If you grew up reading comics in the 1980s, you were probably like me and had a crush on Katherine “Kitty” Pryde. She was a geek’s dream: smart, bursting with energy, played video games and liked sci-fi movies, had a pet dragon, and, of course, was an X-Man. Piotr “Peter” Rasputin was another X-Man that fans could easily identify with. He was the embodiment of strength, but instead of being a warrior, he was a gentle and artistic soul.
Early in their relationship, it wasn’t clear where things were headed, not to mention if Kitty was even going to fit in with the X-Men. However, in the “Days of Future Past” storyline, an alternate future version of Kitty and Peter gave us a glimpse of their potential as a couple. Over the next few years, their relationship blossomed and progressed awkwardly as you’d expect with teenage love, with stumbles and misunderstandings here and there. As X-Men, both of them had to grow up faster than the average teenager and they did so together, whether it was facing cosmic threats like the Brood, or keeping the restless Morlocks in line.
What made them such a great couple? It was a young love that the reader base could really understand and relate to. It was also very relevant to the time as it was the mid-1980s, the height of the cold war between the United States and the Soviets. A geeky, talkative American girl in love with a stoic and reserved Soviet farmer was a bold and compelling relationship. Despite being so different on so many levels, they fit well together and complimented each other. In many ways Peter was more naive than Kitty and it was her spunkyness and spirit that helped make their relationship work. And on another level, as I was such a fan of both characters, it was great to see them come together, like watching two friends hook up and fall in love.
However, they broke my heart in 1984 when it seemed it was editorially directed that the couple split up. As a father myself, I can see the awkward position the Editor-In-Chief Jim Shooter was in as he probably felt he had to do something about a 14 year old girl having a relationship with a 19 year-old young man. I can’t help but think that a bit of retcon’ing could have patched up the situation, maybe simply adding a few years to Kitty’s age and dropping Colossus down to 18 years old.
When the X-Men returned from the Secret Wars crossover event, Kitty learned that Peter had fallen in love with an alien woman who had died saving their lives. Read Uncanny X-Men #183 and tell me that you can’t feel Kitty’s heart break:
I can’t help but think that Claremont was left to pick up the pieces. Even Wolverine, who’s not necessarily know for his interpersonal skills realizes how bad of move this was and in Uncanny X-Men #183, lashes out against Colossus for his dumb move. It’s not hard to see that Claremont was venting through Wolverine:
I scoured over the letter columns, but there was not a single letter or editorial comment addressing their breakup. A few years later, Claremont poked fun at the break up in Uncanny X-Men #197:
I had hoped that they’d find a way to get them back together, but the X-Machine at the time was set on keeping Kitty and Peter as star crossed lovers. I’ve come to think that there must be a conspiracy within Marvel Comics, some malevolent force determined to keep them apart. In the aftermath of the Fall of the Mutants storyline, circa Uncanny X-Men #212, Kitty Pryde went overseas to join the ranks of the latest X-Book spin-off, Excalibur, and that put an ocean’s distance between her and Colossus.
Over 20 years after their break up, fan-favourite and Avengers’ director, Josh Whedon, finally reunited Kitty with a freshly ressurected Peter in the pages of The Astonishing X-Men. However, the conspiracy caught up with Whedon and by the end of his run, they were split up again.
More recently the conspiracy continues as Kitty returned to the X-Men, although trapped in her phased form, and was reunited once again with Peter. This time, though, Peter was forced to assume the power of the Juggernaut and now feels that he is a monster unfit to be with anyone, including, you guessed it, Kitty.
Perhaps one day soon, they’ll be reunited again, but for good this time, or at least as forever as we can get in the comic book world. At least until then, we’ll always have Astonishing X-Men #14.
Happy Valentine’s day!