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Kitty Pryde and Wolverine #4 (1985, February)

December 20, 2014

So The Colbert Report is over and done with. So sad. One hell of a finale, though. For today, by Claremont and Milgrom, “Rebirth.”

Rebirth

I can’t think of anything clever to say about this cover.

Yukio is driving everyone up a bad mountain road at night during a heavy rainstorm, and Kitty’s father, Carmen, is terrified. He says Wolverine’s in bad shape, and should be in a hospital. He also wants to know why Kitty is tied up. Yukio finally gets fed up with him, and threatens to kill him if he doesn’t shut the hell up. While she tells him off, though, Kitty wakes up and slips out of the car. She still groggy, though, and Yukio tackles her. Still a tough fight. We also get a flashback to right after Kitty stabbed Wolverine, with Yukio taking her down with drugged throwing blades. In the current fight, Yukio jumps over Kitty, off the cliff, so the wind can blow her back to kick Kitty in the face. She manages to knock Kitty out.

Later on, the storm’s broken and the sun is rising, and they all arrive at a Clan Yashida stronghold. Yukio carries Kitty inside, and Wolverine is awake enough to hobble inside, leaning on a staff for support. Kitty dreams about all that’s been happening to her, and wakes up, seemingly herself. She thinks it was all a dream, but Wolverine says it wasn’t, and she remembers it all. He sets up some breakfast as she explains why she’s in Japan. Wolverine says Ogun used to be his sensei. He relates a story about the greatest swordsman in Japanese history, Miyamoto Musashi. He came to a a bridge, and found it blocked by another swordsman. The bridge was only big enough for one, and it was only right that the greater man cross first, but neither agreed on who was the better man. They drew their swords and locked eyes, then sheathed their swords, bowed, and each went back the way they came from. They could see, in those locked eyes, that they were equals, and that neither could win the fight. And the second swordsman was Ogun, who might be immortal.

Wolverine takes Kitty outside, to a sand garden, giving her a rake and an hour. He goes back inside, and Yukio yells at him, saying he shouldn’t be out of bed. He agrees, but says he has no choice. And he also says he has to try to help Kitty, if he can. An hour later, he heads outside, and finds Kitty meditating. The garden is perfect. Which Kitty shouldn’t know how to do. He explains that Ogun imprinted his mind onto hers, which will eventually overwhelm her mind completely. She says they should go back to Xavier, that he can help her. But Wolverine says if they do that, she’ll always be dependent on him. He hands her the honour sword of Clan Yashida, and tells her to hold it at arm’s length for as long as she can. She manages less than five minutes.

The next morning, they go out swimming in freezing water. He spends days training her, but she still can’t hold the sword. Wolverine gets a call from Xavier. Wolverine says he can’t talk about what they’re doing, and Xavier lets him know about Storm losing her powers. And that James Hudson is dead. That news pops Wolverine’s claws. He hangs up, goes outside, and howls.

Later, Kitty says she heard about what happened, and Wolverine says to change the subject. Kitty also mentions that there’s crazy blizzards all over the world, related to something with Thor. I love those sorts of minor crossovers, where events in one book are reflected in another. Not tie-ins, just little nods to the shared universe. Kitty asks why he’s driving her so hard, and he says a healthy body means a healthy mind, and she needs to be as strong as possible to resist Ogun. She trips and twists her ankle, but Wolverine refuses to help her. He makes it back to the house, and Yukio tells Carmen she’ll get the Sno-cat and go looking for Kitty. But Kitty makes it back on her own. As she relaxes in a hot bath, she reflects that Wolverine’s training her the way Ogun did, but giving her the choice. That what she does, she does because she wants to. This epiphany leads her to get out of the bath and go to hold the honour sword. She holds it all night, all day, and deep into the next night, before she carries it into Wolverine’s room as he sleeps, and leaves it by his bed.

She goes to the airport, and prepare to board a flight back to New York, hoping Xavier can help her. She knows that she’ll never be strong enough to resist Ogun. But she feels like she’s just running away from her problems, and she decides she needs to face her fears, whether she wins or not.

This is a really good issue. It’s pretty heavy in the Eastern philosophy stuff that Claremont was such a huge fan of, but luckily, by this point, he hadn’t driven it so far into the ground that it got tiring. Here, it was still cool, and he did a good job with it. The training was hard and cool. Kitty’s fear and desperation both come across really well. Then her determination when she starts holding the sword, and doesn’t put it down. Also great was Wolverine’s pain when he learns about Hudson’s death. That’s a really, really strong page. The popping claws is a simple but powerful reaction.

Milgrom’s art is still weak, though. He still does some weird faces, and occasionally poses. He doesn’t do too bad a job on this issue. The story scene was actually pretty neat, in a faux-Japanese style. Still not great work, but better than a lot of the issue. The scene in the snow, with Kitty begging Wolverine to help her, was also actually pretty well-done. Also really good was Kitty successfully holding the sword. He even has a couple panels where her face looks normal. But by and large, the art isn’t up to the level of the writing, which is a shame. Give this book to the right artist – a Bill Sienkewicz, say – and it would’ve been one of the all-time greatest minis.

Song of the day: I Hope You Die Sad and Alone by Damion Suomi and the Minor Prophets.

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