X-Men (Volume 1) #129 - 130 (Oct - Nov '79)
The drumbeat picks up on our way to the Dark Phoenix Saga but first we have the introduction of Dazzler and Kitty Pryde!
# 129 130: Meet Kitty Pryde and Dazzler
Plot - John Byrne
Script - Chris Claremont
Pencils - John Bryne
We start with some transition topics after the Proteus ordeal. For starters, Banshee officially quits the X-Men. He's been out of the action for a few issues, but here he makes it official. I'm actually really curious to see if he ever re-joins. I legitimately don't know at this point.
I love how the "Rule of 6" is specifically called out in this issue as Cyclops desperately tries to find a new member while talking to the JV team. (For some reason Jean is never officially considered one of the X-Men, even though she's been a mainstay for most issues since the re-launch).
We never got that amazing scene with Jean and Scott being re-united, but they do make up for it a little with an emotional scene of Scott apologize for banging Coleen Wing and Jean accepting his apology, probably because she's been mentally banging Jason Wygard.
Speaking of Jason Wyngard, Jean has another episode. WE ARE IN THE DARK PHOENIX SAGA, PEOPLE!
Professor X comes back from outer space and surprises the X-Men as he waits for them at the mansion. Remember that issue I told you to skip where some throwaway villain named Warhawk bugged the Danger Room, well that was to help out Jason Wyngard and the Hellfire Club!
If you've been paying close attention, you'll notice that Professor X being a dick is a major point that I have been following throughout my journey. In this issue, a really fascinating exchange takes place between him and Scott. Essentially Professor X immediately starts putting the team through rigorous danger room testing and Wolverine essentially walks out saying "You're not the boss of me!" Cyclops acknowledges that he was afraid this might happen and talks to Charles, essentially saying "You've been at work too much so now I'm their daddy" and he doesn't take it well. In fact, he's a total dick about it! I'm still waiting to see if he ever becomes more of the relatable mentor that I think of him as, but it sure hasn't happened yet! (Not to mention that every time we saw him in space he was whining about Lilandra or being dumb compared to the more evolved aliens he met.)
Look at all of this characterizations and I haven't even gotten to Kitty yet! Well we meet Kitty in the typical teenage mutant way where she is laying on her bed with a headache and accidentally phases through her bed and ends up downstairs, embarrassed and confused.
It turns out that Emma Frost (the White Queen) has come to Kitty's house to recruit her for the Massachusetts Academy (part of the Hellfire Club). She found out about Kitty because of the mansion being bugged. There's a cool scene where the X-Men show up just as Emma is leaving.
The X-Men talk to Kitty's parents and then eventually take Kitty herself out for some ice cream. This is the start of a BEAUTIFUL relationship between Storm and Kitty. Storm treats Kitty as the daughter she never had and with Kitty being the only child among adults, her relationship with Storm helps her to belong.
The Hellfire Club attacks the X-Men while in the Ice cream parlor. They are all captured but Kitty escapes as she accidentally phases through the wall.
Kitty first shows how brave she is by sneaking onto the plane and sets out to free the X-Men.
Kitty attempts to free Storm from her holdings but is caught by Hellfire goons and chased down. She is able to escape long enough to call the other X-Men (Nightcrawler, specifically).
Meanwhile...Scott, Jean, and Nightcrawler go to a night club in New York to investigate reports of another mutant.
Good old Jason Wyngard shows up at the club too. In addition to continuing his Jean stalking, the Hellfire club is trying to recruit Alison Blair, AKA Dazzler. Jean is transported to the 1800's but when she wakes up she finds herself kissing Jason in IRL in front of Scott. Awkward!
Dazzler takes the stage and the team figures out that she is the mutant with the ability to transform sound into light and physical light blasts (hard to explain).
The Hellfire goons break into the club and a fight ensues. Also, I fricken love Nightcrawler...
As the X-Men nightclub team drive off (without Dazzler who isn't interested in being a superhero) to save the rest of the squad, they see Jason smoking a cigarette. His shadow looks different, who is he!?
Claremont and Byrne are back and there is soo much red meat in these issues! I'm so excited to be writing about this! I've mentioned in past blogs that my favorite part of this journey has come from seeing the introduction of new characters. Well these two issues introduce us to very influential X-Men with a lot of staying power...Kitty Pryde and Dazzler!
I just have to say right off the bat that I really had no idea of the impact Kitty has/had on the X-Men. I knew she was on the team, named Shadowcat, could phase through walls, something about a dragon, spent some time on Excalibur...that was it. I had no idea that she was introduced at 13.5 years old, wasn't named Shadowcat for a while (I still haven't gotten there) or that she would be such a pivotal member of the team for so long. In fact, I picked up some random X-Men Gold comics in 2017 and they made this big deal out of Kitty being the leader of the team and I had no idea why that was such a big deal, but now I do.
Regarding Dazzler, I never really knew much about her other than she was fun to play in the X-Men Arcade game when I was younger. You know what I'm talking about! When I read the 90's run, there were a few panels dedicated to what was going on with Dazzler and I never understood why I was supposed to care. Now I do! I'm several issues ahead on my reading and Dazzler doesn't have as big of an impact on the X-Men as Kitty, however she does get her own comic line and makes a pretty big impact on the Marvel Universe as a whole.
There was internal debate about Kitty between Chris Claremont and John Byrne (what else is new) as Byrne had the following to say in Comics Creators on X-Men:
"I wanted her to be a totally normal girl, who wakes up one morning and has superpowers. Her biggest problem in the world would be, maybe, acne. But Chris made her a genius, and I said ‘If she’s a genius, she’s not totally normal.’"
I have mixed feelings on this. I almost always seem to side with Claremont, and I love the character Kitty has become so I wouldn't ever want to change her, but Byrne has a point. If we wanted to show what life is like for a normal kid who becomes a mutant and goes through all these adventures, you don't need her to be a genius. I would argue that Kitty's strongest characteristic is how brave she is, which is a quality she could have without insane brains.
All of the X-Men (except Wolverine) vow not to kill but you can see that Colossus killing Proteus is weighing heavily on him.
The introduction of Kitty gives us an outsider's view into the world of the X-Men. Claremont and Byrne had already been doing some excellent writing, but in my opinion KItty allowed them to take this to new heights. Wolverine starts to be her mentor, which gives us an excuse to peek under the hood of his tough exterior. Storm immediately sees her as a daughter figure, which is honestly a relationship that may never be topped in comics history (I'm biased). Cyclops now has a pre-teen on the team and it makes him hesitant about sending his troops into battle. Kitty is scared by Nightcrawler at first and it forces Kurt's eternal optimism to be put to the test in his own home. Even Colossus will develop a romance with her (I won't comment on the age difference at this moment), making him relatable in a new way.
We've spent so long with Scott and Jean thinking the other was dead so I feel a bit robbed that we didn't get a more endearing reunion. Jean has been changing fast as the Phoenix force consumes her and Jason Wyngard's manipulations become accelerated. We're almost there! Dark Phoenix is around the corner!
Oh, and there's Dazzler. She's a good singer.
My Rating and Review - 9/10
Kitty Pryde is awesome. Nuff said.
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