Women of Awesomeness: Kitty Pryde

Kitty Pryde 1Imagine if you will a young girl of ten, mousy with brown hair and eyes reading comic books in the family room of a simple three bedroom home in Texas. Normally she would be in school, but it’s Rosh Hashanah and her parents took her to services earlier in the day. She is the only Jewish girl in a school of over 400 kids. That among other things, like her love of fantasy and science fiction, makes her feel alone, a freak. She’s kind of an awkward kid, always having a hard time fitting in with the crowd. She opens the cover of an older issue of Uncanny X-men that her Dad had left sitting out. She sees something stunning, it’s a girl, not much older than she, Jewish, brown haired and kind of different. The young girl feels an instant bond and a deeper love of comic books is born.

That was me when I first met Kitty Pryde. You can only imagine how validated she made me feel. I mean there she was, Kitty, just like me! Well, minus the walking through walls part. Oh, but I wished I could. Sadly in our “real lives” there’s no such thing as mutants, or the X-men. So I made do with following Kitty throughout my adolescence and into my adulthood. She remains one of my favorite characters.

Kitty Pryde 2Kitty was introduced in Uncanny X-Men in issue #129 (Jan. 1980), a character created by John Byrne.  Her ability was being able to “phase” through solid objects, even people. She could hold her breath and just walk through walls. She could even “float” and her phase ability could disrupt electrical fields. When Kitty first joins the X-Men she went by “Sprite” but eventually she adopted the name “Shadowcat.” As the youngest member of the team she was everyone’s little sister (which annoyed her to no end at times.) She grew up in extraordinary circumstances and all her experiences turned her into a formidable Woman of Awesomeness.

Early on Kitty developed a crush on Colossus, which was not well received by many due to the age differences. (Kitty being 14 and Colossus being 19.) As time went on, though, they did become an item. Their relationship ended during the Secret Wars series when Colossus developed feelings for Zsaji (an alien woman with healing powers that also induced infatuation.) This combined with his jealousy of Kitty’s friendship with Dough Ramsey led to him breaking up with Kitty. Through the years and many adventures since then Colossus and Kitty have remained friends.

Of all the story lines that Kitty has been through here are the ones that I remember best. (Not presented necessarily  in chronological order.) The first is the miniseries with Wolverine. It is in this six issues arc that Kitty finally, to me begins to turn into a kick-ass woman. Before this she was, well, weak. She could really defend herself, just phase through things, and honestly she could be a liability in combat. This is when Sprite leaves and Shadowcat comes to meet us. I loved the way the relationship between this sweet young girl and the older gritty Wolverine becomes something more than just comrades. They become family in this series. And by then end of things Kitty is finally a character worth standing on her own.

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Another arc that I recall with fondness is the time the X-Men went up against Dracula. It was the first time I was introduced to the idea that faith, and not a specific symbol, would repel a vampire. Before then I used to joke with my friends that if the vamps ever came to me I was screwed because I wasn’t Christian. Then Kitty illustrated that very point, when Dracula brushes her cross aside and takes Kitty by the throat. Only he is burned on her little Star of David, the symbol of her faith.

Then there’s issue #153 of Uncanny X-Men. Kitty’s bedtime story to six year old old Illyana Rasputin (Colossus’ little sister). The whole issue was fluffy and cute and wonderful. It also introduced to us Bamfs, little tiny Nightcrawlers (Bamfs have appeared here and there throughout the years as stuffed animals or alternate world critters and so on). In this issue Kitty further endeared herself to me by wearing an Elf Quest t-shirt, which only further proved to my young mind that Kitty was the coolest girl ever.

So, yeah, Kitty and I, we go way back. I don’t much read comics nowadays, but I admit that every so often I’ll go on-line and see if I can catch up a little on what Kitty’s been up to. She’ll forever hold a place in my heart, because she helped a lonely little girl make sense of her own self.

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