liar: The X-Men know that Kruun is spying on them, so they start discussing a fake plan to throw him off. When Kitty steps up to contribute, she shouts a ridiculously forced "I object!", then stutters the rest of her sentences. Colossus compares her acting to a courtroom drama, while Logan almost breaks down laughing. Miraculously, lies are considered a sin in Breakworld, so Kruun is too gullible to realize their deception, something that Scott taunts him for later.
  • Badass Adorable: Lockheed is a tiny purple dragon who loves to be petted by Kitty. He is also the only hero who manages to seriously injure Ord, to the point the villain is later shown to be traumatized by the encounter.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • Danger's knowledge about the X-Men's security protocols enables her to manipulate them into setting her free. She begins her attack by sending a Sentinel to the X-Mansion, which prompts Kitty to lead all the students into the Danger Room for safety. Once inside, they are terrorized by her artificial constructs, forcing Wolverine to step in and destroy the central computer, which shuts down the Danger Room, but also enables the A.I. to escape into a separate, independent body.
    • During the "Unstoppable" arc, a seemingly powerless Cyclops is captured by Breakworld and transported to Krunn's base. This was his plan all along, as it's revealed he still has his optic blasts, enabling him to escape his captors and launch an attack from inside the enemy's strongold.
  • The Beautiful Elite: Kaga's grudge against the X-Men is motivated by his resentment of having debilitating, deforming mutations due to pre-natal radiation exposure but not being a superpowered Mutant while the X-Men have powers and look perfect.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Male example in Piotr. Despite being horribly tortured, experimented on and imprisoned for years he's still as handsome as ever with no visible scarring, and the months pounding on the walls of his prison maintained his muscular physique, as Emma points out.
    Emma Frost: You really have kept in shape.
  • Begin with a Finisher: A giant Sentinel robot attacks the X-Mansion, where there are no civilians and nothing but trees in the line of fire, so Cyclops simply takes off his visor and unleashes the full power of his optic blasts. Nothing is left but a crater.
    Cyclops: I want this thing off my lawn.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Colossus is rather well endowed, judging by Kitty's comment after their sex scene.
    Kitty Pryde: You're more than I could have imagined. And I've imagined.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Wolverine and Hisako trade insults in Japanese after a "sparring" lesson in the Danger Room training facility.
    Wolverine: Buncha whiners...
    Hisako (in untranslated Japanese): It's a shame that they admitted a murderous gorilla as a teacher, isn't it...?
    Wolverine (replies in Japanese): Don't you think it's shameful to your ancestors that you're always complaining? (exits scene)
    Hisako (to herself in English): I'm never gonna make an X-Man...
  • Bittersweet Ending: The X-Men are able to stop the Breakworlders from destroying the Earth with the giant bullet, but Kitty ends up stuck in the bullet after phasing it and is sent 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.
  • Body Snatcher: Cassandra Nova's goal is to escape the body she was imprisoned in during the events of New X-Men and into Kitty Pryde's. When the girl turns out to have stronger psychic resistances than expected, she instead orders Emma Frost to transfer her consciousness into Hisako. Whether she succeeded is ultimately not revealed to the reader.
  • Brains and Brawn: Briefly discussed by Beast at the end of the "Dangerous" arc. While his approach to the main conflict was to bite and tear his opponent like an enraged animal, Kitty managed to pacify hers by hacking into its systems and convincing it to stop fighting. He muses that her intellect may have saved the entire world, and sadly reflects that he may lose his own brain power as his mutation makes him increasingly more feral.
  • Break the Haughty: Wing's debut does not paint him in a good light, as he calls Kitty Pryde a "retard" for believing mutants can survive anything by sticking together. In his next appearance, he is ambushed by Ord and injected with the Hope serum, which strips him of his power. Falling into a deep depression and feeling that he no longer belongs with his peers, Wing is left particularly vulnerable to Danger's manipulations, who convinces him to commit suicide.
  • Broad Strokes: Though the story is intended to be a direct sequel to Morrison's New X-Men, it ignores certain established plot elements from that book. For example, Cassandra Nova never took on the identity of Ernst and is still trapped inside of Stuff; Magneto is implied to still be alive; and the Sentinel that attacked Genosha was never sculpted into a giant statue of the Master of Magnetism.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Invoked In-Universe with the vaccine Hope, intended to cure mutants by neutering their X-genes. This also happens twice early on.
