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The X-Perts

The X-Perts: Kitty Pryde

Jason Aaron, Kieron Gillen, Victor Gischler, Christos Gage and Nick Lowe discuss the heart of the X-Men

By Ben Morse

The Schism has come and gone—now it’s time for Regenesis.

Following a split in the Children of the Atom, two factions of X-Men have taken to their own missions in UNCANNY X-MEN as well as WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN. Here on Marvel.com we’ll be regularly gathering the creators and editors responsible for guiding the X-Men’s destiny to dissect each of their charges to examine what makes them tick and lend some insight into why they’ve chosen the team they did in the wake of Regenesis.

This time, the focus falls on Kitty Pryde, at one time a young recruit to the X-Men who has matured into one of their most capable and trusted members. Kitty has recently taken on a new role as Headmistress at the Jean Grey School for the Gifted in WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN. What factors placed her on Team Wolverine and what does the future hold?

How would you describe the core of who Kitty is and what is most important to her?

Jason Aaron (writer of WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN): Family. And the X-Men have become her family.

Victor Gischler (writer of X-MEN): Friendship. A lot of X-Men have been there when she needed them, and she'd be first to return the favor.

Kieron Gillen (writer of UNCANNY X-MEN): In a word: Integrity.

Nick Lowe (X-Men Senior Editor): More so than anything, Kitty values the people she loves. That trumps just about everything else for her. It trumps her views on the mutant species, it trumps her career goals and it trumps her love of a good milkshake.

Christos Gage (incoming writer of X-MEN LEGACY): I agree [with Nick]. Kitty puts people first, and the people she cares for before everything, including herself. She's certainly no doormat; she chooses her friends with care. But once she does she is their fiercest defender and advocate.

What is Kitty's view of how the mutant race should conduct itself moving forward? How does this contrast or conflict with others?

Kieron Gillen: This is the first X-Perts after Schism, isn't it? I suspect that's going to change the answers for this traditional question considerably. She's on Logan's side. She's not just on Logan's side, but she's his co-head. She's as iconic and characteristic for Logan's direction as, say, Magneto is for Scott's. She's much closer to the traditional X-Men dream than many, minus the bitterness of someone like Beast. That's simply because she hasn't been around. She didn't live through M-Day. She didn't live through Second Coming. She's been in the bullet all that time, and she's still got that part of her [from] the start of [ASTONISHING X-MEN], as in openly upset that Emma Frost is teaching ethics. She's only had a few months since she's returned, a sizeable portion of which she's been in a tube and unable to properly communicate. As such, she's a bit shocked by how far Scott took it. It was a sudden leap for her. As such, she's someone fairly naturally kicks against that.

Nick Lowe: Kitty is definitely a believer in Xavier’s dream and thinks that Wolverine’s school serves that dream better. Although I do wonder how much of a hardliner Kitty is on the “No Kid Is Allowed to be a Soldier” philosophy, since she was an X-Man almost from day one and was 14 at the time.

Victor Gischler: I think she still has an idealized notion of humans and mutants coming together. She's not a mutant of the hardcore, Cyclops variety. She's not quite the kid she used to be, but she's still a bit wide-eyed.

Christos Gage: I think Kitty feels isolating mutants from the rest of the world is not good for either side. I don't think she necessarily objects to underage mutants being soldiers, but she doesn't want it to be mandatory. She thinks they should be given the education, tools and opportunities to make their own choices.

Jason Aaron: I think that like Wolverine, she just wants things to be better for the next generation of mutants than they were for her. That's why she came with him to open a new school. She wants there to be a generation of mutants that can grow up to be doctors and lawyers or whatever they want. Not just another line of soldiers. She realizes that way will never win the war or change the world.

How does Kitty's standing as the first new X-Man following the team's Second Genesis give her a unique role on the team?

Christos Gage: She was the first X-Man—or X-Woman—to be part of a team with older mutants. Before her they'd either all been teens, or all been adults (albeit young ones). Kitty's presence, for the first time, made her fellow mutants think about what they wanted for the next generation, and what effect they might have on it.

