I waited to write this until this piece went up, and now I can’t even particularly remember why.
Regular readers here may know that I’m not much of a superhero comics reader, but that I’ve been branching out lately. When I was asked if I wanted to talk to Kieron Gillen and Steven Sanders about their new series, I jumped at the chance even though it required me to binge on Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men so I had some clue of what I was talking about.
If you’ve read the comics, or are mildly aware of my love for Whedon’s work, you can probably guess what my reaction was to Whedon’s vision of the X-Men. Yep, I loved it. Intensely. Mostly, I loved Whedon’s Kitty Pryde.
As I’ve mentioned, I didn’t exactly grow up on comics, but I have a distinct memory of the X-Men cartoon and seeing this little brunette girl who looked kinda like me, who wasn’t all badass like the rest of the characters but could walk through walls (and didn’t I feel at times like I wanted to just sink through a floor and escape my life?). So Whedon, who likes to take those normal girls and make them extra-special, really did a great job with Kitty, contrasting her with the super-sexy and conniving Emma Frost and using her powers to save the world when all the offensive skills in the universe couldn’t have done so.
Of course the end made me sniffle a lot, but it also made me think about superheroes differently. I’ve always seen them as creations designed to allow people like me to transcend their normal lives; to become larger than life. I’ve never read books or comics simply because I identified with the characters (though I certainly have my share–Megan in Local being a prime example).
Yet the appeal of the X-Men has always been that they’re freaks; the world doesn’t understand them. As blogger Renegade Evolution noted:
The X-Men have the misfortune of being born different into a very intolerant world. They are mutants. Outcasts. Feared. Hated. Seen as dangerous…when for the most part, they just want to live and be left to it like everyone else. Hummm…imagine that? And it is odd, in my geekdome and time spent hanging out with other comic nerds, I have noted that a lot of people who are big into the X-Men are also somehow…well…different. Non-traditional.
Is it so weird, then, that of all the various reasons, and after all the explosions and action in Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men, that I love it because I see myself in Kitty?