In spring 2017, Kitty Pryde will finally take on a role within the X-Men that she's arguably been training for during her entire 37-year publication history: Kitty Pryde will lead the X-Men. In Marc Guggenheim and Ardian Syaf's "X-Men Gold," Kitty Pryde will return to Earth after numerous adventures with the Guardians of the Galaxy and rejoin her old teammates. Not only will she rejoin them, she's going to lead them too.
With a roster including Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Old Man Logan and Rachel Grey, the "X-Men Gold" roster contains nothing but heavy-hitting X-characters. Kitty Pryde, a character that was first introduced to the team way back in 1980 as a fresh-faced teen recruit, will take charge of a team that looks shockingly similar to the one she first met all those years ago. This time around, though, Kitty's no longer a newbie. Over the last nearly four decades, she's trained as a ninja, served as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., become an international superhero, served as headmistress of a mutant school and galavanted across the galaxy. Now she will bring that experience to the field as leader of the X-Men.
Before Kitty takes command with the launch of "X-Men Gold" next spring, however, we thought now would be a great time to look back on the character's earliest days as an X-Man. By revisiting the first time that she met all of the characters she will soon lead into battle, you really get a sense of just how far Kitty Pryde has come since her first appearance in 1980's "X-Men" #129.
Created by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, Kitty debuted as a 13-year-old teenage girl living in the suburbs of Chicago -- one suffering from incredible migraines caused by the onset of her mutant powers. "X-Men" #129 found Kitty caught between two rival mutant schools as they tried to recruit her for reasons unknown to her parents. The first school to contact her parents was the villainous Hellfire Club's Massachusetts Academy. The second school was, of course, Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters.
Kitty first laid eyes on her future mentor Professor X and teammates Storm, Colossus and Wolverine right there in her own home's entryway. She even remarked on Colossus' appearance, saying he was "kinda neat-looking." Unbeknownst to Kitty at the time, she and Piotr Rasputin would become one of the most star-crossed couples in the X-franchise. The pair would date off and on, with multiple deaths (both fake and real) and even a planet-sized bullet prying them apart just as soon as they became content.
While Kitty's parents sat down to chat with Charles Xavier about their daughter's opportunities, Kitty headed out to get a snack with Xavier's "students."
At the malt shoppe, Kitty instantly bonded with Storm (another member of the upcoming "X-Men Gold" team). Kitty quickly put two and two together and realized that these "students" were actually the X-Men; Storm confirmed her theory with a smile, and took note of Kitty's energy and enthusiasm. Storm would quickly become like an older sister to Kitty, serving as her mentor, guide and role model for many of Kitty's early years with the X-Men.
Of course no trip to a public space is ever safe for the X-Men, and the malt shoppe was soon attacked by the Hellfire Club's heavily-armored guards. They easily bested Colossus, Wolverine and Storm and captured them. Only Kitty's ability to pass through solid objects kept her out of harm's way. In the next issue, "X-Men" #130, Kitty made her way to a phone and dialed the emergency number that Ororo gave to her -- because of course Storm knew the X-Men would get into trouble.
Kitty had no idea at the time that she was talking to a superhero that would go on to become one of her closest friends and most frequent crimefighting partners. Nightcrawler picked up the phone in Professor Xavier's Rolls-Royce and took Kitty's frantic message. Nightcrawler, Cyclops and Phoenix were themselves across the country in New York City scouting out a new mutant -- the future X-Man Dazzler -- when they received Kitty's urgent call. The trio then traveled to Chicago where they rescued Kitty from the Hellfire guards just in time.
This moment marks Kitty's first in-person encounter with Nightcrawler, and it's indicative of where their relationship started. Kitty shrieks when Kurt Wagner teleports in to save her, and the X-Man has to reassure her that she's safe. "I'm one of the good guys," he says. Kitty would continue to find Nightcrawler's demonic appearance off-putting during her early days with the X-Men, even though intellectually she knew that he was kind to her and a friend. However strained their relationship was initially, they would become incredibly close friends during their many, many years as teammates in Excalibur in the late '80s to the '90s.
Now teamed up with Nightcrawler, Cyclops and Phoenix, Kitty helped bust the X-Men out of captivity in "X-Men" #131. She even discovered that her phasing ability messed with electronics, thus making it easy for her to pick the White Queen's locks.
Kitty freed Wolverine, thus giving her her first real interaction with another X-Man that would be important to her growth as a superhero. Wolverine took to the junior X-Man and, in the "Kitty Pryde and Wolverine" limited series, he even helped train her to fight. Her adventure with Wolverine in Japan led her to take on the codename Shadowcat. "X-Men Gold" doesn't feature Wolverine, per se; instead, it counts Old Man Logan -- an alternate reality version of Wolverine from the future -- as one of its members. That's a version of Wolverine that Kitty has yet to encounter.
