Sunday, April 29, 2018

What's In A Name--Kitty Pryde!!

You know what's always baffled me?

Kitty Pryde.

Not the character, per se, but her super-hero name. Or lack thereof. And why no sobriquet, no trademarkable name, has ever stuck.

There are others, of course. The peripatetic Luke Cage started out as "Hero For Hire," and later spent a whole issue deciding to become "Power Man" (and even fought someone later over the "rights" to the name). When I was out of comics, he apparently decided to drop the Power Man, and become just Cage, or Luke Cage. But even in his case, he actually had those names, they were used on the cover, and Marvel has preserved the trademarks by endowing them to other teams/characters.

For some reason, Marvel Girl fell out of fashion, so when she's not being Phoenix, Jean Gray's series was just called...Jean Gray.

Of course, her hypothetical daughter, Rachel, also goes through the names like Beyonce goes through costumes at a concert--Phoenix, Marvel Girl, Hound, Prestige, Revenant...but at least they keep trying.

But Kitty Pryde? 35 years later, she's still just Kitty. And they've given up.

Yeah, she more or less sort of adopted Sprite, at one point. And Ariel. (BTW, since when did Xavier let students choose their own nicknames? Does that mean Hank McCoy chose to be called the Beast?!?) And yeah, she became Shadowcat, which supposedly was more or less permanent. As if.

But Marvel's own character pages have her listed under Kitty Pryde, and their official wiki has her not as Shadowcat, but as "Pryde, Kitty." The 1985 version of The Official Handbook Of The Marvel Universe did list her under Shadowcat, for whatever that's worth...

And the "wedding of the century?" Go ahead and Google it. 99.9% of the headlines refer to the marriage of Colossus and Kitty Pryde, not "Colossus and Shadowcat," not "Piotr and Kitty." Even in a massive media event and press release, others have to use their hero names, and she stays Kitty Pryde.

You'd think that Marvel would have some interest in giving her a trademarkable name, at least. But in the only series that have her name in the title (as far as I know...I doubtless missed some), it's been Kitty Pryde and Wolverine, and Pryde and Wisdom, and Kitty Pryde Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Starlord and Kitty Pryde. Marvel seems to have zero interest in establishing her a super-hero name.

[Is it really possible Kitty Pryde has had only one solo series, that lasted 3 issues? How can that be?]

Kitty is a nice nickname--but while it works for a 13 year old, does it work for a grown woman who's headed the Xavier School and saved the world multiple times? (And yes, we all know grown people who still use diminutive nicknames...) Kitty Pryde sounds nice, rolls off the tongue, has 2 Y's...but Peter Parker is a great name, too--yet no-one suggests dumping Spider-Man.

The die was probably cast by the Kitty Pryde And Wolverine mini-series. Sure, by the end she gave herself a new name. But right there on the cover is Kitty Pryde, trademarked, with an "official" logo,  an acknowledgement that this was how fans knew her, and that this was the name that would sell the book. Other names were moot.

Maybe if they had called it Shadowcat And Wolverine...

1 comment:

SF said...

In the original Days of Future Past, she's called Kate, isn't she? Ariel and Sprite were terrible names, and I'm not sure they were ever meant to be taken more seriously than the goofy costumes she tried out in those days. Shadowcat's an okay name, I guess, but it doesn't directly describe her powers in any way, and it hints at a sort of sneaky role that doesn't seem like it's really been her thing very often.

I'd argue that her not having a code name actually fits the character. She's always been the human face of the X-men, the one who's as normal as a mutant genius can be. Being without a code name reflects that nicely.

I was going to say it would be nice if they bumped her up from Kitty to Kate, but come to think of it, I know a Kitty who's older than me, and I'm old enough that I bought the issues where she was Ariel and Sprite when they were brand new.

PS I would TOTALLY believe Hank chose Beast -- IMO the contrast between being the smart, articulate member of the team and the hairy, physical one is key to the character, and I think Hank embraces that. The one that would surprise me is Scott choosing Cyclops.