Cyclops is dead. Storm, emotionally defeated. Other leaders of the X-Men have come and gone. Now that the battle between the Inhumans and the X-Men is over, how will Kitty Pryde manage to step into the role with any greater degree of success than her predecessors?
There’s a lot to look forward to with the X-Men’s upcoming renaissance, with a slew of team and solo titles giving the X-Men their much-anticipated comeback. But what has us most excited is seeing Kitty Pryde take the lead in X-MEN GOLD. Now that she’s back from leading the Guardians of the Galaxy as Star-Lord, Kitty Pryde will be in charge of much of the same team from EXTRAORDINARY X-MEN, as well as making up a group reminiscent of her former Excalibur team.
Kitty is no stranger to leadership roles. We saw her take on an Xavier-esque role when the time-displaced original five X-Men made their debut in ALL-NEW X-MEN. She also had a commanding presence in the mid-2000s during Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s run of ASTONISHING X-MEN, where she frequently went toe-to-toe with teammate and former adversary Emma Frost. Even in alternate timelines, Kitty has taken on leadership roles, such as in X-MEN: THE END and “Days of Future Past.”
Throughout her history, Kitty Pryde’s characterization has been both intricate and multifaceted. She has used her strength and wit to save the X-Men, but she also embraces her emotions to stand up for what she wants. She can save the day when others can’t, and she’s also not afraid to express her more vulnerable sides. Through it all, Kitty Pryde never shies away from representing everything she stands for. From the moment we met her and as we continue to know her, Kitty has proven time and again to be a natural and worthy leader. Kitty Pryde remains the best choice to lead the team in X-MEN GOLD; she has everything it takes to be the best leader the X-Men have ever had. To prove it, we look to our favorite Kitty Pryde moments, starting with…
Kitty Pryde Tells Off Professor X in UNCANNY X-MEN #168
Kitty Pryde had only just recently joined the X-Men, and she had already done more than enough to prove her value to the team. However, being so young, Professor X decides to relegate Kitty to the New Mutants — and she doesn’t hide that she’s mad about it. She believes she’s earned her place with the X-Men, and she’s right; she’s saved them multiple times, she’s held her own in solo battles, and she’s stood up to enemies that have threatened all of mutantkind.
The rest of the X-Men believe she’s proved her worth, too, but Xavier can’t be swayed. Kitty spends this issue fiercely fighting for what she feels she rightly deserves, resulting in a display of all Kitty Pryde’s multitudes. She’s passionate, she’s smart, she’s brave — and if UNCANNY X-MEN #168 proves anything, it’s that Kitty does not give up. She fights for what she believes in and ultimately shows Professor X she’s capable, earning her place among the X-Men once again. Kitty’s determination is palpable and ties UNCANNY X-MEN #168 together with the moral of the story: if you never give up, if you never stop fighting for what you believe in, you too will get to kick ass with your pet dragon and prove Charles Xavier wrong.
X-MEN: THE END. President Kitty Pryde?
Even in alternate futures, Kitty Pryde isn’t exempt from being worthy of leadership. In X-MEN: THE END, a trilogy detailing the X-Men’s final days, Kitty campaigns for Mayor of Chicago; and in this position, she is still the target of anti-mutant sentiment. In one scene, while reporters debate her worth as a political leader, a young volunteer from Kitty’s campaign is beaten to death while called a “race traitor” and “mutie lover.” In the aftermath, Kitty gives an impassioned interview speaking against the murder. It harkens back to Kitty Pryde’s early days, where her role as a mutant always questioned her worth as a person — and where, in spite of it, she always stood up in mutants’ defense.
Even with opposition, Kitty chooses to continue her campaign while the X-Men leave to fight the Shi’ar, but not before Professor X passes the torch to her to fulfill his legacy. Kitty Pryde, after all, has always been destined to be so much more than Professor X had relegated her to in her early years. In the end, Kitty sees her perseverance through to ultimately becoming president of the United States, where she fulfills Xavier’s dream of ending a divided community and bringing humans and mutants together. X-MEN: THE END begins with one of Kitty’s more vulnerable moments and ends with her most confident. But ultimately, it illuminates a quality she always encapsulated: no matter what you think of her and of mutants, Kitty Pryde will never stop fighting for the future of mutantkind.
Kitty Pryde Changes the Future in “Days of Future Past”
Forget Wolverine — it’s Kitty Pryde who originally steals the spotlight in “Days of Future Past.” Her role as POTUS in X-MEN: THE END isn’t the only future where Kitty impacts the world, and in “Days of Future Past,” she’s up to the task to change mutants’ desolate destiny for good.
As a result of Presidential candidate Robert Kelly’s murder at the hands of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in 1980, mutants come to live in a dystopia where they are hunted and slain by government sanctioned Sentinels. In order to undo the events that lead to this nuclear holocaust, an older and hardened Kate Pryde trades minds with her younger self. She leads the charge to change the world — and risks the small amount of good she has in her life to rescue her people from their nightmare. What makes this story so impactful for Kitty’s characterization is that we get to witness the kind of hero Kitty Pryde would grow up to be in three decades’ time: one who is capable of altering history and saving the world.
Kitty Pryde Speaks Out Against Havok’s “M-Word” Speech
Kitty Pryde has never been afraid to speak up in defense of all she identifies with, and she bravely continues that trend in ALL-NEW X-MEN while the time-displaced X-Men are under her tutelage. Following the aftermath of Havok’s controversial “M word” speech in UNCANNY AVENGERS #5, many comic scribes vocalized similar or opposing opinions through various X-Men and Avengers. In ALL-NEW X-MEN #13, Brian Michael Bendis gave Kitty Pryde her own response fitting of her previous characterizations.
