Chris Claremont returns to his favorite character, Kitty Pryde! What has the ex-X-Man been up to at the University of Chicago? Find out as Claremont brings back one of his most popular mutants!
After taking a leave of absence from the X-Men, Kitty Pryde is pursuing a college degree at the University of Chicago. Purity, the anti-mutant hate group, has posted a webpage that shows images of Kitty’s Advanced Physics Tutorial classmates and their professor, Benes. Purity claims that a mutant has infiltrated the class, and hints that the class research could be twisted into a weapon against pure humans by this evil mutie creature. They do not identify which student is the mutant, and seem to want to incite a witch-hunt.
Kitty, who narrates the series, lets herself into her apartment, reflecting on her reasons for leaving the X-Men and returning to Chicago: her desire for a normal life. After she changes into street clothes and heads back out of her apartment, we get a close-up of a letter laying crumpled in her wastebasket, reminding us that Kitty is on academic probation (due to losing her temper with some Purity members in X-Men Unlimited volume 1, #36) and is required to see a counselor if she wants to remain in school.
Kitty shows up for her appointment with her counselor, Dr. Maureen Lyzinski, and spends the entire session in silence, staring at the equally silent doctor. She notes some photographs on the wall: the first, slightly tilted, shows Dr. Lyzinski in what appears to be a Vietnam war photo – the doc and some buddies posing near an army truck. Another shot shows the doc in a group photo at a party, possibly a reunion of those same war buddies. When the session ends, Kitty starts to leave, but stops to straighten the photo, remarking that her father was also in Vietnam. She tosses remarks to her counselor that show she is obviously resentful about having to be in therapy. After she leaves, the doctor calls someone named Jack (presumably a nickname for the dean that wrote Kitty’s letter) and explains that she’ll do her best to help Kitty, but worries that it may be too late. On the el, Kitty cries a bit, missing her father. As she goes through her day, she thinks about choices, and regrets that she couldn’t help save her father.
That night, Kitty reports for work at the Belles of Hell bar, where she bartends a la Tom Cruise in Cocktail, albeit with a getup more suggestive of Coyote Ugly. She is pleasantly surprised by an old friend, Shan or Xi’an Coy Manh, a.k.a. Karma from the New Mutants. Kitty’s boss Dylan gives her a break so she can catch up with her friend. Shan is working at the university library while she goes to school, and is taking care of her younger brother and sister, the twins Leong and Nga. Dylan gives Kitty the rest of the night off so she can have dinner with Shan’s family.
At Shan’s apartment, the twins hide from Kitty at first, but get more comfortable the longer she stays. After she watches them go through bedtime prayers with their older sister, she and Shan head up to the rooftop to drink some beers and reminisce. Shan misses her days at Xavier’s a bit, and shows Kitty that she still wears her old training uniform under her street clothes. She can’t quite get used to living this quieter kind of life, but she’s doing her best for her family. She plans on getting a degree and becoming a librarian, possibly teaching languages as well. Kitty is more than ready to embrace a mundane existence, and tells Shan about her father’s death in Genosha. It’s obvious that her grief and regret over this has a lot to do with her wanting to get away from a superhero lifestyle.
Meanwhile, a mysterious ship is sailing across Lake Huron. It’s a freighter called the Amazon Belle, and will not respond to the Canadian Coast Guard’s repeated hails. When they board the freighter, the guardsmen are blinded by a bright light, and some sort of beam shoots down the Coast Guard helicopter. The freighter then plows through the Coast Guard patrol ship, completely wrecking it, and when the land base tries to raise it by radio, something on the freighter imitates the Coast Guard captain, relaying an all-is-well message.
Back on shore, somewhere in Hyde Park, a mutant named Shola Inkosi has fallen asleep while studying at his desk. He has a nightmare about Genosha’s destruction, and after waking we see from a letter on his desk that he is a Genoshan exchange student dealing with student visa problems. He doesn’t want to go back to sleep because of the nightmare, so he leaves his apartment and starts jogging, eventually heading to a coffee shop. At the door, a group of kids come up behind him, and two of them hold guns to the back of Shola’s head. Without even turning, he uses his powers to disintegrate the guns, as well as demolishing a nearby car. The gang runs, and Shola heads in for his coffee.
In a dorm elsewhere, three students – Jeff, Alice, and Tommy – are discussing the presence of mutants on campus. Jeff is one of the students Kitty was put on probation for attacking, and is very resentful, calling her a race-traitor. Tommy is the kind of bigot that thinks mutants are cut-and-dried dangers, and simply have no business mixing with regular humans. (He’s the kind of guy who in the 1960s would have considered separate bathrooms and water fountains acceptable and necessary for African-Americans, but would have tsk’ed over public beatings and lynchings.) Tommy has somehow found his way into the Physics computer system via his dorm-room computer, and tells Jeff to monitor but not interfere with the programs, as that could be terribly dangerous. After he leaves the room, Alice and Jeff begin to do exactly what he warned them not to, planning to out the mutant in the class by doing something big.
Kitty is hard at work with her classmates at the Bessember Field Station, where the Physics lab has set up shop. There’s a complicated arrangement of mechanical equipment, computers, and a strange semi-pyramid setup in the middle of the room. All of this is designed to help them with their assignment to identify the building blocks of creation, and Kitty is apparently chief mechanic in this group. One of the students, George, offers Kitty a T-shirt from a bunch he had made for the whole class. On it are the Mutant Alert mug shots of the entire class and the professor from Purity’s website, as well as an anti-Purity logo on the reverse. Kitty gives him a thanks-but-no-thanks, explaining that it could cause trouble for her probation. This starts a conversation with the rest of the students about their concern over being plastered on the web like that. One student, Danny, has apparently developed a virus he intends to use to crash Purity’s site. Professor Benes requests that they all return to their tasks and calls for the beginning of their initial test. As they start the first cycle, Kitty notices something wrong, and yells for an abort. Instead of the low-power test they had intended, the system has been kicked up to full power, and they are not ready. Professor Benes orders everyone out of the building, and just as Kitty reaches him, trying to push him to safety, a blinding explosion bursts through the room.