Thursday, 11 October 2012

Uncanny X-Men #159: Kitty the Vampire Slayer †

Uncanny X-Men #159 is nothing particularly special in X-Men terms, but has a wider significance that's been largely missed. It is where Buffy the Vampire Slayer came from.

So, plot summary: the X-Men arrive - without bothering to knock on the door or anything - at Misty Knight's apartment in Greenwich Village (where Jean Grey used to live, before her untimely passing in #137).

She's out, so they disturb new flatmate Harmony Young (another Claremont/Byrne creation, from Power Man and Iron Fist #50, a professional model, and a romantic interest for Luke Cage (Power Man)). They quickly add Harmony to the list of people who know the X-Men's first names, and get changed to meet Kitty's parents, which is the reason they're there. Well, Storm and Kitty do. Wolverine, and Nightcrawler remain at the flat, trying and failing to add Harmony to the Chart, too.

After leaving Kitty with her parents, Storm is found in an alley with two suspicious looking wounds on her neck, and a severe case of blood loss. She's rushed to hospital, where they can't find a blood type match for her (mutant blood is detectable with 1982 regular hospital technology!). She checks out and goes to stay in Misty's apartment. She starts feeling the call of the night, opening windows, curiously not recovering from her injury, wearing a scarf around her neck, disliking Kitty's Star of David (I wonder if Kitty worries that she's being a bit anti-Semitic), developing an uncharacteristic aversion to sunlight, and wondering whether there are eyes in the fog. (SPOILER: There are).

Would you believe it it has turned out that she's been bit by a vampire and has gone all Lucy Westernra (which has been allowed by the Code for ten years). It's no less than Dracula himself, even. She goes to meet him for more blood exchange. Their meeting is interrupted by Kitty, arriving with a hat and a cross. The cross doesn't work, but the Star of David does. So, belief is important. Wonder why the hat didn't work on its own, then. Ororo, even turned, doesn't much like people picking on her Kitten, so sort of protects her, but then absconds with the Big D.

Nightcrawler acts like belief in Dracula is a well-accepted fact in post-war Bavaria, and the others agree to track Storm down, to Belvedere Castle in Central Park, which I thought was Claremont and Cockrum just having a laugh (à la Doom's castle in Upstate New York), but turns out to actually exist, having been built as a folly in 1869. At time of publication it was disused and in the process of restoration, so it's just about plausible that ol' Vlad has taken up residence there.

They fight. We learn that Wolverine is not a Christian (his cross doesn't work) and that Nightcrawler is (his does). Storm manages to break the hold, despite having been part-vampirised, and turns on Dracula (but lets him flee rather than staking him), and then I dunno, gets better?

It's a matter of record that Kitty Pryde is an inspiration for Buffy Summers (Joss Whedon will write a Kitty-centric arc or four of his own which we'll get to in due course...) I submit that this issue, which features a teenage computer-smart Jewish girl with special powers and divorced parents fighting a vampire to protect her friend, is a major inspiration. Kitty has been split to form Buffy and Willow. The name "Harmony", even. And for that matter "Summers" (and Anne - we heard "Anne Summers" as part of a name only in the last arc!) As did Malaclypse the Younger, I find this more and more manifest the harder I look.

† No vampires were actually slain by Kitty in the comic. I suppose I could have gone with "Kitty vs. Dracula" instead.

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