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X-Men: Kitty Pryde and Wolverine (Marvel Premiere Classic) Hardcover – August 6, 2008
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The series focuses on a new direction in the Kitty Pryde character, transforming her into the ninja Shadowcat after her abduction by an evil, immortal ninja.
Wolverine comes to Japan to save Kitty and along the way offers her some training in the ways of the assassin.
In many ways, this mini-series serves as a companion piece to the Claremont-Miller Wolverine mini-series. If you have read that, you should definitely read this.
This mini-series would also be greatly enjoyed by fans of the X-men, and anyone who loves good writing and art. In short, it's a true classic.
Having recently broken up with Colossus for cheating on her (curse you Jim Shooter for not approving of their romance), as well as leaving the X-Men, Kitty's life has hit rock-bottom. Things only take a turn for the worst however, when Kitty discovers that her father is involved with Japanese crime lords, and soon heads of to Japan alone to confront him. There she not only has to journey through the streets of Tokyo on her own without food, shelter, or money, but also discovers that one of the criminals associated with her father is a deadly ninja named Ogun. When Kitty is confronted by him, she discovers that Ogun is also a demon that possesses the bodies of others, and decides Kitty to be his next host body. Stripping away every ounce of happiness from Kitty, the innocent adolescent is brainwashed by Ogun into a deadly assassin, and only with the aid of Wolverine, is Kitty freed from Ogun's control. But with the looming threat of Ogun taking control of her spirit again, Kitty must rely on the teachings of Wolverine in order to not only defend her life, but also her worth as a living being.
I know that this is probably going to draw ire from others, but I personally found the 4-issue WOLVERINE series by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller to be a bit disappointing. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed it. The theme of Wolverine being a failed samurai trying to reclaim his honor as a man against his inner animal was a fantastic idea, but the book had some flaws that prevented it from being great. X-MEN: KITTY PRYDE AND WOLVERINE for me however, was not only the aforementioned series fully realized (with it's Japanese setting and themes of honor and dignity), but also worked as an outstanding coming-of-age story. One thing that attracts me to comics is their ability to create fantastical and bizarre worlds, yet still make their stories and characters relatable to an audience (one reason why I love Spider-Man so much), which is executed at its finest here. While conflicts that Kitty Pryde experiences like the revelation of her father involved with Japanese mafia, battling a demon ninja, or learning the skills of a ninja are unrealistic, the reader can still relate to them because of what they represent on a deeper level.
Kitty Pryde, despite having the mutant power to phase through a solid objects, is still only fifteen. Being a teenager, she has yet to truly experience the harsh realities that make up life, and has it thrust upon her in this story. Having lost both her boyfriend to another woman, and her parents to a divorce, Kitty feels that the color is fading out of her life, and it all gets worse once she's alone in Japan. Being out of her environment, she makes rash decisions that only go wrong, and leave her to doubt herself even more. These are all inner conflicts that teenagers undergo. Adolescence is a difficult period in life as it's the time when one begins to question their place in life, and are more susceptible to despair when things go awry. We are easily distraught by situations that heavily impact our lives, causing us to question our worth as a person. but we have the choice to either run away from hardships in life, or confront them. Kitty decides on the latter, putting her all into confronting Ogun, knowing that even if the chances of winning are slim, she must do what she can to defend her honor, and regain her place in life.
I found the role of the villain Ogun to be extremely engaging, as he acted as a representation of inner turmoil. He appears at the moment when Kitty feels that all happiness has been removed from her life, and attempts to take her soul as his own. My favorite scene in the book is where he slowly cuts away at Kitty's hair and skating dress with his katana, as it symbolizes Kitty's soul being ripped apart, and falling into deeper despair. The idea of Ogun being a demon works perfectly for the story, as Kitty is faced with inner and exterior conflicts, and by trying to take over her soul, Ogun literally and metaphorically represents how problems can easily dominate us if we succumb to fear and despair. Wolverine also plays an important role as Kitty's teacher. Having experienced more pain and tragedy than one can imagine, Logan is determined to prevent Kitty from suffering a similar fate. Having learned all of his fighting skills from Ogun years ago, Wolverine decides to endow Kitty the skills necessary to prevent the demon from taking over again. His role as a mentor helps motivate Kitty to find the strength to prove herself against Ogun, even at the cost of her life.
It's stories like X-MEN: KITTY PRYDE AND WOLVERINE that make comics more than simple escapist fiction. Despite taking place in an unrealistic setting, everyone has experienced downfall at somewhere along the road, and was forced to chose whether or not to put confront the conflicts, or let them dominate our lives. This is especially prevalent in our adolescent years, as we are unsure of ourselves, and are beginning to experience the realities of the adult world. The main protagonist Kitty Pryde undergoes such situations, ranging from her parent's divorce, having been cheated on, hating her father for what he does (let's face it, we've all felt that way at some point), losing all hope in life, desiring to prove her own self-worth, and struggles to overcome those those obstacles. If there are any criticisms I have, they would be that making Ogun Wolverine's former sensei, while awesome, felt unnecessary for the story Claremont tells, and that there are some cheesy moments of dialogue (but it was written in the 80's, so the standards back then were different than they are today). But overall, I personally love this one. X-MEN: KITTY PRYDE AND WOLVERINE is not only entertaining as an suspenseful tale with great action, but also as a coming-of-age story that deals with the realistic issues of self-worth, honor, and dignity. It has easily earned its place among my favorite X-Men comics.
"Real courage is when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what."
― Harper Lee, TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD
To read more of my reviews on comics and sequential art, be sure to check out my website University of Panels,