Monday, 7 October 2013

KPW #4: "Rebirth"

(Three men and a stupid baby.)


There's a strange moment on page 6 of this issue, when the narration tells us:
I'm Wolverine. This is my story.
The reason this qualifies as strange isn't particularly difficult to see.  It's right there in the title. At best, Wolverine should be sharing equal time in this story with Kitty, if not taking second billing.  It wasn't particularly surprising that Logan took centre stage in the previous issue, what with Sprite suffering from barinwashing (though that doesn't address the wisdom of sidelining your main character like that in the first place).  Here, it's harder to understand, and it gets us into a rather fundamental problem.

The overall plot of this issue is pretty simple: Logan wants to free Kitty from Ogun's unpleasant influence, and he figures the best way to do that is to train her properly, rather than by evil info-dump.  This feels partially like the old idea of earning something instead of being given it for free - Kitty might think Logan doesn't look the part, but there's a definite Empire... "quicker, easier, more seductive" idea going on here - but mainly this is an exercise in having Kitty reclaim her identity. If she can't unlearn what Ogun has given her, she can at least contextualise it - if she has ninja skills and goes through ninja training, it shouldn't matter too much which of the two came first.

That's a perfectly fine idea, and were we seeing it from Kitty's perspective rather than Wolverine's, I might have left it there.  The problem is that in getting Logan's view of the situation, we end up with three men - Logan, Ogun and Kitty's father, Caermen Pryde - fighting over how a young woman should spend the rest of her life.

At first blush, this might seen at least a little unfair.  Logan, at least, is insistent at every point that Kitty has a choice here.  Whilst Ogun clearly doesn't have any interest in Kitty's opinions, and Carmen seems unable to think about his daughter in any context beyond sulking over her refusal to speak to him, Wolvie at least wants Sprite's input.  But consider what that choice is, in Logan's framing. Either Kitty spends weeks having her body banged up or being thrown into freezing water, or one day Ogun will come back and that, to all intents and purposes, will be the end of her - unless she wants to run back to Xavier and hide behind him forever.

That, to me, is too close for confort to telling Kity she has to do what Logan wants, or she has to do what Ogun wants - with the only options giving herself over entirely to Xavier's largess, or  to do what her father presumably wants and burying her head in the Illinois snow. It's not hard to understand why Wolverine believes the pressure is necessary given previous events, but that just makes the problem structural.

The issue salvages itself somewhat towards the end when we return to Kitty's internal narrative. First she belatedly figures out Logan's angle - re-running Ogun's approach but with the option to quit - and then extrapolates that by deciding to face Ogun down rather than run back to the States. And in truth this does fit into the larger idea this series seems to be playing with - contrasting Logan and Kitty begore actually making them more similar.

The problem is that the agency in on Logan's part, and the changes on Kitty's.  It's a surprising choice to tell a story of personal growth and change from a man who - in this issue - does neither.  I'm hardly unsympathetic to the idea that Logan is a fundamentally more interesting character than Kitty - in their mid '80s incarnations, that is - but that's exactly why I wouldn't have paired them together as title characters and brainwashed the junior partner.


The narration during Kitty's attempts to become the new Wolverine mention that "days pass" as she trains.  That gives us plenty of leeway to work within.  Ordinarily we'd interpret this to mean as short a time as possible - perhaps as little as a week - but such an alternative isn't open to us here. Xavier's phone-call informing Logan of Storm's loss of power and James Hudson's death force us to extend the time-period significantly, since the latter occurrence explicitly takes place at the beginning of March.  I could try and move forward the whole of KPW to compensate, but that causes problems with this story having clearly begun in midwinter three issues earlier.

There's also the fact that Logan mentions Kitty having been in Ogun's clutches for a week.  This directly contradicts earlier issues, in which Wolverine arrived in Japan the night after Kitty, and crosses swords with her the night afterwards.  That said, I think the longer period makes more sense - to the extent that's a quantifiable quality when discussing mind-washing techniques to make people ninjas.  We'll therefore assume Kitty spent one week with Ogun, and two and a half weeks with Logan as shown here.


Monday 13th February to Friday 2nd March, 1984.


X+5Y+343 to X+6Y+1.

Contemporary Events

The 1984 Winter Olympics are held in Sarajevo.

Standout Line

"You're too tall -- an' too darn ugly -- to be Yoda."

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