SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Hunt For Wolverine: Dead Ends, by Charles Soule, Ramon Rosanas, Guru-eFX and Joe Sabino, out now.
In this week’s X-Men one-shot Hunt For Wolverine: Dead Ends, the mutant superteam faces an all-new threat in the form of Soteira, a Hydra-like organization that has been impeding the heroes' latest attempts to track down their fallen friend, Wolverine. As Kitty Pryde, Iron Man and Daredevil join forces to review the evidence gathered during their separate investigations -- as depicted in the Hunt For Wolverine miniseries released over the last few months -- Daredevil’s super-hearing picks up on something falling from the sky on a collision course with the X-Mansion. This leads to a pretty epic scene that calls back to a very famous moment from Kitty Pryde’s past.
The X-Men, along with Iron Man and Daredevil, scramble after they discover that someone has dropped four low-tech projectiles from high enough in Earth’s orbit to drop like bullets onto the mansion. If they're allowed to hit, they kill everyone inside and in the surrounding area of New York City. Iron Man, Storm and Firestar fly up to meet these bullets and make short work of three. The fourth eludes them, though, and the superheroes find themselves out of options. Enter Kitty Pryde.
Readers underestimating Kitty Pryde is nothing new. When she first appeared in 1980 in Uncanny X-Men #129, she was only 13 and her ability to phase through solid matter, while incredibly useful, was nowhere near as powerful as it has become. Faced with a bullet the size of a bus falling at terminal velocity onto Central Park, Kitty summons strength we’ve rarely seen. Placing both hands on the ground, she’s able to phase through the planet itself, allowing the bullet to pass harmlessly through the ground and down to the magma layer. The resulting damage is nothing more than a slight tremor across the city.
Understandably, this takes a lot out of the current leader of the X-Men, and she attempts to catch her breath while receiving praise from the stunned Iron Man. Her colleagues in the X-Men, however, are not as surprised, and her fans shouldn't be either, because when it comes to phasing colossal bullets through the Earth and saving lives, this is not exactly Kitty’s first time.
Astonishing X-Men was an ongoing series which started in 2004 and is famous for being the book written by Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and the director of Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron) with art by John Cassaday. It’s arguably the most popular X-Men book of the last 20 years, and the epic conclusion to that story involved Kitty Pryde, a bullet and the spectacular strength of her mutant phasing ability.
Throughout the run, the Astonishing X-Men had been in conflict with Powerlord Krunn and the forces of the alien Battleworld, who were attempting to eliminate the mutant superteam due to a prophecy that spelled the end of their world thanks to a member of the X-Men. Krunn’s ace in the hole was the Retaliator, a ten-mile-long missile that was pointed straight at Earth. As Kitty has done countless times before, she phased inside it to attempt to disable the circuitry of the bomb before it launched.
What she found was that there was nothing inside the missile but miles of thick steel. After she reached the missile's hollow tip and collapsed from the immense strain, Kitty's colleague Beast realized the truth: the Retaliator was, in fact, a giant bullet, not unlike those seen in this week’s Hunt For Wolverine: Dead Ends.
As the heroes of Earth gathered together, helpless to stop this miles-long bullet from obliterating the planet, Kitty pulled off the greatest move of her career. She pulled every last molecule of strength together and phased the Retaliator through the entire planet, from one side of the Earth to the other, and continued phasing it through space, where she remained trapped for years, having sacrificed herself to save the entire planet. She was later rescued by Magneto, who used his enhanced powers of magnetism to pull the bullet back and rescue Kitty, but her sacrifice was nevertheless a powerful moment.
This week’s Hunt For Wolverine: Dead Ends may not be quite as epic as the conclusion to Astonishing X-Men, but it certainly homages that classic scene and reminds us that Kitty Pryde is not only an extremely powerful mutant, but is also the right choice as leader of the X-Men.