Wolverine: First Class #1

Issue Date: 
May 2008
Story Title: 
The Buddy System

Fred van Lente (writer), Andrea di Vito (artist), Laura Villari (colorist), Simon Bowland (letterer), Salva Espin & Brad Anderson (cover), Joe Sabino (production), Nathan Cosby (assistant editor), Mark Paniccia (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Kitty Pryde writes a journal entry about her first day as an X-Man. She describes her fellow mutants, noting that the only one she doesn’t understand is Wolverine. Professor X summons her to his office and assigns her to a mutant search-and-rescue mission with a reluctant Wolverine. Wolverine ignores her attempts at conversation and tries to ditch her when they arrive at their mission destination in West Virginia. Eventually, the two X-Men enter the town and are ambushed by hysterical townspeople. Wolverine goes into a rage, and a panicked Kitty runs away. She comes across a ransacked house that has been tagged with anti-mutant slurs, and finds evidence of a young mutant girl in the house’s family photos. She takes some clothing with the girl’s scent to Wolverine, who calms down and begins tracking her, using his heightened senses. They find Michelle, the mutant girl, lost and barely surviving in the wilderness. Kitty explains that Michelle got lost in the woods, then tried to send a distress signal, using her mutant ability to amplify emotions. However, all she did was broadcast her distress and it drove the town crazy. With the rescue mission complete, Wolverine and Kitty return home. Kitty overhears Xavier telling Wolverine that he assigned Kitty to work with him so Wolverine would soften up a bit. Kitty smiles at this, and concludes that this is the first day she has felt at home since joining the X-Men. As she leaves to go on a motorcycle ride with Wolverine, she comments that this is probably the first time he’s felt at home as well.

Full Summary: 

