Since her first appearance in Marvel Comics’ “Uncanny X-Men,” #129 Kitty Pryde has operated under a variety of different heroic monikers, such as Sprite, Ariel and Shadowcat. Throughout the years, the young mutant’s costumes and code names may have changed, but the qualities that made her a hero, like her kindness and her courage, never did. One of Kitty’s most heroic moments came at the end of writer Joss Whedon and artist John Cassaday’s acclaimed run on “Astonishing X-Men,” when she used her mutant phasing power to save the Earth from a giant bullet that an alien despot had fired at it.
This act of heroism separated Kitty from her teammates, and for some time now, she’s been trapped inside the gigantic bullet as it continued its journey through space. This March, after spending several years in her interplanetary prison,Kitty comes home in “Uncanny X-Men” #522. CBR News spoke with writer Matt Fraction about the return of the fan-favorite character.
Kitty’s exile into space occurred in 2008’s “Giant Size Astonishing X-Men” #1, but plans for her return were in the works even before that issue hit stores. “It’s been at least two years, maybe even longer. I want to say it was my first X-Summit, where I brought up the idea,” Fraction told CBR News. “I knew very early on that Magneto was coming back and would become part of the dynamic of the X-Men. I knew what he was up to and what his personality would be. I also knew how that would complicate and and challenge personal relationships and, ultimately, he would have to demonstrably make good.
“The X-Men may not have reacted by thinking, ‘He’s here. Let’s punch him!’ But they still don’t trust him. So I wanted to build that [trust] by having him give a gift to the X-Men, who are now his people, in the form of Kitty. It felt very right in this weird, full-circle way,” Fraction continued. “It brought all these people back and made sense; especially with the way things are with the current ‘Nation X’ storyline and the emotional and character arcs we’ve been telling for the past eight months.”
Before Fraction implemented his plan to bring Kitty back to the X-Men, he sought out feedback from a fellow creator. “I called Joss Whedon and ran it by him. I enjoyed and respected the job he and John did on ‘Astonishing X-Men,’ so his approval meant a lot to me. I felt like I was asking if it was okay if I dated his daughter,” Fraction joked. “I wanted to make sure that the guy who wrote Kitty’s exit approved, and when he said he liked what we wanted to do, it fired me up to do this crazy story.”
Kitty’s return comes at what seems like a busy time for the X-Men. “Uncanny” #522 is the final installment of the current “Nation X” arc, a story which has found the X-Men dealing with Magneto joining their ranks, the threat of a mysterious new set of enemies and the infrastructure problems stemming from the move to their new island home of Utopia. “Issues #520-521 are kind of the wrap up to ‘Nation X,’ and #522 serves almost as an epilogue or a coda. Everything but the X-Men and Magneto story is resolved by #522,” Fraction explained. “In issues #520-521, the other storylines terminate and everything focuses down to just Magneto and Magneto’s return. Magneto problematizes the question of what exactly Utopia is. As ‘Nation X’ progresses, Magneto will realize that it’s going to require deeds, not words, from him. So he decides to present a gift to the X-Men.”
Kitty Pryde’s return isn’t just a present for the X-Men – Fraction is excited about the character’s return as well. Fraction says that he finds the character very compelling for several different reasons. “I don’t want to say too much and tip my hand, but she’s the one who started off as a kid. For so many of us who read the X-Men chronologically, Kitty was the one who was our age. She was a sidekick-type character at first, but she was also an advocate for us. And, since Kitty, there have been a number of characters for younger readers to identify with, like Jubilee, Armor and Pixie,” Fraction said. “Plus, Kitty was a voice of sanity and sweetness. She was incorruptibly good.”
The story of Kitty’s return will be fully told in “Uncanny X-Men” #522, but the issue also seeds future plot lines in which the character will figure prominently. “The issue has a cliffhanger for the ages, as we go rocketing into the events of ‘Second Coming’ [A crossover event between all the X-Titles which kicks off in March and completes the “Messiah” trilogy of X-crossover stories.],” Fraction remarked. “So we wrap a chapter and get a glimpse of a new one before heading into ‘Second Coming.'”
Kitty doesn’t play a huge role in “Second Coming,” but Fraction isn’t bringing the character back only to let her recede into the background. “‘Second Coming’ is really the story of Cable and Hope, but Kitty will be very important after,” Fraction stated. “Kitty being back is a big part of our next year. With where we are in ‘Second Coming’ and then coming out of it, Kitty’s return couldn’t come at a better time for all involved. So she’s coming back right as there’s a giant Kitty-shaped hole in the X-Men.”
Two artists are helping Fraction bring to life “Uncanny X-Men” #522, and the writer has been very pleased by the work done by both of them. “It’s an extra sized issue. Whilce Portacio is doing the main story. An X-Men legend is coming back to tell the story of an X-Men legend coming back,” Fraction said. “We also got the opportunity to do an eight page bonus story with Phil Jimenez. This was a very special issue that was really important to me and I’m very proud of the way it turned out.”
Kitty Pryde’s return comes at a pivotal point for both the X-Men and the larger Marvel Universe. After she and her teammates face the challenges of “Second Coming,” they’ll find themselves standing alongside the Marvel U’s other champions in a new “Heroic Age.”
“The coming ‘Heroic Age’ is fun because it gives us some possibilities that we’ve not really had in a long time. Issue #526 is our first issue set during the ‘Heroic Age,’ and we have a couple of guest stars,” Fraction said. “The issue is about two characters who have recently had a momentous scene together, and we follow each of them dealing with the ramifications of ‘Second Coming’ and other stories like ‘Siege.’ They both encounter characters in their respective halves of the book, and that helps to queue us up with where we’re going. So it’s fun. I wrote #526 over the holidays and thought it was a blast because you get to see some characters you don’t normally see get together. So, in a way it feels like the X-Men have been invited to a much bigger party.”