Kieron Gillen's sequel to Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men run is turning out to be a a real barnburner, even if it's a barn of a different color. In Whedon's epic space-faring story, Colossus and Shadowcat played crucial roles in not only foiling the Breakworld's plan to destroy the Earth, but also in neutering their barbaric civilization. But as Gillen proves in Uncanny X-Men #537, the Breakworlders themselves are anything but pacified.
Kruun, the former Powerlord of the Breakworld, has infiltrated the X-Men's Utopia under the guise of being a refugee, playing to the better (or, as Kruun sees it, weaker) nature of humanity. Of course, coming from a race of warriors who can't fathom the concepts of apology or compassion, it was all a ruse to allow him into their midst to exact a chilling and particularly nasty revenge against not just two mainly responsible for their undoing, but the entire X-Men at large. He's armed with the "mutant cure" they invented, after all, and the man of organic steel is quickly turned into a man of very sliceable flesh. Plus, Kruun's locked Magneto in a closet. Not a lot of guys can manage that.
When Terry and Rachel Dodson are on, they're really on. Most of this issue is an exercise in completely terrifying Kitty Pryde. The cover image, as seen above, captures the feel of this issue better than any cover in recent memory, seeing as how the art of having cover art depict what's actually in the book it's covering is a lost art these days. I said 'art' a lot there, since that's what this paragraph's about. It flows exceptionally well as she is forced to race around the island in the middle of the night trying to find anyone who can help save Peter from bleeding out, but being stuck in her intangible form means she can't speak or make any kind of noise to wake anyone up. The sense of panic is heavy throughout the whole issue, a success of both the Dodsons and Gillen's tense writing.
You've gotta love it when an issue makes you happy to see Wolverine.
Overexposed as he is, the old Canucklehead's the temporary breather when Kitty finds her old running buddy to keep Kruun occupied and, with any luck, snikted up something fierce. Of course, Kruun isn't the only Breakworlder in town, and when they're armed with mysterious alien weapons that can stab intangible people, the tension ratchets right back up PDQ.
Uncanny X-Men #537 is a damn good comic book, with its quiet intensity and the twisted pseudo-nobility of its antagonist. Gillen's stepped it up a few notches here, and here's hoping he's got an equally worthy conclusion in mind that doesn't involve killing either Kitty or Peter this time around. One expects the Master of Magnetism to come into play pretty quickly, given his obsession with the mystery metal that's doing all the stabbing that allowed all this to happen, but this guy is essentially a Colossus villain, and he has so few that aren't his own family. So fingers are crossed that he'll be the one to deliver the proper beatdown.
He may not be able to, though, now that he's been robbed of his power. Could this be what leads to the widely-circulated cover image to Uncanny X-Men #540, just three issues away, wherein Colossus is donning the helmet of the Juggernaut? Might The Serpent making Cain Marko into one of his Worthy not sit well with Cytorrak, and thus the power gem finds a new home with Piotr Nikolievitch? That… is a very intriguing thought.