Entry 071 – Shadowcat

Art by David Marquez

  • Name: Katherine Pryde
  • Code Names: Ariel, Sprite, Shadowcat, Star-Lord
  • First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men #129 (Jan 80)
  • Powers: Intangibility
  • Teams Affiliation: X-Men, Excalibur, SHIELD, Guardians of the Galaxy

About

Seeing kids grow up is weird. It is terrifying to look at a thirteen-year-old and think that in just five years we as a culture assume they are informed and reasonable enough to vote. You start to imprint ages onto people, and it is shocking how much changes in just a short time. They grow up, change, and become competent people like the rest of us. Sometimes they become even better at things than you ever imagined. Students can become teachers, and Katherine Pryde is the X-Men’s best example of that.

Portrayed by Ellen Paige

At thirteen-and-a-half Kitty Pryde discovered that she could walk through walls. This drew the attention of not only Charles Xavier and his School for Gifted Youngsters but Emma Frost of the Hellfire Club’s Massachusetts Academy. Frost left the young girl unnerved but Kitty quickly bonded with the X-Men’s Storm. The White Queen took to opportunity to capture the X-Men, and while Kitty escaped, she found herself embroiled in a battle between good and evil. Kitty called the rest of the X-Men and they rescued their friends. Kitty knew she wanted to develop this budding power of hers further and enrolled in Xavier’s School.

Art by John Byrne, Terry Austin, and Bob Sharen

Kitty quickly found her place on the team. While the rest of the team was out celebrating Christmas, the young Jewish mutant battled demons alone in the mansion. The X-Men were impressed, but even more so when a version of Kitty from the future inhabited the young girl’s body. This version of Kitty was a hardened leader and served as an indicator to the rest of the team that Kitty was something special. Colossus, in particular, took a shine to the young mutant and the two slowly began dating. His sister, Illyana became Kitty’s roommate and they became quick friends. Best of all, a mission to space to battle the Brood introduced Kitty to a cat-sized, purple, fire-breathing dragon she named Lockheed.

Art by Paul Smith, Bob Wiacek and Lynn Varley

When they returned from space, they discovered that Professor Xavier had started a new team of mutants closer to Kitty’s age and wanted her to join that squad. Kitty Pryde was having none of that. Yes, she was young, but she had proven her place on the X-Men and wouldn’t stand to be demoted to the “X-Babies”. The Professor reluctantly agreed with her but that didn’t stop her from becoming friends with the New Mutant Cypher. She was with him when the rest of the X-Men were taken to the Secret Wars and was devastated when she found what happened there. Colossus fell in love with an alien healer named Zsaji (who, to be very clear, didn’t even speak English and spent most of her time fawning over the Human Torch). He broke up with her and Wolverine and Nightcrawler, who had grown very protective of their little sister, ensured that Colossus got knocked down a peg for it, but it didn’t make Kitty feel any better.

Art by Paul Smith, Bob Waicek and Glynis Wein

Between experiencing her first heartbreak and dealing with her parent’s divorce, Kitty just needed a break. She decided to surprise her father with a visit but walked in on a suspicious meeting between Carmen Pryde and the Yakuza. She tried to follow them on their trip to Tokyo but was soon found out and captured by the demon ninja master Ogun. Ogun brainwashed her and imprinted his ninja knowledge on her and sent her on a mission to kill Wolverine. Logan subdued Kitty and helped train her to withstand Ogun. When they next met, Kitty overcame Ogun but stayed true to herself and refused to kill him. She returned to the X-Men, older and stronger, with a codename that fit her perfectly, Shadowcat.

Art by Al Milgrom and Glynis Wein

Kitty grew in her role with the X-Men, even becoming the de facto leader when Storm was depowered, but dark days were around the corner. In the Mutant Massacre Shadowcat was injured and struggled to keep her solid form. Alongside the other hurt X-Men she went to Muir Island for recovery and was shocked to hear about the X-Men’s death in Dallas. Inspired by their sacrifice, Shadowcat, Rachel Summers, and Nightcrawler joined Meggan and Captain Britain to form Excalibur. Kitty thrived on the team but was separated from them during the Cross Time Caper. Courtney Ross took her in and sent her to St. Searle’s School for Girls where, and I’m not making this up, Kitty trains a cheerleading squad to win enough money and an American Football exhibition game to keep the school open.

Art by Alan Davis, Paul Neary, and Glynis Oliver

When Excalibur was contacted by the British Intelligence agency Black Air, Warren Ellis expy Pete Wisdom joined the team. At first she hated the caddish secret agent but Kitty fell for the bad boy and the two-started dating. With an age gap more pronounced than that of her and Colossus, Kitty started to question her relationship with Wisdom, this only got worse when SHIELD reached out to her for a brief internship. In SHIELD she found herself attracted to a guy her age and a rift formed between them and they soon split.