Victor Gischler: I think that's going to continue to evolve. I'm not even sure Kitty herself full knows, although she would pretend to know.

Kieron Gillen: She was the youngest. And, before the New Mutants arrived, she was the youngest by herself. For me, that's perhaps less of a strange thing than you'd think. As a genius, I feel she was always dealing with older people than herself. Hell, it's dealing with people her own age that would be trickier. But still, while someone like Iceman embraced the role of youngest wholeheartedly, Kitty's someone who's always aspired to act older.

I actually think it's more of a role not for Kitty, but for everyone else who was X-Men then. Kitty was where they all got used to having someone that young around. She was their Danger Room, if you will.

Jason Aaron: I think she gave everybody a sense of hope. And I think she still does. She reminds everybody what they're fighting for. She shows them how good they can be when they're at their best.

Nick Lowe: I think it gave her a unique role as the little sister and M.U.P. of the team—Most Underestimated Player, for those keeping track at home.

How is the Kitty of today different from the Kitty who first walked into Xavier's school years ago? What factors have contributed most to her maturation?

Nick Lowe: Happily, I think she’s still pretty much the same. She’s learned a lot. She’s been in love. She’s a little older and wiser, but that same personality shines through no matter what.

Victor Gischler: A few more miles and a little smarter, but not wildly different.

Christos Gage: Yeah, she's the same person—with the added years of experience, but deep down, the same.

Jason Aaron: Now she's the one calling the shots; where once she was the youngest student in the school, now she's the headmaster. She's now saddled with a sort of responsibility she's never had before. It's not an easy burden by any means, but it's one she feels she's finally ready to step up and accept. Only time will tell if she made the right choice.

Kieron Gillen: What factors have contributed most to her maturation? Completing puberty.

What factor does Kitty's intelligence play in shaping her personality and decisions?

Victor Gischler: The same as with anyone. And once you add some more experience to that intelligence, you've got something.

Kieron Gillen: Of all the many comic-book-genius characters in comics—genius in comics is, of course, a hugely different thing from genius in real life; to state the obvious: Reed Richards' “natural” intellect is supernatural from a real world perspective—Kitty wears it close to the lightest. You can easily forget for entire arcs that she's as smart as anyone in the room, until she chooses to drop some feat of crazy hacking or whatever. She's very different from someone like Beast, who takes great joy in parading his enormous cerebellum around; she's someone who tends to downplay that kind of part of her, partially because she doesn't need to show it off, and partially because she likes putting people at ease.

Christos Gage: A big [factor]. She juggles a lot but she seems to make pretty good decisions in all facets.

Nick Lowe: In huge ways, of course. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if that were a big part of why Logan wanted her at the school. And seeing how crazy Beast went with the school’s designs and operations I would bet that Kitty would be the only one who can keep track of it all.

Does Kitty's age—younger than most X-Men but older than most students—put her in a difficult position or make her more valuable?

Jason Aaron: It certainly makes her more valuable to Logan and to the school. But I think she will find it's a weird position. She's the authority figure now. She might still think of herself as young and hip, but to those students, she's the one who sends them to detention for not doing their homework.

Kieron Gillen: More valuable, I think. I talk a bit about this in a later answer, but it's a situation she's been particularly good at sitting in.

Christos Gage: I think it would be different if she was the only one that age, but with folks like Cannonball and the other New Mutants around, I think she's got her share of peers.

Victor Gischler: Much more valuable. She is—or can be—a sort of bridge where there is potentially a gap.

Nick Lowe: I think Kitty sees it a lot like how I see college kids now. I still think of myself as young, but that thought is getting trashed as college kids look more and more like infants to me. I am old. And I bet Kitty is starting to feel like that, in some respects.

What impact did Kitty's extended imprisonment aboard the Breakworld "bullet" have on her psyche and her outlook?

