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). 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, 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.
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 Girl: It's an X-Men book initially written by Joss Whedon, what would you expect? Aside from the previously existing characters, Whedon introduces 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.
- 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.
- 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 a part of his Batman Gambit.
- Badass Adorable: Lockheed is the only thing Ord is scared of. He has reason to be.
- Badass Beard: Scott is sporting some stubble during the course of the series, depending on the panel. He just lost his wife, so this is to be expected.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Greater-Scope Villain.
- Cassandra Nova turns out to be a pretty good competitor for this role too.
- However, the true Big Bad of the book is none other than Aghanne, a seemingly unimportant healer on the Breakworld. She secretly engraved the prophecy about Colossus destroying the planet and fooled the world's psychics into thinking it real, which in turn led the Breakworld's leaders into sending Ord to Earth. She had a good reason, but it's still a genocidal plan.
- 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.
- 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.
- Calling the Old Man Out: Everyone is quick to call out Xavier over his treatment of Danger.
- 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 homoerotically on Genosha (so prior to House of M), and the final issue has Spider-Man making a joke about Civil War having happened. To be fair, even if the book had been biweekly, this would have happened to a lesser extent due to the nature of the medium.
- 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 alive as long as possible when they catch him.
- Deadpan Snarker: Everyone. It's a Joss Whedon-penned series.
- Decompressed Comic: To the point where a page is the example image for The Other Wiki's page on this trope.
- Distracted by the Sexy:
Colossus: Now I am more confused. But somehow not as tired...
- 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.
- 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.
- Five-Man Band: The new Hellfire Club:
- Big Bad: Perfection, or the White Queen. But it's really Cassandra Nova...see Your Mind Makes It Real.
- The Dragon: Cassandra Nova.
- The Evil Genius: Emma Frost, as she's the schemer in the group. She's also a Sixth Ranger Traitor.
- The Brute: Sebastian Shaw; though not physically large, his mutant ability to absorb and channel kinetic energy makes him super-strong.
- The Dark Chick: Negasonic Teenage Warhead, a teenage girl with bizarre psychic powers.
- 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: Negasonic Teenage Warhead says that she "dreams [her]self to life." Hinting at her true identity as nothing more than an illusion.
- Heck, Negasonic Teenage Warhead's very existence is foreshadowing that she's not real. Readers of Morrison's X-Men titles will know that she was an ordinary citizen of Genosha who died shortly after being introduced — killed by Sentinels sent by Cassandra Nova, who's presence is also foreshadowing, as she's Xaver's evil twin who hates mutants and was last seen trapped and mindwiped in an alien life-form.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Negasonic Teenage Warhead, a member of the new Hellfire Club, fills this role.
- 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.
- Shut Up, Kirk! is the response.
- 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.
- 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: 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 rouge Sentinels. In Weadon'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.
- 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.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Discussed regarding the mutant genocide at Genosha. As Beast 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. It turns out that it fell into the ocean around the island, and is ready to be reactivated at a moment's notice.
- Wolverine Publicity: Discussed. Emma taunts Scott by transforming him into Logan, who Scott "wished [he] could be."
- 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).
- 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. Whew!