Welcome to your bachelor party, Colossus! Hope you survive the experience!
If you are a frequent listener of the AiPT! Podcast or any of my past reviews of X-Men Gold (Hi Mom!) you’ll know that I’m not really a fan of the recent re-coupling of Kitty Pryde and Colossus. While their relationship had, at one point, been a solid development that added depth and dimension to both characters, under the pen of Marc Guggenheim, the coupling has felt more like an editorial mandate that the writer is scrambling to make sense of. We were asked to ignore the fact that when last the two parted, Colossus had threatened violence against Kitty; we’re asked to ignore the fact that Kitty had JUST come off an engagement to another guy named Peter when she just rushed into this commitment; and then there are the stupid little bits like Kitty bringing a powerless Colossus on a dangerous mission, Colossus relearning his powers to save Kitty, that stupid space Nazi and his giant stone god…I’m getting off topic. The point is, despite all of the “anticipation” for the Pryde/Rasputin wedding, it’s not something I’ve been looking forward to.
To help get d-bags like me interested in this year’s non-royal “wedding of the century” Marvel has tasked Marc Guggenheim and Kelly Thompson in pulling together a wedding special that follows the bachelor/bachelorette parties of the couple, and brought back legendary X-scribe Chris Claremont to provide us a brief glimpse at what Kitty’s “cold feet” may look like.
Claremont’s up first with “The Dream Before,” where we take a trip through Shadowcat’s (remember when she was called that?) history with the X-Men. This is the strongest section of the book, but not without its issues. We get the reader’s digest version of some of Kitty’s greatest hits, from the time she saved the X-Men from the Hellfire club, to her time in Japan with Wolverine (from the classic Wolverine and Kitty Pryde series), to the time she was trapped in that giant bullet. This being the lead up to her wedding, she also thinks of lost love – specifically some dude named Alashdair Kinross from a forgettable miniseries called X-Men: True Friends. It’s at this point that you realize this section, much like the wedding itself, is nothing more than a sort of victory lap for Chris Claremont as, short of her time in the giant space bullet, all of the events and characters referenced in this story are Claremont originals. As such, we get Kitty returning to her role as a bartender at the Belles of Hell dressed like an extra from Pat Benatar’s Love is a Battlefield video. For one, Kitty’s supposed to be in her late 20s/early 30s, right? So why is her aesthetic for what’s cool still Sandy at the end of Grease? Furthermore, she’s a superhero who runs a school, recently spent time in prison and is planning a wedding. When the hell does she find the time to moonlight as a bartender at a dive bar in Chicago? How did Nightcrawler just port into the bar midway through? Was he in town taking the architectural boat tour? Kurt shows up to be a supportive friend but effectively endorses Kitty leaving Colossus at the altar saying “I don’t think even Peter could blame you.” Uh, yeah he could. Come on Kurt, Guggenheim’s section makes it look like you’re going to be Rasputin’s best man. Be a bro!
The real narrative crux of this story, however, is Kitty working through her cold feet through the means of several ghostly hallucinations. First she sees the aforementioned Alashdair, which feels super forced. Kitty’s had a number of relationships since the dreadful 1999 series that birthed the character, so why isn’t she thinking of Pete Wisdom or Peter Quill? Furthermore, Alashdair was a character from the WW2 era (it was a bad time travel story, don’t ask), so it’s pretty likely that the dude was able to move on in the more than 70 years since they met. Fortunately, the Claremont glad-handing takes a backseat to something that makes more narrative sense in the ghosts of Wolverine and Kitty’s father popping up. Both of these father figures give her a little pep talk, with Kurt also providing some help as Wolverine’s best friend and proxy in this situation. It’s all fine if overly saccharine, but if anything it feels regressive for the character. Kitty is supposed to be this brilliant modern woman who can take charge of her life and reasonably self actualized, but here she is defining her life by the men from her past. It’s not very feminist, but I’m willing to go along with a strong woman getting cold feet as she leads up to her wedding day. I think the patrons at the Belles of Hell would be a little weirded out that the bartender dressed like Joan Jett’s sassy aunt is staring into the open space and crying her eyes out for no apparent reason, but whatever. It’s comics.
Next up is the weakest section of the book, and surprise surprise, it’s a Guggenheim. The good news, however, is that even though it’s full of Guggenheim’s trademark poor scripting and mischaracterization, it’s still not that bad. The story follows Colossus’ bachelor party in Las Vegas. First on the odd spectrum is the crew that is along for the ride as Colossus is flanked by Nightcrawler (makes sense), Iceman (they were on the original Gold team together, so sure), Gambit (because…uh…it’s a bachelor party in Las Vegas?) and the new Pyro Simon. That last one is the most peculiar because he is BRAND brand new to the team, and barely knows any of them. Furthermore, where are other long served teammates like Archangel or even Old Man Logan? You can’t tell me this elseworlds Logan is too dour for this sort of frivolity because Nightcrawler is a friggin Catholic priest and he’s along for the ride, calling on the crew to get even more debaucherous. You think that characterization doesn’t make sense? Consider that for whatever reason, Gambit keeps calling Pyro “Boyo” like he was Chief O’Hara from Batman 66. Still, having the X-Men get into a scrap at a demon casino run by Wong, for some reason, is good fun. Colossus being the stick-in-the-mud at his own bachelor party makes sense, and his scrap with a demon that fought Old Man Logan in Secret Empire helps lighten his mood. This section was also drawn by Greg Land, who I think has gotten a bit of a bad rap as an artist in recent years, but is probably my favorite artist on this book.
Our third and final story, dubbed “Something Old” which really should have been the title of Claremont’s section, follows Kitty and the X-Women on a bachelorette to Stripperoke. Yes, that’s a karaoke strip club. Yes, it is evidently a real thing. Keeping with the trend here, this is another fun but inconsequential story from Kelly Thompson. It’s nice to see the X ladies having some fun (seemingly all of the of-age X-women make it out too, which is a nice touch) and I love the joke early on where Peter says Kitty can’t go if Rogue planned the outing, but it may be okay if Storm planned it. Kitty’s response that Peter is “underestimating Ororo” is an excellent retort. We get a decent heart to heart between Kitty and Rogue, who herself is in a good place in her relationship with Gambit, and then Kitty gets kidnapped by Callisto who threatens the younger woman to treat Colossus right. It’s a little dumb, honestly, because Callisto has never come off as an overly sentimental character, and I doubt she’s pulled this with any of Piotr’s other loves (I don’t think Domino would be as forgiving as Kitty). Anyway, when she returned to the club there’s an enormous bottle of Champagne sent from Emma Frost, who maybe isn’t as much of a villainess as she appears, I guess? Anyway, it all works out and it’s a decent “X-people having fun” story that just lacks a bit of the emotional heft of Claremont’s section.
Overall this is a fine but disposable entry in the larger X-Men lexicon (X-icon? I’ll workshop that). Nothing new or particularly interesting happens, but we see characters we’ve grown to love (and this new Pyro guy) having a good time and relaxing. Yes there are some issues with poor scripting, mischaracterizations and almost no action, but overall this is a harmless, inoffensive outing for our characters. True fans may be interested, but casuals needn’t concern themselves with this one-off.