Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

28 – What’s New, Shadowcat? (Featuring Greg Rucka)

Art by David Wynne.
Art by David Wynne.

In which we welcome back Greg Rucka, Rachel makes a valiant effort to read Secret Wars, Earth-200500 is still the best Earth, Kitty Pryde and Wolverine is kind of dodgy, Ogūn is low-rent Mister Sinister, Miles talks about empathy, Greg has an Edna Mode moment, and we all love Kitty Pryde.


  • X-Men #153
  • Kitty’s Fairy Tale
  • Earth-5311
  • Earth-200500 (again)
  • Kitty Pryde and Wolverine #1-6
  • Samurai eyefucking
  • Ogūn
  • Special cuddles
  • Some really dodgy stuff
  • The best Kitties Pryde
  • Professor K.
  • Smart kids in fiction
  • Why we love Shadowcat
  • Point-of-entry characters and gender
  • Costume theory
  • Our favorite new podcast

Next Week: Cyclops is the worst at vacations.

You can find a visual companion to the episode – and links to recommended reading – on our blog.

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Like this weeks’ art? You can get prints here until 11/2, or contact David to inquire after the original!


    1. Ultimate Kitty, particularly the Ultimate Kitty who guest-starred in Ultimate Spider-Man was my choice for best latter-day Kitty.

  1. I can’t get behind the “Kitty as fan-service girl-next-door” theory. It’s got a lot of holes. First of all, one of the things I’ve found refreshing about her as a character is that they make her smart at the traditionally masculine pursuit of computers and electronics but otherwise they do nothing to tomboy her up. Aside from computers and sci-fi fandom, she’s still very stereotypically girly. She likes dressing up and dancing and figure-skating and the like. Typically, exemplars of the trope you’re claiming for her are tomboys or “cool girls”. The sort who only have male friends, who are proud of being “not like other girls”, etc. But not only is Kitty girly, she has tons of female friends: not just Ilyana, but also Rachel, Rogue, Storm, and Stevie. Doug is really her only close male friend among her peers.

    The other problem with Kitty as fan-service is that her love interests aren’t really stand-ins for the hypothetical gawky teenage fan. As Rachel mentions, Doug Ramsay is the on panel analogue for the readers that Kitty is supposedly pandering to. But Kitty never hooks up with him, or even has any interest in hooking up with him. If Kitty is supposed to be wish fulfillment for the real-life Dougs out there, it has to have back fired spectacularly, because Nice Guy(TM) Doug Ramsay has been stuck in the Friend Zone(TM) for decades while Kitty pined over the Colossus the Dumb Jock and Pete Wisdom and Peter Quill, the Assholes Who Get All the Girls. Iceman is the fan-serviciest love interest she’s had, but as you note, their romance has also been the shortest-lived. Arguably Ultimate Peter Parker would qualify too, except that Ultimate Kitty Pryde doesn’t have much in common with 616 Kitty; she’s a lot closer to a typical Peter Parker love interest, except for the superpowers. But Kitty’s fans don’t really resent her for not getting with Doug, or even breaking up with Iceman. Most of them ship Colossus and Kitty, despite the fact that he isn’t much of a stand-in for the kind of fan who would be into her.

    I’d go even further and say the runner about the problematic aspects of Kitty, Jubilee, Armor, and Pixie ‘s role on the X-men is completely off base. It’s hardly unheard of for male characters to be used as audience surrogate/novice characters who come in fresh and have to learn the ropes from a mentor. That also describes Jason Todd and Tim Drake (pretty much every sidekick, but those two in particular). It’s also true of Kyle Rayner, Sam Alexander, and Miles Morales. If we confine ourselves just to teams, Cannonball’s relationship to Cable certainly fits the bill, and Falcon’s role in the Avengers Assemble cartoon does too.

    Even in X-men, it’s not that common a trope. Jubilee’s role in comics is completely different. She doesn’t really receive much in the way of mentorship from Wolverine in the same way that Kitty does. She doesn’t become more Wolverine-like from her interaction with him. He leans on her for the first year or so of their relationship more than the reverse. Armor kind of combines the Jubilee and Kitty relationships to Wolverine, in that, like Jubilee, their bond is founded on her helping him when he was vulnerable and not himself and like Kitty in that she does take Wolverine as an explicit role model and learn to be more like him. Pixie just doesn’t fit among this group except in the superficial “younger girl in the X-men” way. She has no particular bond to Wolverine, and wasn’t really mentored on the team by anyone. Aside from her miniseries and maybe one arc in Uncanny, she’s little more than a shuttle service for the X-men.

    I think the reason this trope seems more common than it really is is that writers saw how well it worked with Kitty and lean on it when they adapt X-men to other media. Jubilee in the animated series and Rogue in the movies really were a recapitulation of the trope and read like they were explicitly modelled on the Kitty/Wolverine relationship. Most of the rest in the actual comics feel too different to be full on trope examples, so much as superficially similar because of the genders of the characters.