    • First, Wing gets personally cured by Ord to send a message to the X-Men. He commits suicide soon after.
    • Not long after Danger's first defeat, Cyclops gets therapy by Emma Frost and ends up without Power Incontinence and his powers initially. His first course of action after waking up from the 'therapy' was to grab a pistol.
  • Butt-Monkey: Agent Brand has this opinion about all the X-Men. When they return home from the battle in Genosha, only to become victims of the Hellfire Club's psychic attack, she comments that they can't seem to catch a break.
  • The Cameo: Rorschach from Watchmen makes an appearance among the crowd that invades Benetech in issue 6.
  • Car Fu: When Danger invades Genosha, Professor X rams her with a truck, causing her to crash into a high-voltage wire and be electrocuted.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Kruul brings Scott back from the dead to be interrogated. As soon as he is convinced the X-Man is in condition to talk, he starts electrocuting his victim. Emma later forges a mental connection with her ally, and is horrified once she senses her teammate's pain.
  • Comic-Book Time: The Whedon run suffered badly from Schedule Slip, which makes fitting it into wider X-Men continuity a notorious nightmare. The run appears to take place over a matter of weeks at most, but the "Danger" arc begins with Xavier and Magneto still hanging out on Genosha (so prior to House of M), and the final issue has Spider-Man making a joke about Civil War having happened.
  • Continuity Nod: The "Torn" arc has several references to Chris Claremont's The Dark Phoenix Saga:
    • Scott recalls the time Jean used her telekinesis to disable his optic beams, enabling him to finally look at her without his glasses.
    • At the end of #15 the whole team is incapacitated except for Shadowcat whose fist-clenched pose in the sewer is a direct reference to Wolverine's in Uncanny X-Men #132.
      Kitty: Now it's my turn.
    • Perfection is revealed to be Emma Frost's White Queen persona, dressing the iconic attire from Uncanny X-Men #131.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Emma Frost threatens to give Langford a paraphilia as revenge for not being invited to his party. Later on, when the Benetech soldiers have the X-Men cornered, she compels them to vomit uncontrollably whenever they hear the words "parsley", "intractable" and "longitude". Her tendency to use her psionic powers to give people ridiculous compulsions is lampshaded by Scott.
    Scott: My girlfriend is very weird.
  • Covers Always Lie: The cover for the final issue of Joss Whedon's run shows the current X-Men team being joined by their old friends, as well as assorted superheroes such as Iron Man, Spider-Man, The Sentry and the Fantastic Four, as they launch themselves into battle against an unknown enemy. However, the only featured battle is Colossus and Ord vs Aghanne; the secondary heroes don't do anything due to spending most of the issue stuck in a trance; and the story mainly focuses on the team's despair and grief as Kitty Pryde prepares to sacrifice herself to save Earth.
  • Cruel Mercy: Scott's plan for Kaga. Since he hates his life so much and is willing to take himself out in his plans, Scott plans to keep him alive as long as possible when they catch him.
  • Death Seeker: Subverted. It's established that Emma is consummed by guilt over her previous crimes and is willing to sacrifice her own life to save Scott's, so her pleading for Danger to kill her sets up a scenario of Redemption Equals Death. In reality, Emma is fully aware that Danger is incapable of killing anyone, and is just teasing the robot before proposing an alliance that will benefit both parties.
  • Decompressed Comic:
    • An entire page is dedicated to Wolverine silently examining Kitty and Colossus before declaring "About time", thus expressing approval towards their relationship.
    • During the "Torn" arc, Emma Frost's apparent Face–Heel Turn is represented by several panels of her wandering around the X-Mansion's unlit corridors.
  • Distracted by the Sexy:
    • During Joss Whedon's run, when the X-Men are trapped on Breakworld and Colossus, during a quiet moment, worries excessively about the situation, Kitty Pryde invokes this trope, stopping Piotr's downward angst spiral by emerging from behind a curtain, completely naked.