Kieron Gillen: It's a wakeup call. If your life can end like that—and as she was doing it, she was presuming she was dead—it brings such a tight focus on what's important. You're less willing to waste time.

Nick Lowe: I think she has recovered from that really well. There are some effects and I wouldn’t be surprised if she joined Storm in a claustrophobia group therapy session, but she has done a lot of work to get over that experience.

Christos Gage: Yeah, it's almost like she went into some Zen trance that whole time in order to focus on keeping the bullet intangible. She's come through it remarkably well.

Victor Gischler: It made her really dislike Breakworld "bullets."

Jason Aaron: She seems to have bounced back from that rather well. Unless she's hiding something...

Why is Kitty generally among the more well-liked X-Men among her peers? Why do you think fans and creators tend to have affection for her as well?

Christos Gage: She's the kind of person you can imagine having as a friend, or imagine being. Wolverine's awesome, but not many of us are over a century old with adamantium skeletons and healing factors. Kitty's approachable, likeable, and for the generation of creators that's writing the books now, we grew up with her. I'm kind of annoyed at the fact that she's stopped [aging] while I've kept going, but that's a whole separate issue.

Jason Aaron: She was the first kid in the group that everyone could relate to. And I think she's retained a lot of that fun spirit and wide-eyed sense wonder she brought to what has at times been a rather morose group of folks.

Nick Lowe: She is the most everyman X-Man. She is how 90% of people see themselves, I imagine: Earnest, positive, funny, imperfect, smart, good-looking but not ridiculously good-looking—if you can’t identify with Kitty in some way, I may have issues with you. Yes, you, Ben. You!

Kieron Gillen: For peers? She's smart, caring, very likeable, loyal whilst still being capable of cutting through nonsense. For the older ones, they've seen her grow up. For the younger ones, she grew up with them. For the even younger ones, she's the youngest of the senior members, the one nearest them and arguably the most identifiable with.

For creators and fans? Well, there's that old line I've heard that every generation has a crack at creating a Spider-Man for its decade? You know, young teen hero coming to terms with their power. I think Kitty Pryde was the 80’s, something which both her position in a team and her gender tends to disguise. Putting aside her super-smartness—which always came across as more general smart bookworm-ness to me in tone—she's very normal. You knew—or were—girls like Kitty. She hasn't the Amazonian physique of most of her peers. She's generally very easy to empathize. To state the obvious, for a bunch of female-fancying geeks, Kitty Pryde was a generation's comic book girlfriend. 

She's in a Weezer song, y'know? This says everything, both about Kitty and Weezer, for that matter.

For the record, my partner in crime Jamie McKelvie's comic book girlfriend was Rachel [Summers], which says everything you need to know about him.

How does Kitty's relationship with Colossus affect her decision making when it comes to her own life and goals?

Victor Gischler: Hey, when you realize forever might not be forever that's a big awakening in any young person's life.  We all have that particular dent in our armor I would imagine.

Nick Lowe: It colors her life and goals, but doesn’t define either. He is her first love but not the foundation of who she is.

Kieron Gillen: Traditionally, lots. As I think recent times have shown, perhaps less. I think that comes from the bullet experience which focuses in on what she actually wants now that she has life left. And as much as she loves him, Colossus is in many ways a really bad deal as a boyfriend. Colossus made his choice there, and there's no way she can let her align herself with that decision, not least because, to a lesser or greater degree, that guy's not there anymore.

And, yes, part of me would have loved to have fast-forwarded a week or two to have the split, but time and space, etc.

That said, it's also worth noting that doesn't mean she's no longer his friend. We see her in X-MEN: REGENESIS #1, trying to talk him into going to the school. Not as a boyfriend, but as a friend, because that's what she thinks he wants—and she's right—and what she thinks would be best for him. And, as she says in the end, if she needs him, she'd come running. Colossus may no longer be her boyfriend, but he's still arguably her best friend. That's always an influence.

