Friday, 21 December 2012

UXM #179: "Whatever Happened To Kitty?"

(The girl who cried "I'll let you touch me!")


Wow.  Feels like a while since we were last looking at the main title. To recap, last issue left two major storylines up in the air: Kitty has been kidnapped and replaced with a dead body made to look like her (this wasn't explicitly stated, but Claremont made no effort to hide the fact), and Colossus has been frozen in liquid nitrogen and been paralysed and riven with cracks as a result; he may even be dead.

I mentioned in my comments on UXM #178 that Claremont was pulling an interesting move here, by making the resolution to the Kitty cliffhanger (that she'd been snaffled by Morlocks) entirely obvious, but doing so in such a way that it leaves Colossus' fate entirely uncertain, since only Kitty had any idea how to save him, and the machine she hoped would do the job was smashed to pieces.  Here, Claremont reinforces this by spending the first two pages telling us where Kitty is (she is, as will be obvious from the cover to any but the most simple-minded, about to be shotgun-wedded to the lovesick Caliban), and the second two having Wolverine ascertain the body in the morgue isn't Kitty, and Storm immediately guessing who's responsible.  Indeed, if anything Ororo gets to the right answer rather too quickly, but then the Morlocks are liable to be preying on her mind.

In contrast, pages five and six reveal that no-one has the slightest idea about how to save Colossus, or even if he's still alive in there at all.  It doesn't help that Xavier is still getting hit with agonising psychic probes by some kind of powerful alien being, of course, but notwithstanding the issue's title, even without that distraction it's clear that the mystery here is in how to help Piotr, not what happened to Kitty.

That said, we still need some details on that score, so let's see what's happening in the sewers.  Well, it turns out the Morlocks have at least been kind enough to glamour Kitty so that she can enjoy her wedding.  Except naturally it konks out halfway through, leaving Kitty aghast in horror as her groom-to-be shuffles into view.  The reluctant bride tries to get out of the situation by noting the likelihood of terrible revenge courtesy of Storm, but Callisto has found a loop-hole.  Storm, after all, agreed not to interfere with internal Morlock business, and Kitty has already sworn to become one of them.  It's hardly Callisto's fault - or Caliban's either - that she was lying through her teeth at the time.  This is brought home rather brutally when Kitty begs to be temporarily freed to save Colossus' life, only for Callisto to point out she's already proven she can't be trusted, and will just have to stay put whilst her boyfriend gathers dust.

Actually, there's definitely the grain of an interesting question here: if Person A makes a contract (oral here, of course, but let's side-step that for now) with Person B in exchange for Person B stopping Person C from murdering People D, E and F, then does that contract still hold?  It certainly wouldn't if Person B and C were one and the same; that's a clear-cut case of duress, but this isn't quite the same thing.  We also need to note that Person B can't be sure he'll succeed in stopping Person C, and indeed that there will be a penalty to themselves in doing so (which may indeed include Person B getting bumped off with D, E and F).

As always with such thorny legal questions, I went to my father and got him to write something up for me.  Obviously, this is an opinion drawn up based on a major alteration to an entirely fictitious situation, and moreover my father is an expert on British law, not American.  Even so, his analysis is interesting, and basically boils down to a case known as "the Medina", which held that pilgrims who agreed to pay exorbitant fees to be rescued from a rock in the sea (a potentially deadly situation come bad weather) could only be ordered by the court to pay a more reasonable sum (less than half what they'd agreed to).  In other words, it might be held that Caliban could expect some kind of recompense (which would increase in value due to the risk in confronting the quite obviously mad Callisto), and the argument would boil down to whether "Kitty Pryde, one marriage to" constituted a reasonable request under the circumstances (my father notes however that had Pryde gone through with the marriage and then tried to get it annulled, things would be very different).

All that aside, though, it's clear Callisto is just being an arse.  A cowardly arse, at that, seeing how she sees Kitty's distress as revenge on Storm, but doesn't dare risk Storm actually knowing about it (there's a reason Khan didn't say "Revenge is a dish best served where no-one can see you eating").  Rather put out by developments in general, Kitty makes a run for it.  Whilst she searches in vain for an exit, she turns over her original lie to Caliban, wondering what it can say about her that she'd so shamelessly lie in order to save her friends. Jumping off from the work of SpaceSquid Sr. above, I'd say the same lies not in the falsehood itself, so much as failing to even attempt to make amends with Caliban after the fact.  Just because you reject someone's first offer doesn't mean there's no other less, ahem, personal accommodation that can't be reached.

Eventually, Leech (in his first appearance; hello, Leech!) finds Kitty and leads her back to the Morlocks.  Kitty tries a different tack this time, requesting help for Peter for the sake of the newest Morlock in the tribe. Callisto agrees to help, in the interests of "look[ing] after our own", which might have been more convincing she didn't immediately give Kitty to Masque to play around with (there's a suggestion here that Masque messes up the faces of every Morlock to ensure they can't pass for surface-dwellers, which is a deeply fucked-up way to ensure loyalty).  For whatever reason, though, Callisto lets Kitty keep her own face for the ceremony (probably to keep Caliban on-sid).  The question of what else she gets to keep today (if you get my meaning, and I'm sure you wish you didn't) is mercifully rendered moot when the X-Men charge in.

Storm is unsurprisingly livid, particularly since she's under the impression Callisto murdered the girl they used as pseudo-Kitty (not actually true, but a perfectly understandable mistake), but simple outraged savagery might not carry the day, what with Leech around to switch off the X-Men's powers, and with Kitty (with typical ingratitude) berating them for trying to save her from a fate she decided all of ten minutes earlier she was going to accept. She even accuses Wolverine of using the fact she was kidnapped and another girl murdered as just an excuse to get into a brawl, which must set some kind of international record for overwhelming unfair accusations, at least outside of the world of politics.

As shockingly unreasonable as her comments are, they do at least have the desired effect of cutting short the fight.  Kitty explains she's agreed to stay in exchange for Colossus' survival, and the X-Men return with Healer to see what he can do for the Russian.  The ultimate resolution of this plotline is actually really quite clever.  The broken FF machine one might have assumed someone would fix isn't needed at all; instead Rogue absorbs Peter's power (at great risk and under great strain, which leads Storm to conclude the former villain has finally earned her stripes), and Healer immediately knits Peter together before he bleeds to death.

The next day Kitty says goodbye to Illyana, and heads into the sewers to resume the aborted marriage ceremony (I guess if nothing else, the X-Men's interruptions stopped the wedding happening that day).  Caliban has had time to think, however, and chooses to let Kitty go, hoping that one day she will return of her own free will, and that with gesture, she will think better of him than he could have hoped for otherwise.


This story begins a few hours after the previous issue ended, and carries on into the following day.

Storm confirms that Kitty has not yet reached her fifteenth birthday, despite her being first introduced as thirteen-and-a-half, and having had two birthdays since then.


Tuesday 20th to Wednesday 21st September, 1983.


X+5Y+200 to X+5Y+201.

Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.69 standard years.

(Majik is 21 years old).

"Death and I are old friends."
Contemporary Events

Maggie Grace is born, if you remember her.  So is Joseph Mazzello, who played over-eager kid Tim in Jurassic Park, and one of Facebook's co-creators in The Social Network.

Standout Line

"Did you ever consider asking if I wanted to be rescued?" - Kitty

Gods, I hate teenagers sometimes. Nothing like a strop about not getting permission to help a kid out.

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