Heroic Highlights – Surviving the Experience and Saving Us All

Welcome to our event

Thanks for being here at the beginning of our first event for our site. What we’ve got to show you is quite special this week, a real opportunity. For the next three days you’ll be able to read and enjoy some earnest writings. Each piece may introduce you to something new and that’s a beautiful thing, really. So before I start this off with my first entry, allow me to explain what this is all for.

As stated in our most recent post on the site, we want to try something(s) out. This first event, “Heroic Highlights,” is a fun first topic to start some discussions. Essentially myself and the others are tasked with informing you all of moments of heroism from the forms of media we enjoy. The concept of a hero is different for us all and we’d like to talk about it. It’s really that simple. As a reminder, this is an event where you can participate very easily and that’s by voting this coming Friday – Sunday (March 18th-20th) on our site. You’ll get to select the post you enjoyed most! I’m throwing in a $20 Steam card to the winner, so please chose wisely. What fun!

Now without further delay, let’s get started.

Growing into the hero needed in the end

“If happy comes along – that weird unbearable delight that’s actually happy – I think you have to grab it while you can. You take what you can get, ’cause it’s here, and then… gone.”

Katherine Pryde, Shadowcat (Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday)

Growing up is not easy. Full stop. Learning to accept change is one of the most difficult lessons universally shared. People and places come and go, the memories trail behind. For a character with history dating back to 1979, there’s a lot to look back on. Katherine “Kitty” Pryde began this lesson at the age of 13 years old, when she first began at the Xavier Institute. During her tenue both on and off the main X-Men team, she’s experienced what can concisely be stated as A LOT. To be more specific: happiness and loss. Happiness is something I believe most of us have recognized at some point and at times of darkness is the one thing desired most. It can help push or pull us, tie us down even. Loss is something every X-man is very familiar with. It’s something we’re all destined to go through too unfortunately. What we do with either experience helps to define us. Let’s not spend time recapping what is decades worth of adventures, but instead only cover what’s relevant to the character and story present within Astonishing X-Men. There are just a couple of things to know:

  • Kitty doesn’t like nor trust Emma Frost
  • Colossus dies pushing Kitty to leave the institute and superhero life behind
  • Scott Summers and Emma Frost now run the Institute, which has been renamed the Jean Grey School.

What’s collected within these 26 issues explores these themes with most of the cast. Each navigating their histories and experiences in their own ways. I won’t be covering all of the story, again just what’s relevant. So let’s take a look at some of what happens through the perspective of Kitty.

Remnants of the past

All art drawn by John Cassaday and colored by Laura Martin

Have you had to return back to a place from your past? How about just somewhere where you have the highest concentration of memories? It’s weird isn’t it, like stepping back in time. Kitty has spent a lot of it moving on from the loss she’s felt. Unfortunately, she has a lot of ahead of her still to handle. Where this story starts is years after the last point stated above, with Kitty returning back to the mansion after being asked to help establish the newly found Jean Grey School. The deal is that Emma asked her personally if only to monitor her on the off chance she backslides into her evil roots. Easy enough, right? Nothing could really make that more difficult.

All art drawn by John Cassaday and colored by Laura Martin

What happens when someone or something important from your past seemingly returns. You may have spent considerable amounts of emotional energy just to be able to press onward, but what prepares you for this? On a mission Kitty discovers that Colossus, who had been dead by this point for the better part of a decade, is alive. So many questions to ask, but not a whole lot of answers nor time. Sometimes there just isn’t. It’s often tough to be reminded of what once was. The emotions of the past can come rushing forward. What is there to do? Make the best of it honestly. Let’s speculate on something real quick.

Near the beginning of Kitty’s introduction into the X-Men there’s a phrase that was coined: “Welcome to the X-Men, hope you survive the experience!” Well what is the experience they’re referring to? Sure, maybe it’s just the whacky serialized comic soap opera stuff or maybe it’s more nuanced than that. A bit before the conclusion of this story we get to see an exchange between Piotr (Colossus) and Kitty that informs my thoughts on what the experience is:

All art drawn by John Cassaday and colored by Laura Martin

I believe the experience referenced in the famous phrase can refer to simply growing up and acknowledging that things can and will change. Often times our live move quicker than we’re able to keep up with. Things change so suddenly and if we’re not prepared to act on our happiness, it’ll escape us. A few moments of happiness is at times the best that’s offered, especially when a threat to the world and one in particular emerges. An alien planet calling itself the Breakworld and who’re demanding Colossus’ death. Now since the setup and discussion points have been established, let’s move head first into the heroic moment this post is meant to highlight.

Answering the call

During the end of the last arc of the story called “Unstoppable,” we learn that the Breakworld has shown their hand in the form of a really big bullet created to destroy Earth. It can be stopped as long as the X-Men give up Colossus. I’m not making this up, it’s some real comic book nonsense honestly, but it’s fine. The team refuses to cooperate and stages an assault on the planet to deactivate the weapon. Near the end of the assault the weapon fires anyways. The Earth is warned, but there world’s heroes are unable to do anything to stop it either. What can be done? Well unfortunately nothing except for a trapped Kitty Pryde to answer an impossible call to action.

All art drawn by John Cassaday and colored by Laura Martin

There’s not a whole lot that needs to be said about how this plays out. It’s obvious to the reader and Kitty what’s about to happen.

All art drawn by John Cassaday and colored by Laura Martin

She does what she’s been trained to do, what any X-man knows may be asked of them at any point. All those moments of fleeting happiness taken and untaken. All of it well worth it if she can save those she cares about.

All art drawn by John Cassaday and colored by Laura Martin
All art drawn by John Cassaday and colored by Laura Martin
All art drawn by John Cassaday and colored by Laura Martin
All art drawn by John Cassaday and colored by Laura Martin

Why this?

I firmly believe that part of growing up is accepting responsibility and at times trading what brought us joy can. Those moments of happiness often become smaller and smaller as we age. It can be conceived as woeful or gloomy, but that’s just one side of the coin. The actions of Kitty show that although happiness may become less abundant, it doesn’t make the small moments invaluable. She was able to enjoy being around those she cared for and even shared moments of love with someone special. These experiences brought her comfort in knowing that it was going to be ok. Even in the face of death, it didn’t change what needed to be done. From as a sheer spectacle, sure, it’s pretty heroic. For me though, heroism is about promoting an idea(s) through action. To go “woe is me,” doesn’t help anyone including oneself. Growing up is not easy. Full stop. We all change and experience it, it’s what shapes us. Find the important moments, the one’s that make you smile when scared. Use them to keep yourself going and even to help others. In the end, it’ll be ok. Kitty shows us this truth.

That’s it, what’d ya think?

A bit messy I’ll admit, but hopefully still communicable. Ya know, I was hoping to talk more broadly about this character and even the story through different means, but this allowed me to do both so why not? Katherine Pryde is one of my “Top Heroes” and I’m glad I had an opportunity to talk about her that I didn’t make myself. So, what did you think? Let me know in the comments to this post and/or on our socials. Please remember to stay tuned tomorrow and Wednesday for the other two entries to our event. Voting again is this Friday – Sunday on our site. Until next week, be well and be safe!

All art drawn by John Cassaday and colored by Laura Martin

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