In the beginning, there were the X-Men. Professor Xavier assembled his five students, and they all grew up to have a whole lot of issues. When the original class graduated, they made way for new generations of mutants, all drawn to Professor Xavier's school and ready to develop issues of their own. One of those mutants was Kitty Pryde, who went through an array of names and costumes before finally choosing the one that sounded the most like a name of a Bauhaus album: Shadowcat. For some time, Kitty was the youngest member on the team, joining when she was only 13 years old (even though it was probably was illegal, considering the level of child endangerment that took place at that school).
Shadowcat's powers included phasing and intangibility, but they have developed more in recent years. Like most X-Men powers, it's usually for the best to not try and put too fine a point on it, but recently it was revealed she was powerful enough to phase and hold a large building. Not only did her power increase, but she went from being "the kid” to eventually taking over the Jean Grey Institute as Professor K, serving as Headmaster and leader of the Gold team.
In her early days, she developed a crush on the older Colossus, otherwise known as Piotr Rasputin. After a brief courtship, Colossus broke things off with Kitty after he went to another planet and had his sexual awakening with an alien that tragically perished. For the crime of breaking Kitty's heart, Wolverine yelled at him in a bar and then let the Juggernaut beat him up for a while. Kitty was crushed, but then another 30 years of stories happened, so she got over it pretty well. Suddenly we found ourselves in the year 2018, at which time Kitty and Piotr were, until very recently, engaged to be married despite their many break-ups over the years. However, in X-Men Gold #30, slated to be their wedding issue, Kitty left Colossus at the altar. After they both took off, leaving the everyone at the wedding standing there wondering what would happen next, Gambit jumped in, proposed to Rogue on the spot, and the two of them got married instead.
First off, Gambit and Rogue jumping in on the tails of someone else's terrible heartbreak to enjoy the happiest day of their lives without having to plan anything or invite anyone is very in-character for both of them. The two of them might have been an unhealthy match for a long time, but as of late, they've changed and grown together significantly, making them one of the X-Men's best couples in the matter of a few months. Still, Gambit's off-the-wall, impulsive side has clearly remained intact. The two are set to star in the upcoming Mr. & Mrs. X.
Up until this issue, X-Men: Gold had been unfortunately uneventful. The book overall has consisted of a long series of call-backs to other, better stories, a lot of one-liners, and some added drama that seems a bit arbitrary even by X-Men standards. At the beginning of the series, it was a huge relief to see a Kitty Pryde who had developed emotionally to a point where, when Colossus came knocking at her door, she declined. However, not too long afterward, she decided to start dating him again, and proposed to him seemingly out of nowhere. It felt like an unearned moment because there was no reason for her to have changed her mind. In the interim between first date and proposal, their courtship felt perpetually off, like it was being rushed along to its end conclusion with very little in the way of organic chemistry to help it along.
The night before the wedding, Kitty's best friend of many years and younger sister of Piotr, Illyana Rasputin, urged Kitty to get drunk with her on the roof of the school. Kitty got real with her and demanded to know what her feelings were about her and Piotr's marriage. Illyana and Kitty were hinted to have been romantically involved in their early days, so it is guaranteed that every single queer person reading that comic gasped audibly in anticipation of Illyana's response. Illyana reluctantly admitted that she thought the marriage was a terrible idea. Not surprisingly, that revelation kind of brought down the vibe, so the two of them said goodnight, laughing the conversation off. Kitty was thrown off by it, though, and the next day, when she called off the wedding, Illyana said, “This is my fault.” Yes! It sure was. Now hopefully Illyana and Kitty finally get married instead.
X-Men: Gold has been going for more than a couple of years, but #30 was by far the most enjoyable issue. The art, by David Marquez, with colors by Matthew Wilson, really seemed to fit perfectly. Their versions of Storm, Nightcrawler, and Illyana were some of the highlights of the story. The look on Colossus' face was adequately cringe-inducing throughout the last half of the book. Some might say there was no villain for X-Men: Gold #30, but there most definitely was: Illyana, who is one of the very best villains. She was also the hero, though, and put a stop to an ill-advised marriage, which is exactly what best friends (ex-girlfriends?) are for. The relationship dynamics, while still off, read better in this issue than they have through the rest of the issues in this run combined. For instance, Kitty enjoyed a really sweet moment with her former ballet teacher and mentor, Stevie Hunter, currently a congresswoman, who comes back to help her prepare for the wedding. When she breaks up with Colossus, her explanations are non-existent, and it's clear she acted impulsively. That's part of the fun of the issue — long-time X-Men fans have no doubt missed watching the anxious, impulsive Kitty of days past.
The biggest problem with the series is that it has consistently neglected several major story arcs of character development. Rachel Summers is completely miscast in the book, from taking a code name that doesn't fit her character to dating Nightcrawler to barely interacting with Kitty at all despite a long history of them as best friends, often implied to be something more. When they do interact, it comes across flat, emotionless, and even a little combative. In #30, Rachel is still behaving strangely, bickering off to the side with teen and adult versions of her mother, Jean Grey. Her established interactions and feelings towards her mother are non-existent in the scenes in which they all appear. Nightcrawler reveals that he intends to propose to Rachel, but their relationship has yet to develop in any interesting way, so it's confusing as to why that would even be on the table. In fact, their relationship, in general, seems partially tied to Rachel acting out of character, claiming to be afraid of becoming her mother and clinging to Kurt as an anchor. Long-time readers know that her fear of the Phoenix was dealt with at length in stories written decades ago, so Gold neglects major character growth that occurred over years to rehash it with no new developments and dismisses her previously established relationships. Although Rachel hasn't acted at all like herself since the beginning of the series, at least Nightcrawler has been pretty consistent, with his well-meaning, romantic side well in place. A great deal of the fun-loving, swashbuckling Kurt Wagner has been more or less put on mute, but in a book of inconsistent personalities, his has remained the most intact.
Meanwhile, it's upsetting to read a Colossus who is so lost to himself that his primary motivation is getting back together with Kitty. There was a time when Colossus was living on his own in New York and supporting himself through his art. I can understand why it's not entirely reasonable to have him doing so while on the X-Men, but does anyone ever stop and question how Xavier's school harbors these really unhealthy, habitual returns from its former students? There are a great many students of the school whose entire lives have been more or less ruined due to their affiliation with the X-Men, and Colossus might be one of them. After the disaster of this attempt at marriage, he chose to leave the team, opting to return to Russia. It's probably for the best.
Kitty is a character that was strongly implied to be queer for many years, and the sheer amount of queer fans that relate to her is truly great despite remaining mostly unfulfilled by her subsequent story arcs. Both of her implied queer love interests appeared in this book, but neither of them acknowledged any romantic history with her. In Rachel's case, she barely even appeared to have an interest in the wedding at all, even just as a friend. All in all, the story was pretty low on hope for the queer love story many of us have been rooting for with Kitty for some time. Maybe it's true some fans weren't going to be pleased with any ending to this wedding that wasn't Illyana and Rachel fighting it out over which one of them was going to burst through the doors when the rabbi asked for any objections. At the very least, the break-up means both Kitty and Piotr might finally have a chance to grow as individuals.
Even though it didn't go exactly the way anyone wanted it to, Kitty Pryde leaving Colossus at the altar by panicking, phasing her hand so he couldn't put a ring on it, saying “I can't do this,” and vanishing through the ground is undoubtedly the most in-character things she's done since this series began. Although the love story between them in this arc didn't really serve a purpose in the end, at least it was a reminder of the rebellious, honest, and passionate Kitty Pryde many readers grew up with.