Continuing the trend of Kitty Pryde’s inclusion in these moments is her making the ultimate sacrifice in Joss Whedon’s run of Astonishing X-Men. Personally, I was a bit behind the curve and only read this run of Astonishing a few years ago, and this moment as the ending to the run completely floored me. I suppose it’s my own knowledge of Whedon as a writer (and of his particular brand of doing the most horrible things imaginable to the characters he loves the most) that prepared me for what was inevitably to come.
With not many options left when it came to stopping what was assumed to be a giant missile heading towards Earth, Kitty phases a mile into it (in hopes of disrupting the electronics) and learns two things: that it’s made of Breakworld material and that it’s not a missile at all, it’s a hollow bullet headed straight towards Earth. Kitty had encountered Breakworld material once before, when she found that Colossus had been imprisoned in the same material. It’s extremely exhausting for her to phase through. (The irony of this isn’t lost on Kitty– that she saved Colossus from the same prison that she ended up trapped in herself– even when things begin to look grim.)
I think my absolute favorite thing about this– besides the complete sacrifice involved on Kitty’s part in the first place– is that it marked Kitty’s conciliation with Emma Frost. It’d be an understatement to say that the relationship between the two of them was a strained one, even from the start (to be honest, their antagonistic relationship towards each other was one of my favorite things about the run), but I think that Kitty’s decision to not let Emma into her mind to believe that she was somewhere else — other than stuck in a speeding bullet– was a definite respect grabber. It’s not that Kitty hasn’t always been a strong character, but this moment shows just how far she’s come from the girl she was when she first joined the X-Men.
Kitty knows here that there’s no way for her to escape and no time for her to get out and for the world’s best to come up with another plan to stop it, so instead, she decides that the best option is for her to stay and to phase both the bullet and herself through the Earth. Of course, you could probably argue that Kitty wasn’t aware at the time that her phasing into the bullet was a suicide mission– that phasing in would wear her out so much that she couldn’t phase out– and that it’s not actually a sacrifice, since she really had no choice in the matter, but it’s Kitty’s bravery during all this and acceptance of her fate, I think, that makes this such a great moment.