Wow. This might be the end of one of comics’ most famous romances, the on-again-off-again couple of Kitty Pryde and Colossus. Colossus like several of his Team Cyclops allies has become a Phoenix, and like Jean Grey, they are corrupted by its influence even though they don’t see it.

Meanwhile, with Iceman, Rachel Grey, Angel, Beast, and Wolverine absent (Yup, this book is called ‘Wolverine and the X-Men’ but there is 0% Wolverine in this issue), the Jean Grey School is falling apart. Kitty struggles to hold it together with a rag tag faculty including The Toad, Husk (the Meg Griffin of the X-Men), and trained killer Warbird.

Colossus, despite all his newfound power and the Phoenix Force’s accomplishments, still yearns for Kitty, so he sets her up for a super awkward date that goes down in flames. (No pun intended.) Meanwhile, Iceman comes to the difficult realization that he was wrong to side with lifelong buddy Cyclops and his allies. The school itself gets pretty roughed up… again and Kitty mans-up, shouldering the burden of running the school in Wolverine’s absence.

Jorge Molina’s art is very different from either of the two other regular pencilers of this book, the quirky and stylized Chris Bachalo and the cartoony and crisp Nick Bradshaw. But it’s good! I liked his work a lot. His greatest strength, in my opinion, is rendering of people of different ages in realistic ways. A lot of comic artists struggle with drawing realistic looking children or teens or differentiating between adults of different generations, but he accomplishes that extremely well here. There’s a drawing of Anole early on, where he actually looks like a boy in his younger teen years. Kitty and Magik look like they are actually in their early twenties, while Iceman looks slightly older and Colossus older than that. It’s very subtle and many artists don’t bother, so hat’s off!

It was actually pretty refreshing for Wolverine to sit this issue out and allow Kitty to carry the story. She’s had a pretty big role in this series but she really shined this time out. There are nice character beats for The Toad and Iceman too. And amidst the chaos of the X-Men versus Avengers war, there are still some nice humorous bits that work very well and aren’t forced, distinguishing this title from the rest of the fairly dreary X-Men line.

There are like a bajillion X-Men, so I know this is an ensemble book and that the focus has to shift around, so different characters get the spotlight. This was Kitty’s issue. But I did note that the younger students got the short end of the stick. They only appear in a cameo capacity. But… I’m sure they’ll get their time to shine.

Verdict: Buy

Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Jorge Molina
Cover by Nick Bradshaw and Justin Ponsor