Kitty Pryde, the newest student at the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters, writes a journal entry on her computer. In this entry, she writes about what she describes as a “day of firsts”. It’s the first time she got her dorm room to look right, the first day she realized she has a crush on her schoolmate, Peter, and her first day of classes at the institute.
She describes her fellow classmates, all of whom are mutants. Storm looks human but psionically controls the weather. Angel has large wings and can fly, and Nightcrawler, a fuzzy blue teleporter, she describes as “on his own plateau of weirdness”. The one mutant she cannot figure out is the mysterious, introverted Wolverine. Wolverine has an enhanced healing factor, an Adamantium-laced skeleton, and an extremely spotty memory of his own past. He also lacks the playful spirit that inhabits his teammates, which he shows by slashing their volleyball during a game.
After this unpleasant encounter, Professor X summons Kitty to come inside the mansion and meet him at Cerebro. Professor X built this machine in order to amplify his own telepathic powers and track down new mutants, Kitty explains. She recounts how Professor X found her shortly after she manifested her mutant ability. If it weren’t for him, she would have remained the scared, uncertain girl she was upon discovering her powers.
Kitty arrives at Professor X and makes a quip about changing into her superhero outfit. Professor X dismisses the joke, and then reminds Kitty that the X-Men are unlike other superheroes. However, he tells Kitty that her first lesson will occur today.
Wolverine arrives, and Xavier tells him that he has a mission for him. He explains that Cerebro picked up a powerful mutant presence in West Virginia, and he wants Wolverine to investigate. Since subtlety will be the key to completing this mission, he will only be sending Wolverine and one other X-Man. Wolverine begins to review which teammate would be most appropriate, thinking first of Colossus or Angel.
“No,” Xavier interrupts. “I’d like you to bring Kitty.”
This comes as a shock to both X-Men, neither of whom initially understand why Professor X would send a completely inexperienced 13 year-old on a potentially dangerous assignment. Professor X explains that Kitty is about the same age as his original class of X-Men, and she could learn a lot from an experienced combatant like Wolverine. Wolverine refuses, but after Xavier threatens to withhold further memory-recovery sessions, he begrudgingly accepts.
The duo suits up and heads to West Virginia in the Blackbird. Wolverine makes Kitty’s ride extremely awkward by shooting down all of her attempts at conversation.
“Say…can I ask you a question,” she says, clearly uncomfortable. “I…have this friend. She thinks Peter – Colossus – might be kind of…cute. What do you know about him?”
“He’s Russian. His skin can turn into metal,” Wolverine gruffly responds, staring straight ahead. Awkward silence ensues.
“Oh, okay,” she replies. “You mind if I turn on some musi--”
“Hey, what code name do you think I should use?” she says, attempting to initiate another conversation. “I can’t decide between ‘Phase’ and ‘Phantom Girl’.”
“What about ‘Mute Girl’?” Wolverine snaps. Kitty gives up and makes an annoyed face towards the window, while a satisfied Wolverine grins to himself.
When they finally arrive to their destination, Wolverine tells Kitty that he will complete the mission himself. He instructs her to stay in the Blackbird, adding that a nice kid like her shouldn’t be hanging around a bad guy like him. However, he forgets that Kitty’s power allows her to phase through solid matter, and after she slips out of the Blackbird anyway, he realizes her has to take her along. He lays down some ground rules, basically saying that if she doesn’t do exactly what he says, she will probably get hurt. Kitty enthusiastically agrees, and the two X-Men head for the town.
They find the town to be completely deserted. The remote Cerebro device Kitty carries indicates that they are within 20 miles of the mutant signal, but other than that it isn’t helpful. Suddenly, Wolverine picks up the scent of a frightened, angry mob. Kitty starts to freak out, but then Wolverine reassures her that he is making himself visible to lure the threat out to him. As if on cue, hordes of armed townspeople start pouring out into the streets, ready to attack. Wolverine tries to reason with them, but they are clearly hysterical and beyond reason. One of them accuses Wolverine of consorting with a weed whacker thief. Another one thinks they’re robbers because they wear masks. Some other people call them ‘muties’, and scream that they’re probably diseased. Wolverine fends them off, and Kitty goes intangible to avoid their attacks.
Wolverine and Kitty decide to escape to a defensible position, so they run to the nearby supermarket. As they run down the frozen foods aisle, Kitty remarks that the townspeople aren’t making any sense. “Fear does that to people,” Wolverine responds. “Whatever mutant presence Charlie sent us to run down has scared the sense right out of them.”
Wolverine skids to a halt as the mob bursts through the back door of the supermarket. Kitty and Wolverine find themselves completely surrounded. To make matters worse, Wolverine succumbs to some sort of psychic attack, and goes into a berserker rage. He lunges at the townspeople with his claws unsheathed. Kitty gets hit by another psychic attack, which causes her to panic. She runs for her life, abandoning Wolverine to the villagers, and vice versa.
She runs without cause until she can no longer breathe. Her escape eventually leads her to a white house on the outskirts of town that has been subject to vandalism. The windows are shattered, and hateful phrases are scrawled all over it in spraypaint: ‘Die Mutant’, ‘Mutant Scum’, and one that catches Kitty’s eye above the others, ‘Burn Mutie Burn’. Kitty recognizes the slur ‘mutie’ from her encounter with the mob in town, noting that she feels a kinship with the house because of this connection.
Inside the ransacked home, she finds some framed photos of a young mutant girl. The girl has silvery skin, pointed ears, golden eyes, and what appear to be reptilian scales along her arms. One photo shows the girl with a human date at a high-school dance. Another shows the girls posing with her school soccer team. Kitty realizes that this doesn’t seem like something she would find in an unwelcoming, hateful town. It actually appears the town embraced the girl, in all her strangeness. As Kitty ponders that must have changed, she has an epiphany. She grabs a jacket from the home and runs out the door, hoping to find Wolverine.
When she gets back to the supermarket, she sees that Wolverine has beaten the mob into submission. He responds to Kitty as if she’s an enemy, ferociously attacking her. She backs into a corner, clutching the jacket, and tries to explain that Wolverine can use it to track the mutant’s scent. He doesn’t appear to listen and approaches her with his claws out. Tears form in Kitty’s eyes as she pleads for her life. However, something switches off in Wolverine, and he regains control of himself.
“Though you could say I had something to do with it,” Kitty later writes in her journal, “I think, really, the beast inside Wolverine got under control by the hero within him.”
Wolverine, having regained his composure, sniffs the scent off of the jacket and quickly tracks down its source. The trail leads Kitty and Wolverine out into the woods, where they find the mutant girl Michelle under a makeshift survival shelter. The freezing, starving Michelle is relieved that rescuers have arrived, and asks if they received her signal.
“Sort of,” Kitty responds, deducing that Michelle’s mutant ability must be to project her own emotions. She explains that Michelle must have simply broadcast her distress without the accompanying signal, which resulted in the entire town falling into hysteria. Wolverine wraps Michelle in a blanket and assures her that she’ll be okay, noting that she must be an exceptionally powerful mutant.
As they head out of the woods, Kitty points out her usefulness on this mission. “Ooohhh Wolverine, don’t you have something to say to me? Hmmmm?” she sings.
“Fishin’ for compliments ain’t too ladylike, Suburbia,” he responds. “But for your very first rodeo…I seen worse.”
At this, Kitty smiles and rolls her eyes.
They return to the X-Mansion later that day. As Kitty walks down the halls, she can’t help overhearing Wolverine arguing with Professor X. She decides to eavesdrop on the conversation and phases her ear through the door. She hears Wolverine telling the professor that it was unsafe to send Kitty with him on a mission in which a mutant would be amplifying his feral emotions. Wolverine asks if Xavier has any idea what he could have done to her.
“Perhaps I believed the risk was far outweighed by what she could do for you,” Xavier replies. “Do not forget I have looked into your mind many a time, Wolverine, and found there a bigger threat than your ‘animal rages’…and that is your fear of them. I know that’s why you refuse to get close to any of the other X-Men.”
“Give the stray a puppy to tame him?” Wolverine snarls. “That the idea?”
“This mansion is still a school, and I consider all those who live under its roof students. Even you have something to learn,” Xavier continues, still within an earshot of Kitty. “If not from me, then perhaps from Kitty.”
As Kitty hears this, she runs away, covering her mouth. Wolverine exits the office, noting that Xavier may not be as dumb as he looks.
Kitty returns to her room to finish up her journal entry for the day. Out of the blue, Wolverine calls to her through her open window and surprisingly invites her on a motorcycle ride. She takes him up on the offer, finishing up her entry quickly so she can go for a ride with her new friend.
In addition to the ‘firsts’ she mentioned earlier, Kitty writes that this is also the first time she felt like she really belonged at the Institute.
“And you know what the funny thing is?” she concludes in her journal. “I don’t think I’m the only one.”

Characters Involved: 

Angel, Colossus, Kitty Pryde, Nightcrawler, Professor X, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)
Michelle (a young mutant girl)


Story Notes: 

Judging by Wolverine’s costume, this issue takes place just after the Dark Phoenix Saga, but before Uncanny X-Men #139.

This issue also takes place before Kitty Pryde was given the codename “Sprite” by Storm.

Actually Kitty is younger than Xavier’s original five. When they started out Iceman, the youngest, was sixteen years old (according to X-Men (1st series) #1.
“Phase” and “Phantom Girl” (as well as “Apparition”) are codenames used at one time or the other Legion of Superheroes character Tinya Wazzo, a DC character with similar powers to Kitty.

Issue Information: 
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