Christmas Comics Cavalcade: ‘Uncanny X-Men’ #143- Merry Christmas Kitty Pryde, Hope You Survive The Experience
by Tony Thornley
For a twelve issue stretch, Uncanny X-Men was full of tumultuous events, from the Proteus Saga, the Hellfire Club, Dark Phoenix then Days of Future Past. It seems only natural that stretch would end with a quiet Christmas at home. Well, Uncanny X-Men #143 was anything but that.
Wrapping up the legendary Chris Claremont/John Byrne/Terry Austin run, Demon is the first major Kitty Pryde spotlight after her introduction to the team. When the rest of the team heads out for an event filled Christmas Eve, Kitty stays home alone to relax and maybe get a workout in. She soon discovers that she’s not as alone as she thought. What was going to be a quiet evening in quickly becomes a battle for her life!
This is one of my favorite single issues of X-Men, hands down. Right from the cover, you know you’re in for a hell of a ride, as the N’Garai demon looms over a frightened Kitty Pryde. After a brief action opening, in which Storm defeats the N’Garai, we learn one survived and is biding its time before attacking the X-Men.
Kitty at this point is still extremely new to the team. She’s not even officially a member of the X-Men, just a student of Xavier’s. We see this issue quickly become a template for the Kitty Pryde adventures that follow. Though she’s young and inexperienced, she’s determined and capable. Though she still has years of development to go, this is clearly the beginnings of the Kitty we know and love today.
The N’Garai is a terrifying threat as well. Sure, it’s obvious that Claremont had recently seen Alien (as it also was with the Brood), but that doesn’t make this story any less tense. An unstoppable beast is still an unstoppable beast, and we see that as the demon beats everything Kitty throws at him. It’s only her quick thinking and a jet engine that saves the day in the end.
Byrne and Austin show how effective they are as an art team. Byrne never quite looked as good without Austin’s inks. A horror story through and through, both artists make sure the tension is on the page and builds through the issue, until the cathartic resolution where Kitty (of course) wins the day.
I think without this issue, we wouldn’t have the hyper competent Kate Pryde of today. Even scared and panicked, she keeps it together, and remembers what she needs to do. ANd that’s the Kate Pryde we all need in our lives.
That wraps it up for us and this season of X-Men Christmas comics! Whew, it’s been a crazy month, maybe next year, we’ll do Christmas in Gotham City instead! And from all of us here in the X-Mansion- have a Merry X-Mas and a fantastic new year!