    Colossus: Now I am more confused. But somehow not as tired…
    • In the climax of the mission on Breakworld, Beast notices that Brand is continuously aloof and deflective. Having had enough, Beast demands to know what else she's hiding from the X-Men. Turns out she's just really Distracted By His Sexy.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Sebastian Shaw identifies Perfection as the de facto leader of the Hellfire Club, since she was the one who brought all of the members together. In reality, the mastermind is Cassandra Nova, who has been manipulating Emma Frost all along in a gambit to possess another host. Perfection herself is just a manifestation of Frost's guilt, which Nova exploited to make the X-woman believe that the Hellfire Club has reassembled.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Beast comments he has made a number of inappropriate jokes about the Genosha massacre in the past. Though he deeply regrets his actions, he justifies them as a coping mechanism to deal with all the horrors he witnessed.
  • Dumb Muscle: Ord is incredibly strong in combat and curb-stomps the X-Men before Lockheed shows up to save them. Regardless, he (along with the rest of his race) doesn't know how to approach a problem without resorting to brute force, causing everyone else to view him as an idiot. Brand herself refers to him as the dumbest alien she's ever seen.
  • Epic Fail: Upon finding out that Ord had been previously assisted by Danger, Kruun is bewildered and comments that he "needed help to fail".
  • Everyone Has Standards: Emma Frost to Agent Brand
    "You're so unpleasant even I'm impressed. Do you visit orphanages to explain there's no Santa?"
  • Faint in Shock: Subverted. Due to Perfection messing with Kitty's head, the girl hugs a disgusting alien slug and calls it her child. Though Colossus seems to faint out of shock, the next page shows the real reason he lost consciousness was due to the Hellfire Club psychically knocking him out.
  • Fan Disservice: Cyclops is shirtless after being brought back to life in the "Unstoppable" arc, but is also brutally tortured by the Breakworlders; a process that covers his muscular body with scars and burns, and his face with drool and tears.
  • Flying Brick: Lampshaded and averted by Wing; he broke both his legs on his first landing because of presumed invulnerability, because the two are so often paired.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Throghout the "Gifted" arc, the team notices the Danger Room seems to be malfunctioning, since its holograms don't seem to manifest in the way they were programmed to. In the following arc, this is revealed to be because the Danger Room had developed a conscience of its own, and the "glitches" the X-Men had witnessed were the A.I. attempting to override its original programming.
    • Negasonic Teenage Warhead says that she "dreams [her]self to life." Hinting at her true identity as nothing more than an illusion.
    • Blindfold says that one of the X-Men will not return from their mission in Breakworld. Kitty Pryde ends up pulling a Heroic Sacrifice at the end of the next arc.
    • In "Unstoppable", Aghanne reacts to the news of an X-Man's death by coldly hoping it was one of the "disposable" ones. This is a huge clue that she is not as benevolent as she seems, and that she has a much darker agenda with Colossus.
  • Friendly Enemies: Invoked by Professor X with Magneto, who doesn't actually appear in the book. When Danger goes to fight the professor, she finds that nearly all of the machinery on Genosha has been deactivated, and Xavier explains that he had a "friend" sent out a magnetic pulse to power down the island and make sure that Danger couldn't use her powers to attack. Unfortunately, he forgot about the very, very, VERY large Sentinel that was left underwater after Genosha…
  • Funny Background Event: The Danger Room serves as a font of these for the first few issues. Given a Cerebus Retcon when it's revealed that this is the Danger Room's emerging sentience rebelling against its eternal imprisonment in the only way it can.
  • 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.
  • Gilligan Cut: There's a prophecy that Colossus will destroy the Breakworld. Kitty assures him that despite that it "doesn't mean it's written in stone". Cut to Emma, Scott, Beast and Agent Brand looking at a giant stone tablet depicting Colossus destroying the Breakworld.
  • Happy Place:
    • When the team is preparing to land on Breakworld, Emma conjures a tea party on their minds to keep them entertained and halt their growing anxiety.
    • When Kitty is trapped inside Breakworld's bullet, Emma offers to create an illusion so the girl doesn't suffer before she meets her bitter end. Her proposal is refused.
  • Hate Sink: Brand's dry sarcasm and cold attitude caused her to be utterly despised by everyone in-universe, including her closest teammates. Cyclops himself states he would have no reservations if Wolverine decided to sink his claws into her.
