For those who aren’t aware, Kitty Pryde, previously Shadowcat at points, is a member of the X-Men family and is easily one of the most important remaining X-Men. She rose from sideline character who was often the source of teenage antics and damsel distresses to cold, badass mentor over her X-Tenure and has recently taken up the mantel of Headmaster at Xavier’s School for People Who Can Do Weird Shit. Her powers, aside from some random inserts for story purposes, consist predominantly of being able to “phase” through solid matter, walls, people, etc. Though that particular power seems simplistic, it has been fairly useful for Kitty and she has trained herself to be an incredibly effective combatant and make use of her phasing for more than just hiding/running. She also has the ability to phase through electrical components and effectively fry them, become entirely invisible, and use her phasing to resist telepathic intrusion. One of her shining moments in X-History involved her phasing into a giant bullet that hurdled toward Earth and changing it’s trajectory, becoming adhered to the bullet as it flew endlessly through the cosmos (don’t worry, she came back…. because comics). So, it’s pretty badass, in the end.
The one issue is how that power honestly translates to the art. Unlike Nightcrawler and his “bamfs” or Mystique and the various light effects that usually accompany her transformations, Kitty’s phasing is rarely accompanied with any sort of visual cues aside from her literally just sticking out of a wall or whatever she’s passing through:
However, it typically works, because there is an implication of action. We see from her posture and hair that she is in the process of moving, so it’s not really awkward.
Now, let’s talk about X-Men covers. It’s common in comics to have the cover displaying the particular focus characters abilities. That’s where there are roughly a million covers of Wolverine shredding things, two million of the Hulk lifting things or generally being angry and about five million of Spider-Man swinging (and half of that are just the covers for Spider-Man #800). However, up until recently, Kitty has been mostly immune to that treatment, usually existing in other capacities or exhibiting other abilities like her leadership or fighting skills. Her powers have only fairly recently frequented covers with her current run on the title X-Men Gold, wherein she has taken the aforementioned Headmaster role. Even then, when she is shown using her powers, there is implied action to make the whole thing seem generally less awkward:
See? She’s steppin’ out that wall ready to smack you in your anti-mutie-prejudiced-ass. It just works, you accept that it’s part of her powers, she doesn’t just look stuck there for giggles.
Well, in the past couple months, the folks at Marvel have been gearing up for a big event with Kitty. Yes, yes Kitty is goin’ to the chapel and she’s (rest) gonna get married. Her and on and off and on again, metal and flesh and metal again bae Colossus gonna tie the knot. The actual wedding issue released and SPOILER: THERE’S A TWIST!
But enough about that, let’s talk about how weird the covers have been for the wedding arc:
It’s like at some point in the past few weeks, the editors at Marvel were like “wait…. but how will people know this is Kitty Pryde if she isn’t passing through something? What if they think Colossus is canoodling with some other brunette in Kitty’s costume? Think of his reputation!” And with that, every cover had to have kitty awkwardly passing through something in just…. an odd stagnant way.
Now, I know this is probably just irksome to me, but in my opinion it takes otherwise decent covers (Mike Mayhew cover excluded) and makes them look just goofy and strange. Like, we get her powers and everything. We know that she can pass through stuff, but…. Why is she passing through his thigh? At least the Dodson cover has her popping through his chest like some sort of attractive, Jewish Xenomorph. There could be implied action there, but it just feels so frozen and stagnant. Generally, these covers just seem like awkward attempts to throw her powers at us, when really we don’t need it at all. Like, here, check out this excellent and adorable cover by Phil Noto:
We know who the characters are because of costumes and context. We aren’t dissuaded because she is or is not passing through something, and it is probably the best isolated summary of what a relationship in an X-Men book means: Brief periods of joy and romance in between extensive moments of danger and peril.
Or what about this cover by David Marquez for a 2nd print:
She’s not phasing through his neck and Danza-slapping him with the damn Mistletoe. It’s a sweet moment between two characters and fits the theme without an odd “hey, remember that she can phase through shit” nod.
The whole wedding arc culminated today, as I mentioned, with X-Men Gold #30, and while there were two J. Scott Campbell ctrl-v covers, the standout here is the main cover by Phil Noto:
Aside from being just generally adorable, this cover features the phasing I mentioned earlier, but this time with purpose. In this particular issue… oh, hold on:
Think of the context of the photo above. Friends and family gathered to see two people joined together. The groom firmly grasps his bride’s hand, and she slips through, literally unreachable. In this issue, we see Kitty phase into the ground as the ceremony commences, struggling with thoughts that maybe things aren’t right or aren’t perfect, and ultimately the wedding of Colossus and Shadowcat never happens. Don’t worry though, Rogue and Gambit step on in and tie the not themselves. Can’t let a ceremony go to waste, though I was really hoping more for the matrimony of Doop-Shark Girl, but I guess the perfect love story just can’t exist.
In the end, while Noto’s cover does include the seemingly random phasing, it actually plays a major purpose once the context of the book is known. It isn’t just an unneeded reminder that Kitty Pride can pass through stuff, it’s a hint at her timid and possibly subconscious reluctance to the wedding and her eventual change of heart. It’s actually incredibly beautiful cover art: The kind that hits you hard once you close the book.
Granted, an argument could probably be made that the other covers were hinting at the same thing, but I just don’t buy it. Those 4 are honestly just too awkward for my liking.
NOTE: I didn’t do one of these posts last week. I’m still kind of in the process of restructuring this blog to make it more regular and generally more entertaining. However, I’m honestly not going to be doing a Breaking Coverage post ever single week because, honestly, not every week has covers good or bad enough to talk/rant about. So, apologies for any missed weeks, but keep an eye out for other regular content I hope to get rolling out soon, including a big project that I’ll pump on here when it comes about.