Kitty Pryde is proud of being both Jewish and a mutant. She will not stand for anything anyone has to say against that, whether it’s subjugating each community or being blind to its differences, which she believes should be celebrated rather than blurred. It’s a message she makes sure to emphasize to the young X-Men. When in charge of the team in X-MEN GOLD, this will surely be a defining characteristic of Kitty’s leadership, as she time and again comes to the defense of mutants.
Kitty Pryde Saves the X-Men in “Dark Phoenix Saga”
As she would later admit in ASTONISHING X-MEN, nothing taught Kitty Pryde more about good and evil than the day she learned she was a mutant and met Emma Frost. In “Dark Phoenix Saga,” Professor X takes Storm, Colossus, and Wolverine to recruit Kitty to their team — but little do they know, the Hellfire Club have a tap on Cerebro and send Emma Frost to do the same. In the same afternoon, thirteen-year-old Kitty acquires her phasing ability, meets both her longtime nemesis and greatest teammates, and is put to the test after the Hellfire Club captures the X-Men.
Though Kitty doesn’t know the sort of power she’s capable of yet, neither does Emma — and for that, Kitty has the upper hand. She instinctively comes to the X-Men’s rescue, despite gaining her abilities moments before. On this mission, Kitty knows that it’s okay for her to be scared — and she should be! She’s a kid whose whole world changed, and yet she still takes matters into her own hands to rescue people she had only just met. Kitty Pryde saves the day before she’s even an X-Man; it’s something she will frequently come to do once she joins their ranks. Kitty Pryde doesn’t leave this encounter totally unscathed, but she does come out undefeated. This is the beginning of the mutant who will ultimately come to be the leader of the X-Men.
ASTONISHING X-MEN Showcases the Best of Kitty Pryde
Kitty Pryde doesn’t let anyone push her around — not even Emma Frost. In Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s run of ASTONISHING X-MEN, Kitty returns to the X-Mansion and the White Queen herself. They obviously have a complicated relationship, considering their introduction to each other in “Dark Phoenix Saga,” and the effect it would continue to have on their encounters. So naturally, Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s ASTONISHING X-MEN featured plenty of badass confrontations between the two. One of the best moments comes when Kitty finds out Emma was working with the Hellfire Club. The revelation results in a battle where Kitty expertly uses her mutant ability, ultimately phasing Emma underground and leaving her there. Kitty’s also the one to bring Colossus back from his presumed death. The two subsequently continue their relationship together, and Kitty confidently calls the shots.
The whole run culminates in Kitty Pryde phasing a giant bullet through Earth. She sacrifices herself to save humanity — a feat everyone in ASTONISHING X-MEN struggled to achieve with this particular mission. Overall, ASTONISHING X-MEN proves that Kitty Pryde isn’t like other heroes. The series portrays her from not being a fighter at all, to being a fighter when she has to; but above all, Kitty Pryde is a protector and a hero, which is exemplified by her ultimate sacrifice. Kitty Pryde in ASTONISHING X-MEN is strong, confident, and heroic. She encapsulates everything we had seen her be since her introduction to the X-Men.
Kitty Pryde Stands Up for Mutants in “God Loves, Man Kills”
But what set the precedent for the kind of hero Kitty Pryde would grow up to be was her role in “God Loves, Man Kills.” At such a young age, Kitty got thrown right into the fire, facing typical villainous fare like in “Dark Phoenix Saga.” But in one of her earliest outings with the X-Men, Kitty Pryde endures — and conquers — a human threat that put all of mutantkind at stake.
In “God Loves, Man Kills,” evangelist Reverend William Stryker leads an anti-mutant crusade, preaching mutants as creations of the devil and invoking an extreme and deadly prejudice. From the get-go, Kitty vehemently opposes anyone participating in this crusade, threatening to rearrange the face of any punk who thinks mutants deserve to die. As the X-Men struggle against Stryker and his Purifiers, Kitty Pryde never backs away from the heat of the battle, often facing the enemy all on her own (in typical Kitty Pryde fashion). From putting herself in danger to save mutants and humans alike, to pushing her limits and using her powers in ways she never has before; Kitty Pryde is never anything but supremely badass in all of “God Loves, Man Kills.”
Kitty Fights Back
She remains in the forefront until the very end, and it’s Kitty who gets the last word in with Stryker. When he uses Nightcrawler as an example to make his case against mutants, Kitty is the one to rise up. It’s a defining moment for Kitty, who had taken a lot of time to warm up to the fuzzy elf; but here, for the sake of her mutant family, Kitty Pryde is fearless. It is the start of everything Kitty is going to be. It sets the foundation for everything Kitty Pryde stands for as leader of the X-Men.
The Bottom Line
Kitty Pryde’s time with the X-Men has consistently proven that she’s more than capable of leading the team. By never being afraid to stand up for herself and for her fellow mutants, Kitty leads with a style all her own. Whether in charge of the X-Men or training to be one, Kitty Pryde never misses an opportunity to rise up in mutants’ defense. Kitty has a lot of history and even more passion, and when it comes to leading the team in X-MEN GOLD, we can be certain of one thing: no matter what challenges the X-Men face, Kitty Pryde will fight tooth and nail to protect mutantkind.