Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Kitty Pryde And Wolverine #1: "Lies"

(The Cross Time Zone Caper.)


For those keeping score, this is the fourth X-Men miniseries to date, all of which were released within the same three year period, and all but one of which were written by Claremont alone - the fourth being a collaboration with Bill Mantlo.  The X-juggernaut (if you'll forgive the phrase) has well and truly begun rolling.

As usual with these minis, then, the most immediate question is: why?  With two slices of Claremont action per month already available, what can we find here that we can't get elsewhere?  The three previous miniseries each had an answer, even if in the case of X-Men vs the Micronauts it wasn't really anything more than uncamouflaged commercialism.  Magik: Storm and Illyana filled in a back-story that one could at least make a strong case for being worth telling, for all that the end result left me cold.  Wolverine did best of all, being a brooding, exquisitely-presented tour through Wolverine's character, with added ninjas.

So what does this title bring to the party?

The first clue, as one might expect, comes in the name.  This is not Wolverine and Kitty Pryde.  Even in the mid '80s, with Wolverine-fever still far from peaking, giving Logan second-billing is a very notable choice, particularly since it was he who headlined the first X-Men spin-off in history (if we exclude the Dazzler ongoing, and for these purposes I think we should).  This is a story about Sprite, first and foremost.  Indeed, in this first issue, Wolverine hardly appears at all; literally being on page for a single panel and thirteen words of dialogue.  This is Kitty's time to shine. 

Not that she's all that interested in shining, what with Colossus having broken her heart.  This is our second clue as to what is going on here.  Claremont is using this opportunity to explore Kitty's response to being heartbroken, in a way he'd never have the space to do in either UXM or NMU (though he has the sense to skip the first week of endless weeping). That's a strong rationale for a character piece, for all that I have comparatively little love for the character in question, and for all that Claremont isn't really the writer I'd choose for the role (hyperbolic teenage rending of garments being a topic that desperately needs a writer stronger on dialogue and implication).

Note that I say "character piece", not "six issue limited series".  If the main thrust of this book is to explore Kitty's emotional fall-out, then it's reasonable to ask how long we could possibly take the results.  Claremont is walking a fine line here.  Too much melodrama and the whole thing will collapse, too much skipping around Japan fighting ninjas and there's a risk the whole exercise become superfluous; something we've all seen before.

Oh, did I mention Kitty's skipping around fighting ninjas?  That seems to be the basis of the plot here: Kitty discovers her father has been extorted into selling the family bank to the Yakuza - small Illinois banks being prime targets for Japanese gangsters - and is being shipped off to Japan to meet his new boss, and she surreptitiously tags along.

In this first issue, it's tough to know where this is headed, though of course no-one gets any prizes for figuring out this story is Nippon-bound so as to tie into Wolverine's past (his only appearance here is answering Kitty's international phone call for assistance).  It's not clear how returning Wolverine to the grimy world of Tokyo assassins will work alongside Kitty's domestic problems - certainly Sprite would have been horribly out of place in the previous Wolverine mini - but we'll figure that out further down the road.

For now, Claremont's interest is in putting Kitty through the wringer; without cash or sensible clothes, Kitty quickly ends up soaked in Tokyo rain and trying to steal money from cash machines in order to get a place to stay.  In the process she trips an alarm, leading to her being chased by the cops, featured on the Japanese equivalent of Crime Stoppers, and fighting a nasty (and ridiculously quick-developing) case of the flu.  Plus, she finds her father just in time to see him agree to funnel laundered money through his bank.  She even loses her favourite pair of skates.

Is the plan to try the patented "strip everything away from a character" approach here? It's too soon to tell.  Right now, all we really have are questions.  Which is fine; there's five issues for this to crystallise. Whether or not it does, of course...


This issue begins a week after Kitty and Peter's break-up in UXM #183.  Since that would make it a Saturday, though, and hence unlikely to be a day the bank is open in the late afternoon (actually, maybe US banks do that, I couldn't say), I'll knock things back to the Friday.  The flight to Japan presumably takes us into the following day.


Friday 3rd to Saturday 4th February, 1984.


X+5Y+340 to X+5Y+341.

Contemporary Events

The first transfer of embryos from one woman to another resulting in a live birth is announced.  Republicans across the US start planning ways to use this to prove women love getting things inserted into them under all circumstances.

Standout Line

"Traffic's lousy, as usual. The airport is jammed, as usual.  The cabby gets lost, as usual."

Maybe I wouldn't have picked this line if I wasn't flying to France next week.  But I am, so I did.

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