Christos Gage: Kitty's not the kind of person who'd subvert herself for a guy. If she was she'd have stayed on Utopia. She cares about him but she knows she's got to walk her own path.

Jason Aaron: It obviously didn't affect it much, since she left him behind in Utopia. And as we'll see, she's not exactly sitting around pining for him every day...

What role within the X-Men is Kitty most comfortable with?

Nick Lowe: She’s probably most comfortable being the wise-cracking sidekick, but she’s not afraid to be uncomfortable. The way I see it, we are only comfortable in roles that we played in the past or are overdue for a change. And since Kitty is the everyman that she is, obviously she thinks so, too.

Christos Gage:
I actually think she's comfortable in a variety of roles. Teammate, teacher, friend, mentor—she can do a lot, and has.

Jason Aaron: Not necessarily headmistress, which unfortunately is the one she's currently got.

Who among the X-Men is Kitty closest to? Who does she trust the most?

Kieron Gillen: She's been close to lots of people over the years. She was close to Magik, but really doesn't think the Magik on Utopia is actually her any more. She's still close with Colossus, but you have to question how much she really trusts him now. Really, though? It's her friends at the school. I suspect she can't believe that Storm's staying behind as well. I can easily imagine Kitty on the phone to Ororo going “What!?!?!?!? But Cyclops is a jerk!!!!

Except in a more restrained, dignified manner.

Nick Lowe: Colossus. Storm, definitely. Rachel, fo sho. Logan, in the fatherly way. Beast, too. Heck, just about all of them because she is so amazing.

Christos Gage: Colossus, Storm, Wolverine.

Jason Aaron: Don't forget about Lockheed.

Who does Kitty believe should lead the X-Men?

Victor Gischler: Storm. Or maybe that's just what I believe and am projecting.

Jason Aaron: I think she prefers the situation Logan is setting up, which isn't about everyone simply following his orders. It's much more of a democracy, where Logan consciously wanted to surround himself with people who would offer different viewpoints.

Kieron Gillen: I suspect part of her would like to see the Professor back in the seat. I suspect the bigger part of her doesn't care about the individual, and just cares that it's someone who does the job properly.

Nick Lowe: Right now, Wolverine, although she would happily be led by Storm.

Christos Gage: Agreed.

Does Kitty have any desire to lead the X-Men herself? Would she be capable of doing so?

Jason Aaron: Hmmmm....

Christos Gage: I think she'd be great at it, but I doubt she'd choose the role herself unless there was a real, compelling need.

Kieron Gillen: She's always had the look of eagles to her. I don't think if you told any of the characters that in 10 years time she would be leading the X-Men, anyone would be surprised. In fact, they'd be more likely to be surprised it took her 10 years.
Does she have a desire to though? Not particularly, I think. I think that's one of the things which [qualify] her for it. She wouldn't want to do it, but would absolutely see if the situation demanded her to step up. That's absolutely what she's doing now at the school.

Victor Gischler: I'm not feeling it.

Nick Lowe: She would absolutely be capable of it, but would have to be pushed into it by someone she respects or really incredible events.

Why did Kitty choose to follow Wolverine in the Schism?

Nick Lowe: She sees a lot of herself in the younger mutants and thinks that Wolverine’s school is a far healthier place for them. And she is a hopeful person and wants to believe that mutantkind has a brighter future that Cyclops’ worldview permits.

Christos Gage:
I agree with Nick. I also think being an X-Man allowed her to learn a lot, make important choices and become who she is today, and while she is perfectly aware that mutants will have to fight to survive, she doesn't like the idea of young mutants being groomed for one role—soldier—before they are really equipped to make that choice for themselves.

Victor Gischler: The idea of a school, the good old days, I think that's a huge appeal.

Kieron Gillen: Because there [are] some things you don't compromise. And, practically, she's of more use at a school than a military compound.

Jason Aaron: She's always been closer to Logan than Scott. But she also knows she can't leave Wolverine alone to run a school without somebody getting stabbed.

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