I haven't read Astonishing X-Men since Warren Ellis took it over after Joss Whedon's run, but some of the recent solicitations intrigued me. Plus, I really like Christos Gage's recent work (like Avengers Academy), so I thought I would give this storyarc a try. Right now, there are alternating storylines in Astonishing X-Men. Every other issue follows a different set of characters on a different mission. The one that drew my attention was the one following the Brood. The team tackling the Brood consists of my favorite X-Man, Kitty Pryde, as well as Colossus, Storm and Beast. It starts out with Beast coming to the X-Men for help, as his girlfriend, Agent Brand, head of S.W.O.R.D., never came back from a mission from Pandora's Box, a space station that's a part of S.W.O.R.D., where they conduct riskier experiments with extraterrestrial beings. Beast believes that she's still alive, and enlists the aid of his comrades to get her out. When they arrive on the space station, overrun by Brood, they find Agent Brand already infected, but what S.W.O.R.D. scientists were experimenting with was a way to extract the Brood from a host without killing either, something that the X-Men need to save their friend, and something the Brood want to breed more quickly, as they could infest a host body several times over with its use (the Brood homeworld was destroyed during Annihilation, so they are desperate to breed). Astonishing X-Men #38 & #40 are the first two issues in this storyline that has not yet concluded, but are the beginning issues of what is a pretty exciting story thus far.
I really enjoyed these issues for several reasons. First, I love Kitty Pryde, and previews indicate that this is going to end with Kitty Pryde vs. the Brood. Awesome. These issues also talk a little bit about the relationship between Kitty and Lockheed, and the strain on that relationship since it was discovered that he was secretly an agent of S.W.O.R.D. But they are best friends still, and it's wonderful to see them together again. And it's the perfect scenario for them to reunite, as Kitty first met Lockheed when the X-Men confronted the Brood (a fact that they even mentioned in one of the issues, to my delight). I also really loved Kieron Gillen and Steve Sanders' run on the short-lived S.W.O.R.D. series, and this brought some of those elements into play, as most of it takes place at S.W.O.R.D.'s headquarters, which is how we get to see Lockheed (big bad-ass guns in hand like in that series) and, of course, the lovely Agent Brand. These two issues are fast-paced action comics that speak to a promising run of X-Men comics by Gage. Juan Bobillo has a neat art style that works well on this book, especially when it comes to the aliens like Lockheed and especially, the Brood.