When Kitty Pryde becomes the first female student in several years at Xavier’s academy for the gifted, she finds herself in a very different world.
Writer: Raina Telgemeier and Dave Roman
What They Say
High school student Kitty Pryde has always been the odd girl out. A mutant, she was born with strange superpowers, magical talents that make her the class freak. But Kitty's world is changed when she's invited to study at Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, a special home for mutant teens. There's just one catch: Kitty's the only girl at the all-boy school, and she ends up just feeling like a freak all over again.
Then Kitty meets Pyro and the ultra-hot bad boys of the Hellfire Club. They're the school's elite - handsome, rich, and totally above the rules. Now Kitty seems to have it all: a dreamy boyfriend, super-cool friends, and the chance to develop her extraordinary talents. But why is her heart telling her that something is wrong? Will Kitty ever find the place where she belongs, or is she doomed to be a misfit forever?
With this being an original English language release, there are a few less things to look at when it comes to the technical side. Translations are a non-issue which is a big thing as well as there not being any issues regarding how sound effects are handled. Original productions like this have been growing in change since they first started – and were often horrible – but this release is pretty top of the line. The book has a very good look to it right from the cover with the right kind of dynamic used for the character pairings and the central focus being on Kitty. They use the X logo to good effect and the back cover provides a summary that paints it in a shojo style without coming out and saying it. Amusingly, much of what is done in here was done with some of these characters decades ago in a different way so it’s not even all that radical. The print quality of the book is excellent, there were no problems with smudges or other errors and the layout and lettering works really well in providing a good flow in the left to right direction, which admittedly does still feel a bit weird at times since I don’t read any manwha and am just not used to seeing manga style in this direction. From a technical perspective, this book is a winner.
This is where I’m going to feel like an old timer, but it’s more to paint my level of familiarity with the franchise. Back in my day, when I first got into Marvel’s X-Men comics, it was at a period where everything was coming together for that book. Madeline Pryor was just revealed to be more than she was, Rogue had been an X-Man for less than ten issues, Forge was still half a year away and Ororo still had long flowing hair. I began reading the Uncanny X-Men in the 170’s and lasted up until about year after Chris Claremont left the series when the new wave of upstarts took over. Upstarts who are now firmly management in a lot of companies these days. X-Men was a special book to me back then, as it was popular before I was reading it but it was in this period of the 80’s where it really hit its stride and was doing big business. Before it started spinning off numerous other titles, from New Mutants to X-Force, X-Factor and eventually X-Men itself, never mind a boatload of miniseries and other spinoffs. Much of that holds little of my memory, but others are strong, such as when the first printing of “God Loves, Man Kills” oversized came out. There simply wasn’t anything else like that back then.
Fast forward to today and Marvel is doing the best to spread the X-Men love far and wide and that includes tackling the manga market. I haven’t read an X-Men book of any stripe in about fifteen years outside of Exiles, so I was curious to try this one out because it would be so completely disconnected from everything else. And I can easily imagine most X-Men fans saying “Hell yeah!” for that since they don’t want any of this girly shojou crap interfering with their beloved comics.
X-Men: Misfits is really a fascinating book to me, almost in that same way that Exiles is, because it takes so many familiar characters and turns them to the side a little bit to reveal new things and a new way of looking at them. The central focus of the series is on my all time favorite character, Kitty Pryde. At age fifteen, the second of three daughters, she’s learned of her “quirks” recently in that she is a mutant who can phase through objects. Her parents don’t know how to deal with this, raising two other daughters and running a restaurant. Radical changes to the Pryde family to be sure, but it works well here. Through the intervention of Eric Lehnsherr, she’s been invited to go to Xavier’s Academy for Gifted Youngsters in New York. And it’s an invitation her parents don’t want her to refuse. Reluctantly, she accepts and takes the bus (phasing girls with no control don’t want to fly!) and heads off to the academy where she learns she’s the first female student there in years. In fact, other than two teachers named Ms. Munroe and Ms. Grey, there are no other women.
And so Kitty has a whole wing to herself in the Academy and has to learn the ins and outs of being a mutant and standing out when the one thing she ever wanted was to not stand out. The basis of this volume focuses on her introduction to the school and all her classmates, before it settles into a class trip in the third chapter which leads to the only moment of serious action in the series. For new readers to the X-Men universe, this works surprisingly well as they cover a lot of the basics that I really enjoyed seeing. Xavier, walking around, is a very genial and inviting man who talks of the hope of the future. Lehnsherr, as Magento, provides the counterpoint by encouraging students to take on new names instead of the ones given to them by their human parents. His view of evolutionary change has mutants being a whole new race that will have a new set of rules to live by. And names are powerful things, so having the students take on their own names gives them a special power over themselves.
For people far more familiar with the X-Men universe, it really comes down to how you deal with different interpretations of familiar characters and settings. I long ago stopped being upset about such things, especially as movies gain popularity with altered styles, stories and characters, as these other versions don’t lessen the original. It’s also one of the reasons that I can only read Exiles now since it shows me a wide variety of characters that are more familiar to what I wanted to see rather than what Marvel is currently offering.
X-Men: Misfits has a lot of neat little changes to it that drastically alters its feeling. With Xavier, Magneto, Grey and Munro as teachers, that’s certainly a familiar scenario. The student body is made up of a lot of familiar names, from Fred Dukes to Forge, Pyro, Angel, Iceman and Havok. What really fascinated me as a change is that Magneto has set up a Hellfire Club within the school for those he finds particularly gifted and they have special privileges that the others don’t. Kitty is brought into this club early, which is led by Angel, and she finds herself eventually dating Pyro. She gets along with others outside the Club, particularly Nightcrawler, but she struggles with the way the Club looks at the world and her desire to better herself and do things for others. I really liked seeing the large cast of familiar characters recast into being in the same general grade level and interacting differently. It does feel off to not have Scott and Jean together, or to see Bobby back in school when he should be a senior character, but so many are reduced in age to this high school level that it all clicks very well.
X-Men: Misfits gives me the taste of the X-Men universe that I want right now. Kitty Pryde has been my favorite character for decades now, whether she was fighting the Brood or becoming Shadowcat in Japan with Wolverine. Having her going back to school like this, dealing with first kisses, first crushes and potential loves while coping with her powers IS what her character was all about back in the 140-170’ish range of the comics back in the early 80’s. It is who that character is to me, as much as I loved her from Excalibur even more. Misfits stands quite strongly on its own and that is what it must do, but for those who have an open mind from the continuity world of X-Men comics, there is a lot to like here if you want more than just big action and epic casts. This is a smaller story set against a larger world problem of mutants, but a story that deals with what most people at this age range do deal with; school, love, fear, being different and coping with all of it. I may be long past some of this, but these are things that reach across the ages if you open yourself to it and enjoy. And I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read more of this X-Men interpretation.