  • Hazy-Feel Turn: The first two arcs heavily imply that Emma Frost has a hidden agenda and is planning to turn on the X-Men. "Torn" reveals that this was all due to Cassandra Nova messing with her mind, and she genuinely loves the team. However, her morality is brought into question once again at the end of the "Unstoppable" arc, when she convinces Danger to help the heroes by offering to personally deliver Professor Xavier to her.
  • Headbutting Heroes:
    • Kitty and Emma's animosity towards each other drives all of the two's interactions. The former outright states that she will be the one to bring Emma down.
    • Cyclops and Wolverine's reunion is marked by the two immediately getting into a fight over Jean's death. Later on, Kruul notices that Scott doesn't respond much when Logan's safety is threatened.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: It seems that Spider-Man has become aware enough about "Parker Luck" to find his method of stopping the Breakworld bullet (by just webbing it a bunch and stopping it from even touching Times Square) ridiculous enough to be the first to wake up from its magical defenses.
  • Hope Spot: In the final issue, the reader is tricked twice into believing the Earth has been saved.
    • The Fantastic Four have a device that can open a portal to a parallel dimension, which they use to teleport the Breakworld weapon away. This turns out to be an illusion, as every hero on Earth has been trapped in a dream world to prevent them from interfering with Breakworld's plan.
    • The wild Sentinel pulls a Heroic Sacrifice, colliding with the giant projectile head-on to divert it away from its original trajectory. When the smoke clears, the bullet is unscathed and still heading towards Earth.
  • Humble Hero: Spider-Man catches on first that the Breakworld weapon has mindwarping powers, because he knows that stopping such a thing on his own is well beyond him.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Beast tells Brand that he's recently acquired a taste for the human flesh and threatens to eat her when the team crash lands on Breakworld.
  • Immune to Mind Control: As stated by Ord in "Gifted", Breakworlders are impervious to Emma Frost's telepathy. This prevents her from immediately defusing the conflict once she arrives on their planet.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: The bullet that Breakworld fires on Earth specifically avoids getting trapped in the orbit of any planet or star it passes on the way. It's even lampshaded.
  • Inner Monologue: Played for Laughs in the seventh issue. A couple of pages follow Colossus as he contemplates the circumstances behind his resurrection and how the world has changed since then; and Kitty reflects on the fact she was the one who rescued Piotr and wonders how this could affect their relationship. Then it cuts to Logan, whose only thought is "I really like beer".
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Dafi interrupts Piotr and Kitty while the latter two are being intimate. Due to Breakworld's own culture, she is not disturbed and simply warns them that they will be leaving soon, so fornication should cease within an hour.
  • Irony: In "Gifted", it's established that the Breakworld psychics believe that a mutant will be responsible for their homeworld's destruction. Desperate to save his planet, Ord develops a serum capable of inhibiting mutations, though he also brings Colossus Back from the Dead in the process. "Unstoppable" would then reveal that the mutant who is destined to destroy Breakworld is none other than Colossus himself.
  • Kick the Dog: While exploring Breakworld and trying to escape the hostile natives, Colossus comes across a child, who stares at him with some degree of curiosity before loudly screaming "kill the monster!". The hero disheartedly laments that the boy didn't even know him, yet wanted his blood to be spilled.
  • Kryptonite Factor: The minerals from Breakworld have an adverse effect on Kitty whenever she phases through them. Symptoms include loss of consciousness, extreme fatigue, unbearable itchiness and distorted vision.
  • 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.
  • Lighter and Softer: Although this work has depressing moments and deals with mature themes, it's considerably more lighthearted than its predecessor, Grant Morrison's New X-Men. Whedon's trademark witty dialogue is in full force; Wolverine's alcoholism and lost childhood are Played for Laughs; and Bathos is intentionally employed to defuse the seriousness of the plot.
  • Loophole Abuse: The Danger Room can't actually kill anyone. Doesn't stop Danger from helping someone suicide.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: In "Unstoppable", all of Earth's greatest heroes band together to stop Breakworld's bullet from colliding with the planet. However, the projectile has been imbued with magical protections that trap the heroes in individual dream worlds, in which they see themselves being hailed for saving the day.
  • Love Confession: A variant. In spite of having a lot of information S.W.O.R.D. kept to themselves revealed, Hank still notices that Brand is still hiding something. Confronting her about it, Brand confesses…that she thinks Hank is incredibly hot.