    1. You know Kitty is exactly like the “kinda weird girl next door” that was popular in the 80’s. Go back and watch SJP in Square Pegs, TG in Growing Pains, NM in Fact of Life, ect… The whole genre was that the girl was cute, girly, smart, into traditionally male hobbies, still into traditional female hobbies also, slightly akward, had male friends but good girl friends also. My friends and I called this girl, the Platonic Friend Nancy, after a character in the Gary Shandling Show.

  2. Secret Wars is a guilty pleasure nostalgia trip for me. I know it’s not well regarded, but it came out when I was an 11 year old kid who didn’t know anything about the toy line, and it just seemed grand and epic. Plus it seemed neat that you saw the aftemath of its events in the monthly books, but didn’t know the whole story until the mini series wrapped up a year later. I re-read it recently and still really enjoy Mike Zeck’s covers, how well it showcases Spider-Man, and Dr. Doom’s whole arc. It’s not a great X-Men story though.

    Thanks for finally discussing Kitty’s Fairy Tale and for sharing the panels from it. Such a great issue.

  3. I, too, have a nostalgic love of Secret Wars – but by far the best thing about it is that it did “big crossover series” right, by sticking the whole thing between two issues (note that both the Kitty & Wolverine series and Magick do this), thus avoiding the whole tie-in of several issues business. No need for spoiler warnings back then.

    Anyway, since you touched on the topic in this episode, I thought I’d link to my post “#FireRickRemender?: Thinking Through Gender, Disproportionate Aging & Sexual Consent in Superhero Comics” – Forgive me if I have linked to it before, but it does mention Kitty and Ilyana.

  4. I resented the hell out of Secret Wars when I read it because of the Jim Shooter mandated Colossus breaks Kitty’s heart. Not that they grew apart naturally because of their age difference but it was a sudden rending because Shooter was squicked out by the thought of a 14 year old and a 19 year old dating. Never mind that they have been mooning over each other forever and they are the only people remotely the same age they know when they get together.
    Even the Kitty/Peters thing grows out of this because Pete Wisdom is as far from Colossus personality wise you can get but with the same name and Peter Quill will never be more than a booty call since he’s in space and she’s not. Also she doesn’t have to worry about him sacrificing himself for anyone because surviving is what Quill does best.
    They played with the Wolverine/Kitty romance in the DoW series which to me was more squicky than the Colossus/Kitty dates in the 80’s. She might be the representation of the purest love that Logan has had in the current continuity but that love is not sexual, which is refeshing. Men and women can be freinds, love each other, be there for each other, and it never goes to romance.
    BTW, Greg Rucker is feaking awsome and you NEED to have him back at least bi-monthly. 🙂

  5. Personally I choose to believe that decapitation would kill Wolverine. He’s said in the past that drowning could kill him, and we saw him drown Daken in Remender’s Uncanny X-Force. We’ve also seen him die from his organic bits being dissolved in acid in Aaron’s Tomorrow Dies Today story arc.

    I choose to dismiss all his really outlandish regenerations as artist’s mistakes.

  6. I’ve been re-reading early Excalibur, and I love the way the Kitty/Alisdair/Rachel unrequited thing plays out. Damn, I love how Alan Davis draws her body language, too – Kitty dressed up as Rachel to hunt warwolves, Kitty wearing space-garb in Excalibur 16/17, where she’s so uncomfortable in it.

    (Davis is one of those artists where the women are all super-sexy, but I never notice it because the guys are also super-sexy too. I’ve been giggling about Brian and Meggan jumping on each other all the time, and how everyone refers to Brian as a bimbo at one point. I loved that art so much, I couldn’t really read Excalibur without him)

  7. The first time I read Secret Wars, I really hated the punctuation thing. I went back and counted… I think only three sentences in all twelve issues COMBINED end in a period. There are a few ellipses and a couple question marks, but mostly the characters are SHOUTING! It’s really distracting.
    More than that, though, I’ve always been distracted by the fact that it seems like Shooter was desperately trying to take his most popular franchise (the X-Men) and make the other heroes seem SO MUCH COOLER by comparison. The X-Men are taken down, single-handedly, by both Spider-Man and the Wasp. It’s SUPER dumb. And it seems like it’s only there to show how much better the “Marvel Universe” characters are than the “Mutant” characters. Once you get over that stuff, though, it’s just a guilty pleasure read, where you get to do what you did with your action figures growing up: pit all the good guys against all the bad guys, and just smash ’em together. From a pure-escapism standpoint, it’s pretty fun.

    1. Sentences didn’t end in periods for pretty much the entire Silver Age at least in Marvel, and I think in all comics. Printing techniques didn’t allow for them or something.

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