In 1980, the long-established Marvel Comics team of mutant superheroes, the X-Men, got a new recruit: teenage Kitty Pryde, whose special power was the ability to ‘phase’, making her intangible and able to pass through solid objects.
Kitty was closely associated with one other X-Man, the irascible Wolverine with his super-hard adamantium exo-skeleton, as played by Hugh Jackman in countless (well, nine) X-Men movies. He became her mentor and they shared a comic-book mini-series together.
And she duly span off into the subsidiary objects and activities that are an inevitable element of modern comics fan culture. There were Kitty statuettes:
And lots of Kitty fan art:
Some of this imagined her in awkward situations:
And one female fan artist with a particular interest in Wolverine imagined a scene that had a lot of young women picturing themselves in Kitty’s awkward situation:
In the summer of 2018, the long-running X-Men artist and Kitty’s creator, John Byrne, began work on a possible X-Men ‘alternative history’ sequel, entitled Elsewhen, and began posting the pencils on his website as he completed them. On the sixth page, the X-Men are traveling back to base together, and Kitty is in the doghouse for some misbehavior. She won’t keep her seat but insists on looking out of the window at the fantastic landscape – whereupon Wolverine’s short temper comes into play. Here’s the page as Byrne first drew it:
And now with the speech balloons:
So Kitty escapes being spanked by ‘phasing’ downwards through Wolverine’s adamantium lap – only to find herself falling out of the plane altogether!
There are certain drawbacks associated with presenting work in progress to the public at large. The fall of Pryde led to the rise of prudes: a vocal segment of Byrne’s audience, who declared themselves to be ‘literally everyone’, found the incident ‘creepy and sexual’, and said so loudly. The drawings were described as ‘horrifying’, Kitty’s age was slyly talked down to impute an unintended dimension of pedophilia and Byrne himself was called a ‘hateful old man’ – which sounds to me like a prime example of projection, or at best the pot/kettle relative blackness syndrome.
Byrne showed just how hateful he was (or rather wasn’t) by changing his mind and choosing to redraw the page so that Kitty’s fall comes about for an entirely different reason:
Alas for him, this seems to have counted for nothing with the neo-Puritan ‘inappropriateness police’: he continued to be rebuked for the intention even after he’d accepted the criticism, conceded the point and binned the first draft in favor of something far less witty and inventive. Which I guess only goes to show that some unpleasant people are never satisfied!