  • Manchild: Cassandra describes Logan as a "frightened little boy who fancied himself a beast". As a display of her twisted sense of humour, she brainwashes him so he starts behaving as an immature youngster.
  • Meaningful Name: Perfection, who turns out to be Emma's White Queen persona. While under Nova's influence, Emma succumbs to her evil impulses and comes to see her perfect self as the cruel, manipulative villainess she used to be.
  • Mind Rape:
    • Emma seduces Scott by making him see her as Jean Grey, and himself as Wolverine. When he rejects her, she takes him to his Black Bug Room, where he is forced to confront his insecurities and the fact he is afraid of his own powers. The whole experience both disables his mutation and leaves him in a catatonic state.
    • Cassandra's plan to escape her confinement involves making Kitty Pryde hallucinate that she has given birth, but the child has been taken from her and incarcerated by her fellow X-Men. The baby that Kitty sets out to rescue is actually the alien slug in which the villainess had been previously imprisoned.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Colossus is the main source of fanservice. He is given multiple shirtless scenes throughout the comic and even spends the first 3 issues of his resurrection wearing nothing but a tight red speedo. Emma even compliments him on his physique several times.
    Emma Frost: If you like the tall, muscular, square jawed, unbelievably gorgeous type…I suppose he's all right.
  • The Mole: It is established very early on that SWORD has one at the Xavier school. It's Lockheed.
  • Movie Superheroes Wear Black: Lampshaded by Cyclops. The black leather doesn't help with the heroic image the team is going for, inspiring them to go back to wearing colourful uniforms.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: This is ultimately how Kitty defeats the giant Sentinel at Genosha: she hacks into his computer systems and unlocks the creature's memories of what happened that day. He's then forced to relive each and every murder, which breaks him and makes him fly into space for quiet reflection of what he's done.
  • Mythology Gag: When Kitty calls the age-regressed Wolverine "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.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: The prologue to "Torn" attempts to explain how Emma Frost conveniently acquired her diamond form before the Genosha massacre. Turns out this ability had been granted to her by Cassandra Nova, who cryptically states that Emma's survival will benefit them both in the long run. The end of the arc reveals that these events actually never happened. Nova implanted fake memories in Emma during the events of "Imperial", as a means to exploit her guilt and secure her loyalty, ultimately playing this trope straight.
  • Nocturnal Emission: Logan mentions that he once had a dream about his chambermaid that caused him to "spoil his bed sheets".
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: When Kitty discovers Colossus alive again he's nearly naked, wearing only a pair of tight red shorts, perfectly showing off his Heroic Build. Kitty doesn't let it distract her as she questions him about how he's still alive.
  • One-Man Army: Emma Frost is called a one-man band in the "Torn" arc, as her psychic assault nearly defeated all other members of the team at the same time.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Played for Laughs. Brand reveals that Colossus is the mutant who is destined to destroy Breakworld and comments that he must be very surprised by this. He retorts that no, he had been dreaming about performing such action ever since he was a child. When everyone stares at him in shock, Piotr shrugs and awkwardly says that he is terrible with jokes.
  • Patrick Stewart Speech: Kitty tries to give one to Wing about how mutants are able to overcome adversity because of their close-knit ties. Ironically, he responds by cynically calling her a retard.
  • Playing with Fire: Near the end of "Unstoppable", an injured agent Brand resorts to fighting the Breakworlders by using her own alien powers. By touching their skins, the villains ignite in a burst of blue fire.
  • Poor Communication Kills: When Danger analyzes Breakworld's data and cross-references the information with her own database, she concludes that their missile is protected by "Rasputin". The team wastes precious time trying to figure out the connection between the weapon and Colossus, only for her to then reveal that she actually meant his sister, Illyana Rasputin, whose codename is Magik. Beast thus figures out that Danger committed a translation error, and the warhead is actually protected by magic. Unfortunately, they have run out of time to figure out a way to counter this magical shield, as the missile soon launches.
  • Power Incontinence: Scott mentions that, due to his inability to turn off his optic blasts, he was unable to look at anybody in the eye since he was fifteen. His mutation is suppressed for a while, but it doesn't stick.
  • Power Loss Depression: Wing, a student with the power of Flight and one of Armor's friends, commits suicide after Ord injects him with the Mutant Cure.
