Introducing everyone’s favorite intangible teen, Kitty Pryde!
I read X-Men #129 as a part of The Dark Phoenix Saga trade paperback, which is of course a must have for any X-Fan. Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s landmark story had a huge impact on Marvel Comics – so much so that fallout from this story still leads to plot-points today, more than three decades later. #129, titled “God Spare the Child,” is the first chapter in this saga, and it introduces Katherine Anne (Kitty) Pryde, also known as Sprite, Ariel, and Shadowcat.
That said, this issue also suggests that Chicago has the best pizza in the world, which we all know is a dirty, dirty lie.
While I have never gotten around to reading the whole of Claremont’s sprawling run, Kitty’s introduction is a standout moment amongst the issues that I have read. Much of the issue continues threads from previous stories, such as the X-Men leaving behind some of their own after a battle with Proteus, an especially testy Charles Xavier returning to the school to course-correct what he perceives as Scott’s failures as a leader, and some bizarre, almost David Lynch-esque visions that Jean Grey is having. While all of that is interesting, Kitty’s introduction was a breath of fresh air. She is instantly relatable as a confused teenager coming into her powers. Kitty is wide-eyed and excited when she realizes that her powers are so much more than a pounding headache.
In fact, revisiting this classic story reminded me of our modern Ms. Marvel: Kamala Khan. Kamala is a huge fan of Captain Marvel and of superheroes in general. Rather than the burden of power, Kamala acts just like we, the readers, would. We want superpowers, we dream of going on adventures with the heroes we read about, and we would gladly assemble when Captain America cries out that famous call. Kitty Pryde’s story is less about being a fan, but she’s aware of the X-Men and her excitement matches the readers. We’re excited to read about a new X-Man, and she is excited to be the new X-Man.
The Hellfire club attacks while Kitty is chatting with Storm, and Kitty uses her powers for the first time to save herself… but they are still wildly out of control. The issue ends with the X-Men out of commission, the Hellfire Club triumphant, and the only hope of saving the day resting in Kitty’s hands. Trial by Hellfire – classic X-Men!
For Kitty enthusiasts, I also recommend Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday. I almost did a whole piece on that series, which would’ve been fun, but I’ve written a lot about Whedon’s work in the past. His writing works really well when pared with strong, flawed, heroic, human female characters, and the arc he gives Kitty Pryde is one of my favorite in all of comics. Looking back to X-Men #129 to see the first time she phased through her own floor and ended up downstairs makes Kitty’s ultimate act of heroism in Astonishing seem like a grace note to a beautiful, decades-long character arc. Shadow & Flame, written by Akira Yoshida and drawn by Paul Smith, while not as moving as Astonishing, is another fun, standalone Kitty story work checking out. Plus, that one has a LOT of Lockheed!
PAT SHAND writes comics (Robyn Hood, Vampire Emmy, Equilibrium), novels (Iron Man, Charmed), and pop culture journalism (Sad Girls Guide, Blastoff Comics). While he has enjoyed these last few X-Men films, all he truly wants from that franchise is a Kitty Pryde film starring Ellen Page. How that hasn’t happened yet, the world may never know.