Art by Ken Lashely, Tom Wegrzyn, and Joe Rosas

Excalibur didn’t last much longer and Kitty rejoined the X-Men back in Westchester for a short time. Something didn’t feel right, maybe you couldn’t go back home again? Whatever the reason Kitty left the X-Men, returning only to spread the ashes of the deceased Pitor Rasputin. She decided college was the right place for her and attended the University of Chicago while working as a bartender. At the behest of Cyclops, Kitty rejoined the X-Men. They needed someone to represent mutants who didn’t have knives in their hands or laser eyes. Someone who could pass as normal, non-threatening, a regular person, and Kitty was just the X-Man. Their first mission was to investigate the mutant cure touted by Dr. Kavita Rao, and in the depths of Benetech she found a dark secret. The cure was being synthesized from the still living Colossus. Kitty’s heart skipped a beat when she saw him again, steely and tall. She helped rescue him and the two decided to try their relationship again, this time as adults.

Art by John Cassaday and Laura Martin

Time, however, wasn’t on their side. On a mission to the alien planet of Breakworld, the X-Men discovered a conspiracy to destroy the earth with a giant bullet and Kitty knew she could stop it. She phased into the bullet, and using all her strength, made it intangible as it passed through the Earth. She was stuck, unable to control the rocketing hunk of metal and she drifted off into the cosmos alone.

Art by John Cassaday and Laura Martin

Months, years maybe, passed as Kitty held the bullet phased in a vacuum of space. She hadn’t eaten or drank, but she stayed strong in her intangible from. Strange enough, she felt a tug, the bullet shifted its course, she was going home. Magneto summoned all his might to direct her ship and pulled her safely to Earth. Being phased for so long left her unable to go solid again but with rehabilitation she learned. She tried going back to her old life and her old love, but Colossus had changed. He took on the burden of the Juggernaut during Fear Itself but Kitty couldn’t continue to date someone who was only willing to die for her, never willing to live.

Art by Whilce Portacio, Ed Tadeo, and Juston Ponsor

When Wolverine decided to establish the Jean Grey School Kitty was the only person he trusted to run alongside him. She often was left as the sole authority figure at the school and stepped down when the original X-Men were brought into the future by Beast. She dedicated her time to mentoring them, becoming their Professor K. When they were being forced to return to their original timeline against their will, Kitty stood up for them and helped them escape. This caused a rift between her and the rest of the school so she left to teach the teens at Cyclops’ new facility.

Art by Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadgerm and Marte Gracia

It wasn’t long until the young Jean Grey got captured by Shi’ar forces determined to put her on trial for crimes she had yet to commit. Kitty and the X-Men joined with the Guardians of the Galaxy to rescue her and Ms. Pryde found a certain connection with their leader, Peter Quill (Editor’s note –Who?). They began space Skyping and she helped him on a caper to steal a powerful artifact from his father known as The Black Vortex. This set off a cosmic game of hot potato and ended with Kitty getting prematurely engaged to a man she had just met.

Art by Ed McGueinness, Mark Farmer, and Marte Gracia

Kitty decided to stay with Star-Lord and his Guardians of the Galaxy, even when Peter was elected King of Sparatax. She stood by his side but felt more and more neglected by her busy fiancé. She ran off the lead the Guardians as the new Star-Lord and left Peter behind. They were reunited when a Kree Accuser who wasn’t the only one people care about attacked Sparatax in retaliation for the destruction of the Kree home world Hala. Quill was removed from his position as king and went on the run with the Guardians again. He and Kitty tried to start their relationship back up but nothing was there any more. When the Guardians returned to Earth to going the 2nd Superhero Civil War Kitty quietly went back home to Chicago to regroup.

Art by Siya Oum

In Chicago, Storm approached her. The X-Men needed a new leader, one who could see clearly, not clouded by the recent unpleasantries with the Inhumans. They needed Kitty. She came back to the school with a vision to help the X-Men focus on their future. She moved the school to Central Park and worked to create an atmosphere of integration with the human community. The jury is still out on if Kitty’s plan will work but she is quickly proving herself to be the leader that the X-Men need.

Art by Adrian Syaf, Jay Leisten, and Frank Martin

Must Read

Kitty is the point of view character for some of the best X-Men stories out there. The recent X-Men Gold is already showing promise and shines no brighter than when it focuses on Kitty. Still the gold standard is Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men, especially the last arc, Unstoppable. Kitty does everything you want her to do, be stronger than she normally is, give a great speech, and date a guy named Peter. The story does right by everyone in it but the last moments with Kitty are some of the most emotional comics out there.

Art by John Cassaday and Laura Martin

Ranking

So here is the thing, Kitty is great. There is a reason she became the template for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, her specific brand of sass is perfect for a young, strong woman. She is the best example in fiction of a student becoming the teacher and she is a joy to read about. She is better than her frequent boo Colossus, but I think Nightcrawler is a more enjoyable character over all. Someone like Magik has higher highs than Kitty but the sheer volume of fabulous stories the Shadowcat is the crux of pushes her up to the new number 3 in the Xavier Files.

Shadowcat was requested by Andy_the_Droid (among others) who won the recent #MutantMadness contest! Thank you for the request. If you have a request for how about you send it below? If you want to cut to the front of the two-year long line, we have a Patreon you can support Xavier Files for just $1 to get a line cutting reward.

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