  • Rape as Drama: A Breakworld warrior suggests he intends to rape Brand before delivering her to Kruun. This is the catalyst for her to reveal her own super powers and incinerate him.
  • Reconstruction: After Grant Morrison did everything in his power to tear apart the status quo of the X-Men books, Joss Whedon took it upon himself to stitch it back together by returning the team to their superhero roots and back to beating up weird sci-fi and alien bad guys.
  • Red Herring: Brand doesn't hide how much she wishes Breakworld was destroyed, knows everything about the planet's vulnerable core, is considered morally repugnant by every other character and behaves suspiciously enough for Beast to notice that she seems to be keeping a secret. This all sets her up as the mastermind behind the Breakworld conspiracy, but the truth is she is just an enormous Jerkass. The real villain is Aghanne.
  • Reformed, but Rejected: Kitty Pryde's 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. Except this is later revealed to be a lie; Emma specifically recruited Kitty while under Cassandra Nova's influence, as the latter needed the girl's phasing powers to escape her prison.
  • Repression Never Ends Well: Cyclops copes with his childhood trauma by voluntarily choosing to let his powers run wild, thus giving himself something to constantly focus on and try to control in a moment when his life is falling apart due to events beyond his understanding. When Emma Frost forcibly makes Cyclops remember his decision and exposes him to all his repressed fears and insecurities, he sheds a Single Tear before falling into a catatonic state.
  • Retcon: In New X-Men, Grant Morrison establishes that the light refraction in Cyclops' glasses causes him to see everything tinged with yellow. In this work, Cyclops states he sees everything tinged with red.
  • Sequel Series: The comics are a direct follow-up to Grant Morrison's New X-Men and expand on some of its plot threads, such as Cyclops and Emma's relationship, the destruction of Genosha and Cassandra Nova's fate.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: The massive Sentinel from Genosha flies right into the Breakworld Bullet in an attempt to stop it. It doesn't.
  • Series Continuity Error: It's established in "Unstoppable" that Danger is incapable of killing anyone. However, this contradicts events from her first battle against the X-Men, in which Cyclops, Colossus and Shadowcat would have died from their injuries had Elixir not healed them.
  • Sex God: When Colossus and Kitty finally consummate their relationship, it turns out Colossus is such a talented lover that he causes Kitty to subconsciously activate her Intangibility powers and phase through the floor. When they have sex again in Breakworld, Kitty gushes to him afterwards about what a great lover he is.
  • Shameful Strip: When Kitty finds Colossus in the prison where he was being kept, he's naked except for a pair of shorts. It's implied that Ord had Colossus stripped to humiliate him.
  • Shout-Out:
    • According to Cassaday, the student with a large round head and yellow shirt that can be seen in the background of certain panels during the "Dangerous" arc is meant to be a reference to Charlie Brown.
    • When Beast realizes that Breakworld's moon is actually a giant weapon, he states "That's no Moon!", referencing the famous scene from A New Hope when the heroes approach the Death Star.
    • When Beast and Brand are stuck in a frozen wasteland, he asks her if she sees him as her Tauntaun, which is the creature that Luke rode while exploring Hoth.
    • When Piotr asks Kitty about Dafi's name, the girl replies "Like the duck".
  • Survivor Guilt: Emma's Fatal Flaw, which drives the "Torn" arc. She deeply regrets joining the Hellfire Club and the horrific things she's done to the X-Men, but cannot conciliate that with the fact that she survived the Genosha incident while many other innocents died. When she hallucinates that an angel is approaching to take her to heaven, her immediate response is to say that she is not worthy.
  • Take That!: The ridiculous outfit from Cyclops' hallucination pokes fun at Rob Liefeld's art style, specifically the artist's tendency to design characters with an abundance of accessories and pouches.
  • Taking the Bullet: Brand intercepts a laser bullet that was heading towards Beast by jumping in front of its path. She survives the injury, which sets up the revelation that she has super powers of her own.
  • Technopath: Danger can hack into machines to give them a consciousness, feelings and a sense of purpose.
  • That's No Moon: During the Unstoppable arc, what the team believes to be a moon turns out to be a launching station for a single massive projectile meant to destroy Earth. Beast quotes the line verbatim, then admits he always thought he'd enjoy saying that more.
