The current WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN title is one of my favorite ongoing series at the moment, and it's a book that really made me appreciate Kitty Pryde's character. She's sweet, kind and a little bit sassy, and she's unique. But the character she is in Jason Aaron's ongoing series is remarkably different from the character we saw in one of her earlier appearances, KITTY PRYDE AND WOLVERINE.
I decided to look at both series -- one of her first and one of her most recent -- in order to see how (and if) the character has evolved, and whether the story holds up today.
Kitty is first introduced as a gawky, skinny little kid who is just living her simple life in Deerfield, Illinois before she reveals that she discovered she was a mutant from a young age. It's a great introduction to her character in the very first page of the series' first issue -- even if it is a little bit wordy (executed in true Chris Claremont fashion). I think one of the things I immediately liked about this series is the fact that Claremont lays Kitty's insecurities out really plainly -- even though she is an X-Man, and is a "bona-fide superhero" who saves lives and kicks butt; she was unable to save her parents' marriage. It's an issue that so many kids deal with and really feel helpless about, which is unfortunate, but it essentially makes her a really relatable character.== TEASER ==
Kitty's protective instinct is evident here in the way that she reacts to an attack on her father; and its something that continues to resonate as a personality trait of Kitty's. At the very start of the first part of this series Kitty barges in on a violent conversation between a group of businessmen who recently purchased Kitty's father's bank from him.
I think anyone that saw his or her parents go through a divorce or separation would begin to feel insecure about their situation. Couple that with seeing one of your parents being bullied into possibly making a decision that goes against their convictions and morals -- that's pretty heavy stuff. The important thing to note here is that although Claremont writes the series in a way that is really easy for people to understand, I think it's important to note that he (Claremont) deals with a lot of heavy issues (divorce, insecurities about parents and one's financial situation) that a lot of kids grow up having to deal with. Depicting a young, teenage Kitty Pryde being forced to deal with serious issues like this really makes her a relatable character. But in this issue alone, Kitty goes from harboring those feelings of insecurities to really coming into her own; to becoming this smart, secure and more adult girl who takes on the identity of "Shadowcat." In the fifth issue of KITTY PRYDE AND WOLVERINE, Pryde really comes to terms with who she is and the way her decisions have shaped her. In this series alone, she really evolves as a character.
Claremont also begins to mold Kitty as a compassionate character. In the final issue of KITTY PRYDE AND WOLVERINE we see Kitty being tested by her mentor. He questions whether or not she is willing to kill. Looking beyond the fact that Wolverine has come a long way (UNCANNY X-FORCE, anyone?) it's still interesting to see this teacher and student scene here. It's also good to note that to note her final decision: she is unable to kill her torturer even after being given a clear shot. I think that's indicative of the character she is even to this day. This scene, I think, really holds up. In fact, we still see moments just like this in comics where a mentor challenges and questions the actions of his or her student all the time.
Kitty is a character that cares, and as a result of her compassion, she sometimes places herself in sticky situations. That's not something that has really changed. In order to be a leader and teacher of young mutants,you have to have a certain level of compassion. I think those qualities we saw in Kitty back in the 1980's when this series was first released, certainly appear here as well. Today, Kitty Pryde is the Headmistress of Wolverine's School where she teaches, guides and nurtures children in her own way -- but not without her clever quips and some snarky remarks.
Briefly going back to the panel where Wolverine tests Kitty Pryde, I think this is one of the most important scenes in the entire issue. Not only was this a great moment in Kitty's history as a character, but it's also a perfect representation of the friendship and relationship that blossoms between Kitty Pryde and Wolverine's character. There is no question that these two have a long history. They are close friends and share a powerful and mutually respectful relationship -- I think that's important to note. Wolverine was her guide and mentor for years, and that's something that you can still see to this day. Although comic book characters don't age much, it's safe to say that Kitty has matured. As a result she's also taken on leadership responsibilities and, in a sense, begun to follow in the steps of Wolverine as a teacher in her own respect.
It's neat to see a character evolve in this way; going from student to teacher and dealing with an influx of responsibilities. Kitty is certainly not the character she was when she was first introduced, but the way she has changed and evolved makes sense. She's grown up, and her fans have had the opportunity to grow up with her, which is pretty great. In the end, Claremont's story does hold up. It may have a slow start, at first, but it's a great foundation for the character Kitty Pryde would later grow to become. There are some fantastic scenes in this issue that depict Kitty as being this really strong young woman who, after enduring some really hard times and some pain, got through it and matured. There are a lot of parallels that can be drawn between KITTY PRYDE AND WOLVERINE and the current WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN. It's a great Kitty Pryde origin story and is definitely worth reading.