MIGHTY MARVEL MAY #29: KITTY PRYDE (with LOCKHEED)

Although Spider-Man fought crime as a teenager, Kitty Pryde joined the X-Men at the young age of 13-and-a-half, and was already a prodigy and computer whiz when her mutant abilities kicked in. Her power is nothing all that formidable: she can walk through solid objects, but only for as long as she can hold her breath. While a great defensive ability, as superhero powers go, it’s not much help in the way of kicking people’s asses. But that’s not too important, because Kitty’s greatest strengths are her tenacity and her brain.

Created by Chris Claremont and John Byrne (who named her for an old friend of his), Kitty first appeared in X-MEN #129 in 1980, where she was almost recruited by Emma Frost for her rival (evil) Massachusetts Academy before Professor Xavier convinced her to come to his school instead. Under the code-name Sprite, she was the X-Men’s youngest member at the time. She became a little sister to many on the team and she developed a crush on teammate Colossus. Eventually he reciprocated.

Superheroines are often more popular for their physical attributes than their character, posed in ungainly “broke back” positions on covers to sell books to titillated adolescents. Kitty has always been a heroine first, smart, capable, and brave. The fact that she has a pet dragon from outer space doesn’t hurt, either. She grew up on the pages of the X-MEN, and it was  great to grow up alongside her and to have her as a role model.

(Edit: In an effort to beat the dreaded deadline doom last night, I uploaded pics of Lockheed with this temporary, unfinished wings. I’ve now updated the pics.)

I hope you’re down for tomorrow,  the final entry in MIGHTY MARVEL MAY.

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MIGHTY MARVEL MAY #20: CHARLES XAVIER/ PROFESSOR X

The greatest mutant mind on earth.

The opposite number to his former friend, mutant supremacist Magneto, Xavier seeks peace between mutant and humankind. Where Magneto formed a Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Xavier founded a School for Gifted Youngers. He also created the X-Men, a mutant strike team, because Xavier believes sometimes ideology is not enough.

Generally depicted as a protagonist with good intentions, Xavier has always had a Machiavellian streak, present since his first appearance in Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s X-MEN #1. Physically handicapped but gifted with telepathy from an early age, Xavier can easily read minds, cast illusions, and rewrite memories, and if he feels justified, he will with little provocation. He’s not only headmaster of his school, he often takes an authoritarian role with all mutantkind as well. As his student Kitty Pryde (whose parents’ memories of the school’s true nature he erased) once put it “Professor Xavier is a jerk.”

Xavier’s complex morality defies simple black and white characterization. He often does terribly things, such as sending a team of X-Men to their deaths and covering it up before recruiting a new team, for the best reasons.  In service to a dream of peace and brotherhood,  Xavier often pushes his basic humanity aside for the good of all.

I hope you’ll return tomorrow for another shining installment of MIGHTY MARVEL MAY!

MIGHTY MARVEL MAY #19: MAGNETO

Hero, villain, freedom fighter, terrorist… The mutant master of magnetism: Magneto.

Created in 1963 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby as an antagonist for the X-Men the first issue of their comic, Magneto spent his early years as a standard archvillain, going so far as to call his organization The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. At first we knew little about Magneto’s past or motivations, and Jack Kirby’s helmet design for him even disguised his age.

Many years later writer Chris Claremont revealed aspects of Magneto’s history that underlined why he used his powers against normal humans who would oppress mutants: Magneto’s family had been killed by Nazis and he barely escaped with his own life. When his powers emerged and he was once again part of a persecuted minority, this time he had the power to fight back.

Once a friend to fellow mutant and X-Men founder Charles Xavier, Magneto rejected Xavier’s dream of peaceful coexistence with humans. Magneto felt there could only be peace if mutants ruled, and for that to happen rivers of blood had to flow.

Magneto reformed for a time, tempered by Xavier’s influence, he even assumed  a position as headmaster of Xavier’s school in his absence. But eventually his anger and frustration got the better of him, and he realized that without the extremes he represented, the more moderate Xavier would never be heard.

Although he often wars with humanity, Magneto’s motivations are easily understood by anyone who’s felt powerless in the face of injustice an wished they could reverse the polarities of power. Although a villain, Magneto’s relatable anger make him all too human.

I hope you’ll be back for tomorrow’s extra-special installment of MIGHTY MARVEL MAY.

MIGHTY MARVEL MAY #6: QUENTIN QUIRE/ KID OMEGA

“You’ve always encouraged us to dream…I just wondered what would happen if one of us had a dream you didn’t like?” Malcontent student Quentin Quire asked this of Professor Charles Xavier. Quire was a mutant in a school for mutants, a place where he could be trained, accepted and even embraced by his culture, but this was not for him. He organized the Omega Gang and staged a riot at Xavier’s, putting Xavier’s dream of a peaceful mutant haven to the test.

Created by writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely in NEW X-MEN #134 in 2003, Quire was a smart little thug who couched teenage self-interest in lofty idealism and violence. He was also a compelling character, one you could simultaneously secretly root for and be glad when he was given his comeuppance.  X-Men comics are  an ideal metaphor for (among other things) adolescence, and Quire was an ideal teenage hero/villain, fighting for an agenda he didn’t necessarily believe in, hoping someone in authority would stop him, with a vague understanding that he might destroy himself in the process.

Quire’s story began and ended beautifully in the pages of NEW X-MEN, a rarity in superhero comics. But of course no comic company ever lets any story finish, so Quire has returned, but to me he’s not the same character anymore.

There’s also a rumor circulating that Morrison pulled and interesting trick with Quire. In his creator-owned series THE INVISIBLES, Morrison introduced a malevolent, dwarfish, masked psychic named Mister Quimper. At Marvel, he introduced the malcontent Quire. In DC’s ALL-STAR SUPERMAN, a benevolent but somehow sinister character named Mr. Quintum was an ally to the man of steel. One theory is that each of these characters are the same person, beginning with the unformed and angry Quimper and ending with the kindly-but-suspicious Quintum. If so, Quire represents the angry adolescent, forever at war with the world and who he’ll become.

Today’s minibust is dedicated to my friend Youri, who understands why “Magneto was right.”

You’ll want to keep your eye out for tomorrow’s MIGHTY MARVEL MAY character!