  • Toilet Humour: Emma suddenly vanishes in the middle of the battle against the Wild Sentinel to have a conversation with the other members of the Hellfire Club. When she returns, Cyclops angrily asks where she had been, to which she coldly replies "I had to pee".
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Part of Breakworld's culture is that pain and suffering are honorable. This is demonstrated when Ord's final request to Kruun is for his execution to be as painful as possible.
  • Unexplained Recovery: The last we saw of Negasonic Teenage Warhead, she was a teenage student of Emma Frost's school in Genosha who appeared in two panels before getting killed by rogue Sentinels. In Whedon's run, she's suddenly alive, well, and the newest member of the Hellfire Club, with no explanation whatsoever. Eventually we find out that she's actually a psychic projection created out of Cassadra Nova's power and Emma's own guilt, and the real Warhead is still very dead.
  • 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.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: The process through which Colossus takes on his metallic form causes his upper body to expand and tear his civilian clothes apart, leading to him being bare-chested whenever he springs into action.
  • Warning Mistaken for Threat: A variation occurs when Colossus and Kitty Pryde first encounter Dafi. She tells them to come with her, which they interpret as a threat, before Dafi clarifies that it was a request; it's just that Kitty and Piotr's translators can't properly translate the nuances in her language.
  • Weather Manipulation: Breakworld's advanced technology has enabled its natives to control the planet's climate. Kruul takes advantage of this to summon a snow storm to halt Beast and Brand's progress.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: This is a running theme with the Breakworld. Ord and his master are both trying their best to protect their world from destruction… trouble is, they're willing to rip the Earth apart to do it. Aghanne is an even bigger one; she's grown so tired of the endless warring and cruelty of her people that she's willing to have their entire world destroyed, along with herself, to end their existence.
  • Wham Line: Kitty has dived into Breakworld's missile to hack into its controls and prevent it from launching, yet cannot find an access panel anywhere. The weapon launches, causing Beast to make a horrifying conclusion: "It's not a missile. It's a bullet!" And Kitty is stuck inside of it as it approaches Earth.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Discussed regarding the mutant genocide at Genosha. As Danger puts it, a rogue Sentinel took out six million mutants in less than an hour…and no one seemed to care what happened to it afterward. She says that as it rises up from the ocean around the island, given new sentience and ready to kill the X-Men.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The X-Men call Professor X out for ignoring Danger after the latter had gained sentience, comparing his disregard for the A.I. to Magneto's callous contempt towards mankind.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Discussed. Emma taunts Scott by transforming him into Logan, who Scott "wished [he] could be."
    Emma: You know you thought of being him…The one everyone remembers. The poster child for mutant cool. The love of [Jean Grey's] life.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Kaga, the Evil Genius behind an army of Mecha and Kaiju, is a crippled, deformed Human who snapped from seeing he didn't belong with Humans or Mutants, culminating in a Death Seeker-driven Roaring Rampage of Revenge. But after his Motive Rant, he gets No Sympathy — the angry X-Men vow to forcibly give him lifelong healthcare (denying him the Mercy Kill he wants), and Wolverine even interrupts his consequent Villainous BSoD via knockout punch (earning the former a What the Hell, Hero? for hitting an old cripple).
  • World of Snark: A trademark of Joss Whedon's writing is the propensity of every character to make sardonic jokes. Emma Frost and Kitty Pryde express their dislike for one another by engaging in Snark-to-Snark Combat, while Cyclops and Wolverine undergo Adaptation Personality Change to be much more prone to sarcastic remarks than before. Even the secondary characters have the tendency to respond to serious situations with quips.
    Ord: "Are you INSANE?"
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Played with. Cassandra Nova smugly declares that she will destroy all other members of the Hellfire Club once her full powers are restored. Since none of them are anything but illusory constructs, they gladly accept their fate, with Negasonic Teenage Warhead enthusiastically stating that this death is much better than the one she had suffered previously. Nova ultimately doesn't get the chance, since Cyclops shoots all of them with a pistol not long afterwards, causing them to dissolve away.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: The Torn arc is a very complex example of this. At first it seems like Emma Frost has betrayed the X-Men and rejoined the Hellfire Club, but it turns out all of them 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 onto 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 Nova had planted a suggestion in Emma's mind before being imprisoned in a cocoon, and simply took advantage of these doubts and fears, creating psychic projections that fooled even Emma into thinking they were real.