Can something be both disappointing and fantastic at the same time? Welcome to marriage, X-Men Gold reader! Hope you survive the experience!
It’s been a long road to the wedding between Kitty Pryde and Piotr Nikolaievitch Rasputin, but we’re finally there. Some opposed this pairing, pointing out that the renewed relationship between the two was a one-sided attraction until it wasn’t. Saying that maybe the couple rushed into this without really thinking about all the hullabaloo they’ve been through in recent years. Debating whether or not they are in fact “taking crazy pills” because the pair last split up because a Phoenix-crazed Colossus was threatening violence against his beloved. Well here we are at the wedding of the century, where two fan-favorite X-Men who have been in an on-again-off-again relationship finally profess their love to one another in a touching ceremony in front of family and friends…only it’s not Kitty and Colossus exchanging vows, it’s Rogue and Gambit. You know, the troubled fan-favorite couple with a shaky history that actually had an entire series devoted to their development as a romantic pair via counseling, not the one who decided to get married on a whim and then spent 20 issues and a one-shot talking about how they had cold feet. Funny enough, the couple that spent time time working through their issues instead of fighting relics of the 90s made the more mature connection and ended up together in the end. Imagine that.
Of course, this means that Kitty got cold feet at LITERALLY the final hour. Who could have seen that coming? I mean besides me. Funny enough, the straw that breaks the camel’s back comes courtesy of Piotr’s precious Snowflake, Illyana, who has a heart to heart with Kitty at the rehearsal dinner about reservations. Illyana says that she figures if her best friend and brother were going to be together that they would have done it by now, which is both a valid point and kind of stupid all the same. Kitty and Piotr started dating before she could even vote (with the sainted X-scribe Chris Claremont sort of brushing past the implied LEGAL ramifications of such a connection), and, apologies to any of you youngins that may be reading this, but when have teenagers ever made a good life decision? There’s any number of reasons why young couples don’t get married as soon as they’re old enough to legally sign a contract – and even more that apply to globetrotting superhero types. That’s not to say young relationships can’t work, but saying that a young couple (Kitty’s still in her mid-late 20s remember) isn’t cut out for marriage because they haven’t made the plunge yet is asinine. Shoot, Kitty even calls Illyana on her bullshit by pointing out that Piotr spent a good number of those years FUCKING DEAD and she herself was trapped in a giant space bullet for several months. I know that it’s not entirely atypical for people to have these kinds of feelings about their loved ones’ relationships, but like come on.
Okay, let’s be fair. Illyana’s speech isn’t what caused Kitty to run from the altar…well phase through the altar…well, phase into the gr…you know what, you get it. Kitty wasn’t actually ready to marry Peter and really just needed a little push to realize it. She and Piotr have a conversation later in the book where she says that even though she loves him, she doesn’t know if she will ever be ready to marry him, and honestly, though I’m sure many fans will find it shitty (and from a marketing standpoint, it definitely is) I think it’s the most mature thing Kitty has done in 30 issues of X-Men Gold. Love is an important part of any relationship, but it isn’t always enough for a marriage to last. You see, love has a habit of blinding you to the truth at times. Sometimes it’s not even that you’re blind, it’s that you convince yourself that something is true when you know it isn’t. Kitty recognized that though she loves Colossus, she is unsure if that’s enough to tie herself to him in the bonds of marriage. As a man going through a divorce, I can definitely understand Kitty’s rationale in this situation. It’s a hard choice, and definitely not one that she makes lightly, but it’s what she felt was best for her and her beloved. It’s almost reassuring to see a character acknowledge that maybe happy endings aren’t guaranteed just because you love someone “with all your soul.”
You may think that this means I enjoyed this plot twist, but you’d be wrong. This is an obnoxious bait and switch. A callous ploy to pop sales at the expense of logic and decent storytelling. For 30 issues I’ve been on this journey with the Gold team where they forced this relationship down everyone’s throats despite the complete inanity of the whole relationship. I called out the suddenness of Colossus’ initial proposal, the inanity that Kitty would even entertain the idea, the lack of development that made Kitty’s own proposal seem hollow and forced and all the other stupid relationship beats that Guggenheim and his revolving list of artist have thrust upon readers for the past year+. To have him get all the way to the end of the race and then throw up his hands and say “LOL! J/K!” is more than a little insulting. Either someone at Marvel told Guggs about my reviews and he realized “oh wow this has been stupid, better abandon it at the last minute” or he knew it was a stupid idea the whole time and decided on the swerve long ago. I’m not sure which would be better, but I have had a weird love-hate relationship with this series from the jump, so why should I expect Guggs to actually finish a thought in a satisfying manner.
The thing is, outside of my annoyance at this stupid ass swerve, this is almost definitely the best one-shot issue of X-Men Gold to date. For one, David Marquez’s artwork is top notch. Some of the pages are genuinely beautiful – shoot, Storm looks better as a bridesmaid in this book than she did at her own wedding to Black Panther back in 2006 – and he does a great job of capturing the emotions on all of the characters faces. From the excitement and elation of the guests to their shock and sadness when Kitty flees the altar, it’s all rendered spectacularly and is instantly a series highlight in terms of artwork. Even though I have complaints about the twist and the even crazier idiocy of Kurt considering proposing to Rachel, I also have to give the devil his due: This is the best dialogue that Guggenheim has written for the entire breadth of the series. The characters all feel like they have their own voices, the speeches are eloquent but realistic, there are even a few moments that are genuinely funny. Where has this Guggenheim been for the past year? I would take the entire pre-wedding sequence of this issue over all the Omega Red fights, Space Nazis and Sentinel clouds that came before it in an instant – and that includes a largely wordless section where Kitty walks down the aisle. Shit, if it weren’t for that thoroughly unsatisfying conclusion to the planned wedding angle I may even be sad that this series was recently canceled. Okay, that’s hyperbole, but you catch my point.
Overall, I’m torn on whether or not to recommend this book. It’s beautiful and features some of the best dialogue to ever come out of the pen of Marc Guggenheim. It also features one of the most cynically obnoxious cash-grab plot twists in recent memory leaving me simultaneously annoyed and – somehow – enthused. I was really happy to see Rogue and Gambit finally make it official, and I hated Kitty and Colossus as a couple, so why am I so conflicted on this? I guess I just don’t like the idea that you can almost say that all of the idiocy that led up to this wedding was somehow intentional, because it clearly wasn’t. Even if it was, it doesn’t make up for a year of bad scripting and one strong issue doesn’t erase everything that came before. Still, if you’re buying the issue where Kitty and Colossus get married and get over the fact that they don’t actually get married in it because it was a stupid idea all along, then issue 30 of X-Men Gold isn’t all that bad.