Listen to the episode here.
OK, I’m going to —well, not defend exactly, because I’m not sure it was a good idea. But I do think that Kitty Pryde here is new-model, not off-model, and that this is a redesign that’s how she’s meant to look for coherent and specific reasons that are supposed to serve this story.
[Spoilers for #303, the next UXM issue.]
[Although not really the thing that one would think of as the major spoiler from that issue. Still, I’ll be touching on that.]
One thing to note is that Richard Bennett does a similar hing in the next issue. He doesn’t have JRjr’s sense of fashion — Kitty is in a much more boring shirt and jeans combo. I suppose one could say that his Kitty looks less twentysomething than JRjr’s. But the hair is similar, and Bennett’s Kitty still seems.more adult than Kitty is “supposed” to be. And I think she’s more sexualized (quite a bit more so that JRjr’s splash page, in fact – that Kitty is stylish and attractive, but she’s not posed in a problematic way).
So it’s not just JRjr – this looks to be something that someone is directing the artists to do. Presumably Lobdell?
I think it’s pretty obvious why. This is in no way a Kitty Pryde story. It’s a Jubilee story. That’s a bit of a surprising choice, because Jubilee lacks an obvious personal connection to the big event of #303. But weird !=bad.
(I find that #303 doesn’t really work for me personally and in fact provokes me to recall Wilde’s remark on Little Nell, but I don’t think fails to affect me emotionally because the story is presented from Jubilee’s point of view. It’s probably because I’m a horrible person.)
So, Kitty is here to serve Jubilee’s story, not her own. Look at how she’s introduced. Jubilee is complaining about how the earlier X-teens all seem to have been these academically amazing superstars compared to her. Who epitomizes that more than precocious genius Kitty? Then Jubilee answers the door, with her face covered with bits of food, and is confronted with this super-mature, super-stylish figure who seems to have come straight from the hair salon, and is – critically – dressed like a normal adult instead of Jubilee’s stylized “Teen!” get-up (that I’m not sure all that many actual teenagers in 1993 were wearing).
In #303, she’s jealous of Kitty’s relationship with Illyana. There’s that rather well-judged “Cool” when Jubilee learns about Kitty having stayed in touch with Illyana after Illyana was de-aged – the implication is clearly that Jubilee is a little irritated to discover that is a nicer person than Jubilee thinks she would be under the circumstances. By the end of the issue, her view of Kitty has shifted, but the early part does a good job of showing her as resentful and jealous.
Which is good stuff. Because the Jubilee-Kitty relationship is inevitably informed by the fact that Jubilee is to a certain extent an ersatz Kitty from Kitty’s UXM period. They’re not similar as characters, but they are very similar in terms of their place in the book, right down to equivalent relationships with Logan.
And part of that is that Jubilee perceives Kitty as so much older and more adult than she is. This is something that she says in #303, that Kitty is “old – what, sixteen or seventeen?” When she eventually reconciles herself to Kitty, she says “even if no self-respecting teen would call herself ‘Kitty,’” which is another nice touch: Jubilee’s altered attitude to Kitty is accompanied by her accepting that Kitty is a peer, not a superior. So I’d say that Kitty, especially at the end of #302, isn’t meant to be Kitty as she is — she’s Kitty as Jubilee sees her. And even if you don’t buy that, I think she’s definitely been depicted to contrast with Jubilee as a secondary character in Jubilee’s story.
After all, the blunt fact of it is that Kitty hasn’t been in one of the main X-books for a long time at this point. Excalibur is only marginally an X-book (and I believe it was edited out of a different office?). So if you forget about Excalibur, this is basically a Kitty who’s gone away and come back for a guest appearance. She’s no more aged-up than Sam Guthrie is in X-Force – she fits where she should be for the main X-books, even if Excalibur has kept her as the “young” member of the cast.
Also, Forge’s shorts make total sense. It’s Dallas! It can be very hot. Obviously, Forge’s mutant power makes him the world’s greatest environmental engineer, but there’s only so much you can do about basic physics. Rather than damage the environment by keeping the AC up high, Forge dresses appropriately for the heat. We should all applaud him for it.
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