Spoilers for Wolverine: First Class #12 by Fred van Lente and Scott Koblish
This title should really be called Kitty Pryde: First Class as Kitty has been its main character since the beginning. Though Wolverine’s name on the cover sell more comics. This is my biggest and only real complaint with the title, which say a lot given my hypercritical nature and my general blah toward Wolverine.
(Okay, I also have a side complaint to Marvel’s marketing division: Wolverine and Cyclops fight over…Kitty?! as a sub-headline for the preview makes me ill. Seriously, Kitty is a teenager in this series. This actually reads: Two men in their 30s fight over…an underage girl. Think about that.)
I’m sad that Fred van Lente is leaving the title and #12 is his last issue. (Peter David will be picking it up, but I won’t be following.) Though I suppose if one wanted to go out on a high note, issue #12 encapsulates everything awesome about van Lente’s run and gives it an nice, but open-ended cap.
Kitty and Wolverine have been off on (largely) their own adventures as Wolverine trains her to be an X-Man. (These stories take place during Claremont’s famous run of Uncanny where Wolverine as mentor to Kitty first appears.) Wolverine’s interactions with Kitty have always brought out the “human” side of Wolverine and allowed for audience identification with both characters. van Lente is perhaps the only current Marvel writer who I think really knows how to write Wolverine. Too many writers only focus on one aspect of Wolverine’s personality and take that aspect and run it to the extreme. He’s really much more well-rounded than just being an angry Canadian who likes beer, killing, and Jean Grey. (Though he’s that too.) van Lente remembers this.
van Lente also takes the character of Kitty and plays her as a complex teenage girl, who shows hints of the strong leader we all know she grows up to be. Kitty’s training isn’t as harrowing or traumatic as others’ (see Magick, Darwin, or Pixie), but instead it’s fun, thrilling, dangerous, and, above all else, a learning experience. The X-Mansion is a school for mutants, if school included a lesson on how to kick ass or take down a Sentinel. van Lente also steers clear of making Kitty a Mary Sue as a Wolverine fanboy might or Claremont and Whedon did. Or bringing some “nudge, wink” romantic plot to it. It’s so refreshing to see a story about a platonic relationship between a male and female character, even when they’re brought together through life-threatening peril.
Koblish’s art has also been refreshing in that Kitty actually looks like a teenage girl. She’s a little gangely and awkward. But you can always see how determined she is through her face.
Wolverine: First Class #12 has Wolverine and Kitty rejoin the X-Men. They’ve fought Magneto (in Uncanny) and are camping on his secret island. And like every issues, Kitty is going to learn a lesson. However, Professor X has decided that Kitty needs to train with Cyclops, who’s back from mourning Jean Grey and living on his shrimp boat. (Was this the era of Cyclops’ emo?) Of course, snark and adventure occur as Kitty runs into trouble.
Kitty’s lesson in this issue isn’t a principle of battle or being an X-Men, it’s the foundation of who Kitty is and how being an X-Men fits into her life. van Lente smartly frames it as an argument over whether the outfits the X-Men wear are costumes or uniforms. He also makes Wolverine (pro-uniform) and Cyclops (pro-costume) disagree about this.
In the end, it is how Wolverine and Cyclops approach being an X-Men. Wolverine views being an X-Men like a job. He’s had other jobs; he’s lived other lives. He wears a uniform to his job. Whereas, Cyclops entire life has been structured around being an X-Men. He’s been groomed by Professor X since day one to be an X-Men above all else. He has absolutely no life outside of being an X-Men as every part of it is steeply entrenched in being an X-Men. It is his costume as being an X-Men is more important to him than just a job.
Kitty comes to the realization that Cyclops is extremely burdened by this, and how her bad reactions to him happened because she didn’t understand his point of view. She also smartly realizes this is the same reason why Wolverine fights with Cyclops, and Kitty stands up to her mentor by teaching him that perhaps he needs to be kinder to Cyclops, who’s not a bad person.
However, Kitty decides that her approach to being an X-Men is more like Wolverine’s, which makes Kitty decide that Wolverine needs to remain her tutor. As Kitty proudly wears her uniform, van Lente gives us another glimpse of the woman she is becoming. The one who loves her job as an X-Men, but has a life outside of it.
I’ll greatly miss this fun read about the wacky adventures of Kitty Pryde and her mentor Wolverine.
Read about this adorable mentorship from the beginning, buy The Rookie (Wolverine: First Class, Vol. 1) by Fred Van Lente and support this blog.