Reviews

Misguided Matrimonial Bait-and-Switch: X-men Gold #30

It's quite possibly the greatest bait-and-switch in the history of comics, turning the marriage of Kitty Pryde and Colossus into the marriage of Rogue and Gambit.

X-men Gold #30
Marc Guggenheim David Marquez

Marvel Comics

20 Jun 2018

Other

A superhero wedding is only as successful as the journey that leads to it. For some iconic romances, that fateful walk down the aisle is a matter of inevitability. Couples like Cyclops and Jean Grey, Reed Richards and Sue Storm, and Superman and Lois Lane reflect the ideals of star-crossed lovers. No matter what comes between them, be it death, retcons, or reboots, they always find a way back to one another. Their love may as well be as constant as the rising sun or Dr. Doom's ego.

For that reason, though, the wedding of Kitty Pryde and Colossus brings something unique to the trope of superhero nuptials. Theirs is a romance that doesn't rely on destiny. They have to put effort into making their relationship work, by default. They overcome their share of obstacles without the luxury of being one of those comic book power couples. Those obstacles include death, being trapped in a giant space bullet, and multiple romantic entanglements. To say Kitty and Colossus have a lot of forces working against them is like saying the Hulk gets moody every now and then.

Despite all those forces, Kitty and Colossus attempt to achieve the same romantic pinnacle as other iconic couples. Since X-men Gold began under Marc Guggenheim, the complications that frequently drive these two apart are steadily mended through an emotional, but compelling journey. In X-men Gold #30, they're finally set to complete that journey.

At least, that's how this big event is presented, both with the cover of the issue and the various issues that led up to it. The actual substance of this momentous affair is unexpected in its results and not necessarily in a good way. In fact, the events that play out are downright damaging. Even though a well-known X-men couple does get married, the moment ultimately comes off as empty and dispassionate.

That outcome is pretty jarring. Guggenheim borrows greatly from past weddings, going so far as to mention how close the ceremony is to the location of Cyclops and Jean Grey's wedding. Kitty and Colossus have everyone in the team supporting them. There aren't any ominous warnings about how their marriage will lead to a dystopian future. There aren't even any clones, Skrull agents, Legacy Virus outbreaks, or Sentinel attacks to disrupt the affair. There's nothing preventing this long-time couple from tying the knot.

It still doesn't happen, though. After all the love, support, and encouragement the X-men give the long-time lovers, Kitty gets cold feet and at the last possible second, no less. It's one thing for a bride to call the wedding off on the ride to the ceremony. Kitty actually waits until she's wearing her dress, walking down the aisle in front of all her friends, and about to receive her wedding ring from Colossus.

Beyond turning a joyous occasion into a public spectacle of heartbreak, it paints Kitty Pryde as callous, indecisive, and emotionally inept. Considering that she's also the leader of the X-men, those kinds of deficiencies just don't make sense. Kitty's actions completely upend the over-arching story that has been unfolding between her and Colossus since the beginning of X-men Gold. It gives the impression that all the heartfelt moments they shared, all the drama that led up the proposal, and all the challenges they overcame to make it to this point carried little emotional weight.

It's one thing for a romance to go too fast and burn out. Kitty and Colossus aren't that kind of romance, though. They have a rich history together that leaves little ambiguity to the sincerity of their feelings for one another. They don't have the same excuses as most couples, superhero or otherwise. They didn't go too fast and their love never comes off as shallow. However, Kitty still finds an excuse to call it off and it's not a good one.

The reasons she gives Colossus are crass and impersonal. They are the kinds of musings that can easily be repeated by any bride that ever got cold feet and it would make just as much sense. Nothing about her decision for stopping the nuptials is specific to her and Colossus' relationship. Considering that she's the one who proposed to Colossus in the first place, it just makes Kitty out to be even more callous, if not downright dishonest.

It's not just a weak excuse to stop a wedding and irreparably undermine a long-standing relationship within the X-men mythos. It sends a message that every romance, even those involving superheroes, that's too hard for anyone to make work and isn't worth trying. It's not enough to love someone. Even wanting to marry them to the point of planning a wedding isn't sufficient. There are too many forces working against this couple seeking marriage and it isn't worth risking, as though love and commitment are somehow more dangerous than an attack by Apocalypse.

If X-men Gold #30 had ended on that solemn note, it might still work because it reflects the precious rarity of iconic romances that make it to the altar. It's a depressing message, but one that carries enough weight to have an impact. However, given all the build-up and festivities surrounding this wedding, there's a sense that someone has to get married to salvage the moment. That's where Rogue and Gambit come in.

It's quite possibly the greatest bait-and-switch in the history of comics, turning the marriage of Kitty Pryde and Colossus into the marriage of Rogue and Gambit. While Rogue and Gambit are another one of those iconic X-men romances that overcome a great many obstacles, theirs is a romance that just began rebuilding itself in the pages of Kelly Thompson's Rogue and Gambit series. Instead of continuing that process, like Kitty and Colossus attempted in X-men Gold, they just skip right to the part where they get married.

While that may overjoy fans of the couple, this twist undermines that relationship almost as much. One couple can't go through with the wedding, despite all the planning and effort that went into it. Another, however, just randomly decides to do it on the spot, as though one couple is interchangeable with the other. It's like romances are TV dinners bought in bulk. If one doesn't turn out well, then another one is just as good.

There's no denying that superhero romances are wrought with melodrama and very few end in a successful marriage. That's what makes them so noteworthy. X-men Gold #30 initially sends that message to some extent, but undercuts it by treating it as something any couple can do on a whim. It turns romance into a gimmick rather than a part of the ongoing story between characters. It's hard to have any emotional stakes in a gimmick.

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