Known as Kitty, or Shadowcat, for most of her life, Kate Pryde is now a mutant of some renown: captain of the Marauder; Red Queen of the Hellfire Trading Corporation; a member of the Quiet Council that rules the mutant island Krakoa. For much of her life she was, instead, the relatable kid . Kate can phase (pass through) almost any solid object: she can go places other heroes cannot (she can also rip your heart out—but she won’t).
Her Jewish identity, white suburban childhood, strong attachments to mentors (Wolverine; Storm) and long-term all-but-on-panel queer romances (Illyana; Rachel) have sparked some of her most important stories. Her wishes to do good, to take control of her life, and to transcend (without rejecting) her background as an A student have shaped her life, though her boyfriends (most named Piotr, or Peter, or Pete) sometimes derail it.
Kitty made her debut at age 13 ¾, in Uncanny X-Men 129 (1980); Chris Claremont and John Byrne—and their editors—wanted a point of view character for younger readers. Eager and awkward among her in-universe peers, Kitty became the first in a series of fan-favorite mutant teens, including her sometime allies the New Mutants and the sassier, less studious Jubilee.
Kitty—now Kate—grew into new roles on the UK-based team Excalibur, as a student at the University of Chicago, as a team leader, and finally as the head of the X-Men’s school. Well-suited to educational institutions, she’s nonetheless tried repeatedly to make a life elsewhere, on her own or with partners, in Britain or in outer space.
Geeky, outspoken, bad at fashion (though she keeps on trying), and very, very good at computers and physics, Kate could pass as human if she wanted: instead, she uses her appearance and background to make a positive difference, and to represent mutants, in the wider world.
She could be every good girl who wanted to be something more, every teen whose queerness is “not just a phase,” every ultra-brainy kid who wondered when it was OK to have a body, every Jewish American who thinks about Jewish diaspora, and every otherwise privileged LGBTQ+ fan who wonders what our privilege really means. She’s also the first to say on panel what we all know:
These are our favorite stand-alone Kate Pryde stories, not the most famous, and certainly not the biggest turning points in her fictional life. A list of those would certainly include, along with some of the titles below, Uncanny X-Men #143 (“Guess What Just Came Down the Chimney?”); the Mekanix mini-series (Kate’s time at the U of C); and the controversial, even egregious, Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men #1, in which noted Avengers writer and bad human being Joss Whedon attempts to remove his favorite piece from the board.