With the X-Men united and the White Queen defeated, the team took Kitty back to her parents' home in Deerfield. As far as they knew, Kitty had left home with Xavier's students and gone totally missing for a whole night.
But Xavier being a powerful telepath, he used his mental powers to calm Cameron Pryde down. Kitty didn't join the X-Men right away, though. The team still had a major adventure to go on: the "Dark Phoenix Saga." Immediately following Kitty's return home, the team took the fight to the Hellfire Club in Manhattan, saw Phoenix go mad with power and obliterate a planet, and then fought to keep their omnipotent teammate alive in a duel on the moon with the alien Imperial Guard. Things got complicated for them, and the saga concluded with Phoenix dead and Cyclops' retirement. But just as that chapter closed in "X-Men" #138, a new student stepped out of a taxi at Xavier's School.
"The X-Men will never be the same again!"
Kitty's introduction to the X-Men was monumental enough to merit taking up the entire cover of "X-Men" #139, as the new recruit was greeted with the classic X-Men catch phrase "welcome to the X-Men, hope you survive the experience!"
The issue kicked off with the X-Men -- alongside returning member Angel -- training in the Danger Room. Kitty watched on with shock and fear from the control room, afraid that one of her new teammates would get seriously injured. With the training concluded, Kitty and Xavier entered the Danger Room -- and were surprised by Nightcrawler.
Kitty's instinctual fear of Nightcrawler continued, as she thinks to herself, "I want to like him, but he looks so...different. He gives me the creeps." Nightcrawler of course picked up on Kitty's flinching, and vowed to make progress with his new teammate. "Kitty's hiding her feelings well," thinks Kurt to himself in the following panel. "But I know I still make her nervous. I've tried to break the ice between us, but so far, nothing's worked. I'll simply have to keep trying. I like her too much to give up."
Xavier then informs Kitty that she won't be let loose in the Danger Room until she's fully prepared, news that pleases the young mutant. Instead, the team focuses on choosing a codename for the latest recruit -- and Kitty's not too happy with the one Xavier comes up with.
This would of course be far from the last codename Kitty would have as an X-Man. She'd adopt the name "Shadowcat" following her adventure with Wolverine in Japan, and she's more recently gone by Star-Lady as a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
That covers how Kitty Pryde met most of the members of the Gold team. In fact, most of them -- Nightcrawler, Colossus, Storm and Logan -- were all members of the very team that came to recruit her back in Deerfield. There's one more Gold member, though, and Kitty didn't really meet her until 1985's "Uncanny X-Men" #192...sort of.
Rachel Grey is the daughter of Cyclops and Jean Grey from the dark "Days of Future Past" timeline. When Rachel grew up in this future timeline, she was friends with the older Kate Pryde and what remained of the X-Men. It was Rachel's own powers that allowed Kate Pryde's consciousness to be sent back in time to the teen Kitty's body, an act done so the X-Men could prevent the assassination of Senator Robert Kelly. Kate and Kitty's minds were switched back and, a few months later, Rachel herself traveled back in time physically. The X-Men found the time traveler in "Uncanny X-Men" #184 and took her in. At that time, Kitty was on her aforementioned mission in Japan with Wolverine, so Kitty didn't encounter Rachel until issue #192.
As the X-Men gathered at the airport to greet Kitty, who was then going by Shadowcat and sporting a more mature style, Rachel was shocked to learn that Kitty remembered her. Despite being unconscious in the older Kate Pryde's body, the young Kitty still remembered Rachel as the telepath that protected her during that timeline-altering mission. Kitty would become close friends with Rachel over the next few months as they both served on the X-Men together. Their bond would become even more unbreakable in 1988 when "Excalibur" launched.
Yep, "X-Men Gold" is also a stealth reunion for the U.K.-based superhero team Excalibur. The series, created by Chris Claremont and Alan Davis, paired a trio of leftover X-Men (Kitty Pryde, Nightcrawler and Rachel Grey) with a couple of U.K. heroes (Captain Britain and Meggan).
This quintet would become a close-knit family, with Kitty and Rachel becoming especially close. But their relationship was interrupted in 1994 when Rachel became lost in the timestream. Kitty and Rachel were briefly reunited in the 2013 all-female "X-Men" series, but Kitty left that lineup after their inaugural mission. "X-Men Gold" will mark the first time these two have been together, with Nightcrawler as well, in quite some time.
Now that we've seen where Kitty came from, it makes "X-Men Gold" an even more exciting book. Not only is this X-Man leading a group of heroes that knew her back when she was called Shadowcat, Sprite and Ariel, she's also paired up with two of her Excalibur teammates. She's also being reunited with Colossus, her first love and also her ex-boyfriend. And then there's the variable Old Man Logan represents, considering that he's the future version of Kitty's dead mentor. The history between this roster of X-Men, even beyond Kitty Pryde, runs deep.
"X-Men Gold" from Marc Guggenheim and Ardian Syaf kicks off in April 2017.